American Snake Pit

Hope, Grit, And Resilience in the Wake of Willowbrook
Stillhouse Press
  • 1. Auflage
  • |
  • erschienen am 1. Mai 2018
  • |
  • 200 Seiten
E-Book | ePUB mit Adobe-DRM | Systemvoraussetzungen
978-1-945233-03-6 (ISBN)
'We have a situation that borders on a snake pit.' - Robert F. Kennedy In 1987, following a public outcry about its questionable medical practices, Staten Island's Willowbrook State School for people with intellectual disabilities closed its doors for good. Flat broke and almost finished with graduate school, Dan Tomasulo -- now a core faculty member at Columbia University's Spirituality Mind Body Institute -- was hired to relocate Willowbrook's most severely disabled inhabitants into a groundbreaking community-based group home. American Snake Pit is the story of the disregarded souls who ended up in Tomasulo's care; of the eccentric, resilient staff who helped make such a momentous success possible; and, most of all, of one man's persistent struggle to give voices to those who could not advocate for themselves.
  • Englisch
  • 0,46 MB
978-1-945233-03-6 (9781945233036)
PRAISE FOR AMERICAN SNAKE PIT "Tomasulo's memoir gives a voice to those who otherwise wouldn't have one. It reaches into the very heart of what is possible when people are given support, compassion, and an opportunity to thrive." Scott Barry Kaufman, author of Ungifted and Wired to Create (with Carolyn Gregoire) "Dan Tomasulo's tale of hope and grit explores a dark blemish in American history, re-framing the narrative-both of his own life and that of his patients-through hard work and compassion, and irrevocably altering the civil rights discourse about how we care for the most severely intellectually disabled in this country. If you want people to change for the better, you have to change their situation. American Snake Pit shows with courage and compassion how this can be done. From my viewpoint, this is the formula for hope." Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, and author of The Lucifer Effect "A compassionate, funny, fictionalized (but no less real) account of what happened when newly minted psychologist, 'Dr. Dan,' was put in charge of transitioning six intellectually disabled people from an abusive, overcrowded institution to a community home. But who is really in charge? Earnest and clueless Dr. Dan? The challenging and crafty residents? The ex-con cook? The wise-cracking sexy secretary? The no-nonsense seasoned staff? Or the mayor and fire chief who scheme to get the home out of their town? High jinx and pathos ensue as these disparate characters learn to get along." Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. and author of Unlocking the Secrets of Self-Esteem "Equally harrowing and transcendent in its telling, Tomasulo's revealing tale balances on the boundary of what it is to be human, and to endure with dignity and compassion." Barnet Bain, Core Faculty, Spirituality Mind Body Institute, Teachers College, Columbia University; author of The Book of Doing and Being; and producer, What Dreams May Come "Tomasulo has done something remarkable in American Snake Pit. He has given voice to the voiceless. The book is about making courage and hope and kindness happen. The courage to be the change for a broken and dysfunctional system, the hope to see an invisible but somehow better future among clouds of impossibility, and the kindness to want to prioritize and champion that unspoiled, sacred spot that lies deep inside every human being. Tomasulo given us a gift. Don't just read it. Don't just treasure it. Allow yourself to be forever changed by its wisdom." Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D., Education Director and Psychologist, VIA Institute on Character, author of Character Strengths Interventions and Mindfulness and Character Strengths, and co-author of Positive Psychology at the Movies and Movies and Mental Illness (with Danny Wedding) "Tomasulo reminds us that first and foremost we must never lose sight of our humanity. People with intellectual disabilities have often been victims of a myth that they are less able than others to access the human qualities in all of us that help us to thrive. The stories of Willowbrook survivors and their staff provide a lens into the power of community, hope, humor, and strength of character." Joan B. Beasley, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability/UCED, and Director, Center for START Services "Tomasulo is a gifted clinician, a gifted writer, and a deeply compassionate human being. He challenges our implicit bias against severely intellectually disabled by revealing his own. We watch 'Dr. Dan' move from graduate student to polished clinician as he leverages his creativity, curiosity, and kindness in finding a way to reach people that others thought were unreachable." Shannon Polly, Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP), and co-author of Character Strengths Matter (with Kathryn Britton) "In a place others label hopeless, Tomasulo finds hope. In a place others see rejection, Tomasulo discovers resilience. In a place others find gross, Tomasulo uncovers grit. American Snake Pit grabbed me by the throat from the first sentence and wouldn't let go. Brilliant. Period!" Margaret H. Greenberg, MAPP, PCC, and New York Times bestselling co-author of Profit from the Positive (with Senia Maymim) "Engrossing, moving, and inspirational, American Snake Pit is a tour-de-force. We couldn't put the book down! Tomasulo's memoir beautifully depicts the transformational power of kindness and compassion, even for those in the direst of situations." Suzann Pileggi Pawelski, MAPP, and James Pawelski, Ph.D., co-authors of Happy Together "Gripping, haunting, shocking, and gorgeous, American Snake Pit explodes off of the page like fireworks, shining a brilliant and long-overdue light on one of the most infamous institutions in American history." Daniel Lerner, New York University Clinical Instructor, and co-author of U Thrive (with Alan Schlechter) "American Snake Pit is very much Tomasulo's story, but it is also the modern history of the intellectually disabled in the United States. Unlike the textbooks I grew up reading that attempted only to cram facts into my brain, Dan's stories drew me inside of them. Even as I set the book down for the last time, I wanted more of Dan, whose honesty and humor will connect with anyone interested in learning how to be a human being. This is a book that should be on the shelf of every mental health clinician, every politician, and all lovers of a great memoir or good history." Alan Daniel Schlechter, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NYU Langone Health; Director, Outpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Bellevue Hospital; and co-author of U Thrive (with Daniel Lerner) "Tasked with integrating a group of discarded individuals into the very community that rejected them, Tomasulo leads us on a journey to understand what connects us as humans. We're reminded of the fundamentals: our need for safety, our need to be heard, and our need to have hope. Even in the most difficult of circumstances, Tomasulo shows us that these fundamentals have the power to heal and transform. What is best in us emerges." Cory Muscara, MAPP; Long Island Center for Mindfulness; Assistant Instructor, University of Pennsylvania; and Teaching Staff, Columbia Teachers College "In this gripping and sometimes heartbreaking memoir, Tomasulo brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters, all of them plagued by demons, all of them trying to make the best of their harrowing circumstances. An eye-opening exploration of how mental illness can undo a life-and how love and friendship can put it back together." Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning "Tomasulo tells the thoughtful and sometimes poignant stories of an incredible group of people who live with severe mental illness and behavioral problems. By the end of this book, you'll be cheering for this group of underdogs as though they were all people you knew and loved-much like each is loved and cared for by underappreciated and underpaid staff. If this book doesn't inspire you to think about group homes more empathetically and more humanely, I'm not sure what will." John M. Grohol, Psy.D., founder and CEO of "Tomasulo's accounts of working with patients from the 'Snake Pit' will jolt you and remind you to be grateful that clinicians like Tomasulo give their hearts and lives to helping those who can't represent themselves. And the huge surprise at the end of the book pulls the stories together in an amazing way. Bravo!" Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP, and author of Getting Grit and Creating Your Best Life (with Michael B. Frisch) "With humor and bold honesty, American Snake Pit takes us on the decades-long spiritual path of a courageous and faithful healer." Lisa Miller, Ph.D., Professor and Founder, Spirituality Mind Body Institute, Teachers College, Columbia University "By turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and humorous, this deeply personal book gives voice to people who are far too often voiceless, and forms a clear call for more individual and collective compassion." David Bryce Yaden, Research Fellow, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, and editor of Being Called "A poignant reflection on the horrors found within the walls of the Willowbrook Institution and the potent resiliency of individuals who are subjected to extreme and deplorable conditions in the 'snake pit' that our public policy has created. This should be a 'must read' for both the professional and lay community." Robert J. Fletcher, DSW, Founder & CEO Emeritus, NADD, and former Willowbrook Class Case Manager "Tomasulo brings a serious and timely issue to light in a non-serious way. His story serves as an important reminder that all people, irrespective of physical, behavioral, or emotional attributes, must be offered the same opportunities to become...

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