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First Person Plural: My Life As a Multiple Hardcover – March 3, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (March 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786863900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786863907
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (265 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Unlike Flora Rheta Schreiber's Sybil, which presented a fairly dispassionate and professional view of multiple personality disorder, now called dissociative identity disorder (DID), West's account is an intimate memoir of the pain and frustration he encountered before and after being diagnosed. In his 30s, West began experiencing symptoms of the disorder, including the presence of inner voices, periods of blackout, memory loss and the wrenching feeling that something was deeply amiss. With the expertise of a therapist and the often heroic?and sometimes courageous?support of his wife, West eventually identified 24 separate personalities of both sexes and various ages. These "alters" told stories of horrific childhood sexual abuse by family members, which West had erased from his conscious mind. West compellingly recounts his journey toward sanity and his decision to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology in order to better understand his illness. Illustrations from his journal, in which all alters were allowed to write, and drawings done by his child personalities give weight and detail to West's account. Occasionally, in his attempt to get at the experience of DID, West waxes melodramatic and falls back on awkward metaphors. The latter, admittedly, might very well be part of the territory: how can language describe two people passing each other within the same body without awkwardness? Readers who must cope with DID or other debilitating mental illnesses, either in themselves or friends and family, will appreciate West's honesty and insight about the subject. Agent, Laurie Fox.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

West, a psychologist, relates a deeply painful narrative of his battle with dissociative identity disorder (DID). He describes the horrors he endured, both mental and physical, as a child who was grossly abused by his mother, attributing the fragmentation of his adult life to these appalling experiences and telling how his long, happy marriage and family relationships were nearly ruined by the effects of DID. The book is not entirely dark; it provides hope and encouragement to DID victims and suggests how they can be helped through the support and understanding of others. It's also a practical guide for future clinicians, offering insight into a perplexing condition. West concludes with an epilog in which he lays out his theory that abused children can achieve a sense of wholeness through the understanding and acceptance of others and the reinvention of the self. Highly recommended for any public library.?Yan Toma, Queens Borough P.L., Flushing, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

This book is well written and very easy to read.
Lyndia C. Long
More than anything I liked getting to know the personalities instead of glossing over them like a lot of the books out there do.
It's not as rare, and we thank Cam West for the effort and strength to write this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Heaven on May 20, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Its hard to say this. But this book definitely tells it like it is. Multiplicity is something that is scary to outsiders, and even fascinating, but the underlying factor is the fact that there are children out there being abused everyday, to the point where they can't handle their lives, and split off a part of themselves in order to save what they have of their existence.I know. We have it. DID is something that isn't a game, it's not a fun stage show. There's no way to explain how you went to the grocery store and walk out with $50 worth of candy. Or how hard buying a simple DRESS is, since everyone has their favorite color, style, fabric, and dollar amount, and the marathon arguments that consume time and energy. Or what to eat. It is hard to get monominds (those who are not DID) to understand. They see us as having three heads or something. We think maybe writing here would help us because people just dont understand that it's REAL. It's not a game, it's not a joke, and the hardest thing to accept is that we have this because there are some people in the world who think its right to hurt a kid. And it's not. We know that now. The switching is hard to deal with. Imagine sitting in the store and suddenly, oh no "POOH BEAR! " shouts out of your mouth. Everyone turns. Looks. I smile and try to act like I heard it too and dont know where it comes from. That's one of the better less embrassing quirks of having this disorder. I hope there are therapists reading this because we have been turned down by several, saying that the insurance we have is not worth the trouble, and especially NOT the diagnosis. We thank Cam West very very much for writing this book, which is nothing like Sybil, or any of the others.Read more ›
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Rachel E. Pollock on December 22, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is one i wanted to read for research on a novel I've had in progress for a while now. Cameron West tells his story, first-hand, of the onset of his Dissociative Identiy Disorder. Shocking, disturbing, upsetting, facinating, so many adjectives to describe it. West recounts how his wife of several years reacted to his multiplicity, how they raised their small son after the DID-onset, the harrowing details of several hospitalizations, and how, in the midst of it all, he managed to get his PhD in psychology.
A couple of caveats: West is not the best writer. The book is peppered with inspired and creative metaphors/similes (another reviewer hated them, but i found them fun--evidence of West's silly nature sometimes), but the actual style is a bit kludgy (and this shouldn't be written off as "oh, well, he's a multiple, what do you expect;" i blame his editor). There are also some subjects that he only barely touches on that I, as a reader, wanted to know more about--he talks a lot about denial, but doesn't ever analyze his initial denials of his multiplicity to any extent (this, i think you can blame on his condition, probably). He mentions a visit to an inept therapist inexperienced in dealing with multiples, but doesn't talk much about the repercussions of it, it's just presented and moved-on-from. He also presents a number of scenes in his wife's life that he simply wasn't present for, and it's hard to buy his narrative voice in those sections. I think the book would have benefited from a secondary author--large sections in his own words, with third-person sections as well--a second, cohesive, structural voice. (No joking here--after reading the book, i think he probably should have collaborated with the alter-personality he refers to as Per.
Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By bits and pieces on May 22, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am writing a review in order to respond to those who have criticized this book. I am a multiple. Cam's story reads authentically true, much in line with my own experiences with DID.

Should he have had someone else write the book for him? He could have, but then it wouldn't have rung as true. Should he have collaborated with Per to write it? He could have, but that decision was up to Cam and his guys, and I am 100% positive they/he had a good reason for doing it the way he did.

Some people have mentioned the abundance of metaphor and cliche etc used throughout the narrative. I can't speak for all multiples of course, but MY brain/mind also tends toward the superlative (not evident here, as my 'studious' alter is carefully watching as we write this. Thank you, Josephine). I personally found the over-use of metaphor etc to be endearing.

As for the descriptions of clothes, cars, people etc: one describes what one sees. One sees what one is surrounded with, and describes it through the lens of their own perceptions. If we were to write OUR story of multiplicity, you would read a very different book, in that we are not surrounded by wealth.

Yet the story would remain much the same.

Cam has written a very simple personal account of a very complicated personal condition (I shall not say 'disease' here, for we do not view it that way), and it should be read as such. If his writing seems sloppy at times, ignore it and be amazed that he has pulled himself together enough to write it at all. It is the lack of perfection throughout this book that cements its authenticity, and frankly does not really detract from the experience of reading it.

Someone mentioned that Cam spares the reader from the details of his abuse- that is not entirely true.
Read more ›
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