While the fanciful imagery employed by Oxnam may give his story greater impact, it will not authenticate it for skeptics who...

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A FRACTURED MIND

MY LIFE WITH MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER

Memoir may not quite be the word to describe this account, which is presented as the work of several personalities, each speaking for him or herself.

The principal narrator, Robert, is the dominant personality, but this was not always so, according to Oxnam, an Asia specialist and business consultant who asserts that for some 30 years, another personality, Bob, was dominant. Memory blackouts, bizarre behaviors and alcoholism led him in 1989 to Dr. Jeffrey Smith, a psychiatrist with some experience with multiple personalities. Oxnam began twice-a-week sessions with the psychiatrist, who in mid-1990 told him that he had multiple personality disorder (MPD, now renamed dissociative identity disorder, or DID) after a session in which an alternate personality, Tommy, an angry adolescent boy, emerged. As their sessions continued, other so-called alters—Young Bob, Robbey, Robert, Witch, Eyes, Lawrence, the Librarian, Baby and Wanda—all trapped inside separate parts of a dark castle, appeared. Labels identify which section of the narrative comes from which voice. Although Oxnam’s childhood memories were initially vague, under therapy he recovered memories of early, ugly abuse. In MPD theory, dissociation is a method of coping with the trauma of such abuse. Through long therapy, Oxnam gradually freed the alters from the castle and achieved partial integration of the personalities. By the end, three of the alters—Bobby, Wanda and Robert—remain separate, but have worked out a “collaborative multiplicity,” with Bobby providing his youthful energy, Wanda her internal incisiveness and outer perceptiveness and Robert his drive. Oxnam weaves into this psychological narrative stories of trials and triumphs from his professional life, which include dealings with Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and the first President Bush, and scenes from his marriage to a remarkably understanding woman.

While the fanciful imagery employed by Oxnam may give his story greater impact, it will not authenticate it for skeptics who question either the existence of MPD as a genuine mental disorder or the legitimacy of recovered memories.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-4013-0227-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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