Fill Me Up To Empty

FILL ME UP TO EMPTY is based on the true story of a psychotic, brain-damaged child’s successful struggle to understand his chaotic life, to define himself as a real person, and to make a place for himself in a world which for him was both frightening and undecipherable.


“To read Fill Me Up To Empty is to witness the moment in the life of a young, developmentally disabled boy when the prison that has been his world is unlocked. It is the moment when he emerges from his cell of social isolation into the greater world of relationships. The key that assists Josh with dismantling his walls of rage and perpetual misunderstanding is discovered through the relationship he is able to establish with psychologist Amanda Adams (a.k.a. author Dr. Luleen Anderson). “As a child psychiatrist and therapist myself, Fill Me Up To Empty renews my faith in the power and importance of therapeutic work. Of the many difficult hours in the office of a therapist, few are the moments when breakthrough and lasting change is evident. Those are the moments of supreme grace that likely keep the best therapists hanging in there hour after hour, year after year. The beauty and gift of Fill Me Up To Empty is that Dr. Anderson generously shares such a career moment of hers with the reader. She is a masterful therapist, and Josh is a talented and intriguing individual. In combination, they quite literally change each other’s worlds; reading their story changes ours.”

Catherine W. McCall, M.D., Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist.

“I love Fill Me Up To Empty. Josh is just a delightful character; his verbal skill is so unpredictably wonderful. The chapters are extremely well structured. I like the use of dialogue rather than scene setting; it’s what therapy is about…The writing is clear and strong and very graceful. This was intriguing reading.”

Peggy Payne, author of
Sister India and Revelation

“A study of the unique characteristics of a real boy’s brain that sounds like science fiction; a work of science that reads like a brilliant novel, Fill Me Up To Empty is the very engaging study of an extremely confused, brain damaged 12 year old and the caring, clever therapist who helped him to grow up.”

Barbara Brooks, Ph.D., author of The Scared Child:
Helping Kids Overcome Traumatic Events

“Fill Me Up to Empty is a book destined to inspire hope and set standards for generations to come. Every parent, every educator, every professional who works with children should read Dr. Anderson’s book. Like a parable, this true account of one child’s ‘successful struggle to understand his chaotic life, to define himself as a real person…’ is every person’s story, with far-reaching implications for the family and for public policy. Without guilt or shame we must learn to put ourselves and our families and certainly our beloved children into the hands of skilled doctors like Dr. Anderson with the same frequency and level of trust with which we turn to dentists and internists and surgeons. That is what I learned from this gem of a book. Besides, it was a great read. Don’t miss it.”

Glenn Barefoot, Retired College Professor
and mother of a special needs child

“I enjoyed this book very much…The book gave me a new appreciation for the role of a psychotherapist, affirming the worth of the individual she is counseling, seeing the strengths and basic personality values, and helping the child build a structure of confidence and self-integrity. I spend my time using medication to prevent seizures, increase attention, curb excess anxiety, reduce explosive tension – but I cannot supply the specific teaching about self, self-worth, and interaction with others and with the world that children need to fulfill their quite awesome (in the case of Josh) human potentialities. Sometimes with children who have special problems, the intense intervention of a trained and insightful therapist is needed, and can make all the difference. That is what I saw illustrated in Josh’s story. It is in the best tradition of healing at a fundamentally human level, and is a powerful lesson for all who take care of children with special needs.”

Robert DeLong, M.D.
Pediatric Neurology
Duke University Medical Center

“Luleen Anderson is not only a gifted psychologist; she is also a gifted writer. Based on a real case from the 60s, her story of treating brain-damaged 12-year-old Josh Fields reads like a novel: part mystery, part high drama, gripping and sympathetic. The reader can’t help but root for both psychologist and patient as “Dr. Adams” cleverly guides Josh from fearing he is too stupid to brush his teeth to understanding that, despite his “differences,” he is capable of controlling both his actions and his life. This is a lovely book with a positive message about the good that can be accomplished by sensitive, competent psychotherapy, even in “impossible” cases.”

Ellyn Bache, winner of the Willa Cather Fiction Prize for short fiction and author of five novels, including Holiday Miracles: A Christmas/Hanukkah Story and Safe Passage, which became a 1995 Susan Sarandon film.