Born into an old New England family of Puritan stock, Platko entered her teens during the 1960s civil rights era. Sexualized by her uncle Henry, whom she adored, she developed a dual personality: the dutiful daughter and the revolutionary devoted to the civil rights movement. Dissociation—this split between good and bad, between conscious action and unconscious motivation—expresses itself through Platko’s tormented, complex sexuality and the difficult love relationships she reveals with stark and disarming candor. She fell for young James, a black kid she burned for, and he impregnated her; she had an abortion, though. Her uncle Henry spoke for the family when they rejected and scorned her. She traveled south for her civil rights work and met a sicko cowboy type who raped her repeatedly and eventually married her, only to vanish forever from her life. “It is no secret; when you are crazy, you lose all credibility,” Platko writes. She then fell in love with the abusive Earl, a black drummer by whom she had her first child. Her life seemed to be a downward spiral—then she discovered psychoanalysis and began a lifelong inner journey to explore the mysteries that compelled her. Not that her exploration changed her seemingly irrational behavior. She became a Jungian analyst and married Stephen, a fellow psychologist, and they had two daughters together, but she then fell in love with her suicidal client, John. Torn by jealousy, Stephen divorced her. Rather than resolving in platitudes or anodynes, the memoir ends with a fuller understanding found in self-defined wisdom. In the book’s second half, as Platko plunges ever deeper into her inner exploration, her insights and her stylistic exploration enrich her narrative. “The way I see it,” she writes, “each person, each family, each group, each generation, each culture and race, is called to own the shadow of their brokenness.” Ultimately, she discovers that her real destiny as a writer revealing inner truths has energized and fulfilled her sense of inner truth.
A sometimes brutally honest autobiography that strips away social pretension to reveal raw individuality.