By Julie Gregory

This is the true memoir of a girl who grew up the unknowing victim of Munchausen by proxy. For those of you not in the psychology know, here is a little explanation. (From www.munchausen.com) “People with factitious disorder and Munchausen syndrome feign, exaggerate, or actually self-induce illnesses. Their aim? To assume the status of “patient,” and thereby to win attention, nurturance, and lenience from professionals or nonprofessionals that they feel unable to obtain in any other way.”

Munchausen by proxy is a whole other form of this monster. A person will feign, exaggerate, or induce illnesses on someone else- oftentimes his or her children. This is the foundation of our narrator’s story…and life.

Sickened is about Julie Gregory’s childhood. She was raised by, pardon the honesty, a sick/evil/vile woman who starved, poisoned, abused-physically, emotionally, and mentally, and neglected her children in the most awful ways you can possibly imagine. Strike that, you probably cannot even imagine what this woman did to her children. And you don’t want to, trust me.

This was my second read of this painfully honest memoir. I originally read it for a research project on Munchausen but wanted to reread it as an actual reader, rather than researcher. This book is amazing. Gregory is so brave in her honest depiction of her childhood. I cannot imagine what it was like for her to divulge all of the gory details, not just of her own abuse, but the way her mother took advantage of and abused elderly veterans, animals, and foster children. There are countless sections of this book that you will want to skip over because they are sickening, literally, to read but I believe that if this woman was brave enough to endure it for her entire youth, we should be able to empathize for at least a couple pages.

One of the greatest elements in this book is the details- they are what make it unbearable and also what make it so deeply compelling. Gregory even includes photocopies of doctors’ reports, prescriptions, and letters from her mother to force you to understand that these things actually happened (despite how unbelievable many details seem) and also how intensely her mother pushed to, basically, break her daughter so she could get attention for being the mother of a poor, sick child.

Whether or not you seek out memoirs dealing with psychological disorders, this story will grab your heart and squeeze until you want to tear through the pages to save all of the innocent people who fell victim to this monster (who you WILL want to bludgeon to death). This book will open your eyes.

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