This morning, the New York Times raised an issue I've been grappling with, in its story on research scientists who use their children as subjects.
For the past year, I've been working on a memoire/reportage on Attention Deficit Disorder, a glitch I share with one of my sons, and am using our lives to illustrate issues that millions of parents are coping with, since ADD, most of the time, is a shared family trait. The project has been almost completely a blessing, giving me the time to more fully understand a disorder that has long threatened our family's equilibrium, and to seek out and apply the best treatments among a confusing array. But it has also brought up some ethical issues, some of which are raised by the Times today. Is this kind of scrutiny fair? How much should be revealed; what must be kept hidden? The photographer Sally Mann took nude pictures of her own children -- were there any larger issues that justified that?
One way I've coped with these dilemmas is by, from the start of my work, assembling a Brain Trust – a group of psychiatrists, close friends, and relatives with whom I check in frequently for judgment calls and readings of early drafts. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that a parent's vision of his or her own child is almost always obscured by memory, fear, and desire. Sometimes –maybe even most of the time -- it takes a village to see clearly....
Causes Katherine Ellison Supports
Women for Afghan Women, Moms Against Climate Change, Planned Parenthood