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TIL Branden Bremmer, a child prodigy who read books at 18 months, played the piano at age 3 and started college at age 11, commited suicide at age 14 with no signs of depression, no suicide note or pressure form his parents to succeed.(r/todayilearned)
Looking at Amazon, his mother released a book after his death called “Guided Destiny, the Biography and Spiritual Teachings of Brendann Bremmer”. Looking at the first review of that book, I found this:
> I remember being fascinated by Brandenn Bremmer when I read a long profile the New Yorker did on him after his death. In the article, I was especially struck by how much in denial his parents were when it came to Brandenn. However, the article came out less than a year after Brandenn’s suicide, so I couldn’t really judge them too harshly. Plus, both the Bremmers complained about the article, saying afterward that they had been misquoted. So I was interested to see what Patricia Bremmer would say about her son all these years later, in her own words.
> Well…. to tell the truth, the Bremmers came off a lot better in the New Yorker than they do here. In this book, Patricia goes past simple denial and into straight-up delusional territory. In the New Yorker, Patricia and Martin talked about how they thought Brandenn was an “indigo child.” In Guided Destiny, Patricia goes one further and writes about how Brandenn is actually a spiritual being/angel named Tobias who is SO much better and more enlightened and more intelligent than every single person on the planet. Everything that Brandenn does is chalked up to Tobias’ presence. Example: Brandenn originally used to be simply Branden, until he entered an extra N on the computer at two years old. This was apparently Tobias’ way of testing the Bremmers to see if they’d accept the change, which would tell him if they would allow Branden(n) the freedom to grow. And so on.
> At times, I felt that some of the things that Patricia wrote were passive-aggressive shots against the New Yorker article in an attempt to refute it. For example, the New Yorker talked to one of Brandenn’s gifted peers (called simply “K.”), who mentioned that Brandenn had written her several emails where he talked about being depressed and being angry at his parents. Patricia implies in the book that this is all due to the K.’s corrupting influence. According to her, Brandenn NEVER complained about anything, ever, until he started corresponding with K. When K. started complaining about her parents first, that’s when Brandenn started complaining too. Because, you see, Brandenn is just so empathetic and in tune with other people that he will mirror what everyone else does. Somehow Patricia manages to turn even a teenager’s normal complaints and angst into an example of how Brandenn Bremmer is just so much more special and better than you.
> According to the book, Brandenn’s suicide is chalked up to Tobias finally deciding that the time is right to leave his earthly body. The New Yorker mentions that Brandenn decided to kill himself because he knew that other people needed his help (i.e. his organs) and that his spiritual purpose in life was fulfilled by his death. I know that people can tell themselves all sorts of things to cope with a loved one’s suicide, but the sheer scope of this particular delusion is staggering.
> In short, this book is highly disturbing as it plays out as some twisted fantasy that the Bremmers have built up around their son. (Well, at least Patricia – I guess I can’t speak for Martin Bremmer, who didn’t write this.) They’ve built him up, quite literally, into a supernatural being. Patricia even compares him to Jesus! This is made all the more sadder when it means that the boy who Brandenn really was – and it sounds like he was a remarkable child indeed – has been forgotten amidst all the hyperbolic rhapsodizing. At the same time, I think I walked away feeling even sorrier for the Bremmers than I had before. I imagine that one never gets over the loss of a child, and this book only highlights that aspect.