An Evening at Fisher Island and an Afternoon at Magianno’s by Joan E. Childs

Joan E. Childs, LCSW and Inspirational Keynote Speaker presents, Woman of the 21st Century at Maggiano’s

Joan E. Childs, LCSW, and Inspirational Keynote Speaker present, Life after Loss: A journey of 6 steps at Fisher Island. Images include: Joan E. Childs, LCSW and Production Team Georgina DiSalvo and Jonathan DiSalvo



An Evening at Fisher Island and an Afternoon at Magianno’s February and March were great months for speaking. I had the privilege of presenting LIFE AFTER LOSS at Fisher Island in February at the invitation of Scott Vogel, the Spa’s director and at Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant, where I presented WOMEN OF THE 21st CENTURY by request from Eileen Cohen who is on the board for the Women’s Empowerment Networking Group. The response to both was wonderful. My presentation at Fisher Island reflected what I wrote in my book, WHY DID SHE JUMP? My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder. More than that, it addressed the cascade of grieve loved one’s experience after the loss. Several of the attendees had lost a loved one and were eager to hear my story and how I morphed from pain into purpose and passion. Fisher Island is one of the most exquisite communities in South Florida, perhaps even in the US and world. Having been a child of Miami Beach from the mid-forties and living across the street from Joe’s Stone Crabs as a child, often bewildered by the thought of why anyone would want to eat a crab made out of stone, I was flabbergasted to see what was once an island near the jetties that I climbed as a child. Set in Government Cut where the cruise ships pass by, this small island became the home to the rich and famous. Seventy plus years after those days went by, I was mystified by what Carl Fisher, the founder of Miami Beach envisioned and developed even after he was gone. Had he been alive today, we both would be stunned to see the manifestation of a dream come true. Ferrying from the dock to the island, I was in awe both coming and going. The backdrop of Miami in all its glory took my breath away. I had never seen it from that view. The lights of the city illuminated the majestic buildings that lined the bay with color and splendor. When had this happened, I had wondered. Cruising in our car, both Georgina, my technician, and webmaster, along with her husband, Johnny and I, stayed transfixed and dazed over the crossing, like three children mesmerized by something spectacular that had been seen for the very first time. We all felt as if we were transported into a surrealistic painting, drifting off into an altered state as if drugged. The movement of the ferry as we sat in the still of the car, felt like we were gliding across Biscayne Bay. Time stood still for me as we head back to the dock. As we approached the entrance to MacArthur Causeway, it felt as if I had taken my first breath since we departed. Our conversation back to my world never left the reflections we all shared and memories we made while visiting the enchanted Fisher Island. Soon after, one of the members who had attended my presentation, John, invited us back for a personal tour of the island. We were to meet at dockside to the spa to begin the tour. We parked close by one of the yachts that flanked the dock like a floating space ship. It was for me, the largest yacht I had ever seen. Asked if it was corporately owned, I was advised that it was owned solely by one of the members. After closing my jaw, we began the tour.


Please check out Darline Pistocchi’s article as posted by the Hollywood Gazette

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Darlene Pistocchi Community Correspondent at Hollywood Gazette Darlene is a professional writer, voice-over and performing arts specialist Image provided by Hollywood Gazette

Joan E. Childs has been in private practice as a psychotherapist (LCSW) for nearly 40 years in Broward and Dade counties. She is also a resident of Hollywood for the past fourteen years living in West Lake Village and the mother of five. Sadly, she lost her eldest daughter, Pamela, when she was just 34 years old.

“On July 2, 1998, my beautiful, brilliant daughter, Pamela Ann Glassman, a clinical psychologist and social worker, leaped to her death from her father’s 15th story window.  She battled bipolar disorder for ten years,” shares Childs. “When in a delusional state, the disease pushed her out the window.  I don’t believe my daughter committed suicide; it was her illness that was her executioner.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. for all ages, ahead of homicide which is ranked 17th, and takes the lives of over 38,000 Americans every year and 800,000 worldwide according to the World Health Organization.

 “As a child, Pam was precocious, lovable and adored by her family,” recalls Childs. “She did not exhibit any mental disorder until she was in high school; however, it went completely unrecognized as a mental disorder for many years.”

Childs says Pam appeared more like a typical contrary teenager with bad habits that included sloppiness, haughtiness, being confrontational and telling lies.  Her behavior became intolerable and after a confrontation between the two, Pam picked up and left home in November of her junior year to live with her father.

“There was no way I was able to convince her to stay and complete her junior year. She was a cheerleader, in Thespians and had many friends who tried desperately to convince her to stay and work it out with me.  But we were all powerless and in a split decision, she left her siblings and me. It was a shock to all of us and my heart was shattered when she refused to reconsider.”

Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year; with suicide as the 2nd leading cause of death in young people from the ages 15-25, according to the CDC.

“It takes about 10 years to make a differential diagnosis for Bipolar Disorder,” explains Childs. “There are no tests to determine a diagnosis.  Today there is a spectrum.  We know of Bipolar I and Bipolar II, but now are convinced that there is a spectrum including I, II, III and IV depending on the symptoms and interview.  It is a very difficult diagnosis to determine because it mimics so many other psychiatric disorders.  Obtaining a differential diagnosis takes a skilled psychiatrist and a lot of time.  It’s a treacherous mental disorder often causing suicide in very violent fashion.”

Pam did move on with her education and graduated from University of Missouri, then attended Adelphi College where she received her Masters in Social Work and later a PhD in Clinical Psychology in L.A.   She was extremely successful as a psychotherapist where she worked for the John Bradshaw Institute in L.A.

“John referred to her as ‘a wizard therapist’,” shares Childs, “drawing the lightening to herself to help her patients who were there due to childhood traumas that were interfering with their lives as adults.  Many had been using drugs and alcohol as a way of self- medicating.  When they were sober, Pam would do the Inner Child work and teach them new ways to define themselves.  Her work was transformational.”

At 24, Pam came back to South Florida for a short time to be hospitalized.

“Her roommates contacted me to advise me that her behavior had been inappropriate and frightening.  They were extremely worried about her and could not continue to live with her due to her messiness and rapid mood changes.  They suggested she come home to be treated.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment.

“Depression is a very devious disorder,” shares Childs.  “It comes in many different forms. Looking back through a rear view mirror, it was easy to recognize that something was not right.  Even in her therapeutic modalities, Pam was extreme, taking chances that most therapists would not do.  She broke down her patient’s defense mechanisms while drawing out the trauma that was stuck inside their brains. Fortunately, they were in a safe environment while she performed miracles, as they would say.”

What are Some Warning Signs?

“Watch for grades sliding, social changes like a loss of friends, not wanting to attend school or work, drug and alcohol use and abuse to numb out and self-medicate,” explains Childs. “Suicidal ideation, cutting, loss of appetite, staying in their rooms too much, isolating, lack of hygiene, overt sexuality, changes in their personality from vivacious to sullen.  Listen to their tone and attitude. Any changes from their normal behavior that sustains itself for a long period of time is suspicious.”

“I saw my daughter change from a beautiful, intelligent, successful woman into a regressive, frightened little child fearful that the devil was going to take her soul. She was hallucinating and fearing for her life that would be taken by the devil.”

These additional signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Pam passed when she was 34 years old.  She was born in North Miami Beach on October 1, 1963, and appeared to be a normal, healthy, engaging, bright and precocious as a child.

“She had a charismatic personality,” shares Childs. “She was adored by her father, her siblings, her teachers, friends, grandparents, and of course me. I survived every parent’s worst nightmare.”

Childs says she had to make a choice. “Was I going to become a victim of this tragedy?  Would I simply survive and move on?  Or would I choose to take this loss and turn it into something that would make my daughter’s life and death meaningful and raise the conscious awareness of mental illness?”

Childs chose to be a PHOENIX, “not unlike the mythological bird that rises from the ashes to become stronger and more empowered.”


“This has become my mission,” she states. “To share my story and help others who have suffered similar tragedies, whether from mental illness or any other loss of a loved one caused by any other reason.”

After seven years, the culmination of Childs’ anguish became a book, Why Did She Jump? My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder, which can be purchased at Health Communications, INC,   or ordered in any Barnes & Noble.  For more information visit Child’s website.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area,anytime 24/7.

THE DONALD! OMG – Joan E. Childs, LCSW & Inspirational Keynote Speaker

I never considered writing a political blog.  It’s not my forte, but as a practicing psychotherapist, I felt compelled to post something on the psychodynamics and pathological behavior of the Republican nominee for president, Donald J Trump.  As I see it, we are in serious trouble if he becomes our next president.

In my opinion, Mr. Trump is the perfect storm for a disaster, or worse yet, an apocalypse.   I don’t know much about politics, but I have 40 years of experience and understanding about psychopathology.

The Donald, as he is so often referred to, is a complex combination of a garden variety of personality disorders.  He manifests the behaviors of a narcissistic personality disorder, coupled with borderline personality disorder, and worst of all, sociopathic personality traits, the last of which cannot be cured.  This triad plus money, power and an anxious country that is starving to hear his rhetoric, subjects us to a modern day Hitler.

Germany was prime for Adolph and America is prime for the Donald.  Even more alarming are the advanced nuclear weapons not available in WWII.   Add an over-indulged petulant child who has temper tantrums when things don’t go his way, poor impulse control, and no filter or container to consider the consequences of his monologues, diatribes and the spewing of his irrational and often untrue ramblings.  His flip-flopping, hypercritical, judgmental insulting remarks, stonewalling and egomaniacal, self-idealization should concern even his most ardent and zealous supporters.   As if this wasn’t enough, we are looking at a loose cannon who has absolutely no knowledge or experience in government or foreign policy; no specific remedies, no sincere interest in what’s really best for our country; no understanding of civility and certainly, no moral compass.  His racist, misogynous, hypocritical, xenophobic remarks cast a malevolent curse on our country. And if elected president, it would be his finger on the trigger! If I were his therapist, (thank the lord I am not), I would refer him to a psychiatrist for a medical evaluation and suggest he be placed on psychotropic medication.  He poses a threat not only to our country but to the world.

I am no fan of Hillary.  I think she exhibits characterological defects that frighten and alarm me. I too have trust issues with her that echo the present administration.  However, not unlike Mr. Bloomberg who nailed it at the National Democratic Convention, I too can see a “con” who preys on the fears of people with fictional stories to earn their support.  Hillary is no “con”.  She, like so many other politicians lies, manipulates, and bamboozles the public for their own aggrandizement, however, she is safer than the Donald.  She is smarter, more experienced, and most of all, more presidential!   (Oh! And a woman too!)

I get it that uneducated, angry, frightened people who are fed up with Washington would support the Donald, but what baffles me , is that even very elite, well-educated, highly intelligent, reasonable people are behind him.  What am I missing folks?  Have they all gone mad? Even Michael Wolff, a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter stated on CNN that Trump is an entertainer; Clinton is a politician.  Our culture would rather be entertained than bored.  This is no reality show folks!  This is reality!  God help us!

All that you have read has already been written, spoken about, televised with folks much more knowledgeable than me.  However, I want to have my voice heard as well.  My website offers me that opportunity.  I hope you will all vote.  Don’t stay home, because a “no” vote is a vote for the Donald!

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”





Keynote Inspirational Speaker – “Compelling Story” Review by Kathy Kaether


“Joan grabs her audience with her compelling story of a great family struck in the heart by her daughters’ suicide” Kathy Kaether


Joan grabs her audience with her compelling story of a great family struck in the heart by her daughters’ suicide. Joan’s passion for helping families to understand mental illness really shows. We learned that no matter what we do, the risk of losing a child with mental illness is an ever-present danger.

Kathy Kaether


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The Compassionate Friends:

Providing Grief Support After the Death of a Child

“The Compassionate Friends is about transforming the pain of grief into the elixir of hope. It takes people out of the isolation society imposes on the bereaved and lets them express their grief naturally. With the shedding of tears, healing comes. And the newly bereaved get to see people who have survived and are learning to live and love again.”

–Simon Stephens, founder of The Compassionate Friends

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When you suffer a loss, it’s important to understand the psychological, emotional and physical effects involved. The extremes that you’re dealing with are understandable and manageable, and there are steps you can take to begin working through the grief.

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Keynote Inspirational Speaker – Review by Christine Williams

Review Key Means Revaluate Or ReassessAs a member of Compassionate Friends of Boca Raton, a bereaved parents support group, I was pleased to meet Joan Childs at our last meeting.

She spoke to our group about the tragic loss of her daughter and what she went through. She was very cordial and composed but I could feel her compassion for us, also, as bereaved parents.

Ms. Child’s was very professional in her answers regarding prolonged grief and treatment recommendations. She was very thorough in her explanations of the grief process and offered hope in spite of our deep feelings of loss and grief.

I am looking forward to reading her book, “Why did She Jump”.

I will also recommend her to other compassionate friends groups, as she was very helpful in validating many of my erratic emotions during my grieving process.

Christine Williams

Keynote Inspirational Speaker – “Enlightening talk” REVIEW By President, Edna Einhorn NAMI Broward, Inc

Review Key Means Revaluate Or ReassessI am writing thank you for your enlightening talk on Mental Health and the issues that caused the greatest tragedy in your life, the death by suicide of your daughter  Pam.   Our members and friends  learned about Pam and her struggle with Bi-Polar disorder and how suddenly your life was changed. We saw the emotion and still constant pain that you are living with even today. We also learned about the signs  of a potential suicide and steps to take to help to prevent it.

Thank you very much for teaching us about suicide and bi-polar disorder.  I recommend that everyone should hear this story or read the book, “Why did She Jump”, to learn more about

these very important topics.



Edna Einhorn

President, NAMI Broward, Inc


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Written REVIEW letter by Edna Einhorn President, NAMI Broward, Inc

A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

Mental Illness defined by NAMI

Mental Illness defined by NAMI


onlyono__s_new_tribal_phoenix_by_fameflame-d4q9v0mOn July 2, 1998, where this story begins.  LIFE AFTER LOSS: Victim, Survivor or the Phoenix?  My choice… My 34-year-old brilliant and beautiful daughter leaped to her death from the window of her father’s fifteen-story apartment. After the shock and grief swept through me like an emotional tsunami, I realized I had choices. Would I become a victim of this nightmare? Would I manage to survive and live my life in quiet desperation, forever swallowed in thoughts and images of her plunging to the concrete below, or would I find a mission and purpose for my life and meaning from her death? As a mother of five children and psychotherapist for nearly 40 years, I chose the latter and decided to take my story and rise from the ashes of my pain and suffering and regenerate to help others who suffered the same tragedy.
VICTIM, SURVIVOR OR THE PHOENIX is my story. It is the story of how I moved on from my loss and grief. It is a story of heartbreak and despair that morphed into victory. I, like many others before and after me, made a conscious choice to become a Phoenix, not unlike the mythological bird that rises from the ashes and renews itself to become more powerful than ever before. The ashes became the fertile soil for my rebirth. I felt that if I could do this, so could others. My mission is to share my story in order to give hope and courage to others who suffered loss and grief. It is also to wipe away the shame and stigma of mental illness.
Not unlike John Walsh, who’s son Adam was kidnapped and murdered, or Nicole Hackley, Dylan’s mom, and Mark Barden, Daniel’s Dad, and all the other parents who lost their precious children in the horrors of the Sandy Hook Massacre, as well as the husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, moms and dads, children and grandchildren who died on a battle field in some God-forsaken land, giving their lives to their country, and all those who passed away from terminal illness, accidents, murder, or suicide, I chose the path of the Phoenix. They too created meaning for their lost loved ones, never to be forgotten.
My book, WHY DID SHE JUMP? My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder chronicles her story from diagnosis to death and the trials and tribulations we all endured along with her suffering and the sub-standard mental health system we couldn’t overcome. It was only after my first book signing event that I realized the need and importance of sharing my experience and knowledge with others who suffered the loss of a loved one. It was only after this event that I saw the hunger and yearning for information about mental illness and its manifestations in our culture causing more than 40,000 suicides a year with nearly one million attempts.
Adversity escapes no one. It’s part of life. It’s how we cope with our loss and grief that determines if we become a victim, a survivor or a Phoenix. The choice is ours.

Why Did She Jump? Audible and Kindle Edition




There is one day in Joan Childs’ life that she wishes she could do over: the day her daughter, Pam, a brilliant psychotherapist, plunged from a 15-story building to her death. In this vivid memoir, Childs (herself a psychotherapist) explains how her daughter’s life was taken by the most unforgiving of executioners: bipolar disorder. It was the delusions, not her daughter, who made the final decision to end her life. Read more


Why Did She Jump_Book coverSix million people in America suffer from bipolar disorder. Joan Child’s daughter, Pamela, suffered from the disorder, bouncing from doctor to doctor in search of treatment. Yet the demons became louder, and on a summer day in July 1998, the same day that the Oprah Winfrey Show aired a segment on bipolar disorder, Joan Childs’ 34-year-old-daughter leaped to her death from the window of her father’s 15-story apartment. Why Did She Jump? is her mother Joan’s haunting story of grief and guilt, yet it is a beautiful story of love and the courage to find peace and purpose once again.

With brutal honesty and vivid detail, Joan recalls how the entire family became entangled with Pam’s illness as they watched her dive deeper into the darkness where no one could reach her. Ironically, Pam and Joan were both psychotherapists yet, with all their credentials and medical knowledge, Pam still could not be saved.  Why Did She Jump? is her mother Joan’s haunting story of grief and guilt, yet it is a beautiful story of love and the courage to find peace and purpose once again.

Why Did She Jump? Kindle Edition



IT’S OFFICIAL! I’m an Academy Member of NSA and FSA!


PrintI have so much to share and to give to the masses, that the muse that lives inside me won’t allow me to consider my age, my topic, or the money, effort and time it will take to manifest. I have always been a Phoenix or sort, and at this age, I cannot stop what is already in motion. So, I am hoping you will share my quest or know of anyone who would want to hire me as a professional speaker, I would welcome and appreciate your support!