by George T. Lynn
Jessica Kingsley Publications, 2000
Review by Kendell C. Thornton, Ph.D. and Monique Thornton, M.S.W. on Dec 7th 2001
George T. Lynns book, Survival
Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar Disorder is a valuable
resource for parents and those in the mental health profession. The author draws on his experience as a
counselor to describe the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar Disorder
co-existing with Aspergers Syndrome, Tourettes Disorder or ADHD. He provides a clear, comprehensive
perspective on effectively parenting a child with bipolar disorder. He also explains what characteristics the
disorders have in common and how they differ from each other. Lynn is skilled at developing the
differential diagnosis of disorders that often have significant overlapping
In every chapter Lynn provides a
comprehensive case history, parent survival strategies and simple,
straightforward tips for surviving meltdowns. He includes a section on brain physiology, medication management
and school success. He gives practical
advice about difficult decisions that parents often have to make, including
when to call the police and the pros and cons of psychiatric hospitalization.
Survival Strategies provides
the reader with a different way to conceptualize how to parent a child with
Bipolar Disorder. Lynn places emphasis
on both the child and the parent and discusses how each of their roles and
behaviors impact the relationship. He
also acknowledges the significant role the larger system plays in the childs
treatment. He explains that because the
child lives in a larger system that includes family and school, they also have
a responsibility to change or at least meet the child where he is, if we expect
positive changes in the child with Bipolar Disorder.
George Lynn also includes a unique
description of the archetype of each of the disorders. In each archetype he includes basic
character traits, temperament, and what the child is driven by. For example, the archetype for the child
with Bipolar Disorder co-existing with Aspergers disorder is the Hermit
solitary, contemplative character who has been a feature of cross-cultural
myths for thousands of years. He is
said to have learned powerful secrets about magic and mysticism from solitary
and intense study. Lynn builds on the
archetype along with the diagnostic criteria by describing and including the
gifts and challenges associated with each archetype. He stresses the importance of addressing the
gifts that these children have to offer.
To address the gifts of these children is to acknowledge that they and
their families have potential to be highly successful.
Survival Strategies takes a
thought provoking spiritual/philosophical perspective on parenting a child with
Bipolar Disorder. Lynn provides case
examples about how the parent/caregiver of the child has quiet in her heart. When you are quiet in your heart you are
experiencing empathy for your child and in so doing teaching him to experience
it for himself. He clarifies that
being quiet in the heart does not necessarily mean being passive; that
sometimes it involves taking immediate action.
Lynn describes that if the parent has perspective and is calm and in
control, the child will learn how to restore control in himself.
Lynn doesnt hesitate to challenge
status quo and write from a true strengths perspective rather than the
traditional pathology focused/medical model.
For example, in Chapter III, Soothing the Hurt of Tourette Syndrome and
Bipolar Disorder, he asks the question, Is Tourettes a blessing or a curse?
and then answers by stating that on a personal level, Tourette Syndrome may be
seen as a pathway to a childs self-awareness and self-acceptance on levels
that are impossible for children without this challenge
the child is forced by
his own nature to come to terms with who he is. Only through acknowledgment of the strengths of children with
Tourette Syndrome can Lynn and the parents he seeks to help, recognize that
Tourette Syndrome can be a blessing.
Also in congruence with a strengths perspective is
Lynns assertion that the child with bipolar disorder knows herself well enough
to find the solutions to her own problems.
It is the adults role to acknowledge and accept these solutions as
With this book, George Lynn has made
a major contribution in the area of parenting children with Bipolar Disorder. He successfully instructs the reader on how
to understand and identify the symptoms of these disorders and at the same time
how to focus on the childs strengths or gifts. He delivers a well written and interesting book that provides
realistic solutions to difficult problems, and hope to families of these
Kendell Thornton and Monique Thornton
Kendell C. Thornton, Ph.D. is currently an Assistant
Professor in Psychology at
Dowling College, Long Island, NY. He earned his B.S. in Psychology from the
University of Idaho, M.S. in Social Psychology from the University of Montana,
and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Kansas. His current
research interests include interpersonal relationships, with a focus on
emotions, motivations, and self-concept.
Monique Thornton earned her MSW in 1993 from the University of Kansas. Kendell
and Monique are the parents of a 5-year-old with Asperger Syndrome.