Before Whispers Become Silence: A Memoir
Before Whispers Become Silence is a memoir by Andrew Clyde Little, a retired CBC journalist and university lecturer.
In the fall of 1953, the author's mother committed suicide. The following year his father died of cancer. An only child, Little found himself on his own at 18, grieving and angry.
The memoir is a chronicle of his 30-year search for the reasons behind his mother's death. That search includes a review of her treatment by Dr. Ewen Cameron, the infamous Montreal psychiatrist who used CIA funds to finance brainwashing experiments on patients without their consent.
The search doesn't stop there - Little takes us back to the turn of the century, to his illegitimate grandmother's adoption and her later marriage to an abusive Methodist Minister. Trudy Little, the author's mother, had a promising career as a pop singer that was cut short when she suffered a nervous breakdown following her son's birth in 1936. She never fully recovered.
Although her struggles ended in 1953, her son's were only beginning. He found temporary comfort in alcohol, and by the time he was thirty, comfort had turned to chaos. To get sober, to stay sober was a battle, but it was a battle he won.
Eventually prescription drugs replaced alcohol, leading to addiction and agoraphobia. Psychiatric treatment at the Allan Memorial Institute, the same hospital where his mother had been a patient, provided relief from the agoraphobia, but not the addiction.
It was then the author turned to gifted Montreal psychoanalyst Dr. Brian Hunt. With his help, Little kicked the prescription drug habit and gained insight into his mother's condition as well. He found the answers to questions he'd been asking for 30 years. And with these answers came understanding and reconciliation.
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