Reviewed by Dr Helen Florence
It is hard to find the words to adequately describe the profoundness of this book. Groundbreaking in its subject matter of psychological infanticide, I believe that it is a gift to the therapy world, for therapists, for those who have experienced closed stranger adoption or for anyone who received pre and postnatal messages about not being allowed to exist.
In her writing, Dr Violet Sherwood, a practicing psychotherapist, explains and uncovers the trauma of psychological infanticide, making what is a complex topic very accessible. Dr Sherwood draws together strands of history, imaginal depth psychology, poetry, and her own experience of closed stranger adoption, to weave a rich and intricate tapestry that depicts the trauma of psychological infanticide. However, whilst the author uncovers the trauma of this experience resulting, in her case, from closed stranger adoption, she does so without judgement, but rather lets her experience and the literature declare the truth.
In this book, Dr Sherwood courageously shares her own journey into “the underworld” and the transformation in her own resurrection, thus breathing life and hope into death and despair. I note that the author quotes, on several occasions, from her own unpublished work. I do hope she publishes more. Dr Sherwood’s poetic writing reminds me of Janet Frame’s – she has the ability to paint pictures with words in a vividly evocative manner that stay with the reader.
Haunted, is a must read for every therapist who wants to understand the indescribable experience of clients who have been adopted, and for adoptees who want their experience to be understood. It is also an invaluable resource for others whose experience was that their existence was not welcomed. Violet gives words to the unspoken and unspeakable.
To quote the author, “What I discovered has the potential to enlarge our understanding of prenatal infanticidal attachments formed in the situation of closed stranger adoption, or in any other pre-birth scenario in which the unborn child experiences its existence as threatened or annulled. I aim to offer hope to people living through prenatal psychological infanticide, and guidance for the clinician who works with them”.
Haunted is a compelling read and I cannot recommend it highly enough.