THE MAGIC DAUGHTER: A Memoir of Living with Multiple Personality Disorder by Jane Phillips

THE MAGIC DAUGHTER: A Memoir of Living with Multiple Personality Disorder

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A fascinating story that is either an account of a young woman with multiple personality disorder or the brilliant work of a troubled imagination. Writing under a pseudonym and identified only as a professor of French, the author has disguised all people, places, and events; thus, accepting her story as factual requires an act of faith. Skeptics of recovered-memory therapy will also question whether her dissociative identity disorder, as the condition is now termed, developed as a result of childhood abuse, and even whether she was abused. She acknowledges that each time some new memory of abuse came up during therapy that she began in her 30s, she doubted both the memory and herself, thinking she must be a pathological liar. After five years of therapy, a psychologist diagnosed her as having multiple personality disorder. By her own account, she first dissociated at the age of three, when the trauma of an emergency appendectomy was too great to bear. Each new trauma, Phillips says, from further illnesses to attempted rape by an older brother, led to the birth of a new self. As she puts it: ""Terror cut the strings of my identity; over time, I blossomed into a full-blown multiple the same way a handful of escaped balloons rise and scatter in the air."" Three years after being diagnosed, Phillips began a suicide note that eventually evolved into this book. During therapy, this troubled young woman also developed hypoglycemia, food sensitivities, and cyclothymia, or alternating periods of euphoria and depression. Eight years into therapy, she says, she began to have a consistent adult self and was able to view ""the Kids,"" the selves warring within her, less as individuals and more as ""force fields."" At the book's end, she and her therapist are continuing work on her integration and preparing to face issues of womanhood, identity, and her relationship to her mother. Whatever the source of Phillips's disturbance, this memoir is clearly the product of a dazzling mind.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1995
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Viking