Archive for January, 2009

Karen answers Lucy

Richard Baer on Jan 19th 2009

Comment by Lucy on January 15, 2009 10:11 pm

Hi Karen,

I hate that you are not offended by the show United States of Tara. I bet you will if they write a book on the show without recognizing Switching Time. How would you feel if a book came out on the show, sold a million copies and wasn’t real. Would you hate the show then?

Lucy

Dear Lucy,

Why should I be offended by a show that is not real? We need to remember it’s just a TV show and doesn’t represent the reality of MPD, like Hogan’s Heroes didn’t represent the reality of prisoner of war camps.  I love the actress, Toni Collete, and she is doing a great job trying to portray a woman and mother who is a multiple.  However, she is acting, and a character in a show. Real MPD alters are not so dramatic and flamboyant.  There job is to protect, not to attract attention.  If a book is written on “The United States of Tara”, it will be a fictional book on this show.  My story, Switching Time, is non-fiction, and a true story of one woman’s life, therapy, and integration as a multiple.

I do think we need to bring more awareness to MPD/DID, and not mock this illness.  Having multiplicity was not fun and it continues to be my hope that everyone will learn the facts, not the TV fantasy.

Karen

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Karen answers Erin

Richard Baer on Jan 19th 2009

Comment by Erin on January 13, 2009 3:20 am

Hi Karen,

I read on another site that usually a highly suggestible person goes to a therapist and, following some therapy suggestions, is unconsciously persuaded of idea that they have multiple personalities. What do you think of the statement? I read Switching Time and believed the illness to exist. Great attempt on your doctor in trying to prove it. Is it possible for you to write something that changes the minds of idiots?

Erin

Dear Erin,

Sadly, there are many people, including some therapists, who choose to make comments about multiple personality not founded on facts.  It may be true that there are some patients so suggestible, and some therapists so eager to see multiple personality, that together they manufacture it.  I’ve read about some cases of MPD and I’ve wondered if they really had it.

For me, I developed multiplicity from repeated sexual, physical, and emotional abuse that started before age three and lasted through adolescence. My abuse was persistent, horrific, and my abusers were relentless. I was abused at least twice a week, sometimes more.  I believe my mind created alternate personalities to protect me from that immediate trauma and to compartmentalize the pain.  By ‘switching’ I was able to then appear like everyone else, but losing time and keeping such secrets as a child caused many consequences that ultimately caused devastation for me as an adult.  I believe switching into other selves was a God sent coping mechanism. If it weren’t for my alters’ help, I wouldn’t be alive today.

I can’t get angry with people who disbelieve out of ignorance.  Multiplicity is an illness created as a coping mechanism to protect the mind from the horror that comes from being abused as a child.  Multiple Personality Disorder is a real illness, and though incomprehensible for most people, it devastates those who truly suffer. That is why it’s so important to bring awareness of this illness. 

Karen

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Karen answers Matt

Richard Baer on Jan 13th 2009

Comment by Matt on January 12, 2009 10:45 pm

Hi Karen,

I am a med student and tried to find more information on: Dr. Richard Baer, psychiatrist, Chicago? I checked on-line and what popped up was many books, sites and movie shows written by him. Do you know this of him? It’s creepy that he claims to be a writer of comic books? Will the real Dr. Richard Baer come forward to claim his accomplishment of writing your story? I admire his work with you but have to say was disappointed when I saw a picture of him looking too young and foreign to be a claimed pyschiatrist /writer. I can’t see a comic book writer writing your story. His web page is child-like, teenager at best. How can this be? There must be a mistake. Was Switching Time written by the same Richard Baer that directed television shows like Who’s the Boss? How old is the real doctor who treated you? It would be wise for him to clear the internet confusion. A respected doctor like him should not be insulted by an imposter. His book was educational.

Matt

Dear Matt,

There are hundreds of Richard Baers listed under that name, but only one Richard K. Baer M.D. author of Switching Time, my story, and Medical Director for Medicare.  I checked the internet to see what you found and you are right, there are hundreds of listings that could confuse anyone if you didn’t know the exact full name and other facts before searching. I was amazed at the coincidences with Dr. Baer’s name, but only one of them is the psychiatrist who treated me. Dr. Baer is not a comic book writer nor is he the writer/director to the series “Who’s the Boss” or any movies.  Dr. Richard Baer is a respected psychiatrist, an accomplished author, and a very caring man.

I’m sorry it was difficult to find the information you were searching for. We are in the process of updating our Web site and you will soon be able to access most information there.

Thank you for your comments, and for your compliment on Switching Time being educational.

Karen

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Karen answers Jerome and Leonna

Richard Baer on Jan 12th 2009

Comment by Jerome and Leonna on January 10, 2009 11:34 pm

Dear Karen,

Best wishes! We read Switching Time and it’s better, by 100% than Sybil. I read Sybil two years ago, my wife read it six years ago and it horrified us but never answered our many questions. Switching Time not only horrified us but answered our questions and is superior in sharing qualified information. We learned 100% more from your story and in addition to Sybil, think we figured everything out. We have family members we know suffered as you did. This is why our peeked interest in your book. We understand more thanks to Switching Time.

Questions from us: Do you ever think of revisiting the neighborhood you once lived in? Would you allow the area to be filmed if asked? Would you go back and walk through the park? How about knock on the door and see who lives in your old house now?  Thank you!

Jerome and Leonna

Dear Jerome and Leonna,

Thank you for all your compliments!  I’m glad both of you came to a better understanding of this illness after reading Switching Time.  Dr. Baer and I have hoped to bring a better understanding to all.

Visit my old neighborhood?  Dr. Baer and I made this trip together, as described in the epilogue.  I haven’t gone back in a few years.  I have no need to; the memories are implanted in my mind.  I’m not sure of having the area filmed; it’s not my intention to bring drama and horror to the many innocent people who live in the area.  I’ve already received closure, and have let my past go.  Therefore, I’ve no need to go back.

Thank you for sharing your concerns and for wanting to help your family members who have suffered.  It’s people like you who take the extra steps to find information to help someone that leave me feeling grateful to have shared my journey.

Karen

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Karen answers Austin

Richard Baer on Jan 12th 2009

Comment by Austin on January 10, 2009 11:24 pm

Hey Karen,

What’s wrong with you? How could you find humor in the show about tara coming to showtime next week? If you are truly cured you should be irate with this show. It should insult you. You have been judged incorrectly because this show damages all you tried to accomplish. This show sucks. It hurts people like us who suffer. I am an alter of Kevin and being gay might have caused me to be too sensitive. I like you and feel hurt for you. Why aren’t you angry?

Austin

Dear Austin,

I am not downplaying the severity of MPD/DID.  My childhood abuse was horrific and has traumatized me for so many years.   But I’ve come to acknowledge and accept all that happened to me.  If I hadn’t accepted my pain, I wouldn’t have survived.  Comedy is relief.

“The United States of Tara” is unlike what I’ve experienced.  It’s just a television show and meant to entertain.  I’ve only viewed the first episode and don’t want to comment too much until I view more episodes. The first episode was entertaining and interesting to me to see how an incomprehensible illness can be turned into a comedy.

But I really don’t see this show as just a comedy.  I also see this show as a drama.  Tara’s alters may be overly exaggerated, but in a way, how else could the audience pick up on the different alters if they were portrayed as they would really be?  My alters’ switching was subtle and those who knew me would only notice a slight change in my mood when I’d switch. My experiences were much different than “Tara’s.”

The United States of Tara is not my story.  It does not offend me.  And it certainly doesn’t damage all that I’ve accomplished.  I’m interested to watch each episode.  I admit, I needed some time to think over all that I felt after the first episode.  I was a bit shaken, but then again, I never even let myself watch the entire movie Sybil.

Please don’t feel hurt for me.  I’m okay with this show being aired.  Would anyone rather see the true horror that creates an alter?  I think not.  I can laugh at many of the things my alters did in order to protect me.  I believe we all laugh at ourselves at times.

I believe having survived this illness myself, it’s important to see this show as another way to bring awareness to an illness. What’s most important is that people will pick up a book, hopefully Switching Time, and read what multiplicity really is and form their own opinions.

Karen

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Karen answers Marcus T

Richard Baer on Jan 12th 2009

Comment by Markus T. on January 7, 2009 1:18 am

Hi Karen,

Did you ever have fun at any time in your life, during the years of your being abused and kept captive, during high school, college; how about as an adult? Where did you draw the line? What have you done for fun? Has the seriousness during therapy ruined all fun for you? I refuse to go to a therapist for this reason. In the book your therapist talks of you sucking the life out of him. In your answers you constantly defend this. It’s bullshit. Right? Therapists ruin life, not improve it. To properly heal you must learn about life through happiness. Could it be that you healed yourself? Could it be therapy sucked the life out of you? This appears correct. Right?

Markus T

Dear Markus,

Of course I’m capable of having fun and I do.  During my high school years, in college, and as an adult, an alter usually stole all the fun times and experienced them for me.  Unfortunately, I had to dissociate in order to allow myself to be a part of anything that was fun.  After the integration of my seventeen alters, I acquired all of their memories of the fun they once experienced.  I received these memories as my own, yet haven’t really felt them as my own as my alters once did.

It really is difficult to have fun after being an abused child and to allow myself to feel free enough to experience fun on my own.  In a sad way, most joy has been stolen from me.  And although it’s hard to have fun, I now often do and have faith that I will continue to do so.  My abuse belongs in the past, and I must be careful not to allow my past abuse to destroy my future.  I need to let go of my past pain in order to enjoy life.  Living without fear makes me happy.

Therapy is serious.  It’s hard work.  And, yes, it was draining for both Dr. Baer and me.  But we survived. Imagine that!  Maybe my therapy compares to a military boot camp, where one is torn down and rebuilt again in order to become a much stronger version of oneself.

The therapeutic relationship is meant to help patients heal themselves, not for the therapist to provide happiness for his patients. It’s never been Dr. Baer’s job to make me happy. His job was to guide me to finding my own strengths, learn from my weaknesses, and find my own happiness.  I continue to struggle to find happiness in all that I do.  I have survived the past.  I am alive and trying my best to move forward with hope for a better future.

Karen

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Karen answers Gladys

Richard Baer on Jan 9th 2009

Comment by Gladys on January 7, 2009 1:13 am

Dear Karen,

I am a victim of child sexual abuse and after reading your book found my problems minuscule to yours. I felt your pain worse than mine. Why is this so? Thank you for sharing about your life. I have learned from you a great deal and it will help me with my own issues.

Gladys

Dear Gladys,

Please don’t downplay the childhood sexual abuse you suffered by comparing yours to mine or anyone else’s. Abuse is abuse, and I’m sure yours was as devastating to you as mine was to me. It doesn’t matter how horrific, how often, or how much pain was suffered at the hands of someone hurting you. I appreciate that you empathized with my pain after you have suffered yourself.

I am glad that you found reading and understanding Switching Time to be of help with your continued journey.  Please remember that my journey was written to bring a better understanding to an incomprehensible illness and to bring awareness of what can happen to a child repeatedly sexually abused.  If you haven’t already, please seek help with a qualified therapist, if you feel the need to.

Karen

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Karen answers Elvira

Richard Baer on Jan 9th 2009

Comment by Elvira on January 6, 2009 3:18 pm

Hi Karen,

Dates, do you remember all dates like Claireʼs date of abuse?  Today marks the 45th.anniversary of the day my father raped me at eight years old. I never forget this stupid date. What happened long ago tortures me till now. I am 53 years old tomorrow 7 Jan. I thought you may be helpful in sharing your secret of forgetting dates or how you get past the dates of pain. I am inspired by you. I never set foot in a therapists office. Itʼs to late for me but so many woman ache like me and you. What do you do with the dates?

Elvira

Dear Elvira,

Of course I remember some dates; it’s hard not to!  There are dates that trigger a memory of my past, such as Halloween, but I try to let these dates go. On the anniversary of any particular day that I suffered traumatic abuse there may be a few seconds of dark thoughts that trigger a dark memory, but I always try my best to remove these thoughts and move onto something more pleasant.  I refuse to dwell on the past anymore.  Why should any of us give power to an abuser because of a memory of being abused?  It will only bring us down.  I believe in remembering dates of accomplishments.  It’s these that are to be recognized and celebrated.

I can understand how the date you can never forget resurfaces over and over again. If I were you, I would try to do something different or fun on that date to begin to replace the old memory with a new, fresh one. I have fought hard to do this myself and it seems to work most of the time.  It is possible. Please don’t give up.

May I suggest you seek some professional advice?  It’s never, ever, too late to seek help!  Please do!  It’s very important to gain a sense of closure for yourself.  Whatever it takes to rid these memories that torture must come from within you. You can accomplish peace, with help, and letting go.

Wishing you a safe journey,

Karen

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Karen answers Curious

Richard Baer on Jan 6th 2009

Comment by Curious on January 5, 2009 12:40 am

I read about you after looking up a show on IMDb. I think the book written by you and Richard Baer provides the best description of a true multiple personality case. I have read other unbelievable books on this disorder which haven’t clearly explained this illness like the book Switching Time. I am sure you are real. I question one thing. When you viewed the United States of Tara first preview episode how did your case compare and differ? Were there similarities? I noticed a few from the book. I read your alter Holden was a bowler and left handed like Buck. Did you sell parts of your book to this show? What is the single most important part of you that you are willing to share to help others who live with family members who have alters?

Dear Curious,

Thank you for visiting our Web site!  And thank you for your compliments on our book providing the best description of a true multiplicity case.  I have visited the Internet Movie Data Base blog (IMDb) for “The United States of Tara” and yes, viewed the first episode online.  I found the show entertaining and interesting!

Regarding the similarities you’ve read in Switching Time compared to “The United States of Tara,” I believe these were simply coincidental.  It’s true my ex-alter Holdon was left handed and bowled a great game, but that didn’t define him.  Bowling was simply one small part of Holdon’s being.  And no, we havn’t sold any parts of our book to this show.

There were definite differences, however.  My alters were not as overwhelming or extreme as in the show.  I believe they made a number of exaggerations because it’s a television show.  When I switched into an alternate personality, the shift was subtle as in when “Tara” entered her car after defending her daughter.  If I would’ve entered my car in distress, another alter would’ve come out and taken over, similar to what Tara did, and hopefully get me home safely.  Another difference is my children didn’t acknowledge my alters by individual names, interact with, or know them as viewed on this show. There are far many more differences than not. This show is not about Switching Time.

If you are living with someone with multiplicity, I think the most important thing to remember is to try your best not to criticize, judge, or accuse this person.  This type of negativity may trigger an alter switch, which can cause an unpredictability for both the family and the multiple.  Alters don’t usually come out unless some part is threatened.

Accept each alter as an individual, without paying too much attention to the craziness each alter may cause. Downplaying stresses prevents alter chaos.  I believe my survival through eighteen years of therapy was due to Dr. Baer’s treating each alter in the same manner, keeping the alters calm by being consistent, respecting and recognizing their individuality, without becoming overly anxious or fearing them.

Thank you for your thought provoking questions.

Karen

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Karen answers Annette

Richard Baer on Jan 6th 2009

Comment by Annette Brown on January 2, 2009 2:53 pm

Hi Karen,

Why haven’t I heard about you before today? I am suffering from DID and my therapist suggests a few books for me to read, they made me worse. Twenty hours ago my friend gave me a belated BD gift, Switching Time, and boy how it helped me more then the books my therapist gave me. I finished reading it in a day and if it were cuddly I’d sleep with it tonight. I know sounds strange but I’m not psychotic. I am finding in your story that it gave me comfort and knowledge about my own life. I was abused too. I have pity parties with my alters everday. Did your therapist suggest you read any books while in therapy? You never mentioned it in the book. You made a difference to my life. I am feeling suicidal and selfish. Now I don’t want to be and will seek help like you’ve been telling us who are in despair and email you. I have an idea of what to do now. Thanks a lot. Can you explain why all DID therapists don’t know about this book?

Feeling crazy but not.

Annette Brown

Dear Annette,

I’m not sure why you haven’t heard about Switching Time until recently. We surely have had some excellent publicity!  Dr. Baer or I appeared on Good Morning America, Eye on Chicago, in Newsweek Magazine, Chicago Magazine, Grazia in the UK, and several others. There has been much publicity, but I know it’s still easy to miss, considering how much media there is out there.

I’m not sure what to say about your therapist suggesting books on MPD for you to read.  Dr. Baer never suggested any books for me to read, and I’m glad he didn’t.  Maybe in your therapy your therapist felt this would be helpful.  Although I am not a therapist and can’t give advice, I disagree with giving this type of reading to those who are trying to heal.  I believe if I would’ve read anything on multiplicity during the course of my treatment, it could have disturbed or misdirected my own personal healing process.

But I’m glad to hear that in Switching Time you have found comfort and knowledge regarding your illness. Please don’t be hard on yourself.  My alters experienced many of their own pity parties during my therapeutic years.  I have felt suicidal at many times, and like you, searched for someone who could help make a difference in my life.  I was fortunate to have found Dr. Baer.  I believe that through sharing our story, Switching Time, we will eventually reach most therapists who may be treating someone with a dissociative illness or are simply interested in learning more.

Thank you for your interest.

Karen

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