Trigger Warning: This novel contains the following content that may be sensitive for some readers: attempts of suicide, drug use, emotional abuse, inappropriate relationship with person of authority, and manipulation.
- Publication date: August 1, 2020 by Terra Nova Books
- Genre: Memoir
- Edition: E-book
- Pages: 286
- Rating: 3.5 stars
This poignant memoir chronicles the traumatic psychological abduction and sexual exploitation of depressed college student Carrie Tansey at the hands of her psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony Romano―thirty-one years her senior. For three years, their secret “affair” was carefully calculated and controlled by Romano, as Carrie’s mental and emotional health continued to deteriorate, bringing her closer and closer to the edge.
Their dual-relationship―clinical and clandestine―finally came to light when Carrie’s suicide attempts landed her in a world-renowned psychiatric hospital. Gradually, she began to reclaim her power, reported Romano to the state licensing board, successfully sued him for malpractice, and testified before the state legislature to help pass a law aimed at curbing such abuses.
As Carrie tells her tale, it is a journey paralleling that of the mythical archetype Persephone, the naive innocent who was abducted into darkness, reemerged and regenerated herself, then fearlessly returned to the prison she had fled, this time to help free others. Today, Carrie Ishee is a widely respected art therapist and life coach as well as a teacher specializing in the issues of ethics and boundaries for mental health professionals.
For those of you who follow my blog, you are probably aware of the fact that memoirs are one of my favorite genres to read and review. With that being addressed, I was excited to be included in the tour for Ishee’s novel; this memoir is different from any other memoir I have read!
Throughout the novel, Ishee shares her own personal experience of being in an intimate relationship with her psychiatrist; as she documents the progression of their relationship from professional to unethical, the author draws on comparisons from the Greek mythology of Persephone. For those unfamiliar with the story, no worries as the author includes parts of the story prior to sharing her own personal connection to the tidbits shared.
Carrie is a twenty-one year old college student struggling with an immense amount of anxiety and depression when she is introduced to Dr. Tony Romano. The author’s only goal is to pinpoint what is causing her mental health issues to spiral out of control and for her mental health professional to be able to provide an effective method of treatment. To her relief, Dr. Romano does not think she requires medication. He suggests three years of psychotherapy and for her to take a break from her graduate studies despite the fact that she is only six months away from completion. Desperate for any possibility of feeling normal again, Carrie and her family are in support of Romano’s treatment plan.
Isolated from her friends, Dr. Romano gradually begins isolating Carrie from her parents as they begin to suggest that some of his activities with their daughter is overstepping boundaries. Ishee begins lying to her parents about her whereabouts, so that she is able to spend time alone with Dr. Romano who she now only calls by his first name: Tony. It is on these secret escapades that her psychiatrist begins supplying her with marijuana, coaxing her into nude photoshoots, and more. Carrie feels like these events are wrong, but through the manipulation of Tony she believes he has her best interest at heart.
This cycle continues on for a couple of years before the author is able to truly acknowledge her personal experience with Romano. When she “graduates” Tony’s course of counseling, she begins seeing a new therapist; it is during this time that she begins to understand how unethical her relationship with her former doctor was. She begins to slowly open up to her new counselor and finds the courage to seek justice for his wrongdoings.
I was able to binge this story in one sitting, it was that good! I personally feel like those individuals on the opposite end of a situation like this could view the author’s actions as unimaginable and as a position they would never wind up in, but Carrie is able to bring awareness to her readers that it is possible; like her, she had no intentions of falling for her mental health professional. However, over time the psychiatrist was able to use her weaknesses against her and would find that it would be years for her to process this experience for what it truly was.
This novel is empowering and eye-opening. If you enjoy memoirs, stories of female empowerment, or just wanting a new unique read then I encourage you to consider this one when it hits shelves!
*I’d like to thank Nicole Pyles from WOW, Women On Writing, for reaching out to me to participate in this blog tour. I was also provided a free copy of the book in exchange for posting my honest review.