Review of Daughters betrayed by their mothers by Holli Kenley

This book is the report of a qualitative research project, exploring the lives of seven women, each of whom grew up with a damaging mother, and each of whom achieved a wonderful, remarkable recovery.

Whatever your source of damage, if they could do it, you can do it.

The first case is the author herself. She tells her story with great courage and openness. Self-healing writings are very common, and frankly, often of no use to anyone but the writer, despite the healing benefits of autobiographical writings. Holli’s account is part of the minority that can be generalized, and applied by others. This is because while fully emotionally invested, she is simultaneously able to be a rational outside observer. This combination of passionate self-healing and rigor reminds me of Elizabeth Harper Neeld’s book on grief: Seven Choices, and this is a great compliment.

I have never seen a research project reported in this way. They usually state the questions and answers, then analyze the answers, trying to extract commonalities. Holli, however, makes it into a story: the reader looks over her shoulder as she interviews her respondent, being told of moment-to-moment emotional reactions, pauses, tones of voice. This is immensely powerful, and I’ll see if I can copy her in the future.

I am male, so don’t qualify as a daughter. The damaging people in my childhood were my stepfather and uncle, so they don’t qualify as mothers. All the same, I saw myself, my history and my healing right through this book. The parallels are remarkable. And if this is true for me, it will be true for many other men.

There are wonderful, pithy messages about self-healing in all seven stories, but I am not going to list them. Find them yourself.

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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