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Magic Daughter: A Memoir of Living with Multiple Personality Disorder

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Jane Phillips began writing The Magic Daughter, a memoir of her experiences with Multiple Personality Disorder, as a suicide note. She wanted to leave behind an account of her existence with a fragmented mind: the daily struggle to maintain consensus among a variety of selves; the awkwardness of encountering people who seemed to have "met" her but of whom she had no memory; the constant fatigue brought on by having to complete tasks several times in order to satisfy her various selves that a job is done; and the ...
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Overview

Jane Phillips began writing The Magic Daughter, a memoir of her experiences with Multiple Personality Disorder, as a suicide note. She wanted to leave behind an account of her existence with a fragmented mind: the daily struggle to maintain consensus among a variety of selves; the awkwardness of encountering people who seemed to have "met" her but of whom she had no memory; the constant fatigue brought on by having to complete tasks several times in order to satisfy her various selves that a job is done; and the fear that somehow she will blow her cover and appear as something other than the college professor that she is. Instead of dying, Jane Phillips became fascinated with the task she had set herself. Instead of dying, she wrote this exquisitely crafted account of her life as a multiple and her journey toward being "just-one." In The Magic Daughter, she describes the day-to-day experience of living with this disorder as well as her work with a remarkable therapist over the course of nearly a decade, trying to decode the workings of her mind and the reality of her past. Together, they uncover the memories of violence, abuse, and manipulation by her brothers and parents, who saw her as the long-awaited "magic daughter" who could save this dysfunctional family. She learns to sleep through the night without waking in terror as memory after memory surfaces; she teaches herself to differentiate between remembered pain and current illness so she can explain her condition to a doctor before her other selves can take over and her symptoms disappear; and she makes the astonishing discovery that even in her mid-thirties, she has no understanding of what being a woman really means. She uncovers The Kids, JJ, and numerous other selves who protected the young and adult Jane, and, with help of her therapist, she achieves a newly dawned sense of gender, chronology, and unity.

As moving and inspiring as Nobody, Nowhere and Girl, Interrupted, this unique and intensely personal memoir describes how Phillips has learn ed to live with a fragmented self, and investigates the compelling human side of a disorder which has long fascinated psychiatrists and readers alike.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After several years of intensive psychotherapy, French professor Jane Phillips (a pseudonym) was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (MPD), a little-understood condition believed to result from childhood trauma. Faced with unpleasant situations, Phillips explains, a child chemically predisposed to dissociate will create multiple selves as a coping device. An incest survivor, Phillips has long been host to a multitude of personae ``because one self could not cope with all there was to be coped with.'' Here she offers a frank and articulate account of how the disorder has shaped her daily life and of her struggle to achieve integration-the process whereby various selves coalesce into a single, stable identity. At times painful to read, this memoir yields compelling insights into the difficulties of confronting and overcoming a debilitating disorder. The author's persistent determination not to let MPD thwart a successful career or become the defining force in her life is inspirational. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Since Sybil and Three Faces of Eve, a flood of information on multiple personality disorder (MPD) has surged into the public view. Here, an award-winning writer and French professor writing under the pseudonym Phillips leads the reader into an intimate portrayal of her life with many voices. Her story began as a suicide note but became a tool in her struggle to succeed and overcome all the dysfunction, violence, and degradation in her early life. She offers a chronological reading of growing up with MPD and describes her eight years of work with a remarkable psychologist, resulting in the reintegration of her "selves." Her personalities are collectively known as "The Kids," who demand coloring books, stuffed animals, and a nightlight. There are other titles in this area, of course, such as Trudi Chase's When Rabbit Howls (Jove, 1990) and Gene Stone's Little Girl Fly Away (LJ 3/1/94). But this poignant memoir by a gifted author is well recommended for all collections.-Lisa Wise, Univ. of Southern Colorado, Pueblo
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140244557
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/15/1996
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.72 (h) x 0.47 (d)

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