Excerpt from A Fractured Mind by Robert B. Oxnam, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Fractured Mind

My Life with Multiple Personality Disorder

by Robert B. Oxnam

A Fractured Mind by Robert B. Oxnam
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2005, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2006, 304 pages

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Chapter One
Bob: "I Always Thought I was 'Real.'"

On a cold, cloudy afternoon in March 1990, driving my black Honda through the spiderweb of highways north of New York City, I had no idea that this day would change my life forever. I was in a funk of a mood, dark and irritable, loathing the meeting with my psychiatrist that lay ahead. Seven months earlier, when I first met Dr. Jeffery Smith, I had real hope that he could cure my spiraling depression and anger. But now, after enduring extensive therapy sessions and a month in a rehabilitation clinic, I felt worse than ever. It was time to break from Dr. Smith.

But I realized that cutting off relations with Dr. Smith would be a challenge. He seemed like a genuinely concerned colleague, professional but approachable, a very hard man to dislike. Working from a simple office in an unpretentious modern building, he certainly was not the sort of shrink who siphons off patients' money to pay huge overhead. He dressed in a casually professional way — button-down shirt, plain tie, sport jacket — never offering an imposing image. And, unlike any other therapist I had encountered, he conducted our meetings in an easy but attentive style: listening carefully with sharply focused eyes, letting me talk without interrupting, then offering cogent insights rather than "psychobabble."

I resolved to come right to the point. "Hello," I said as coldly as possible, "we've got to talk."

"Yes, Bob," he said quietly, "what's on your mind?" I shut my eyes for a moment, letting the raging frustration well up inside, then stared angrily at the psychiatrist.

"Look, I've been religious about this recovery business. I go to AA meetings daily and to your sessions twice a week. I know it's good that I've stopped drinking. But every other aspect of my life feels the same as it did before. No, it's worse. I hate my life. I hate myself."

Suddenly I felt a slight warmth in my face, blinked my eyes a bit, and then stared at him.

"Bob, I'm afraid our time's up," Smith said in a matter-of-fact style.

"Time's up?" I exclaimed. "I just got here."

"No." He shook his head, glancing at his clock. "It's been fifty minutes. You don't remember anything?"

"I remember everything. I was just telling you that these sessions don't seem to be working for me."

Smith paused to choose his words very carefully. "Do you know a very angry boy named 'Tommy'?"

"No," I said in bewilderment, "except for my cousin Tommy whom I haven't seen in twenty years…"

"No." He stopped me short. "This Tommy's not your cousin. I spent this last fifty minutes talking with another Tommy. He's full of anger. And he's inside of you."

"You're kidding?"

"No, I'm not. Look. I want to take a little time to think over what happened today. And don't worry about this. I'll set up an emergency session with you tomorrow. We'll deal with it then."

Robert

This is Robert speaking. Today I'm the only personality who is strongly visible inside and outside. My own term for such an MPD role is dominant personality. Fifteen years ago, I rarely appeared on the outside, though I had considerable influence on the inside; back then, I was what one might call a "recessive personality." My passage from "recessive" to "dominant" is a key part of our story; be patient, you'll learn lots more about me later on. Indeed, since you will meet all eleven personalities who once roamed about, it gets a bit complex in the first half of this book; but don't worry, you don't have to remember them all, and it gets sorted out in the last half of the book. You may be wondering — if not "Robert," who, then, was the dominant MPD personality back in the 1980s and earlier? His name was "Bob," and his dominance amounted to a long reign, from the early 1960s to the early 1990s. Since "Robert B. Oxnam" was born in 1942, you can see that "Bob" was in command from early to middle adulthood.

Excerpted from A FRACTURED MIND by Robert B. Oxnam. Copyright 2005 Robert B. Oxnam. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion.

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