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The Myth of Sanity: Divided Consciousness and the Promise of Awareness

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"When we say a friend was 'like a different person,' we may be more right than we know." -The Boston Globe Why does a gifted psychiatrist suddenly begin to torment his own beloved wife? How can a ninety-pound woman carry a massive air conditioner to the second floor of her home, install it in a window unassisted, and then not remember how it got there? Why would a brilliant "When we say a friend was 'like a different person,' we may be more right than we know." -The Boston Globe Why does a gifted psychiatrist suddenly begin to torment his own beloved wife? How can a ninety-pound woman carry a massive air conditioner to the second floor of her home, install it in a window unassisted, and then not remember how it got there? Why would a brilliant feminist law student ask her fiancé to treat her like a helpless little girl? How can an ordinary, violence-fearing businessman once have been a gun-packing vigilante prowling the crime districts for a fight? A startling new study in human consciousness, The Myth of Sanity is a landmark book about forgotten trauma, dissociated mental states, and multiple personality in everyday life. In its groundbreaking analysis of childhood trauma and dissociation and their far-reaching implications in adult life, it reveals that moderate dissociation is a normal mental reaction to pain and that even the most extreme dissociative reaction-multiple personality-is more common than we think. Through astonishing stories of people whose lives have been shattered by trauma and then remade, The Myth of Sanity shows us how to recognize these altered mental states in friends and family, even in ourselves. "We only think we're sane, says this Harvard psychologist... The befuddled, normally sane masses can learn a lot from the victims of grave psychological abuse." -Dallas Morning Star

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"When we say a friend was 'like a different person,' we may be more right than we know." -The Boston Globe Why does a gifted psychiatrist suddenly begin to torment his own beloved wife? How can a ninety-pound woman carry a massive air conditioner to the second floor of her home, install it in a window unassisted, and then not remember how it got there? Why would a brilliant "When we say a friend was 'like a different person,' we may be more right than we know." -The Boston Globe Why does a gifted psychiatrist suddenly begin to torment his own beloved wife? How can a ninety-pound woman carry a massive air conditioner to the second floor of her home, install it in a window unassisted, and then not remember how it got there? Why would a brilliant feminist law student ask her fiancé to treat her like a helpless little girl? How can an ordinary, violence-fearing businessman once have been a gun-packing vigilante prowling the crime districts for a fight? A startling new study in human consciousness, The Myth of Sanity is a landmark book about forgotten trauma, dissociated mental states, and multiple personality in everyday life. In its groundbreaking analysis of childhood trauma and dissociation and their far-reaching implications in adult life, it reveals that moderate dissociation is a normal mental reaction to pain and that even the most extreme dissociative reaction-multiple personality-is more common than we think. Through astonishing stories of people whose lives have been shattered by trauma and then remade, The Myth of Sanity shows us how to recognize these altered mental states in friends and family, even in ourselves. "We only think we're sane, says this Harvard psychologist... The befuddled, normally sane masses can learn a lot from the victims of grave psychological abuse." -Dallas Morning Star

30 review for The Myth of Sanity: Divided Consciousness and the Promise of Awareness

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A very easy to understand book written about dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder). I didn't like the writer's style, which I found rather twee and cloying, but she gets full marks for clarity and for giving a first rate explanation of this syndrome. The basic thread that runs throughout the book is that this condition is experienced by people across a broad spectrum. The sort of drama and disruptive switches in personality states that we associate wit A very easy to understand book written about dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder). I didn't like the writer's style, which I found rather twee and cloying, but she gets full marks for clarity and for giving a first rate explanation of this syndrome. The basic thread that runs throughout the book is that this condition is experienced by people across a broad spectrum. The sort of drama and disruptive switches in personality states that we associate with films like Sybil are extremely rare. Much more common are people who suddenly go into rages, or into other mood states. It is usually observed as a change of mood rather then a change of personality. And then afterwards they often forget the time spent in these mood states. This can go as far as causing amnesia for hours or even days. Another frequent hallmark of this condition is that people cannot remember large chunks of time when the initial trauma took place. Often this means they remember very little about their childhoods. What suffers of DID do experience in the here and now are things like depression, nightmares, or chaotic flashbacks. As children, when suffering trauma, they will have put themselves into different personality states in order to cope with the stress of the situation. If something in the present day causes them stress, these earlier personality states can once again be triggered. These changes are usually quite subtle though, in terms of outward appearance - both in childhood and when triggered again in adulthood. Too subtle for friends and relatives to notice that a drastic change in personality has taken place. The victim may well be oblivious to the change too, and afterwards just blank it out. The author writes very interestingly about hypnosis, which she uses with many of her patients. She mentions the difficulties of false memory syndrome, but says that for people with DID, dredging up hidden memories is absolutely essential, and hypnosis is a very good way of doing this. It just has to be done very carefully, by an ethical practitioner who knows what they are doing. Symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV. (view spoiler)[ 1) The presence of two or more distinct identities or ego states "each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self". This occurs in an individual for whom at least one of these ego states "recurrently take control of behaviour." 2) The condition is marked by an "inability to recall important personal information that is too extreme to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness." 3) The apparent multiplicity of identity is not due to direct physiological effects of a substance (such as alcohol) or due to a medical condition (such as complex seizures.) 4) Individuals with Dissociative Identity Disorder often report having experienced physical and sexual abuse as a children. (hide spoiler)] Other symptoms (often but not universally observed) (view spoiler)[ 1) Symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (exaggerated startle responses, nightmares, flashbacks.) 2) Self-mutilation and suicidal or aggressive behaviours may occur. 3) Certain ego states (but not others) may experience psycho-physiological phenomena such as pseudo seizures, or a supernormal ability to control pain. 4) There are reports of marked variations across ego states (within the same individual) in physiological attributes, e.g., one ego state may be short-sighted, or asthmatic, but not the others. (hide spoiler)] The author says that therapy with these people aims to help them retrieve a basic framework of memories of their childhoods. That enables them to make sense of what has happened to them, and in turn this enables people to move forward with their present day lives. She feels it is crucial that people have an understanding of what they have been through. Not so they can apportion blame (she is adamant that this is not helpful), but so they can stop having traumatic responses to hidden memories. I think I would have had a more enthusiastic response to the book if I'd been able to identity more with the issues being described, or even if I felt I knew one person who had these experiences; but there were no eureka moments. It all seemed very distant and removed from anything familiar to me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shaun

    It is by no means certain that our individual personality is the single inhabitant of these our corporeal frames...We all do things both awake and asleep which surprise us. Perhaps we have co-tenants in this house we live in. - Oliver Wendell Holmes I really enjoyed Stout's well-written and engaging narrative describing her years treating dissociative disorders including DID, Dissociative Identity Disorder formerly referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder. The workings of the human brain are It is by no means certain that our individual personality is the single inhabitant of these our corporeal frames...We all do things both awake and asleep which surprise us. Perhaps we have co-tenants in this house we live in. - Oliver Wendell Holmes I really enjoyed Stout's well-written and engaging narrative describing her years treating dissociative disorders including DID, Dissociative Identity Disorder formerly referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder. The workings of the human brain are so complex and only marginally understood, and disorders like DID seem to suggest that our sense of self is considerably more illusive and elusive than most of us would like to believe. Would recommend to those interested in brain science and personality as it relates to behavior and memory. Fascinating stuff.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nomy

    a new friend got this book for me after we had a couple conversations where i mentioned dissociation and parts. i feel really grateful. this is a good read, well-written and compassionate, from the perspective of a therapist who works with trauma survivors. i really appreciate her approach, she's not trying make these clear definitions, she's showing ways that dissociation affects all of our lives, and lots of different ways it can show up ranging from spacing out in the middle of a conversation a new friend got this book for me after we had a couple conversations where i mentioned dissociation and parts. i feel really grateful. this is a good read, well-written and compassionate, from the perspective of a therapist who works with trauma survivors. i really appreciate her approach, she's not trying make these clear definitions, she's showing ways that dissociation affects all of our lives, and lots of different ways it can show up ranging from spacing out in the middle of a conversation, to having "alters" who have different names and identities and do stuff in the world without you knowing. it all felt really relatable and didn't traumatize me with grizzly details. it was also cool because she is a hypnotherapist and described what she does, and i read it right before i was about to start working with a hypnotherapist so i had more of an idea of what to expect.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    The book talks about the implications of trauma in childhood on the psychology of adults. The "myth" of sanity is that we all have moments where we "dissociate" based on childhood experiences that can be fear inducing to traumatic. To the extreme... Dr. Stout, with as much as intellect and clarity as her explanation of sociopathology in the Sociopath Next Door, talks about Dissociative Identity Disorder (Mutliple Personality Disorder) and the symptoms, experiences, and approaches to healing. The The book talks about the implications of trauma in childhood on the psychology of adults. The "myth" of sanity is that we all have moments where we "dissociate" based on childhood experiences that can be fear inducing to traumatic. To the extreme... Dr. Stout, with as much as intellect and clarity as her explanation of sociopathology in the Sociopath Next Door, talks about Dissociative Identity Disorder (Mutliple Personality Disorder) and the symptoms, experiences, and approaches to healing. The book is fascinating and provides alot of clarity on behavioral psychology-- however it is also sad... as we recognize the scope of abuse world-wide and the profound mystery of the mind and its ability to cope with those memories.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    We are all capable of disassociating and often do without knowing it ... from daydreaming to being on "autopilot" to being totally absorbed in a book or project. This is a mild form. The premise of this book is that Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is a protective mechanism of the human ego that occurs when one is faced with terror and abuse literally too great to bear. DID does not equal "crazy". DID does equal traumatized. This is a fascin We are all capable of disassociating and often do without knowing it ... from daydreaming to being on "autopilot" to being totally absorbed in a book or project. This is a mild form. The premise of this book is that Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is a protective mechanism of the human ego that occurs when one is faced with terror and abuse literally too great to bear. DID does not equal "crazy". DID does equal traumatized. This is a fascinating book about the human mind and its ability to cope with the unthinkable. If you are interested in how the mind works and human behavior, I'd highly recommend it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Theodora

    This book was incredible to read. It has been one of the most accessible books I've read on trauma. it also talks about how disassociation affects everyone -- and also the little traumas people go through that cause disassociation. I read this at the right time.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    Interesting book on mental health but it only focused on one aspect. Wish it had focused on more. Still a very good book though.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dayne Myers

    Martha Stout's writings read amazingly well, she structures the concepts such that anyone should grasp them with ease.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    3.5 stars, but I'm rounding up because it really clarified the process/existence/functioning of Dissociative Identity Disorder for me. I was originally annoyed that all of her case studies were amalgamations (and thus her own creations). However, she used these patchwork case studies well to describe and explain an occurrence that is controversial even in the question of it's very validity or existence, and is very often exoticized and dramatized in the accounts of it that do exist. After readin 3.5 stars, but I'm rounding up because it really clarified the process/existence/functioning of Dissociative Identity Disorder for me. I was originally annoyed that all of her case studies were amalgamations (and thus her own creations). However, she used these patchwork case studies well to describe and explain an occurrence that is controversial even in the question of it's very validity or existence, and is very often exoticized and dramatized in the accounts of it that do exist. After reading Martha Stout's book, I feel like I know what DID is, and also what it is not - for example, that like autism spectrum disorder, it is a range of associated symptoms of varying severity instead of a specific highly life-impactful disorder. Also, you can't really call anything that originates from severe personal trauma mundane, that it can be much more common and even mundane than books like The Three Faces Of Eve or When Rabbit Howls would lead you to believe. This book really clarifies why people denounce the disease as described in the aforementioned books/movies, and even hints at the detrimental-ness of a certain kind of therapist participation in "exploring alters," but also explains what the real disorder actually is.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    I love the quote at the beginning of this book: "With our thoughts, we make the world." 11/27/11 - I really liked the first two thirds of this book because I found them so readable and informative. The last third, entitled "switchers," about people who switch back and forth between different personalities, didn't interest me as much, for some reason.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Darice

    A well-narrated account of her experience with dissociation, from the extreme dissociative identity disorder to the common driving-trance, Stout explains dissociation as an adaptive skill for survival in the face of trauma. Despite the seemingly clinical context, many of her insights into childhood and personality are applicable to everybody on some level or another.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    Do you dissociate? This book by a Harvard clinician explores the range of dissociative phenomena, from momentary spacing out to dissociated ego states to dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder). The bad news: you'll probably recognize somebody you know, if not yourself. The good news: with the right approach, they can all be treated. Fascinating.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Topolub

    I learned that we all play different roles in life, and depending on the growth of our psychological makeup those roles may come to struggle for power inside of us. It is a beautiful book and I would recommend it to everyone.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Johnson

    Good read... A bit annoyed with Pro-Feminist writing style but, well, the author is a women, LOL. DID is real, and Dehabilitating, yet at the same time amazing in its presentation and protective manner.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hawkin47

    I have too many friends who really need to read this book. Anyone who's ever experienced a higher level of trauma really needs to read this book. It's amazing.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    This was great. Really easy to understand yet it didn't feel like it was dumbed-down. This lady really knows her stuff. This resonated a lot with what I knew and shed light on what I suspected.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Muhamad

    surprising and enlightenin book indeed...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sphinx Feathers

    Well-written and easy to understand.

  19. 5 out of 5

    WillowAtSunset Bennehoff

    Date I started this book: April 18, 2011

  20. 5 out of 5

    Najeeb

    awesome

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lane

    Notes: p. 12 Awareness is life-giving. Dissociation and numbness are lethal. p. 17 "The traumatized brain houses inscrutable eccentricities that cause it to overreact--more precisely, mis-react--to the current realities of life." sensing -> amygdala via thalamus (attaches emotional significance) -> hippocampus (organizes this input and integrates it into whole events (stress-responsive neurohormones eg norepinephrine) This process is subject to meaning/modification by future events. In other w Notes: p. 12 Awareness is life-giving. Dissociation and numbness are lethal. p. 17 "The traumatized brain houses inscrutable eccentricities that cause it to overreact--more precisely, mis-react--to the current realities of life." sensing -> amygdala via thalamus (attaches emotional significance) -> hippocampus (organizes this input and integrates it into whole events (stress-responsive neurohormones eg norepinephrine) This process is subject to meaning/modification by future events. In other words, they are accessible/modifiable (affect memory) Trauma causes a decrease in hippocampus activation (the opposite of a normal response) Result is that the organization/integration is not complete; some portions remain as isolated sensory images and bodily sensations not localized in time, event, or integrated with other events...chaotic fragments. Trauma may also temporarily shut down Broca's Area (region of left hemisphere that translates experience into language, relating). In other words, the brain appears to lay down traumatic memories differently than regular ones. Chaotic memory fragments ("shrill" memories) are triggered by a thought, image, sound, smell, readily accessible in trauma-like situations (startling, anxiety, provoking, emotional) Reactions often relate to this displaced memory fragment and are inappropriate to the actual situation which may be benign. A person can be "ambushed" by extreme past feelings triggered by a current event (horn blast). Often the person has no language to describe this situation...no narrative, no place in time, no story,...just the "blast from the past" knocking her off her feet. In other words, the brain contains a broken image warning device in the limbic system. This can cause a person to detach to such a degree that they "lose" some time while they work their way back to reality...spaciness... Anita - the death of her father and the "death" through effective absence, of her mother. Claudia - her horrible, cold, punitive parents p. 20 We all experience these "absences from life" in the "past, in reaction to the darkest hours we have known..." not comprehending "how swampy and vitality-sucking some of our memories really are." Over time these absences acquire habit strength. divided awareness These over-excercised mental muscles can take us away even when traumatic memory fragments have not been evoked. Sometimes dissociation can occur when we are simply confused or frustrated or nervous, whether we recognize our absences or not." (part of ADD? Hence the need for and power of calm and centering) "Normal" people (not major trauma victims) tend to not have the motivation to recognize and modify these common absences (oh, I'm just an airhead--just goofy me...I'm SO sleepy when I think about X.) SO hard to stay present in the face of the brain's authoritative warnings of danger. p. 24 "...spiritual enlightenment, a timeless relationship that psychologists have mysteriously overlooked." Triggers can be oblique or symbolic in very broad metaphoric terms. Departures of "fugue" - "living, doing" while the Self is not present, "day-walking" (the Self - the self-aware center that wishes, dreams, plans, emotes, and REMEMBERS) Related to certain experiences in ordinary human life that are not generated by trauma (distraction, thinking about other things) automatic behavior vs clinical fugue terror-driven and complete e.g., easy to "forget" your commute to work as you're driving, but as fugue you wouldn't even know how you got to work or from where. differs in degree p. 36 also "demifugue" detached, drifting at sea, mental and emotional fogginess that seems to have a life of its own, can't control it world may seem unreachably far away and small can be a complete rift in body/mind communication so you can't feel or be aware of pain fugue - total blackout, lost hours, days, weeks, etc., what occurs is not remembered later triggers: abrupt changes, sense of threat, loss of control, loud noises, shocks, disappointments esp. with relationships Symptoms: daydreaming, excessive movie-watching, reading excessively brief phasing out from performance anxiety, after accidents or near-accidents, may include out of body watching from a distance indications of habitual dissociative reactions: space cadet, absentminded, do not deal with emotional issues, complaints that you are ignoring people, "in your own world", introvert Continual, habitual dissociation can make the present difficult to hold onto. Not remembering events that recently occurred, what day it is, what you did three days ago. Dissociation from feeling stress, feeling nothing at all even though you may be intellectually aware, during or after, that feelings are called for..."I never get angry" may cordon off "dangerous" emotions or feelings. Intrusion of dissociated ego states - another "side" to your personality that is markedly different, e.g., harsh, angry, dominating, self-protective, suspicious, accusatory, hostile. "Why am I so angry at toe world all of a sudden? This doesn't make any sense. I'd better chill out!" Except that deliberate chilling out is not really an option; such a state seems to arrive and depart on its own obscure terms. "Julia's knowledge of her own life, both past and present, had assumed the airy structure of Swiss cheese, with some solid substance tat she and her gifted intellect could use, but riddled with unexpected gaps and hollows. This had its funny side. A few months later, when she had gained a better acceptance of her problem, she came in, sat down, and said in a characteristically charming way, "How do you like my new bracelet?" "It's beautiful," I replied. "I've always admired your amethyst jewelry. When did you get that piece?" "Who knows?" She grinned at me again, and we both laughed. Strategies: Have routines. Make them sacred. Sleep every night. Avoid toxic, violent people. Try to nudge out things you have trouble facing. Try HARD to retain awareness. Keep at it. If you fade out, try to bring yourself back to where you were. Try Tibetan emptiness meditations, mindfulness (Thich Nhat Hanh and Mobi Ho, The Miracle of Mindfulness, A Manual on Meditation 1996

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matty Esco

    I forgot that Martha Stout was the reason I majored in Psychology. My first forays into that particular section of Barnes and Noble came in the form of a book called "Whispers" that zeroed in mostly on schizophrenia, and The Sociopath Next Door, which is definitely Stout's claim to fame. The writing was direct and engaging, and served as a springboard into the field as a whole. I tore through every abnormal psych book B&N had to offer, then, after a momentary stint in community college, I en I forgot that Martha Stout was the reason I majored in Psychology. My first forays into that particular section of Barnes and Noble came in the form of a book called "Whispers" that zeroed in mostly on schizophrenia, and The Sociopath Next Door, which is definitely Stout's claim to fame. The writing was direct and engaging, and served as a springboard into the field as a whole. I tore through every abnormal psych book B&N had to offer, then, after a momentary stint in community college, I enrolled in big-kid university. Three years later, I faced the disillusioning revelation that I'd spent $30,000 dollars reviewing all the things I'd already picked up from narratives by people like Stout. And talking, extensively, about Pavlov. Every single class, no matter what level, spent at least a week on Pavlov. Dogs. Drooling. Got it. Stout's account of DID was vivid enough to give me another burst of that old Med Student's Disease. I blinked into the psychological hypochondria. "Yeah, I'm totally emotionally distant! Yooo I shut down ALL the TIME! Maybe I was way abused as a kid, and repressed it, and now I've got a bunch of personalities!" I managed to shake this delusion halfway through the book (admittedly, much sooner than when I read Confessions of a Sociopath and spent a week concerned that I had no soul before realizing, "wait, if I had no soul I wouldn't be concerned. Also, I'm a dog person." Still, I've met and spent a lot of time with people who fit Stout's account of switchers. Even if my prognosis is way off, she recommends (or exemplifies) certain modes of behavior around people suffering through specific tiers of DID, and even if I'm mistaken or projecting, it provides a good chunk of insight. A last word: I know changing it to "Maggot!" was probably the publisher's decision, but it really did disrupt the flow of the story. We knew what you were after. We're all adults here, and we understand the explosions of a deeply unbalanced woman (being used as an example a child abuser) do not reflect the views of the empathetic, world-renown therapist or her publisher. The Myth of Sanity was one of the best psych books I've read in a long while.

  23. 4 out of 5

    loeilecoute

    This book is the most readable, easily understandable description of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) that I have read. As a psychiatrist of thirty years practice, I always find it a novel experience to come upon a book that captures the complex heart and soul of a difficult diagnostic category. Dr Stout gives compelling case histories that give one the essence of what treatment could feel like if you were the therapist. She helped clarify a question that I have had about the "authenticity" This book is the most readable, easily understandable description of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) that I have read. As a psychiatrist of thirty years practice, I always find it a novel experience to come upon a book that captures the complex heart and soul of a difficult diagnostic category. Dr Stout gives compelling case histories that give one the essence of what treatment could feel like if you were the therapist. She helped clarify a question that I have had about the "authenticity" of a DID presentation in the course of therapy, which can often feel like very bad acting. She observes that the identities will only be as successful as the "talent" that a patient has for acting--because, in a certain sense, they are "acting" the role of an inner emotion, conflict, and/or reaction to experience and trauma. I also felt compelled by her observation that those who are able to get better, are those who take ultimate responsibility for their behavior, whether remembered or not--those who hold themselves accountable, either because they are dedicated to a relationship (a child of their own) or a vocation. In reflecting upon my own experience as a therapist, I find that conclusion to be very true. I would have given her a fifth star except for the fact that Dr Stout tends to indulge in hyperbole of her metaphors that doesn't always serve her narrative. Nonetheless, her book is compelling, informative, interesting and readable, and will be of interest to anyone keen for psychology in general or DID specifically.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jo Ann Hall

    Dissociation is a common coping mechanism employed by all humans to evade the uncomfortable and the painful, even the boring. When the truth is too much to bear, the brain is able to offer sanctuary of some sort through a temporary disconnection from reality. Stout gives an example of dissociation that all can relate to when she describes a return home following a long day at work and the sudden realization by the driver that he or she can't remember anything from the route home. In severe traum Dissociation is a common coping mechanism employed by all humans to evade the uncomfortable and the painful, even the boring. When the truth is too much to bear, the brain is able to offer sanctuary of some sort through a temporary disconnection from reality. Stout gives an example of dissociation that all can relate to when she describes a return home following a long day at work and the sudden realization by the driver that he or she can't remember anything from the route home. In severe trauma cases, including abuse and neglect, an individual may unwittingly enter an alternative reality in order to survive. This fracture from reality, commonly known as "multiple personality disorder" and renamed "dissociative identity disorder" in 1994, may continue to occur well after the threat of any actual danger has passed. The Myth of Sanity compassionately illustrates what happens when the protective mechanisms of mental stasis work a little too well, obscuring the truth and denying humans the right to a full and meaningful life. Stout offers vignettes of sufferers of DID in their quests for the truth and, ultimately, for survival.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eric Susak

    Absolutely compelling. Martha Stout humanizes the typically "crazy." In this study on dissociation and trauma, Stout helps the reader gain some understanding and empathy toward those who have developed overbearing dissociations due to early trauma. Through narrative interspersed with clinic analysis, she delves into the complexity, volatility, and strength of the human mind, while also suggesting ways in which people can recover from the vast defenses that our minds can construct against trauma. Absolutely compelling. Martha Stout humanizes the typically "crazy." In this study on dissociation and trauma, Stout helps the reader gain some understanding and empathy toward those who have developed overbearing dissociations due to early trauma. Through narrative interspersed with clinic analysis, she delves into the complexity, volatility, and strength of the human mind, while also suggesting ways in which people can recover from the vast defenses that our minds can construct against trauma. What I found most intriguing (as a writer and self-proclaimed amateur [very amateur] psychologist), is the necessity for humans to develop some kind of continuity--a consistent narrative that helps a person feel a sense of "I." With her patients, Stout chronicles the process of breaking down the dissociations and absorbing into the conscience the memories that a particular dissociation had been constructed to keep. To embrace that which we do not want to face is what gives us continuity, gives us the full scope of living.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    Dr. Stout shares provocative and horrifying stories of the true "survivors" of our time. Step by step she walks you through the nuts and bolts of the intangible processes the brain uses to keep terror at bay and allow the human being to function despite adverse circumstances. Did you know how trauma affects the brain? Have you wondered about how memories could possibly be "repressed"? How can people possibly want to cut themselves, and not seem to feel it when they do? Why is it sweet caring peo Dr. Stout shares provocative and horrifying stories of the true "survivors" of our time. Step by step she walks you through the nuts and bolts of the intangible processes the brain uses to keep terror at bay and allow the human being to function despite adverse circumstances. Did you know how trauma affects the brain? Have you wondered about how memories could possibly be "repressed"? How can people possibly want to cut themselves, and not seem to feel it when they do? Why is it sweet caring people can seem to molt into rage filled tormentors? Would you like to be a fly on the wall during psychotherapy sessions with trauma survivors or those diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder? The Myth of Sanity will not just teach you about the psyche of people at the extreme edge of human experience. It will teach you about yourself.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Richard Schwindt

    This book had me thinking and reviewing past clients in my head. We are far more aware of trauma these days with regards to PTSD, the experiences of victims of violence, accidents, war, etc. What is trickier are the long term aftershocks and the effect of childhood trauma on the otherwise functioning adult. This book asks us to explore some of the contradictions that exist within personality and offers some explanations for behaviors that can be otherwise difficult to understand. The phenomenon This book had me thinking and reviewing past clients in my head. We are far more aware of trauma these days with regards to PTSD, the experiences of victims of violence, accidents, war, etc. What is trickier are the long term aftershocks and the effect of childhood trauma on the otherwise functioning adult. This book asks us to explore some of the contradictions that exist within personality and offers some explanations for behaviors that can be otherwise difficult to understand. The phenomenon of dissociation is not well understood - even by therapists, or at times it is sensationalized. This book challenges us to think differently about ourselves and those who have suffered trauma in the past. Like all her work it is well written and engaging.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

    I read this book for my book group, and I'm so glad I did. Very out of my reading comfort zone. The book was really fascinating, mostly about how trauma sometimes divides one's consciousness as a coping mechanism. The author, a therapist, writes with such a compassionate tone and explained a lot of things that I didn't at all understand before, like the therapeutic use of hypnotism, and dissociative reactions. I found her view of human beings in general to be very inspiring, as she described man I read this book for my book group, and I'm so glad I did. Very out of my reading comfort zone. The book was really fascinating, mostly about how trauma sometimes divides one's consciousness as a coping mechanism. The author, a therapist, writes with such a compassionate tone and explained a lot of things that I didn't at all understand before, like the therapeutic use of hypnotism, and dissociative reactions. I found her view of human beings in general to be very inspiring, as she described many very brave people who had to deal with terrible, terrible trauma - but chose to do it and live, rather than die. I'm especially excited to read her other book, The Sociopath Next Door!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tess Julia

    Just more confirmation that we are all just a little messed up. Readers are helped to understand just how devastating early trauma is to children. The after effects will be felt for a lifetime and they are not able to "just get over it". For those suffering from trauma it is the affirmation they need to understand that they are not alone, and the suffering they endure every day is a direct cause of the unspeakable horrors they were made to suffer when they were at their most vulnerable. It is no Just more confirmation that we are all just a little messed up. Readers are helped to understand just how devastating early trauma is to children. The after effects will be felt for a lifetime and they are not able to "just get over it". For those suffering from trauma it is the affirmation they need to understand that they are not alone, and the suffering they endure every day is a direct cause of the unspeakable horrors they were made to suffer when they were at their most vulnerable. It is not their fault.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Despite the rating, I highly recommend this book that humanize dissociative disorder through acquainting us with some of the author's extreme cases, of people who even had to invent personalities to preserve themselves in the face of horrific trauma. From there, Dr. Stout associates these extremities to our own daily efforts to survive. My only reason for not bumping this up another star is that her work is so well done I knew of many of the concepts she discussed, as they have become quite well Despite the rating, I highly recommend this book that humanize dissociative disorder through acquainting us with some of the author's extreme cases, of people who even had to invent personalities to preserve themselves in the face of horrific trauma. From there, Dr. Stout associates these extremities to our own daily efforts to survive. My only reason for not bumping this up another star is that her work is so well done I knew of many of the concepts she discussed, as they have become quite well-regarded and known, and thus large chunks of this simply felt redundant to me.

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