Linda Appleman Shapiro
About the Author: Behavioral psychotherapist/Addictions Counselor/ Oral Historian/ Mental Health Advocate and author, Linda Appleman Shapiro earned her B.A. in literature from Bennington College, a Master’s degree in Human Development/Counseling from the Bank Street College of Education, and a Master Certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming from the New York Institute of N.L.P. She has further certifications in Ericksonian Hypnosis and Substance Abuse/Addictions Counseling.
Linda Appleman Shapiro is a contributing author in the casebook, “Leaves Before the Wind: Leading Applications of N.L.P.”
In private practice for more than thirty years, Shapiro also served as a senior staff member at an out-patient facility for addicts and their families. As an oral historian, she has documented the lives of many of New York’s elderly.
Her first memoir, Four Rooms, Upstairs, was self-published in 2007 and named Finalist in the Indie Next Generation Book Awards in 2008. Her blog of three years, “A Psychotherapist’s Journey,” named Shapiro Top Blogger in the field of mental health by WELLsphere.
Married to actor and audiobook narrator George Guidall, Linda Appleman Shapiro and her husband live in Westchester County, New York. They have two adult daughters and two grandchildren.
Connect with Ms. Shapiro at these sites:
The Importance of not stereotyping anyone who suffers from mental illness ~
In stereotyping anyone or any group of people, we are guilty of expressing generalizations that are seldom, if ever, true of any one person being targeted.
I suppose in today’s parlance, I would liken stereotyping to a kind of bullying based on prejudice fed by misinformation.
Stigma and discrimination (major examples of stereotyping) have been known to harm all who suffer from one mental disorder or another, and since MENTAL ILLNESS is an umbrella for so many disorders – most of which are misunderstood or lumped together — false impressions and mis-education are given all too often to the general public.
Having lived with a mother who suffered from major depressive disorder and writing about her in my memoir, SHE’S NOT HERSELF, I have a very personal investment in helping to educate and advocate for mental health. I am ever so grateful to organizations such as N.A.M.I. that are out front and in the news whenever the media misrepresents (in photo or as a character in a TV series) perpetrators accused of a crime as “probably” being mentally ill. A perfect example of stereotyping a misconception. The truth is that the majority of people with mental illness are not violent, not criminal and not dangerous. In all recent major studies, the majority of offenders did not display patterns of crimes related to mental illness symptoms.
So, while it is true that mental illness has been taken out of the closet to the degree that one celebrity or another is constantly in the news for having committed suicide, for being misdiagnosed or given the wrong medication, when those same rich or famous who survive are then interviewed on TV, they are sensationalizing a particular ‘woe is me” story that further stigmatizes and misinforms the public who, in turn, generalize, stigmatize, and stereotype all patients. Whether some suffer from a genetic inheritance over which they feel they have little control or others suffer from being in intolerably abusive households, until or unless they receive treatment they will remain victims. Yet, when they are violent, it is usually towards themselves, not others. Their pain is too great and others are not there to recognize their symptoms or help to get them the medical assistance they need and deserve.
My mother, as my most favorite example, was a physically beautiful woman. If you had seen her on the street, you most certainly would have noticed her. On the other hand, when I was a child in the 1940s and 50s and she was experiencing any one of her horrifying “break-downs” she was hidden from view at such times. Our blinds were drawn, she was given shock treatments and/or hospitalized until she was well enough to return home. Yet, she was the same mother who had enormous compassion and taught me all that I know about unconditional love, kindness and how to be my best person. Does that sound like a mother you’d like to meet? I certainly hope so. Yet, in the days before modern medicine (psychiatry in particular) advanced to where it is today, not one of us in our family talked about her illness and, as a result, she remained, for the most part, isolated, in fear of what others would think of her and, in turn, us, her children. And we, her family, suffered in silence, with no explanations for all that we witnessed and no help to deal with our personal demons.
Although much has changed since those years when I was growing up, society still has along way to go with regard to allocating money for funding research regarding how best to treat patients, knowing when medication is necessary and which medication is best for a particular person with a particular disorder. We also need to make psychotherapy (talk therapy) affordable and available to all who suffer (the patients as well as their family members who are affected by their family member’s disability).
To answer your specific question, I will not discuss the various/terribly painful conditions such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and other disorders that fall under that large umbrella we refer to as mental illness. I will keep my focus on major depression, since I experienced it first-hand while living with my mother.
The great majority of people world-wide experience states of depression at one time or another. However, for anyone who has experienced more than relatively brief reactive depressive states from the death of a loved one, or after the effects of a divorce, or a major relocation – those who suffer from on-going or recurrent states of depression such as PTSD – experienced by our veterans who return from defending our country and are left feeling of hopeless, unable to sleep or sleeping too much, unable to eat or unable to stop themselves from eating or having recurring nightmares over which they believe they have no control . . . can anyone say that ridiculing such people and/or stereotyping them can ever be helpful?
As today’s statistic is that one in four people suffer from mental illness, if we – as a society – remain victims of our own ignorance, we will continue to be a part of the problem and not a part of the solution in further developing ways for healing.
When we objectify and thereby stereotype any group of people suffering from any illness, we ultimately diminish ourselves and to the degree that we would all prefer to live in a healthier, saner world, we must remember that stereotyping only prevents us from moving forward and creating such a world.
ABOUT THE BOOK
She’s Not Herself: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness is a journey to make sense of the effects of multi-generational traumas. Linda Appleman Shapiro is ultimately able to forgive (without forgetting) those who left her to fend for herself–and to provide readers with the wisdom of a seasoned psychotherapist who has examined human vulnerability in its many disguises and has moved through it all with dignity and hope. The result is a memoir of love, loss, loyalty, and healing.
On the surface, her childhood seemed normal–even idyllic. Linda Appleman Shapiro grew up in the iconic immigrant community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with her parents and a gifted older brother. But she spent her days at home alone with a mother who suffered major bouts of depression. At such times, young Linda Appleman Shapiro was told, “Your mother…she’s not herself today.” Those words did little to help Linda understand what she was witnessing. Instead, she experienced the anxiety and hyper-vigilance that often take root when secrecy and shame surround a family member who is ill.
Publisher: Dream of Things
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
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