PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children by Susan Tarr

PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children

PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children

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It’s Malcolm’s story blended with many others of the day.
His beloved mother has recently died, leaving no one to fend for him.
When his father make the choice to move from Dunedin, he chooses his young mistress and a new life in Christchurch over his son.
Malcolm becomes the innocent fallout from his father’s long-standing love affair.
At 6-years old, Malcolm is dumped at Seacliff Railway Station. From there it is only a short trip into New Zealand’s enormous Seacliff Mental Hospital. Sadly, into mental hospitals was where many lost or forgotten children were deposited back then.
I have collected many stories together and blended them into a pretty accurate account of what happened back then. But mainly it’s Malcolm’s story of his triumph.


Having worked in New Zealand’s mental health system for many years, I felt there were some stories that needed telling. So I told them.
I’ve also been involved in both New Zealand and international tourism. And there are more stories to be told from those times.
Sailing to Kenya in a 28ft yacht was one of my more rash choices.
I write in several different genre, but our Kiwi humor and glorious geography feature largely in each of my stories. And our never-say-die attitude. Amazon authors Page  “Kindle Unlimited FREE

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Format: Kindle Edition

There’s no escaping the fact that mental health is a large part of our world. Have we learned from past mistakes? I certainly hope so. But with senior abuse in long-term care facilities and extreme shock therapy with Autistic kids, we still see elements of horror creeping into psychiatric care today. PHENOMENA takes us back in time when the disregard for undesirables in society was much more commonplace, and Tarr’s unflinching pen captures the grit and ugliness flawlessly. Tarr writes from her heart on a subject she clearly knows well — Historic New Zealand Mental Health. Although this is a work of fiction, its heart-wrenching drama is based on fact, and the fact that the main character was a real person, only makes it more chilling, sad and gripping. He is just 6 years old when he’s placed and abandoned in a mental asylum, and asylums of the past were ripe hubs for abuse, experimentation, and neglect of patients. Malcolm’s mother has recently died, and his selfish father chooses his mistress over the boy’s welfare. And any relatives, who may have cared and been alarmed by his predicament, falsely believe he’s gone with his dad to live in a new city. Like with a Child Called It, you just want to reach into the pages and help, but all you can do is wait breathlessly for a break or a ray of hope to shine on poor Malcolm. A truly unforgettable, moving read by an accomplished author. Check it out.

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful

By Khalid Muhammad on June 29, 2014

Format: Kindle Edition

*** I received this book in return for an honest review ***

Talk about an author with a fantastic voice! Susan hits the nail on the head with a topic that is very difficult to turn into a strong story.

Malcolm, an inmate of a mental asylum, tells his story and how society has perceived him in relation to it. There is so much to this story that will haunt the reader as they understand Malcolm’s struggle with life and in-patient treatment. I found it interesting how the author told the story from his point of view and brought us into his world, almost making the reader wonder if it was really happening, had really happened or was just fiction. That takes great writing to achieve!

This is a book that will break your heart and fill it with emotions. From the person to the institution and the treatment, the reader is taken on a haunting, riveting journey that will haunt and touch them well after they have put it down.

Highly recommended!

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful

By Anne Frandi-Coory on August 11, 2014

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Susan Tarr, who herself has worked in psychiatric hospitals in New Zealand, cleverly weaves the changes Dr Frederic Truby King brought to institutional care through Malcolm’s eyes. Dr King has since been proven wrong in many of his beliefs about psychiatric illness;
environmental and social engineering could not and cannot cure deep-seated psychological problems.
But, to accompany Malcolm, the abandoned boy at the heart of this story, on his journey through the pages of ‘Phenomena’ is to gain a remarkable insight into the thoughts and feelings of sufferers when mental illness was little understood. The harsh treatment of children at Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, an institution completely devoid of love and understanding, is heartrending. Most of the children suffered from no more than emotional trauma or epilepsy. Some patients, admitted as children, spent their whole lives at Seacliff and died there. Women who succumbed to misdiagnosed post-natal depression were declared ‘insane’ and locked away from family support and their children which often
deepened their depression, developed into psychotic states, or far worse. Ex-soldiers, suffering battle fatigue or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (not properly diagnosed at the time) were also among the patients at Seacliff. The revivalist Gothic Seacliff Lunatic Asylum building was erected in 1874 and demolished in 1959. Anne Frandi-Coory

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful

By Anca-Melinda Coliolu on January 22, 2014

Format: Kindle Edition

The first thing which comes into my mind regarding Susan Tarr’s book is that I’ve never read something like it. It’s not an average prototype of fiction, with its usual genres and formulas. It’s the unique story – inspired by true people and facts – of a little boy’s terrible experience of growing in a mental hospital. Unlike the other patients there, Malcom had never fit in and struggled to keep his normality in a heart and mind-wrenching environment. The story has a depth that could only come from life experience, from knowledge of the human psychology and behavior. Although the first part is sad and introduces shocking and depressing aspects of the treatments and life imposed to mental hospitals’ patients , the author skillfully manages to sprinkle some humor in the darkest situations. The ending is unexpected, with a twist that makes the reader think it was all worth it and start reading it again.
A great book from a great author!

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful

By Kiw1 on January 28, 2014

Format: Kindle Edition

This book is amazing; it is honestly different. As the author says, she’s put true stories into a fictionalised format – the result is a highly readable description of a slice of life few people were privy to – the ‘bin’, the mental hospital, the ‘asylum’. But interwoven into the historical descriptions (a few actually funny, more unbearably sad) is the story of Malcolm. What happens to a child who has had no parenting? A child who is exposed to institutionalisation? A child whose stimulation is all wrong? A child who is not allowed to grow up? Read ‘Phenomena: The Lost and Forgotten Children’ and many of these questions are answered. Don’t come with any preconceptions….
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