Book Reviews

I want to learn as much as I can about Dissociative Identity Disorder. It helps me to understand 'us' and makes me feel less alone. For anyone else who may be interested in reading about DID I will put my reviews of books etc here as I go along. I hope you will find them helpful!

The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook (Sourcebooks)

The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook (Sourcebooks)
by Deborah Bray Haddock

5.0 out of 5 stars very useful for DID understanding, 6 April 2011
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has DID or wants to understand someone who has it.

I bought it as a tool to help me understand myself and found it to be really beneficial. It helped me to learn about what is going on in my head and was enlightening to see that things that may seem very odd to me and others are common DID traits. It helped me to have much more of an insight into my alters and gave me a lot to think about with the 'questions to ask yourself' parts.

The finding a therapist section is not really relevant but still had interesting information about therapist/client relationships and if nothing else made me appreciate how lucky we are in the UK to have the NHS.

It is an easy book to read, I read it in a few days, but you could also just dip in and out of it. If you have DID you might find it useful to read more than once anyway as I found my awareness of reading some sections affected by dissociation. I think some topics can be difficult so should be approached with caution.

I will be giving it to my close relationships to read as I think it would help people to understand someone with DID.
If I am to be critical, I would say I would have liked there to be references to scientific evidence, however I felt the book was based on clinical experience and I seemed to match a lot of what was said. On the other hand, the lack of references did make me a bit suspicious at times.

Despite that I still think this should be essential reading for anyone interested in understanding DID.


Attachment, Trauma and Multiplicity: Working with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Attachment, Trauma and Multiplicity: Working with Dissociative Identity Disorder
by Valerie Sinason

3.0 out of 5 stars More disjointed than my mind, 2 May 2011
Firstly, I would say, the book says that it is good reading for therapists and professionals working with DID. I am not a professional; I have DID however I thought that since I am well educated and of quite a high intelligence, I would be able to understand the content. I was wrong! It doesn't matter how intelligent you are, if you havent studied psychology, there is a lot of material in the book that WILL NOT make any sense to you at all. It uses a lot of jargon and technical terms that no amount of brains will help you understand if you haven't already got the knowledge of psychological terms (and I don't mean a BASIC knowledge either). That is not however the fault of the authors as they don't advertise themselves as being a useful book for people with DID. I'm just putting that in as a warning. If you think you can handle it and don't know A LOT about psychology then you should probably add a psychology manual to your shopping basket as well. But in my opinion, if you have DID or want to know more about it and aren't a professional in the field, you should just buy a different book.

I did like the fact that the book seems to be evidence based. I have read other books on DID that were easier reading and really informative but had cited no evidence to back them up. I think a book that could have the writing style of other more manageable books but the evidence that this book quotes would be more useful to the inquisitive DID sufferer.

Now, despite not having a clue about some of the content, I did read the whole book (most pages four or five times over... very slowly) and was able to glean some useful information from it. Having said that I found that there was a variation in the readability between chapters. Each chapter is written by a different author and brings their insights on attachment, trauma and multiplicity to the book. Some chapters were difficult to manage because of the psychological content of the book (as I said before: not the fault of the book), however other chapters were just difficult to read because the writer used excessive complicated and I felt unneccessary vocubulary, which in my opinion is just done to try to sound knowledgeable but isn't helpful. Even if I had studied clinical psychology instead of the subjects I did, I would find this off-putting.

In addition, I felt the book was poorly edited. Some of the layout of material was mish mashed (chapter 3 for example, introduces a clinical case then skips back to treatment theory for trauma for a few pages before starting to talk about the clinical case later on). There were several spelling mistakes and errors where sentences did not make sense due to having an extra word or word missing. I feel that where this book is a second edition, the editors have cut and pasted bits and added in bits but didn't take enough time to check the spelling and grammar. Or maybe the person proof reading it was so overwhelmed by the wordiness and jargon that they couldn't tell the mistakes from the complicity. It doesn't take much to make sure the book doesn't contain errors before it's printed and this is one of the main reasons I haven't given it a high rating.

Another point I would like to make is that there seems to be a strong emphasis on 'ritual abuse' in the book. In some chapters I almost felt that the writer was of the opinion that ritual abuse is the only cause of DID. I did not really understand why there was so much emphasis and why some of the assumptions about things that have happened to people with DID were made. At one point (chapter 12) the author states that people with DID have suffered organised sexual abuse arranged by the father. Now, of course, this does happen, but it hasn't happened to everyone with DID and future editions of the book I feel should not make so many assumptions. It is important to talk about the causes of DID but I found myself feeling like an anomaly for not having suffered torture and endured satanic rituals as a child.

I questioned the helpfullness of the chapter called "Snow White and the Seven Diagnoses" where the author attempts to relate DID to the fairytale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. To be honest I found it slightly offensive; as though the author was trying to romanticise the condition, but without really giving a good reason as to why it would be useful to do so. Plus, I found the descriptions confusing. The author states themselves: "It is not fashionable to cite Disney versions when applying fairy tales to clinical questions." I would say, she should have followed this fashion advice.

I also feel the chapters didn't really follow a set path. The book is more like a conglomerate of different professionals thoughts on attachment and trauma; each coming from a different perspective. This probably had its benefits but also meant there was some repetition and no 'beginning, middle and end' to the book. It is more like a lucky dip. You could read the chapters in any order and it wouldn't really matter. Maybe that's not a flaw, but I didn't like this element.

I have been very critical so I would just like to emphasize that a lot of my opinions may not be agreed with by others reading the book. The things I liked about it, was the actual information on attachment. Once I was able to decipher some of the chapters, I learnt a lot about what types of attachment are and how in families where abuse is taking place the child can be both seeking attachment and fearful of the care giver leading to disorganised attachment styles which then follow through to adulthood. I liked how this is related to the client-therapist relationship and I found it very informative on a personal level, for me with DID as a client in therapy. Therefore, if you have DID and are brave and brainy, I would say you will get something from the book if you buy it.

For any professionals, I would say you should read it. I would want my therapist to read the book, but be warned, you may agree that the layout, editing and some of the authors' writing styles make it more than light reading.

I hope this is useful!


Today I'm Alice: Nine Personalities, One Tortured Mind

Today I'm Alice: Nine Personalities, One Tortured Mind
by Alice Jamieson

4.0 out of 5 stars Both engrossing and painful to read, 10 Aug 2011
This book is a personal story by a woman diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder after a childhood of extreme ongoing abuse and many years of instability and mental health issues. Much of the book is a description of her life prior to diagnosis, with a smaller section of the book devoted to her life since. 

The first thing I would say about this book is that it is both easy and hard reading. It was easy reading in the sense that her writing style flows nicely and her descriptions were simply and clearly worded so as to give the reader a clear mental image of the story. It was easy to get absorbed into the book. The 'hard' thing about the book is that the descriptions at time were so vivid and shocking, it made the book painful to read. The descriptions of the abuse she endured leave nothing to the imagination (not that you would wish to try to imagine, but in the book you are not given a choice) with explicit descriptions of exactly how she was abused. This would be painful reading for anybody, whether they had a history of abuse or not. I found myself feeling physically ill and very distressed while reading about some of these things and was only able to read short sections of the book at a time. I also found myself choosing times to read when I knew I would be distracted soon afterwards so that I wouldn't continue to feel bad once I stopped reading. 

I think the book gives a great insight into what having dissociative identity disorder is like. The book would help outsiders to understand how and why DID develops. Alice is brutally honest in recounting that paths that her life tookon the road to diagnosis and afterwards.

Reading it as someone with DID, apart from being very hard to digest at times, the book gave me little hope for my future. Because Alice's story is not complete by the end of her book (she is still struggling to survive and having setbacks), I found myself wondering if it is really possible for someone so traumatized in their early years to ever live a life that isn't troubled. It left some of us feeling that the struggle to recover from abuse is a hopeless battle. 

On a more positive note, it is reassuring to read words written by another that perfectly describe my own thoughts, feelings or experiences in a way that I would not be able, and I found myself folding over page corners many times to mark the words that I want to revisit when my own fail me.

To summarise, I recommend the book as an insight into DID but be warned of the explicit and disturbing content.


Got Parts? An Insider's Guide to Managing Life Successfully with Dissociative Identity Disorder (New Horizons in Therapy) [Paperback]

1.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to follow, 27 Dec 2011

This review is from: Got Parts? An Insider's Guide to Managing Life Successfully with Dissociative Identity Disorder (New Horizons in Therapy) (Paperback)
The book is written by someone who has/had dissociative identity disorder and as the title suggests, is a guide for how to manage life with DID. The ideas in it are quite practical and there is use of diagrams and sketches.

I was surprised at the thickness of the book when it arrived. It is quite a large looking book on the website but doesn't have many pages in it and the font size is larger than usual so I felt a little bit cheated in terms of quantity for money. To be honest, I feel a little bit unentitled to write this review as I didn't actually make it all the way to the end of the book. I found it difficult to follow: the layout and structure of the book is a bit jumbled and the explanations and use of grammar were not great. I have made several attempts to read it and ended up losing track and giving up then needing to start again, unfortunately. I do intend to finish it eventually and will amend this review if the latter part of the book convinces me but given that I am an avid reader of DID books and have struggled my way through some pretty hard going texts because I hate to give up, it doesn't bode well for my conclusion of the book. I also felt that a lot of the advice being given by the writer was based on their own experience but put across as fact. I don't deny that some of it may work for people, but it didn't seem to have an evidence base and it is put across as 'you must do this' and 'you should do that', as though it is fact.

I feel that in hindsight I would have been better spending my money on a different DID book than this one because it was not well laid out, not professionally written and hard to follow and there was not enough in it in terms of volume of information for the price I paid. 


  First Person Plural: My Life as a Multiple
by Cameron West
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy insight into the world of DID
There are many reviews of this book on Amazon so I haven't added a review on there to date and it's been a while since I read it so I can't remember honestly specific examples of anything I didn't like about the book (not a great introduction to this review, I admit!). But! I do remember that it was an interesting read, easy to get in to, which is good if you have the concentration span of a squirrel and most importantly, gives a pretty good insight into what it is like to have dissociative identity disorder. 
The book is an account written by Cameron West about his own experiences from just prior to diagnosis when his apparently normal life began unravelling, through his journey of discovering that what he was struggling with was DID. It is a personal account which puts into words some of the confusing a frightening experiences that someone with DID might encounter (both in life and internally). He gives a real insight into what switching is like for some people and personally, helped me to see in black and white words what to me has been an impossible experience to comprehend never mind explain to someone else. I am envious of that ability.
The story also moves through some of the ups and downs of treatment and the difficulties many experience in their relationships: his wife's struggles to deal with the diagnosis on a broad scale and also in day to day situations is very well described. My husband also read this book and it has really helped him to understand DID. I think being able to understand DID makes living with a DID person one hundred times easier and I did notice that his empathy for some of the difficulties I have increased dramatically while reading the book and since. 
I recommend you do read this book. It's cheap on Amazon and will help anyone to understand DID or to feel less alone with DID. For me it was a marvellous thing to read about my own experiences in someone else's world and for my husband it allowed him an insight into what is going on in my world. I could also really relate to Cameron's ongoing struggles to accept his diagnosis.
As with many books about DID, some of the content is EXTREMELY triggering and I experienced some severe flashbacks and dissociation while reading the book. Cameron does describe some of the memories that come back to him of being abused by his mother, which for many DID sufferers, including myself would be extremely triggering. For anyone else, it may also be disturbing. It would be important to be sure you are ready for that exposure and that you are safe and take care of yourself while you read this book and afterwards each time you put it down.


Let me know if you have read any of these books and any thoughts you had or if you want to recommend any to me!