Debbie Stier & Daisy Gumin: Hachette Speakers Bureau

Debbie Stier & Daisy Gumin

Mother-Daughter Authors of the Forthcoming Saving Daisy

Speaking from two perspectives, mother and daughter, Debbie Stier and Daisy Gumin are fiercely candid about their experiences during Daisy’s early adolescence. Highly sensitive, Daisy came of age in the Facebook funhouse culture of suburban America, circa 2009. Misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and medicated, Daisy was sucked into a vortex of the troubled teen industry.

Their harrowing story, which ends in triumph, will redefine how we perceive adolescents, the behaviors they exhibit, and the experts we rely on to decipher their symptoms. They discuss their descent down a therapeutic rabbit hole — a path which began in 9th grade when a guidance counselor recommended Daisy see a therapist — not necessarily an outlandish suggestion, given her troubles at the time. A year-and-a-half long odyssey ensued — a Byzantine journey, which included misdiagnoses, hospitalizations, crisis interventions, wilderness therapy, residential treatment, transporters, and a therapeutic boarding school.

Their story has a happy ending, though it is not without heart-rending struggles and anguish. Their path back to sanity began only once they stood up to the mental health establishment and said No More — No More treatment, No More professional recommendations, No More separation. In all of the efforts to diagnose Daisy, everyone was trying to “fix” something that wasn’t a problem.

Weaving the latest research with personal narrative, Debbie and Daisy give a firsthand perspective on what science writer David Dobbs calls “the orchid hypothesis” in a 2009 Atlantic Monthly story — the theory that some of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions, while others have genes that make us more like an orchid, “fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care . . . with the right environment and good parenting, they [orchid children] can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people.”

Orchid children are what Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, refers to as Highly Sensitive People (HSP). Daisy is, and always has been, a Highly Sensitive Person. Supported by a growing body of research and data, the concept of heightened sensitivity is a biological trait, not a psychological disorder to be remedied. According to Aron, “sensitivity is not a flaw but an asset.” HSPs, for instance, are usually extremely conscientious and intuitive people, though the trait can have drawbacks: “HSPs tend to become frazzled when over aroused, causing them to withdraw… Not surprisingly, many HSPs suffer from low self-esteem.”

With vulnerability and honesty, Daisy and Debbie detail their journey of discovering that the world was crazy, and Daisy was not. They offer audiences personal anecdotes and the latest research, reframing adolescent behavior, “expert” advice, and the help that’s available. From a place of triumph, their message -- keep searching, there is another path, trust your intuition -- is fueled by a passion to share what they learned. Both heart-wrenching and humorous, their speeches are conversational in tone and a testament to the power of incorrigible optimism.

Debbie and Daisy articulately explain the challenges that sensitive children face in culture today, and the road less traveled that ultimately saved Daisy.

About Debbie
A former publishing executive whose career spanned over two decades, Debbie Stier is the author of The Perfect Score Project: One Mother’s Journey to Uncover the Secrets of the SAT. Her broadcast experience includes appearances on The Today Show, the CBS Early Show, ABC Radio, and Bloomberg TV. She has been written about in publications such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, USA Today, The New York Post, Family Circle, and Parade.

Stier speaks from the unique perspective of both a single mother who survived the struggles of raising teenagers, and as an author who studies the latest parenting and education research. A speaker who is deeply committed to sharing the most important lessons she learned, her speeches are conversational in tone, entertaining, and authentic. Stier will redefine how we perceive adolescents and the messages we hear about how to parent them.

About Daisy
Daisy Gumin has been interviewed by the CBS Early Show, and is a contributing writer for bestselling author Susan Cain’s website Quiet Revolution. Her first essay, "Meet Daisy," went viral, with thousands of readers of all ages from around the world sharing it and identifying with her story. According to Cain, “Daisy’s insightful voice will reach across generations.”

Daisy’s story of triumph touches the heart of audiences and leaves them with novel information to better understand what goes on inside the teenage mind. She provides an insider’s account of what happens in the underbelly of adolescent treatment and fearlessly describes what it’s like to be mislabeled and pigeonholed as a patient. Her astute voice resonates with both teenagers and adults alike.

Interested in booking Debbie Stier & Daisy Gumin to speak at your next event?

Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau.


  • Writing Our Way to Recovery: The Power of Sharing
  • Inside the Teenage Brain: Understanding the Misunderstood
  • Tragedy to Triumph: Surviving the Troubled Teen Industry
  • Is Something Wrong?: Sensitive Children In A Callous Culture

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