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First Person PluralReview - First Person Plural
My Life As a Multiple
by Cameron West, Ph.D.
Hyperion Books, 1999
Review by Su Hunter
Jul 31st 2000 (Volume 4, Issue 31)

Dr. Cameron West is an excellent and humorous writer.  You will find this book very hard to put down.  The book opens up with an introduction to Cam’s 24 personalities whom he calls “My Guys”, even though a few of them are females.  This was very helpful in reading through this book.  The next section is a prologue that helps to set you up for the psychotic episodes of this book. It takes a brave man to expose himself like Dr. West has done.  He writes in his epilogue, that hopefully this book will help other multiples to deal with the denial and the trials that most multiples go through.  This is a very moving and heart throbbing book.

 

The plot is as follows.  Cameron West is married to Rikki and has a 5-year-old son, He lives in Massachusetts, with a great job, and his life is intact, except, he has a sinus problem.  In the last 4 years he has had 2 surgeries and is getting ready to undergo his third one.  After the surgery is over, and the healing begins, he hears about people who can heal with natural herbs.  He seeks out a doctor who does an allergy test and finds out that it is not a sinus problem, but Cam is allergic to half the world.  So, he changes his diet and avoids things he is allergic to.  Soon, he becomes physically better.  This is when the real problem begins.  His body no longer demands all of Cam’s strength and attention, so now his mind is able to draw Cam’s attention.  He begins loosing track of time, and can not remember things.  When he talks to Rikki about it, she, having a degree in psychology, suggests seeing a psychologist.  Cam agrees, and the next day he begins looking in the phone book.  He finds one, calls, and sets up an appointment to see Arly Morelli, Ph.D.  Cam begins experiencing some very odd thoughts.  He starts talking in various voices and acting very childish at times.  He tells Arly and they begin meeting more frequently.   Arly has experience working with multiple personality disorder clients (AKA Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID) and quickly puts the pieces together.  Cam is diagnosed with DID.  The only problem is that he doesn’t believe it.  He is in denial, knows he’s in denial, but can’t manage to believe that this sort of thing is happening to him.  Davy is the first personality to appear, but 23 more soon follow.  As Arly and Cam begin to work through this diagnosis, many of the personalities describe episodes of sexual abuse with his grandmother as an age as early as three.  Other personalities continue with the horrific tales of abuse by his mother at a later age.  Rikki has a hard time accepting the fact that Cam had been sexually abused as a child by his grandmother, and his mother.  Cam also finds it hard to believe and would rather believe that he is just crazy and that the abuse couldn’t have happened because he didn’t remember it. 

 

Cam decides to call a couple of his relatives whom he thinks would know if any abuse actually happened.  Cam talked to his mother’s cousin, who had lived near by his family when he was growing up.  Cam asked her about the possibility of him being abused.   He explained to her that he wanted to know about his grandmother’s family, and out of the clear blue sky, she exclaimed, “There was no incest that I know of.”  This really threw Cam in shock.  She said a few more words, then ended with “You are opening a big can of worms Cam.  Don’t call me anymore.  Ever!!”  With this confusion, Cam tried to call his uncle and basically got the same answer.  The only difference was the last sentence he said to Cam before hanging up.  “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  Davy (the first personality to come out) had remembered the sexual abuse by his grandmother when Cam was only four.  From what the Uncle had said, Cam guessed that maybe he also was abused by his mother.  Soon, one of his personalities confirmed that with some vivid memories of the abuse.  When Cam’s mother appeared one day at the family owned business, Rikki confronted her about the abuse.  Cam’s mother turned and stormed out of the office without saying a word.  Rikki talked to Cam’s brother Tom, who was a co-owner of the company and agreed to buy Cam’s share.  Cam and Rikki moved to California to try and start a new life and get away from Cam’s family.  Cam is put into a hospital that is for people who have DID, after one of his multiples cut on him.  For the next few years, Cam’s life gets worse.  More personalities appear, his wife has found a “new” best friend to talk to, and his son is scared of him when one of the personalities appears.  He finally checks into a hospital in Texas for DID’s, that video tapes Cam and some of his “Guys”.  Cam’s therapist has him watch this video to prove to Cam once and for all that he is NOT crazy, but has DID.  Cam finally accepts it, and begins the healing process and the dealing with it process.  Rikki quits seeing her new friend and begins to re-unite with Cam.  During this whole process, Cam decided to attend grad school and get a Ph.D. in Psychology.

 

This is a spine tingling, hurry-turn-the-page, kind of book.  The author writes with great humor even though this is his life story.  This book would be recommended for anyone with any interest in DID. 


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