Spoiled Children of Divorce


Brain on Fire – Susannah Cahalan
In her recently released book Brain on Fire, Susannah Callahan describes her battle with a rarely diagnosed autoimmune illness which attacked her brain.  I heard an interview with her on NPR’s radio program Fresh Air.
Callahan became very sick very quickly in February 2009 when she was 24 years old.  At first she figured she was suffering from the stress of her new job as a reporter at The New York Post but as her symptoms became worse she went through diagnosis after diagnosis and eventually chewed up 1 million dollars worth of scans and tests. A doctor could correctly figure out her illness by the simple test of  having her draw a picture of the face of a clock.
Calahan had been living with a boyfriend for 6 months.  Her parents were divorced and she had become estranged from her father after the divorce.  Both parents sound like they were great caretakers and cooperated with each other throughout the long month when Susannah was in the hospital.  Much of this time she doesn’t remember.
Callahan also describes how her relationships changed throughout her illness.  I suspect that this is probably more important for Children of Divorce because we often can’t expect our parents to help because they don’t have the support of a family unit, or can’t stand being around the other parent which causes even more stress.  Then again, each case is different and parents are hopefully more savvy now than they used to be.
 Just before her hospitalization Susannah had moved back in with her Mother and her Mother’s husband/boyfriend.  The night before the hospitalization she spent with her Father and his Wife/Girlfriend.  Since both parents had significant others for support this might actually be an improved circumstance as there were 4 adults doing the caretaking.  (Also, sorry, but I seem to have forgotten the exact relationship that the parents had with their significant others.)
From a Child of D standpoint there’s an interesting comment about how during this night with Father and Stepmother Susannah hallucinates that her Stepmother is complaining about how spoiled she is.  Since I named this blog after a woman who had said that kids from divorce are disgusting because we are all spoiled I like that little quirk in Cahalan’s mind, in particular.  In the Fresh Air interview Susannah says that she figures that most people at the early part of her illness figured that she was just acting arrogant because she was a spoiled rich kid (didn’t mention divorce).  The interviewees of one her interviews with the Post ended the interview because they thought she was drunk.  The first therapist declared that she simply needed to stop drinking, something which she says she doesn’t normally do.  One can see how many extra prejudices a Child from Divorce has to deal with in trying to get diagnosed with a mental or, in this case, neurological, disorder.  Many divorced parents are probably very quick to have their children institutionalized.  I just remember the coworker of an old friend of mine whose Mother had had him put into a mental hospital so she could go to Medical School.  These things do happen.
Susannah develops a new wonderful bond with her father where previously they had been estranged.  He keeps a detailed diary of her illness which is a great resource for her book.
Cahalan had to write the book about herself from the point of view of a journalist, piecing together what everyone else said had happened because she doesn’t remember much of it.
The astrology is possibly unbelievably interesting.  I don’t have Cahalan’s birth info so this is all probably really stupid to mention.  I’m mentioning it anyway because there is possibly a really incredible connection between planetary cycles which hook the divorce with the illness.  Cahalan keeps describing her illness and recovery in terms of divorce and marriage in many ways and that so hooks into one of the significant planetary cycles that she may have been going through.
Cahalan was 24 during the time of her illness.  This hooks her into 2 possible planetary cycles.
The first would be her second Jupiter Return which occurs roughly Age 23-24.  The first Jupiter Return would have occurred when she was roughly 11-12.  Since Jupiter is connected with publishing and writing and getting lucky it makes sense that this cycle would find her gainly employed at a new stressful job with a newspaper.  Her Jupiter is possibly in Gemini which makes this even more sense as Gemini also rules writing and communication.  Gemini is connected with the nerves in the body so, if this is Susannah’s placement it would show some sort of overwhelming load on her nerves.  Jupiter rules the liver and the hips.  So, it actually is pretty interesting that the initial reactions to her behavior were to assume that she was drunk — the liver is heavily affected by alcohol.
Another cycle which I’m particularly interesting in is the 8-year Sun-Venus Rx cycle.  This is one of the most precise cycles in the planets and was used by the Mayans for measuring time.  The Sun is in conjunction with Venus Retrograde every 8 years.  Within this period there are 5 Sun-Venus Rx conjunctions which occur very close to the same degrees of the Zodiac.
In her book, Susannah says that her parents divorce had occurred 8 years previously which is why I can’t control myself here. Venus, through the sign of Libra, rules Marriage and one on one relationships.
A person whose natal chart is affected in some way by this conjunction would receive a lot of attention from these 2 planets and things that they rule during his/her lifetime.  That can be a very good thing for anything connected with social life or the arts, and can bring issues involving relationships.  Age 16 is considered the Sweet 16 party for girls so is very much connected with the Sun-VenusRx cycle.  (The part where kids start to drive, which is Mars and Mercury is maybe not such a great idea at this age.)
The person would internalize events that occur at this age very strongly and would act out on them through life and would possibly connect with an 8 year cycle through out their lives.
(I did find a birth date for Cahalan that doesn’t have a Sun-Venus Rx conjunction but still receives significant hits and I have no idea if it is a correct date.  My research is saying that divorce possibly will hook kids into these cycles and provide extra information to use for interpretation beyond the natal chart.)
Venus goes Retrograde about once a year and is never farther than 2 signs away from the Sun.  The Retrograde transit is an illusion which is seen from the earth because Venus spins around the Sun and not around the Earth.   Because of the elliptical orbits, Venus appears to stay at a standstill and to move backward in the sky during the Retrograde periods.
And Venus during the 8-year cycles that Susannah Cahalan may be hooked into is in the sign of Aries.  Aries is ruled by Mars and Mars rules the Head and Inflammation in the chart because it is a fiery planet.  It also rules Male energy and is a symbol for the Fighter and Warrior in people.
Venus is said to rule two signs.  She always is said to rule Female Energy.  The first is Taurus which rules the neck and lower part of the head, possibly the brain stem.  The second sign Venus rules is Libra which rules the Kidneys.  Venus is very strongly connected with the 8th cranial nerve because she rules the voice, hearing to some extent, Harmony, and sense of balance.  Venus, of course, is the ruler of marriage and relationships and connected with the Sun (vitality, creativity, ego expression) is very connected with social life.
Mercury and Uranus would also be interesting to look at in Susannah’s chart as they rule the nerves.  Mercury rules nerves themselves and the hands and communication skills.  Uranus rules any circulatory system and in particular the electrical system in a person.  Anything that happens suddenly is ruled by Uranus.
I’m not sure what rules rare diseases or autoimmune disorders.  I suspect that the sign of Libra is connected just because AIDS occurred during a transit of Pluto passing through Libra.  Libra is the female end of relationships which has to learn to set boundaries. Mars is impulsive and sort of thoughtless and reckless and has to learn Venusian traits.
Neptune often indicates an illness which is difficult to diagnose or treat.  Uranus and probably Jupiter generally can rule situations in which truth and enlightenment  come about so I would assume that this planet figures strongly in Susannah’s chart as she was lucky enough to receive a diagnosis and treatment.
Autoimmune encephalitis inflammation of brain
Here are dates of the Venus Rx’s and conjunctions with the Sun on 8 year cycles.  Again, I have no idea if this has anything to do with Cahalan’s chart.  Hopefully she’ll soon write more books and her birth date will be available because I’m dying of curiosity.
1985
  Venus Rx mar. 14, 1985 23 Aries
  Venus sd apr. 25, 1985 7 Aries
  Sun con. Venus Rx apr. 4, 1985. 4 Aries
Parents divorce Age 16?
  Venus Rx mar. 9, 2001. Venus 18 Aries
  Venus sd April, 20, 2001. 2 Aries
  Sun con. Venus Rx. Mar.30, 2001 10 Aries
Illness onset February, 2009, hospital march, 2009  Feb. 17?
  Sun con. Venus Rx march, 28, 2009. 8 Aries
  Venus Rx mar. 7, 2009 16 Aries
  Venus sd April. 18, 2009. 30 Pisces
Imagines stepmother telling father she’s a spoiled brat. Chapter called Buddha
Oldest daughter
Couldn’t remember metropolian museum visit Madame x postcard, Feb 17, 2009

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