HARASSMENT DIARY,* by Paulette Cooper (1982) **
Part 1: My Background
My 1997 editorial comments are enclosed in [[double square brackets]]. * (asterisks) indicate a comment made in 1997. The footnotes were all part of this diary.
The following, for my lawyers, attempts to put a number of disparate probably relevant events in chronological sequence. An attempt has been made to focus on the emotions and feelings that the different crises caused.
I was born in Auschwitz.... around the same time that my parents died there. I was sent to various orphanages in Belgium, along with my older sister Susy. She was adopted by a Belgian Aunt and Uncle when I was 4-1/2, and I was adopted by the Coopers. I came to America at 6 (I became a U.S. citizen at 8), weighing only 36 pounds. (1)
In the summer of 1959, I returned to Belgium and saw my sister again for the first time since childhood. This was extremely upsetting to me, especially since she was living under such horrible conditions. I was also extremely upset after being shown a photograph of my dead parents. In addition, I was also distressed to see that the members of my family who had survived the concentration camps (17 out of 22 had been killed), were living in abject poverty, and some didn't seem to be mentally all there after their concentration camp experiences. On top of it, they all kept trying to convince me to return to live in Belgium. And it also didn't help that my sister told me that I was responsible for my mother's death. It seems that because she was pregnant with me, she was unable to get away and was thus taken by the Germans. This whole visit precipitated some guilts and depressions that ultimately lead me into therapy in 1962 with Dr. Stanley Cath of Belmont, Massachusetts. (2)
I went to Brandeis and graduated in 3 years (not counting 6 months out for an appendectomy) with Honors in Psychology. (3) I started off to get a Ph.D in psychology at Columbia University, but hated it there and ultimately got a Masters Degree in Psychology on a part-time basis.
Simultaneously, I joined the real world, got a job psychoanalyzing television commercials, followed by two jobs writing them for ad agencies. *** While in advertising I sold my first three articles -- to Cosmopolitan, TV guide, and The Washington Post -- and left advertising to become a full-time freelance writer in 1968.
Footnotes on document
(1) Although my parents were dead, the people in the orphanage never told me this. They foolishly told me they were away and would come and get me one day. This left me wondering what I had done that was so awful that they would desert me, a problem compounded by the fact that my family only visited me once in 6 years, while the other kids all had family, and in some cases even parents, who had put them in the home because they were too poor or disturbed as a result of the war to care for them.
(2) It didn't help that I was quite lost and did poorly in college my first year (although from the second on, I was always Dean's List.) In addition, my parents had been very-overprotective and controlling, giving me no freedom, and I didn't know what to do with freedom when I had it. In addition, I developed a huge crush on a really nasty s-o-b who liked to shower me with affection and then distance himself immediately afterwards.
I was also constantly being contacted by my Belgian family and sister who wanted me to live there. My mother recently also told me that I told her at the time that I wanted to go into therapy because I was getting very anxious and depressed and having bad dreams because living in the college dormitory reminded me of living in the orphanages During this period...I also resaw my sister again in 1962 which was disastrous.
(3) Most of my 2 years of therapy with Dr. Stanley Cath of Belmont Massachusetts centered on trying to alleviate the guilt, depression etc., of the earlier years and their more recent effect on me (mostly by making me fear desertion to such a degree that I'm afraid to get close to people), trying to show me that my relationships with men (such as the one mentioned above) were very superficial and ultimately self-destructive, trying to handle strongly ambivalent feelings toward my over-protective parents, and helping me to
[[NOTE: Line fell too low and can't be read. Probably something to do with gaining a sense of self or whatever.]]
* Dean Benjamin e-mailed and offered to format all entries for me so I'm grateful to him for this.
** There is no date on this "diary" -- technically a memoir since it was written after the facts -- but I am guessing at 1982 or possibly 1981 because at the end it says that Scientology had just instituted their 15-16-17th suits against me, and they sued me 19 times, and I also say at the end that I plan to quit smoking soon and I did that in 1982.