Karen Answers Jacqueline

Comment by Jacqueline on August 18, 2008 1:50 pm

Dear Karen,

I am so glad I read Switching Time. I am a college student interested in psychology. This semester I enrolled in an Abnormal Psychology class and noticed your book on the recommended reading list. I just finished picking up this semesters books and needed to go to Barnes & Noble to pick up this one. I had some time so while sitting at the coffee shop decided to glance through it over a cappuccino. Needless to say, three hours later I was still there, engrossed in reading your story. Iʼve never in my short life had done this. My curiosity got the best of me so when I arrived home I did a search for more information and came across your website. I couldn’t believe my stroke of luck and hope to write my paper on this illness. Itʼs not only a fascinating human experience but the therapeutic relationship between you and Dr. Richard Baer is unbelievably remarkable. Thank you for having the courage to print.

I would like to know how you came to explain the details of abuse to Dr. Baer? Did he ever ask you any specific questions regarding the details of abuse you suffered? I can’t imagine how one would bring up such horror in a conversation? Studying the mind brings me to wonder how the recall of past memories affects the therapeutic relationship. How exhausting was it for you to talk about your past? Do you believe it was worth the effort to share the details or not? Last question please: After sharing the details of abuse were you able to let go of your pain or have a relapse that thru you back into a depression?

Thank you for surviving one hell of a life an to be able to share your journey so that the rest of us can learn from you.

Jacqueline

Dear Jacqueline,

Thank you for sharing your story of reading Switching Time. I love hearing stories like this. It gratifies me that Switching Time could be a recommended book for an Abnormal Psychology college class. I’d be curious to know how your class discussion goes. I can imagine the controversy.

You asked some really intense questions. I’ll try to answer the best I can. Dr. Baer never once asked me to share any specifics or details of the abuse I suffered. In the beginning, I would share memories through my alternate personalities. All of my memories were fragmented, but during integration, the fragments combined into complete memories. Dr. Baer gathered the many pieces and understood all that had happened. It wasn’t so much the details that were important, but the emotional trauma that caused me to dissociate the pain in the first place.

I don’t believe I brought up the past; I believe my alters did. And, yes, it was extremely exhausting to share each abusive episode. I feared, time and again, that Dr. Baer couldn’t handle knowing what happened to me and would stop caring for me. I always worried I’d make Dr. Baer ill, so I’d try my best not to stress him. Don’t get me wrong, he never showed signs I stressed him, I just assumed I did. Sharing what happened to me was such a difficult part of our therapeutic relationship, but it was necessary in order to heal.

One day I made the decision to journal some of the details. I felt this would be important for both of us. I decided to write the details of the most damaging sixty three episodes. It was an exhausting, emotionally traumatic thing for me to do, but I needed to. Being abused an average of twice a week for over thirteen years, I had lots of memories to draw upon. I also felt Dr. Baer had the right to know. Upon completion, Dr. Baer and I briefly discussed each one. Once we were finished, we never talked about it again. I felt relieved but at the same time worried that Dr. Baer wouldn’t be.

I wish you well in your class and look forward to hearing about your discussions.

Karen

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