Publicly disgraced for making anonymous telephone calls, a former president of American University recounts his shattering experiences as a child victim of sexual abuse and incest, offering inspiration in the story of his painful healing. 35,000 first printing. Tour.
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A scandal broke out a few years ago when American University president Berendzen was caught making sexually oriented phone calls to strangers. Here, Berendzen (Is My Armor Straight?, 1985) and Palmer (Shrapnel in the Heart, 1987) team up to tell the harrowing story of the academician's childhood sexual abuse--abuse that festered until its tragic eruption during middle age. Berendzen's mother first seduced the author when he was eight and continued until he was eleven, stopping for reasons as unspoken as her motivations for the abuse in the first place. Berendzen blocked the episodes from his consciousness and lost himself in work, becoming an astronomer, a professor at Harvard, and, finally, president of AU. Workaholism had destroyed his first marriage, but his second was happy and stable, as wife Gail worked with him to upgrade AU's image and put it on the road to financial prosperity; together, they became prominent on the Washington social scene. But, gradually, disturbing compulsions began to intrude upon Berendzen's carefully controlled life. He found himself making furtive phone calls to day-care providers who had advertised in Washington newspapers. He would quiz them about sexual activities with children and lead them on with confessions of his own invented exploits. The author never linked the calls to what he'd suffered, and, he says, never got sexual pleasure from them: He was trying to find out, in a confused way, what makes adults use children for such sick purposes. One woman decided to trap Berendzen and taped his calls: Exposed and forced to resign his position, he entered the John Hopkins clinic for sexual disorders and began to face his past. Berendzen's story of his recovery, his wife and daughter's steadfastness, his efforts on behalf of other abuse survivors, and his final forgiveness of his parents is told with honesty, eloquence and humility. An inspiring and compelling work. (Photographs--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Having suppressed for 40 years incidents of childhood incest on the part of his psychotic mother, Berendzen, a noted astronomer, devoted family man and former president of American University in Washington, D.C., suffered a recurrence of subconscious trauma which triggered compulsive phone calls to strangers about child abuse practices. The calls were eventually traced to his office, forcing his resignation from the university in a flurry of publicity. With coauthor Palmer ( Shrapnel in the Heart ), Berendzen delivers a remarkably objective account of his treatment under Johns Hopkins Hospital's psychiatric program for sexual disorders, and of his eventual healing, that should not only prove inspiring to other child abuse victims, but also presents a portrait of an exceptional man who transformed a horror story into this moving human document. It concludes with the resumption of his teaching career at AU and his dedication to the cause of abused children. Photos not seen by PW .
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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