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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (October 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060954876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060954871
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What do the Columbine killings, "getting lost in a good book" and your midlife crisis have in common? According to psychiatrist Steinberg, they are all events that can be placed on a broad continuum of behaviors related to dissociative identity disorder, popularly known as multiple personality. Steinberg, whose research was supported with grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, argues with conviction that mild dissociative behaviorAtemporary episodes of disconnection or memory lossAcan be a useful mechanism for coping with such mundane but stressful events as giving public presentations as well as major traumas like an operation or an assault. In more extreme forms, it is a debilitating disorderAsimilar, she argues, to attention deficit disorderAthat is in need of psychiatric recognition and intervention. Arguing that DID often results from early childhood abuse, Steinberg passionately calls for removing the stigma from its related behaviors, noting that the popular conception of the disorder is gleaned from overblown films such as Sybil and The Three Faces of Eve. Readers can gauge their own dissociative tendencies with the book's abridged version of the Steinberg clinical interview for DSM-IV dissociative disorders. Readers interested in clinical depression and ADD will gravitate to this book, although Steinberg's throwaway comments that suggest that seeing "alternative" lifestyles depicted on TV can cause psychic confusion and that stepparents have a greater tendency to violate the incest prohibition may cost her some otherwise sympathetic readers. While DID doesn't have as much cultural currency as ADD, Steinberg's research has much to add to the contentious debates surrounding childhood trauma, diagnostic categories and the changing relationship between incurable disease and manageable disorder. Agent, Mary Tahan. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Multiple personality disorders (MPD) are now subsumed under the rubric dissociative identity disorders (DID), or just plain dissociation. Most DID cases are the result of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse in childhood. Psychiatrist Steinberg puts her considerable research and clinical experience to the purpose of making it clear that DID is a "hidden epidemic," that many of its sufferers are misdiagnosed and fail to receive proper early treatment, and that the sensationalism of many MPD cases of yore (e.g., The Three Faces of Eve) has warped physicians' as well as public attitudes. In addition, she explodes the five most common myths about dissociation and describes its five core symptoms. She uses three long case histories to illustrate the beginning and development of DID (drunkenness and abuse played major roles in these instances), and she offers practical steps for rehabilitation. Her work in the field reached a peak when the Steinberg Clinical Interview process was given a place in the fourth edition of psychiatry's bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. William Beatty
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Clearly, she is well qualified to write this book.
GoodMonster
It easy to read, gives a lot of explanations, and offers some techniques to help you cope with your dissociative disorder.
MobiusX
Not to say that it wasn't interesting to hear her view...but it was a very narrow and mechanical viewpoint.
Michelle L Tschida

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Chances are that you will spend time with someone who suffers from dissociation today. Do you know how to help them? Do you even know who they are? If you are like me, the answer was "no" to both questions before reading this excellent, important book.
Dissociation is defined by the authors as "a state of fragmented consciousness involving amnesia, a sense of unreality and feeling, of being disconnected from oneself or one's environment." One of the extreme forms that this disorder can take is as someone who exhibits multiple personalities. If you ever saw the movie, Three Faces of Eve, that is what is being described here in extreme form. Most people with this condition are experiencing these personality complexities inside their minds, and the external manifestation can appear to be absent-mindedness or a strange reaction to common occurrences.
The actual diagnosis of this mental condition needs to be done by a trained clinician, but there are helpful questionnaires in the book to help you determine whether such a clinician should be sought for you or someone you know. You need to have pretty broad-based and severe symptoms before you have this disorder. Based on broadscale survey research led Dr. Steinberg, it is estimated that 14 percent of the population in North America have this condition. The sufferer usually goes untreated or is treated for a symptom of the disorder, such as depression or panic attacks. The condition is often misdiagnosed, as well, as schizophrenia.
Dissociation "is a healthy adaptive defense used almost universally by people in response to overwhelming stress or life-threatening danger." So, if you've experienced some aspects of dissociation, that's good.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book blows the lid off of the widespread misunderstanding and misinformation out there about a common disorder that we all share to some degree or another. If you've ever been in an accident, or ever been the victim of any other type of high-stress event, you've experienced dissocation as the defense mechanism that allows you to cope with the attednant trauma. Reading this book will help you identify and understand the symptoms you experienced. Dr. Steinberg's research actually reveals that even the most normal, well-adjusted people dissociate on a regular basis as a defense mechanism. Problems arise only when it is taken to an extreme.
Dissociation is simply a protective response hard-wired into our psychological makeup that allows us to cope with high stress situations and events. This book makes it clear that the fact that you dissociate doesn't mean you are turning into Sybil. The self-test included in the book helps you understand this. Based on years of research by an acclaimed figure in the field, the clear and lucid writing make a complex and difficult subject accessible to a general audience. The case histories included in the text make for fascinating reading, and allow the reader to see how therapy actually works in a person's life.
It's almost criminal how many people are misled, even by mental health professionals, about the nature and significance of dissociation: it seems that many people being treated for anxiety and depression actually suffer from severe dissociation. This very informative book makes a significant contribution to the general understanding of this subject, and everyone everyone who wants to be in the know about themselves should read it immediately!
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Kivinen on July 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
Dr. Steinberg's book has significant flaws but is still an invaluable resource for therapists and their clients who wish to understand and recover from trauma-based dissociation. She defines dissociation as "a state of fragmented consciousness involving amnesia, a sense of unreality, and feelings of being disconnected from oneself and one's environment." Aimed at the general reader, Steinberg's and co-author Schnall's prose is lucid, compassionate and contains much practical insight. She provides many self-help suggestions for communicating with and nurturing the dissociated parts of oneself. The book also includes a screening instrument to help identify the presence and potential need for further assessment of what Steinberg considers the five core dissociative symptoms: amnesia, depersonalization, derealization, identity confusion, and identity alteration. She stresses that dissociation may be mild, moderate or severe; normal or abnormal; adaptive (healthy, promoting adjustment) or maladaptive (unhealthy and interfering with adjustment, growth and stability) and that having one or more dissociative experiences does not automatically mean one has a dissociative disorder. One chapter even bears the title "A Healthy Defense Gone Wrong." Transient dissociation may occur in response to heightened stress. Dissociative disorders, such as dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality) develop in response to overwhelming (or traumatic) stress, such as childhood sexual abuse.
Dissociation is often overlooked in typical psychiatric assessments. This is due to various factors.
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