Conversion Therapy

Romaine Brooks - Book
For one and all

My memoir dealing with conversion therapy is on-going and shaping up. The whole issue of conformity is a story in and of itself. Thinking back on being left-handed, dyslexic, introverted, a misfit calls to mind the entire normalization project of the 1950s in Education and psychology, particularly child psychology and the push for parents to conform and make themselves and their children little carbon copies of what a punishing society told them they should be. What I experienced was a virtual gender gulag.

Certainly my choosing to write about Romaine Brooks and compelled to understand what happened to her–what drew me to her was something in her self-portraits that drew me to her. It was intuitive, unthought through and totally compelling. Because her portrait embodied everything anyone who has been an outlier has felt despite outward appearances. While Romaine projected a picture of outward strength and absolute control the child within was more vulnerable and fragile than anyone gazing at her self portraits could ever imagine.

In a way, having completed my biograp freed me to write my own memoir of being a vulnerable girl thirteen being put under the dubious care of Dr. Samuel Kahn, a psychoanalyst who ran a school/camp for disturbed children in Croton on Hudson based as his experiences with prisoners at Sing-Sing. More to follow.

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