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Roseanne Barr’s daughter, Jenny Pentland, is opening up about her mother’s alleged plot to keep her institutionalized throughout her teenage years because of her weight. She details her experiences in an upcoming book, This Will Be Funny Later: A Memoir.
Pentland’s ‘Kidnapping’ Was Approved By Mom
When she was just 15 years old, Pentland writes that she was taken from her Los Angeles home by a group of men who placed her in handcuffs, drove her to the airport, and flew her to Utah. From there, she was taken to a wilderness survival camp where she was forced to live in the woods for two months.
Pentland had to survive in the wilderness with no connection to her family of the outside world, and little food. She ate only raisins, peanuts, raw cornmeal, and half-cooked beans. At one point, she claims that, after helping a fellow camper skin a squirrel, she was given the animal’s leg to eat. Pentland also alleges she was beaten by a staffer during what she refers to as a kidnapping.
Even though it might have felt like she was a hostage, Pentland was there with the full approval of her mother and the comedian’s then-husband, actor Tom Arnold. The trouble began when she was just 13. Her mother was struggling to handle her newfound fame and a court battle as she divorced Pentland’s father, Bill. Pentland and her siblings became pawns during their parents’ lawsuit.
Pentland Was Forced Into Multiple Institutions
“At the lawyers’ advice, any action we took was recorded and used to further the narrative of whichever parent was suing the other at the time,” Pentland writes in her new book, Via PageSix. “If I came home to my mom’s house from my dad’s with dirt under my nails, [Barr’s lawyers] would write that down. If I gained weight, the lawyers would note that, too.”
She did gain weight, and began to self harm to cope with the stress of the situation. Barr institutionalized her when she was 13, driving her to a hospital with no explanation and leaving her there for eight months.
Pentland ended up spending the majority of her teen years in institutions like this and programs like the wilderness survival one. There were times she lived a normal life for months, then, with no warning, was taken to another program. Pentland came to believe that Barr and Arnold were plotting to keep her prisoner forever.
Fears She Would Be Stuck In Institutions Forever
“I was racking my brain trying to think of ways that Tom and my mom could have worked around the law to keep me incarcerated for the rest of my life,” Pentland wrote. “Would they suggest ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) or something else with permanent consequences?”
At one point, she asked a staffer at an institution where she’d been kept for months on end why she’d been there so long. “You have the best mental health insurance policy I’ve ever seen,” he answered her. “You’re worth a million a year, babe.”
“I went cold,” Pentland writes. “My blood drained and my brain did that montage thing of calculating information. It took a minute for the answer to come to me. Could that be true? Could it be that simple? Oh my God. I’m not crazy, I’m profitable.”
Pentland And Barr Seem To Be On Good Terms
She was released from her final institution just before her 18th birthday, which was around the time Barr and Arnold split. Despite everything her mother put her through, Pentland still maintains a relationship with her mother, even writing for the Roseanne reboot before it eventually went off the air.
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