Book Review: Brain Storm

Book cover: Brain Storm by Shelley Kolton

Brain Storm by Shelley Kolton shares her experience discovering as an adult that she’d experienced childhood abuse and developed dissociative identity disorder, as well as the work she did on integration and healing.

The book’s introduction was written by feminist activist Robin Morgan. She wrote that this book affirms that DID is a feminist issue. Given that I have dear friends that are multiples inhabiting a male body, I thought that particular descriptor was unnecessarily limiting, but the book itself didn’t take seem to take an overt feminist stance.

The reader is introduced early on to the author’s abuse at the hands of a high school coach, but it wasn’t until age 40 that she started having panic attacks and flashbacks as earlier trauma emerged. Unfortunately, her therapist didn’t recognize the true nature of what she was experiencing, but the author was later able to find a therapist who diagnosed her with dissociative identity disorder and began long-term work dealing with the trauma of ritual abuse by a satanic cult up until age 4.

The author shares how, over the next 10 years, 31 members of “my gang” emerged. It was particularly interesting to read about how one of her alters had his own alters. Some in the “gang” had less than typical names, like Fuckface.

Much of this unfolds in journal entries or in emails between the author’s various parts and their therapist. The reader isn’t often brought into the therapy room for the frequent intense sessions, but that may have been difficult to do given that much of the author’s earlier work with her therapist involved abreaction, a reliving that “dissipated the panic and de-weaponized the memory.”

The author admits that her adult family life was very strained, in large part due to alters she wasn’t aware of. She writes that after her partner’s breast cancer surgery, “I was there for her post-op in body but not so much in spirit. I was a total asshole, but in all fairness to myself, I was completely dissociated, something I couldn’t control.” The book clearly shows that DID doesn’t just affect the diagnosed person.

The pacing of the book made it seem as though the work on integration happened fairly quickly once it began. I don’t think that’s actually the case; however, as a reader, I didn’t feel like I got a clear sense of how that process happened.

However, it sounds like the author made a remarkable recovery, and the book’s postscript, written by the author’s therapist, speaks to this as well. It was also remarkable that the author kept up her practice as an OB/GYN throughout. This book provides readers with a first-hand look at what dissociative identity disorder is, and clearly shows the author’s commitment to her family and her strength and perseverance in working through significant trauma.

Brain Storm is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

You can find my other reviews on the MH@H book review index or on Goodreads.

29 thoughts on “Book Review: Brain Storm”

  1. Wow, this sounds so intriguing! Was this book recently published? I ask because, after Sybil Exposed was published some ten or so years ago, the backlash against DID systems and especially SRA survivors is immense.

    1. It was just released this year. The author kept it personal rather than getting into the social history around that. It sounds like her therapist took the stance of just accepting whatever came out as truth.

  2. The “I” word is scary to Littles. We want everyone to stay and grow their skills and learn to cooperate. We know our Ts will never even suggest it

    You are a dear friend 🥰❤️❤️❤️❤️💕💕💕💕

  3. Wow, all I could think about was the true story about the woman, Sybil{hope I spelled correctly} who had many personalities. Her story mirrors the story of this woman in the book. I am not sure how many different personalities Sybil had. All I remember is we watched the movie of her life back in the seventies.

        1. There were some other “true” stories along the same lines weren’t very accurate, and set off what was referred to as the “satanic panic.”

      1. Say I just spewed out a big final blog post on my die-hard theme. Are those guys in Portland going to notice it because I linked to them? I don’t know how those things work, but I’m not down for more heartache.

          1. Good. I’ve already prepared my rebuttal lol but I’d rather not deal with it. I thought about making a Disqus comment to their post, however.

            1. Yeah I know. I think I’ve been in a surly mood the last few days. Anyway the post has been blasted forth on the Great Press of the Word.

  4. PrEdIcTaBlY UNpreDicTaBLe

    I have not read this book, and it might be actually triggering for me to read…but I know a little about DID, as it was thought at one time I might have it.

    I have friends with DID, and I have one friend too that was traumatised and basically f*****d up…in a peadophile satanic type ring… and even in his 60’s he is a very traumatised man.

    It is truly heart breaking to hear what he has endured through along with many others out there. You cannot even believe what these people did to the kids, and you cannot accept it because it’s so absolutely f****ng horrendous!

    So if we feel like this about hearing or reading about it, imagine what that kid’s brain has to do to endure through that… and you completely understand why they have to completely dissociate to protect themselves.

    I do have parts to myself though so feel I can relate in some ways. And I do have self identity problems. But they don’t really have all their own strong personality types as it were…but these parts are difficult to deal with in my head. These parts are often abusers/critics themselves, but I also have protective parts and inner childlike parts.

    Due to the trauma/abuse I have suffered I realise what a difficult journey it is healing and going through all this as I am now experiencing it myself. And you need an experienced therapist.

    I don’t know if anyone has seen the film “what happened to Monday?” But I could relate so much to that film.

    1. Dissociation really seems like the most effective survival response with that kind of childhood abuse. I’ve heard other trauma survivors talk about parts as well that aren’t separated to the extent of being alters. And I agree, an experienced therapist is definitely called for.

  5. A timely post for me Ashley as I’ve recently come across an old patient who was explaining how she was later diagnosed as having DID and I’d like to understand a bit more. I’ll probably read this book, thank you 🙂

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