Activist, author, adoptee. In a climate of political upheaval, where civil rights activists are battling for the right to exist “as God made them”, Louisa fights the external battles of our times as well as the internal uncertainty of how she was made.

Dropped into a world prejudiced against illegitimacy, with every element of her original identity redacted and replaced, she contends with alienation, distrust, and despair to find a life that can give her the meaning once denied her.

Part-memoir, part-treatise, her ongoing research project "The Deforming Mirror" offers the reader an in-the-field look of how the psychological and sociological effects of childhood trauma can pose challenges to forming bonds, finding stability, and fostering intimacy. Separation, divorce, narcissistic parenting and more, can form an abusive world within a hall of distorted, emotional truths where compulsion is safety and attachment is treachery.

Such challenges require a tenacious skillset; Louisa lays out the emotional tools she’s cultivated over her lifetime, from an adopted child, to a mother exploring multiple committed romantic relationships, growing perilously tall in spite of unknowable roots.

Louisa Leontiades is the author of controversial memoir; Some Never Awaken, A World in Us & Necessary to Life. Originally from the UK, she lives in Sweden a country which thankfully has very good indoor heating.

“One discovers that destiny can be diverted, that one does not have to remain in bondage to the first wax imprint made on childhood sensibilities. Once the deforming mirror has been smashed, there is a possibility of wholeness. There is a possibility of joy.”

Anais Nin

Dear Louisa,

Just finished reading "The Deforming Mirror" and I really am blown away. Historically I've been pretty sceptical about both attachment theory and a fair bit of neuroscience, so I'm probably the reader most likely to question any over-generalisation or problematic assumptions coming from those ideas. In fact I found that your writing was so measured, balanced and considered that it opened my mind to what I might have been a bit too closed off to from those perspectives.

As a reader I felt invited into a kind of reflection on my own experiences, both in the places they were similar to yours and the places where they differed. I particularly loved the way you kept returning to the questions and giving different answers - it gave a powerful sense of how these things are a process and we can go round and round reaching a deeper level of understanding each time. Also the examples of how you had reframed your negative stories about yourself in the third section was extremely useful. I feel that from different approaches (mostly Buddhism, social constructionism, existentialism, and queer/intersectional feminism) I have come to some similar places regarding how to relate. I also LOVED the way you wove together memoir, research, theory, story, and examples from popular culture. Very inspiring to me as a writer. I think it's an important thing to share indeed.

It's also a total page-turner, I wasn't bored for a moment.

- Dr Meg-John Barker, author of Rewriting The Rules, speaker, consultant, and queer activist-academic.

Table of Contents

i. Preface: The Broken Woman (and how I started my research into childhood trauma)

Part I: The Hostile Environment
  1. Those Pesky Kids (Is it all Hormonal?)
    • A Lesson from the Humble Grasshopper
    • What does a Baby Know At Birth?
    • The Use of the word "Hostile"
    • The Effect of Stress on the Developing Brain
    • Where Adoptees fall on the stress continuum (& why)
  2. Cultural Narratives (And the Stories we tell ourselves)
    • Would you rather be Adopted... Or dead?
    • Who Am I?
    • The Pygmalion Effect
    • The Narrative of "The Primal Wound"
    • The Creation of the Self
  3. Cheater, Cheater (maybe it's just a survival mechanism)
    • Attachment As a Survival Mechanism
    • No such thing as Normal Attachment
    • How do Adoptees Attach?
    • Lack of Self-Control in the moment
    • The Rejection of Monogamy
  4. The Land of Make Believe (on living in a world of lies)
    • The Secrets & Lies of Adoption
    • The Effect of Cognitive Dissonance on Children
    • Remembering the past through Confirmation Bias
    • The Development of the False Self
    • Lying in Adult Relationships
  5. The Objectification of Children (Maternal Narcissism)
    • The Use of Children as Narcissistic Supply
    • Is Maternal Narcissism more prevalent in adoption?
    • The link between fertility & narcissism
    • Maternal Narcissism? Or Tiger Parenting?
    • The Difference between Situational & Characterological Gaslighting