by Lillian Pegues Jennings; Bloomington, Indiana, Authorhouse, 2003, 222 pages, $17.50 softcover
Dr. Saleh and Dr. Erwin are assistant professors in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.
This book comprises 18 chapters that address the life and upbringing of Mr. Dan Grayson, a young man with multiple personality disorder and traumatic stress disorder syndrome. Grayson was the victim of sexual abuse when he was a teenager. He later develops his other persona, Damaged Goods, reportedly unknown to Grayson's conscious self. As an adult he sexually abuses children. Dr. Jennings, author of this novel, seems to have more than a few agendas here.
One important agenda appears to be to exculpate a perpetrator of his responsibility in offending against young children under the notion that "he who was abused becomes an abuser." This must be particularly true if he has multiple personality disorder, wherein the person is not responsible for the actions of his evil alter personality created in response to heinous abuse he suffered as a child.
The book fails mightily in this regard. The offender, amidst tortured rhetoric and grammatically incorrect pseudo-philosophy, manages to undo his case by noting that he is "somewhat" conscious of his misdeeds and, driven by anger, chooses to abuse. He claims dissociation with amnesia, based on a need to deny painful memories of past abuse, as the rationale for his misdeeds. He irritatingly continues to write in the third person well after announcing his understanding of his drives and recognizing his responsibility.
The impression Grayson makes is of a sociopath trying to appear empathic and appealing as he divests himself of responsibility for his behaviors. All the while he claims to have developed a deep appreciation of his actions and the consequences they have wrought. Like many sociopaths, this particular offender is awash in the consequences that his behavior has visited upon him, namely, incarceration in "the abyss." He has no remorse for the victims or the consequences of his actions on them. This is followed, at the end of the book, by a plea for help for people who are incarcerated. No plea has ever caused me to squeeze my eyes more tightly shut. Those of us not incarcerated are what is holding him down and so on. This is very unfortunate, as psychiatric services are desperately needed in prisons and jails.
Furthermore, as studies indicate, dissociative identity disorder does not begin in adulthood. Grayson's abuse at the hands of teenage peers while attending boarding school does not translate into the development of an alter persona when Mr. Grayson becomes an adult. He doesn't claim that Damaged Goods existed before his multiple sex offenses.
The pseudo-intellectualism oozing from every page, the poor grammar, the non sequiturs, and the blatantly self-serving tone—not to mention the focus on a disorder as exculpatory, a disorder that this individual is most unlikely to have—make for excruciating reading.