First Person Plural: My Life as a Multiple

First Person Plural: My Life as a Multiple

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by Cameron West

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“What the hell is happening to me? I feel possessed. I’m talking gibberish in the mirror and somebody else’s voice is coming out of my mouth.”

Cameron West was in his thirties, a successful businessman, happily married and the father of a young son when he spoke these words. The “voice” he heard belonged to Davy, the first

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“What the hell is happening to me? I feel possessed. I’m talking gibberish in the mirror and somebody else’s voice is coming out of my mouth.”

Cameron West was in his thirties, a successful businessman, happily married and the father of a young son when he spoke these words. The “voice” he heard belonged to Davy, the first of twenty-four distinct alter personalities to emerge over a period of several months as West began to recall memories of horrific abuse he’d repressed since childhood. Along with Davy, there was eight-year-old Clay, tense and stuttering, twelve-year-old Dusty, gentle and kind, but disappointed to find herself in a man’s body, Bart, lighthearted with a sense of humor, Lief, focused and driven, who got things done, but often overwhelmed West with his intensity, and nineteen other personalities, all with distinct characteristics, mannerisms, and memories, created by West to protect his psyche from the trauma of repeated sexual abuse at the hands of family members.

In the classic New York Times Bestseller, First Person Plural, West offers a poignant account of his efforts to understand the workings of his fragmented mind and to heal his damage spirit as he desperately hangs on to the slender thread that connects him to his wife, Rikki, his son Kyle, and some semblance of a regular life.

In addition to a spellbinding story, West provides rare and unprecedented insight into the fascinating condition known as Dissociative Identity Disorder, the working of the mind of a multiple, and his alters’ coexistence with one another and with the world “outside.” Heartwrenching, humorous, and ultimately hopeful, First Person Plural is a story that will make you stand in awe of the power of the mind to protect itself and cheer for West as he struggles to gain control of his life.

Accolades for First Person Plural:
New York Times Bestseller
Publishers Weekly Bestseller
USA Today Bestseller
Published in twenty-two foreign countries

Personal appearances by Cameron and Rikki West:
The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Today Show
Entertainment Tonight
Maurio Costanza (Italy)

Featured in USA Today, TIME, and People

“A page-turning journey through hell.” Entertainment Weekly
“For those who found Sybil or The Three Faces of Eve believable and engrossing, this account will be even more so.” Kirkus Reviews
“First Person Plural is an honest, courageous account that demystifies the lives of those who struggle with Dissociative Identity Disorder.” Ellen Bass author of The Courage to Heal
“First Person Plural is an incredibly important book. It is a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.” Marlene E. Hunter, MD, FCFP, President International Society for the Study of Dissociation

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Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly
...[A] page-turning journey through hell.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Mar.)
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
Kirkus Reviews
A singular first-person account of the much-debated condition now known as dissociative identity disorder (DID)-formerly termed multiple personality disorder-by a man who professes to have 24 separate personalities, or "alters." West was a successful businessman when he began hearing the voices that led him to a psychologist's office and eventually to the diagnosis of DID. Although he had no memory of childhood sexual abuse by his mother and grandmother, his alters did, and as his psychologist explains, their existence was his mind's way of coping with those experiences. Introductory thumbnail sketches of his 24 alters help the reader to keep straight this extensive cast of characters. Most memorable are Clay, an eight-year-old whose untimely appearances put a damper on Wests' lovemaking, and Switch, another eight-year-old, whose knife attacks on West send him repeatedly to the emergency room. Now a would-be novelist, West exercises his fledgling narrative skills here, not only relating his own strange tale briskly, but adopting an all-seeing eye for scenes where he was not present, e.g., his wife at a DID support meeting or with an admirer whose attentions threaten their marriage. While West's story is primarily about his bizarre condition and how it changed his life (he sold his Massachusetts home and business and moved to California, earned a Ph.D. in psychology in order to better understand DID, spent time in psychiatric hospitals, and gradually came to accept as true the sexual abuse memories of his alters), it is also the story of a married couple dealing with one partner's mental breakdown and of how they handled the subject with their young son. The volume is illustratedthroughout with pages from West's journal showing his alters' childish scrawls and drawings. DID skeptics may view this as an ingenious bit of fantasy; for those who found Sybil or The Three Faces of Eve believable and engrossing, this account will be even more so.

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Cameron West
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What People are saying about this

Marlene Steinberg
At last, Multiply Personality has been demystified! The author has set out to make a complex condition understandable and has succeeded. With stunning candor, the author takes us through the process of discovering the wounded parts of himself that had been sealed away beyond the reach of conscious memory. This is an informative and extremely moving account of his remarkable struggle toward healing. (Marlene Steinberg, M.D. Author, Handbook for the Assessment of Dissociation: A Clinical Guide Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Research Affiliate, Yale School of Medicine)
Colin Ross
First Person Plural is a great achievement as well as a terrific book. Cameron West has conveyed, in jarring detail and heartbreaking clarity, the impact of Dissociative Identity Disorder on a family. It is unique in this field since the author is both a patient and a doctor of psychology. I highly recommend this book for anyone suffering from or interested in DID. (Colin Ross, M.D. Director, Timberlawn Trauma Program, Author, Dissociative Identity Disorder: Diagnosis, Clinical Features, and Treatment)

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