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Acquainted with the Night

A Parent's Quest to Understand Depression and Bipolar Disorder in His Children

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


In the tradition of Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, Acquainted with the Night is a powerful memoir of one man’s struggle to deal with the adolescent depression and bipolar disorder of his son and his daughter.

Seven years ago Paul Raeburn’s son, Alex, eleven, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after leaving his fifth-grade classroom in an inexplicable rage. He was hospitalized three times over the next three years until he was finally diagnosed by a psychiatrist as someone exhibiting a clear-cut case of bipolar disorder. This ended a painful period of misdiagnosis and inappropriate drug therapy. Then Raeburn’s younger daughter, Alicia, twelve, was diagnosed as suffering from depression after episodes of self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts. She too was repeatedly admitted to psychiatric hospitals. All during this terrible, painful time, Raeburn’s marriage was disintegrating, and he had to ask what he and his wife might have done, unwittingly, to contribute to their children’s mental illness. And so, literally to save his children’s lives, he used all the resources available to him as a science reporter and writer to educate himself on their diseases and the various drugs and therapies available to help them return from a land of inner torment.

In Paul Raeburn’s skilled hands, this memoir of a family stricken with the pain of depression and mania becomes a cathartic story that any reader can share, even as parents unlucky enough to be in a similar position will find it of immeasurable practical value in their own struggles with the child psychiatry establishment.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 22, 2004 – Raeburn writes, "here is no manual for taking care of a child with a psychiatric ailment," and it's crucial that readers of this soul-baring memoir know this isn't meant to be one. Raeburn fully discloses the daily struggles he faces with his children one bipolar, the other chronically depressed but what emerges is less about them than about him. He is the center of the narrative a pragmatic journalist with an anger problem and a failed marriage who wants what's best for his children, but like most parents is groping in the dark for what that is. Honorably, Raeburn publicly acknowledges his thwarted search for parenting solutions. This work is, in some ways, his extended apology to his children for this failing. But the book serves a public good, too: it will remind parents of children with mental illness that they aren't alone in their exhausting quest to find adequate health care, fight insurance companies and love unconditionally. In fact, they're part of a growing community of parents scrambling to get their children the few resources that exist. The book, though focused on the personal, does have larger political implications. Unfortunately Raeburn, a former Business Week science and medicine writer, isn't adept at weaving the broader importance into his smaller story. When he incorporates research or sociological observation, it feels segmented and distracting. Raeburn's greatest gift is his brave honesty. He challenges all parents to take responsibility and claim their part in their children's pain. .
Acquainted with the Night
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  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Psychology
  • Published: May 11, 2004
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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