“Since first reading Mary Higgins Clark’s All Around The Town, I have been fascinated by Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) and have followed its transformation (through fiction) to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). This audiobook marks my first audio experience with the topic, as well as my first non-fiction one... Well, other than Sybil, but since that has been revealed to be a hoax, I suppose that counts amongst the fiction now. But after finishing this listen, I must admit that I am not quite certain where to shelve it either...
Chicagoan Karen Overhill’s story is certainly a grim one - abused by every single male in her life. From her father, grandfather, priest, local undertaker, police officer and work buddies of other family members, she undergoes a terrible childhood. With even just one of these abusers, it would be no surprise that her psyche crumbles. And with the variety of torment, it frankly seems a miracle that Karen has coped at all to function as an adult in any way. But, her survival lays at her own feet - within which seventeen different personalities can use.
The details of her abuse are relayed here in nauseating detail. Even more frightening is not only the fact that every single male she encounters took part of this horrific abuse, but also at the knowledge and non-intervention of many of her female relatives as well. Even more alarming is the way Baer himself does not seek any sort of legal intervention when he witnesses the after-effects of abuse in Karen’s troubled marriage. His entire relationship with Karen has hints that it is not entirely above-board, with little details like her nonpayment for treatment, and later when the appointments take place within his home. He also allows Karen to romanticize her own death at length, which adds to the darkness of the tone.
But the deeper into the story, the more unrealistic it seems. It somehow manages to drag on as each individual personality undergoes their own ceremony of transmutation and furthermore. It feels almost routine. And when after viewing the movie Primal Fear, Karen suddenly recounts her own experience with a priest - directly similar to the film. And with these hints about Baer’s own life, it seems like readers are missing the whole story - perhaps the graphic details of the abuse blindside many readers to consider this as anything other than true, but unfortunately this book has stretched my limits of credulity. It simply doesn’t seem plausible that one person underwent this much abuse, but still grows up to be married with two children and displays “textbook” DID... ”