Saturday, February 19, 2011

Oprah: The Boy Who Tried to Kill His Mother

We just watched the Oprah episode on the 7 year old boy who tried to kill his mother. I first have to say that I thought that the mother was very brave. I wouldn’t want to walk through the backlash she’ll have to endure and the judgements that will follow by making her story public. My husband made the comment, “what a very selfless act.” I would agree. I know most wouldn’t expose their child to this type of media, myself included, but each time a family stands up and pulls back the curtain on childhood mental illness, it’s a step in the right direction towards understanding and compassion.

I thought the boy was adorable and the parents very well spoken. I myself would’ve been crying in front of the large audience. I could relate to much of what the mother had to share, even the feelings of being scared of your own child.

I was very familiar to the video clips shown in the episode, it looked like a typical outburst. I remember thinking how sad it was that nothing I saw or heard was outrageous, it looked like just another day in our life. It was a reminder of how far from “normal” we’ve come.

I don’t know that the audience got a complete picture of what a rage looks like. I know that when things really get bad with furniture being thrown about or abuse towards the parents, it’s almost impossible to video tape how ugly and violent a rage gets. I imagine that just like our home, the boy’s rages are much worse.

I was curious if the child’s facial tics were caused by tourettes syndrome or if it was a side effect from his medication. I was also curious about all the other labels they have received over the years and what the final diagnosis was, or if they even had one?

What moved me to tears was the final video clip of the boy who was on Oprah 11 years ago for having explosive rages. In the clip he explained that he was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and due to a supportive family and the right medication, he’s been able to excel and use his illness in a positive way. He was a true inspiration and gave me so much hope. Watch his video clip with the link below, it will brighten your day!

So, what did you think?

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New post welcoming Oprah viewers to ask me any questions:

Post: My Son Does Not Need an Exorcism!

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Video clip of boy’s triumph over childhood mental illness:

Video clip of mother sharing her experience:

Video clip of boy explaining how he copes with mental illness:

Their whole story:

Video Source:
Uploaded on YouTube by  on Feb 17, 2011


  1. I only watched the clips on the site but it's interesting in that if you read the comments the child's mom says he is not on meds and has not been for 1.5 years. His tics are from Tourettes. He lives away from home and attends a special school that teaches energy work and alternative healing methods - which is why Zach is so focused on the white light that protects him.

    I'm not sure what to think. I think Zach is adorable but I'm glad my son is like Brit and is stable on medication. Brit is a real success story. Time will tell how the white light protection plan works for Zach. A piece of me worries that he is just being taught to create a new psychotic world that is trying to defeat the 'negative' one he was in before. But that's just the worried mom in me. What happens when the creepy voices overpower the white energy?

  2. I know what you mean Meg, that worries me too. They say he's better without meds, yet he can't live at home, so I wouldn’t call that healed by any means. I agree with your thoughts on Brit, he seems to be an amazing kid who has learned not only how to live with his illness but to thrive.

  3. I had never taken meds for anything until I got to this foster home, my parents raised us naturally, so that we would build up immune systems. Went to the doctor for school shots but that's about it. It still trips me out that I have to take so many pills and some days I just don't want to. They helps sometimes but on the other hand they make me feel numbed out.

    Didn't see the show but may have to check it out.

  4. Hayden, have you shared with your doctor that you feel numbed out? Maybe they can adjust your meds for a better outcome?

  5. I find it ironic that I found this article today--

    The comments are disturbing as well!

  6. Wow, what a great show. It was so nice to see that we're not alone in this struggle against mental illness. While I didn't agree with the whole "white light" therapy, it's nice to see that it's working for this kid, but I have a feeling the dark energy may sometimes get the best of him.

    I was most amazed by Brit and I wish there was some way to get a hold of him. The 4-hour tantrum over cleaning his room (that happened 11 years ago) was a regular occurrence in our home - not quite as much now that he's medicated, thank God. In fact, my husband came downstairs during the clip of that tantrum and said, "Holy crap... it's Maddox!" I was SOOO inspired to see that he not only turned out to be normal, but EXCEPTIONAL. I would love to get hold of him or his mom and find out exactly what they did!

    Yeah, I've been reading the comments all morning and people suck!

  7. Elizam- I agree that the comments were heartbreaking in the article you listed, there is so much misunderstanding. In the case of a child with a mental illness, you can not discipline them out of their illness. I remember before my son was diagnosed, we tried spanking and after I spanked my son, he looked at me, spit in my face and told me to do it again. Spanking will not make his impulses stop, we learned that long ago. I remember when my son went into a rage during a church meeting in our home. One of the men attending, who happen to be a police officer said, "that's nothing a good spanking won't fix."

    Oh, if only it were that easy!

  8. Gina- I agree! I would love to get in touch with Brit so he can share his success story with us, I tried to reach him through Oprah's website, but so far no luck.

    Brit- Hey Brit, if you stumble across this blog, please email me at the link listed to the right, we would love to hear from you! You are a bright light in our journey.

  9. I agree about connecting with Brit. He is definitely a light at the end of my tunnel. The clip of him as a young boy reacting after his parents asked him to clean his room is a mirror image of what we experience quite a bit. My daughter is 9 and just started Tegretol after trying numerous, less effective drugs. We have been on top of her behaviors and issues since she was 4 or 5. My question is, like Brit who was a well-behaved child at school, how is she able to have wonderful manners and good behaviors at someone's house and good listening & social skills (with some ADHD symptoms)at school but at home she is disruptive, argumentative, physically & verbally abusive? She's not crashing from the meds - this happens 7 days/week at home.

    We've been working w/ a behavior consultant who's worked wonders w/ our other 3 children but because my daughter is so unpredictable and relentless, we are not able to find a working plan.
    I do believe my husband & I are good parents, but I also believe that my 9-year-old is affecting the dynamics of our family because of her lashing out at her 3 sibblings & parents.
    Would love your thoughts & any advice.

  10. Leigh,
    From my own research and experience, I believe that kids can hold it together at school, but once home they have to let it out. The reason they hold it together at school in our case is that our son doesn't want others to know about his illness, so of course he holds it in all day. Once home he has to let it out. He use to tell me, "I used all my good at school and when I get home I have no more left". I believe him, I think he uses all his energy to contain all is emotions, but after hours of doing that, he is too tired to continue. Also, I believe letting it out feels good to him, it releases the stress inside. He feels comfortable letting it out at home with his parents because he knows that we love him and will no matter how he behaves. It is impossible for these kids to hold it in all day, so it has to come out somewhere.

    Also, I believe that most people that experience chronic pain do this. For example, a person that has a migraine will "hold it together" while they give a presentation at work, but once home for the day, they become unable to participate with the family, maybe they appear irritable, where they didn't at work, I think we all do this to some degree in our life. It is just a lot more apparent with our kids.

    So, yes you are great parents, your child letting it out at home is not a reflection on your poor parenting skills, instead it shows that you are providing a safe supporting home for your child. Also, I think that it does prove that you are teaching your child well, as our therapist explained, the fact that our son can "hold it together" shows that he is learning coping skills and applying them.

    That is where medication comes in, the medication gives him greater ability to apply what he is learning for longer periods of time.

    I hope the Tegretol brings some success and I hope these words were encouraging to you.

  11. Thank you, Mama Bear. Yes, your words are encouraging. Our hardest part, I think, is that she uses physical and verbal outlets and is unable to connect logic w/ reason (or reason w/ logic), making it very challenging to work w/ her and help her cope.
    I'm hopeful that in time (soon, I hope)we will see progress.
    Thank you, again!!!

  12. Mrs. Shuster- I feel your pain, that has been our challenge too, the physical and verbal outlets effects the entire family, usually directed at the family, so I know how challenging that is. I think that’s where medicine comes in, all the therapy in the world won't work if they don't have the ability to control themselves. Hopefully medicine will bring those results for you soon!

  13. This is all such interesting information. I have yet to find something that works for my son. We adopted him at age 4, he was a huge challenge from the get go (and the Dept of Social Services was not exactly up front as to the true nature of this child, in fact they said he was "so happy, he wakes up happy" and "is without any issues."). At age 14 he killed our cat, beat our dog almost to death, suggested raping a girl to his friend, and threatened to kill myself and my daughter with a knife. After much hoop jumping, he was placed in a residential home. His psychologist believes that his behaviors are indicative of one exposed to cocaine and alcohol in the womb and has more than likely been brain damaged due to these drugs. As a result he is unable to reach his frontal lobe; is literally without conscience, shows no remorse or guilt for his actions, and cannot feel empathy or compassion for others. Has anyone heard of any programs for kids like these? Or at least programs to change the way the Dept of Social Services places these kids in homes that are far from equipped to handle these children? Or perhaps heal the communities creating these brain damaged children? Any help would sure be appreciated, as I believe the Dept of Social Services may not have the funds to keep in the residential home for much longer and will just send him back to us (I understand that if I refuse him I will then have to accept a charge of child abandonment). My greatest wish is to keep myself and my daughter safe.

  14. Hi Mich Hancock,
    Your story is heartbreaking. I have read of other families that have adopted children that were exposed to drugs in the womb and the results are often tragic. I wish I knew of some programs or resources that could help you and your family, maybe someone reading can respond with some info.

    I don’t know if you tried yet, but you may want to visit and post your story on the forum there, I’m sure someone there may be able to assist you with a program or at least resources that can help you.

    If anyone reading this blog knows of any helpful information, please post it here!

    I’m so sorry this is what your family is going through, it must be terrifying at times, it is crime for services to place these kids in homes without full disclosure of the child's condition, this doesn't help the child and can cause harm to a family that takes them in.

    I was thinking about Susan Tom, a woman I saw in a documentary that may have some experience with this, here is the post I made about her, I know she lives in CA, maybe with a little research you can contact her directly for assistance.

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