Glickson, Caren E.
Autobiographical note by Caren Glickson
Caren Elayne Schorr was born on February 13, 1955, and grew up in Queens, New York. A highly-trained and profoundly gifted clinician, she has pursued a successful practice as a psychoanalyst and couples’ therapist for almost 40 years, in New York, Connecticut and Florida. She has been married for 32 years, and lives with her husband, Andy, in Connecticut. Caren has a talented, 29-year old daughter, Marion, who, like Caren, graduated from Wellesley College. Interwoven with all this success, one might say haunting Caren’s life to this day, has been a near-continuous succession of medical problems. Many of these are clearly linked to her mother’s use of DES during pregnancy, while others were never so clearly linked, but the suspicion of a connection to DES has fostered an ever-present anxiety.
Caren was the second of three daughters born in New York City to Morris (b. 1924) and Elizabeth Schorr (b. 1925). Caren’s mom suffered a miscarriage after the birth of her first child, Audrey. Elizabeth’s obstetrician prescribed DES early in her next pregnancy to prevent another miscarriage. It is telling that Elizabeth rarely consulted doctors or took medications of any kind before the DES (or to this day). She really wanted to protect her second pregnancy.
Caren was an apparently healthy, and unusually outgoing, baby. She lived in an apartment in Pomonok, Queens until age 3. The family then moved to Bayside, Queens, where Caren attended public schools, graduating from Benjamin Cardozo High School in 1972.
As soon as Caren started menstruating, she began struggling with premenstrual fevers that were never understood. There is no way to know if this early, idiopathic symptom had anything to do with DES exposure. However, soon after Caren arrived at Wellesley in 1972, Elizabeth notified her that an article in The National Enquirer, of all places, mentioned DES exposure and its potential link to cancer. That started a traumatic series of appointments to determine if there had been any damage from the DES.
Yes, Dr. Anne Barnes, at Massachusetts General Hospital, found adenosis tissue and other irregularities, but she was unsure what that would mean for the future. Very little was known about DES daughters. However, constant tests to understand the extent of irregular vaginal tissue, precancerous cervical biopsies, monthly fevers and a stenotic cervix took a toll on the young college student.
There were many other problems directly related to the DES exposure, some too painful and/or private to discuss in a public forum. Suffice it to say, the trauma of DES had begun, and it has never stopped.
Fast forward to graduation from Wellesley College in 1976, and marriage to Steven Weinstein. Caren immediately entered the doctoral program in psychology at The Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University. She received a Master’s degree in 1978, and a doctorate in 1981, after completing her internship at St Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan. Then, Caren started working at Hall Brooke Psychiatric Hospital in Westport, Connecticut. She divorced Steven in 1981.
Caren married Andrew Asher Glickson (b. 1949) in 1985, while she was pursuing her post-doctoral certificate in psychoanalysis at Adelphi. They resolved quickly to have children, but Caren discovered that she suffers from a deformed (T-shaped) uterus, withered fallopian tubes (both clearly a consequence of DES exposure), and other infertility problems. A few grueling years of infertility treatments including intrauterine inseminations and IVF trials took an unspeakable toll on both partners, in terms of time, money and emotional energy.
Caren delivered her baby, Marion, on August 20, 1988. Though born five weeks prematurely, Marion thrived. Hoping soon after to become pregnant again, Caren suffered three ectopic pregnancies. The first, and most severe, landed her in the Norwalk Hospital ER with life-threatening internal bleeding. Though she was coded in the ER, an emergency laparotomy saved her life, but of course not the pregnancy. Two more ectopic pregnancies made it clear that she would not be able to have any more children. After much soul searching and couples therapy she and Andy decided not to pursue adoption or surrogacy.
Caren’s contributions to the Archive include extensive material about her lawsuit against Eli Lilly and the other pharmaceutical companies that manufactured DES. The Lilly trial ended with a hung jury and the suit was settled. Suffice it to say that the entire experience, from discovery through trial, and dealing with lawyers on both sides, was an agonizing replay of the DES trauma.
Years later, another horrific discovery reminded Caren of the layers of damage from DES. Marion had an MRI after a bout with consequences of dehydration. It was discovered that she had brain damage of unknown origin; as has so often been the case, the symptoms were found in other DES daughters, but the actual link was never clear. As it turned out, Marion appeared to have suffered brain damage in utero, but her newborn brain “re-wired” itself, and – amazingly – she has no apparent, functional impairment.
Caren started to work as a psychologist in private practice in Connecticut, starting in 1981, and - except for a one-year break after Marion’s birth – continues to practice. She is nothing if not determined. In 2011-2012, Caren started another practice, mostly treating couples monthly in Miami Beach. Although she insists that she is gliding into semi-retirement, her Florida couples practice has been an unexpected success, and she now sees patients in Connecticut and New York City, as well as Miami Beach.
Caren entered menopause at age 50. Her lifelong struggle with hot flashes, which began at age 14 as unexplained premenstrual fevers, continues at age 62, although they have recently morphed into nighttime only flashes. The unremitting, nighttime hot flashes prevent her from sleeping more than two hours at a time. In 2016, Caren underwent successful surgery for thyroid cancer, another ailment with no clear cause.
These and other idiopathic medical symptoms have prompted her to adopt a very health-conscious lifestyle. She exercises, mostly walking, daily with her good friends. She would tell you that, just as important, these walks involve continuous conversation. She maintains healthy weight. Most of all, she works at a comfortable pace, with lots of free time to enjoy swim lessons, raising dogs, going to New York and Miami Beach regularly, and enjoying time with Andy and Marion.