Saturday, November 2, 2013

Review: The Sum of my Parts: A Survivor's Story of Dissociative Identity Disorder

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The Sum of my Parts: A Survivor's Story of Dissociative Identity Disorder 
by Olga Trujillo 

Source: eARC from NetGalley 
Published by New Harbinger Publications 
Publication Date: 01 October 2011 

By the first day of kindergarten, Olga Trujillo had already survived years of abuse and violent rape at the hands of her tyrannical father. Over the next ten years, she would develop the ability to numb herself to the constant abuse by splitting into distinct mental “parts.” Dissociative identity disorder (DID) had begun to take hold, protecting Olga’s mind from the tragic realities of her childhood. In The Sum of My Parts, Olga reveals her life story for the first time, chronicling her heroic journey from survivor to advocate and her remarkable recovery from DID. Formerly known as multiple personality disorder, DID is defined by the presence of two or more identities. In this riveting story, Olga struggles to unearth memories from her childhood, and parallel identities—Olga at five years old, Olga at thirteen—come forth and demand to be healed. This brave, unforgettable memoir charts the author’s triumph over the most devastating conditions and will inspire anyone whose life has been affected by trauma. (Goodreads)

My thoughts: 
This was a very difficult book to read. I have never known anyone that have been abused but I can imagine it must be devastating. The first six chapters telling the hell that Olga went through was horrible. Here and there, I had to skip a paragraph as it just seemed unbearable, even for an outsider. 

It is a miracle that Olga survived, physically as well as mentally. Her mind protected her, making different rooms where some of the bad could hidden. But this wonderful self preservation also caused her to “forget” the abuse, giving her parents the opportunity to sell her again and again. It was heartbreaking reading about her excitement for a special date with her parents, knowing what was really in store for her. 

After the first chapters, we learn about the long road that Olga had to walk to become the woman she is today. She had developed a multiple personality disorder and has a few identities, only identified by her age at the time that they were formed. Three was the first personality that entered her consciousness when she started her sessions with her doctor. Three described the “first” rape by her father. Olga was devastated. How could she continue, knowing what the past held? 

Even with all her success (both professionally and personally) there is still some days that she does not pick up the warning signs. Some days are just too much. Some days she falls back into the awful self destructive routines. I understand that this type of book will never have a “happy ending” but it was hard to know that Olga struggles, even today. She is a very brave woman and I take off my hat to her . . . 

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of a book I read called Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff. It's about two people with DID, both of whom suffered abuse. The main character developed many personalities and in an unusual psychological strategy, has retained most of them. The character's mind is also seen as a house where all the personalities live, and although there's one main personality that controls the body most of the time (like for work), there are others that take over every now and then. For example, there's a bodybuilder who takes over when the character needs to do something physically demanding (like run away, defend themselves). There's also a small child. It's kind of funny when the characters come out one after another to eat breakfast (they all have different preferences) or go to the mall (which is a tad embarrassing when the child personality uses the adult body to go to a toy shop).

    It's not a funny book though. Another character is struggling to cope because a very promiscuous personality keeps taking over. She's very timid but she developed a more forceful persona to help her cope with her mother's abuse. It's a very interesting read.