0
Bookcase
Trying to Make Sense of Harrowing Childhood
Psychiatric News
Volume 46 Number 19 page 15-15

Tiger, Tiger

By Margaux Fragoso

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

322 pages

Nothing compels the emotions of readers more than an account, in skillful literary hands, of a harrowing childhood. At age 7, Margaux Fragoso lost her childhood innocence to the actions of a pedophile. Eventually, Fragoso hoped to "make sense of what happened" by documenting her life. She amazingly manages to combine vivid recollections of abuse with empathy, and her resultant memoir, Tiger, Tiger, accomplishes the unthinkable. It humanizes a pedophile.

The memoir's content sounds distressing, but it proves to be a revelatory portrayal of the relationship between a child and the man who enchants her. Fragoso recounts the hysteric misery that defined her existence at home with a controlling father and psychotic mother. She has the insight to suggest that such circumstances perpetuated feelings of worthlessness and a fragile self-esteem that made her an easy target for a pedophile. Fragoso eventually believed that without her abuser "to see me, to adore me" she could not exist.

Rather than focus on her own psychopathology, however, Fragoso explores the predisposing and precipitating factors that contributed to the development of her abuser. She has researched pedophilia and goes so far as citing the work of psychiatrist Fred Berlin, M.D., founder of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention, and Treatment of Sexual Trauma. Fragoso will not remember her pedophile as a "monster." There is a sense that she feels sorry for him and wishes he would have been referred to such resources as Dr. Berlin's Web site for people struggling with sexual feelings toward children.

This is a unique and extremely compelling memoir. Not only are the dynamics of an abusive relationship sensitively explored but so are the healing powers of recollection and forgiveness. Tiger, Tiger might not sell to vast public audiences, but I think it is a valuable read for psychiatrists. 15_3.inline-graphic-1.gif

This is a unique and extremely compelling memoir. Not only are the dynamics of an abusive relationship sensitively explored but so are the healing powers of recollection and forgiveness. Tiger, Tiger might not sell to vast public audiences, but I think it is a valuable read for psychiatrists. 15_3.inline-graphic-1.gif

Helen M. Farrell, M.D., is an instructor at Harvard Medical School and a staff psychiatrist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Interactive Graphics

Video

NOTE:
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).
Related Articles
Articles