"A Mingled Yarn" by Beulah Parker

A Mingled Yarn Chronicle of a Troubled Family Beulah Parker

Publication date:
10 Sep 1978
Yale University Press
348 pages: 203 x 127 x 20mm


“The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.” –All’s Well That Ends Well


Here is a vivid account of the climate of emotions that can—and in this case did—cause severe mental illness.  The reader can sense the emotional atmosphere, feel the unspoken communications, and understand the family myths that created—in a talented, wealthy, and well-born family—two highly neurotic children, and one who later became schizophrenic.  This unique document emerged from a series of long conversations between the youngest child and Dr. Beulah Parker, a noted psychoanalyst. 


A Mingled Yarn blends scientific observations with novelistic detail as it unfolds an intimate view of daily life in a disturbed family.  Occasionally, Dr. Parker interrupts the narrative for some psychoanalytic interpretation of events and personality development, but the book is written in nontechnical language.  It illustrates graphically the ways in which environmental and interpersonal factors are crucial in bringing about the development of emotional illness. 


Special emphasis is placed on the difficulty that members of this family had in expressing to each other what they really felt, and the havoc wrought by parental “communication deviation” and skewed attitudes.  A Mingled Yarn is a remarkable document that will fascinate all people interested in emotional health and wellness. 

"A chilling, intimate story of the destruction of a family, one that anyone interested in emotional health and family problems will find difficult to put down. . . . The result is a genuine psychological drama, even a thriller for a lay reader, that will obviously be a gold mine for the professional. It is very much the story of family life in our time, as profoundly revealing as it is compelling reading."?Publishers Weekly

"The first detailed account of life within a family that produced a child who later became schizophrenic. It is free, vivid, and written with artistic skill."?Theodore Lidz, M.D.

"It is refreshing and gratifying to find a book which is compulsive reading?stimulating concern for the real life characters as in a good novel. . . . It is rare to be able to acquire so much insight and knowledge in so enlightening and enjoyable a book."?Social Science Quarterly

"What a story!  This admirable book. . . manages to combine the facts of a case history with the atmosphere of a fairy tale."?New York Times Book Review

"Psychiatrists are indebted to the anonymous informant who forced herself to look at her family clearly and deeply and seek to have her experiences placed in print in the hope of helping others despite the pain it caused her, and to Beulah Parker for transmitting the material into an unforgettable story."?Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

"A Mingled Yarn is the factual chronicle of an American family, but in the telling it becomes as surreal and fantastic a literary adventure as any Scott Fitzgerald novel. The story of the Carpenters is told by a colleague of Dr. Parker, Eliot's sister, Amy. From the chemistry of her detailed recollections, and the doctor's insight, emerges something quite new and stunning. As drama, A Mingled Yarn is high tragedy. . . . As psychological explication, it opens another door to the understanding of madness."?Human Behavior