A Fractured Mind, by Robert Oxman

Being a fanatic reader on neuroscience, psychology and the Theory of Mind, this book was recommended by another book I liked. I thought it worthwhile expanding my knowledge in the fascinating study of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), also known as Multiple Personality Disorder, by reading a book written by a person who is struggling with such a disorder.

I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I started reading this book, keeping my mind and any judgement open in this vaguely understood, and sometimes disputed field. This is one of those subjects psychologist and psychiatrist are not quite aligned with the hardcore medical scientists on exactly what this condition entails. This is not surprising given the lack of objective evidence, and the extremely primitive knowledge, the new discipline of neuroscience have on the workings and complexities of the brain.

Firstly I have to give a much credit to Mr. Oxman for having the courage and sharing his personal, and what must be an extremely emotional disorder. His high level of intelligence and professional credibility as an academic scholar, makes this book, one of the first for me that explains DID and its first hand effects, and how someone can, not only function, but flourish, while dealing with this debilitating disorder.

The book is an in-detail account of Mr. Oxman’s first knowledge of having DID, unusually later in his life after having achieved his academic status. He starts by describing himself struggling with a depressive state or mental struggle within himself, which had lead him to drinking, without knowing his true condition. This results in him and his family blaming the alcohol as the cause of his forgetfulness and sometimes complete lack of recollection of events during his daily routine. Having agreed to seek help to stop drinking, he was advised by his doctor to see a specialist, in which his multiple personality disorder (DID) was first diagnosed, and communicated to him.

The story starts unfolding as the different personalities within him were lured to disclose themselves. To read his book is to understand how different personalities with different capabilities, fears, appetites, ambitions, needs, can all fit in one head. In the book those personalities come out and the role they played in his life are defined, the intelligent and academic, the ambitious, the artistic, the tortured child, the silent, all distinctly different yet all him at the same time.

When I finished the book, together with information I gathered from other books, I can almost believe we all have these different people inside our brains who compete and sometimes cause indecision and contradictions, but this is usually resolved by reconciling the different oppositions tugging in different ways in to an ultimate agreement to make a decision one way or the other. The condition of DID, may be said to be debilitating due to the non communications of those identities thus the word “Dissociative” in DID.

Now I can understand why I get angry with myself sometimes, struggle to make the right decision, talk to myself etc. A fascinating book well written and provides deep insight into a very complex condition, which even now is not acknowledged by many scientists. This I am confident will change.

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