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First Person Plural: My Life as a Multiple   book icon  
by Cameron West (1999)

read: 6 March 2005
rating: [+]
category: uncategorized

This is not an easy book to read. It details a year or so in the author’s life between the time that he began having outward indications of Dissociative Identity Disorder [what many of us know as multiple personality disorder, or even "that Sybil thing"] and the time he acknowledged the disorder and began taking steps on the road to healing. West was abised as a child by at least his mother and his grandmother and instead of having terrible memories of those events, his psyche split off separate personalities deep within his subconscious that held the memories. At some point these personalities -- some of whom were female and some of whom were children -- manifested themselves into his normal life with disturbing and upsetting results. One of the personalities was angry and would injure him. Several of them were children which meant driving a car or making love to his wife became nearly impossible.

West was hospitalized many times. Through it all he has a wife who has spent over a decade with him not having DID who had an adjustment period. With her he was raising their child, who had only the vaguest understanding of what was going on with his parents. This book is at its strongest when it discusses trying to ekep the family togeter and dealing with outsiders' reactions to people with DID. It’s at its weakest when it gives first person accounts of the tantrums and extended narratives of the alter personalities. I’m sure this is part of living with DID, but since West is telling this story through his own eyes, his causal acceptance of something that is very hard for others to understand sometimes results in a glossing over of feelings or emotion that would lead to greater understanding of the reader. We learn towards the end of the book that West is working on his own denial about having DID, but since he’s been telling us about it all along, it’s hard to parse this with the explanations of denial. West now has his own Ph.D. which he was working on during the course of writing this book.

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