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 her with 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 who 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. Also was remarkable was 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.