Dead Reckoning

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Published by: Basic Books
Release Date: July 4, 1996
Pages: 272
ISBN13: 978-0465007288

A Therapist Confronts His Own Grief


When David was twenty, his life was changed dramatically by one single, shattering event; his mother's suicide. The child of a prominent New England hotel family, Treadway watched numbly as his father and sister suffered mental breakdowns and his older brother retreated into alcoholism. Though barely out of his teens, David took on the role of family caretaker, burying his own grief and immersing himself in helping his family cope. This numbness lasted for twenty- seven years.

Then, in the midst of a busy and successful life as a husband, father, and therapist, he realized that he was overcome by an ever-growing emotional emptiness. For so many years he had been running away from his feeling about his mother, diverting his attention with ambitious sailing excursions and working to heal clients while ignoring his own quiet despair. Though Treadway is a well- known authority in the field of alcoholism and suicide, his professional expertise did not help him resolve his own pain.

Now, with this moving memoir - at turns deeply heartbreaking and tender - Treadway chronicles his arduous journey to finally come to terms with his mother's depression and suicide.

With the acute awareness of the dilemma of being both clinician and client, Treadway begins therapy to confront his buried feelings. Along the way, he also engages his whole family in examining their shared denial about the suicide. Weaving together the stories of his three siblings and his father. Treadway creates a full, complex picture of his mother. And he comes to understand the forces that drove her to make the tragic decision that would affect their family forever.

Poignantly illustrated with scenes from his own therapy, Dead Reckoning takes the reader along on Treadway's compelling odyssey toward self-acceptance and healing. This openhearted book is an inspiration for all who struggle with unresolved grief.


"In Dead Reckoning, David Treadway has given us the alarming, compellingly well-written story of a family cataclysm - the depression and tragic suicide of his own mother - and of the long and painful shadow that this cast upon the lives of the next generation. This is a rich, sometimes humorous, always fiercely honest and intelligent honey of a book."
-Maggie Scarf, author of Intimate Worlds

"To engage patients honestly, with an open heart and mind, therapists must journey into the dark corners of their own lives. With a novelist's craft, the insight of a mature clinician, and the courage of an adventurer, David Treadway permits us to accompany him as he finally confronts the impact of his mother's suicide on his life and work, Dead Reckoning is a great read."
-Barry Dym, co-author of Couples

"Aptly titled, Dead Reckoning is a touching personal narrative of a therapist's search to know his mother. Through his 'therapeutic journey,' David Treadway re-creates a past that he can live with and a future he can live for."
-Harlene Anderson, Ph.D., Director, Houston Galveston Institute

"In this moving book, David Treadway leaves the safety and distance of his profession for the uncertain destination of his own healing. In doing this, he charts safe passage for any of us whose heart's compasses have lost their way."
-Jay Lappin, Family Therapy Director, CENTRA

"In this profoundly moving memoir, David Treadway reveals the many layers of pain and denial that can build up in a family around traumatic loss - in this case, the suicide of his brilliant, talented, alcoholic mother. He shows the tangled web of pain and denial that pervaded his family, and he finds the courage to face his ghosts, take off his protective layers, and reconnect with his father, his siblings, his wife, and his children. This is a touching and important book."
-Monica McGoldrick, M.S.W., Ph.D. (Hon.), author of You Can Go Home Again