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First Person Plural: My Life As A Multiple is a Psychology-related book written by Cameron West, who experiences a disorder known as Dissociative identity disorder. The book is written in the first-person, in which Cameron West relives scenes of incest which caused his mind to create separate personalities to hide the memories.
Summary First Person Plural is a first hand account of Cameron West, who lives with Dissociative Identity Disorder. The story begins with Cam and his wife Rikki leading a normal, simple life with their young son, Kyle. The only apparent complication of Cam's life is a constant allergy-sickness, but along the way “something bizarre happened” (pg. 20), and Cam first experiences a switch to another personality. The changes are subtle at first, as a personality called “Lief” takes over to hammer out the spoon deal, until finally the changes are so severe that Cam ends up overcome with the strange need to buy pants early in the morning, after which his therapist tells him he was experiencing disassociation. Another personality, called "Switch," actually physically injures Cam's body, angry about being repressed for so long.Throughout the story, Cam has to deal with the diagnosis of DID while trying to hide his disorder from his son and keep his wife. All the while, Cam has to cope with powerful denial and the conversation constantly buzzing through his head. Cam begins having flashbacks of several episodes of incest, and in each instance, a new personality (or 'alter') either comes out or is created to absorb the painful memories, including an incestuous scene involving his mother, grandmother and others. These alters begin to become a routine part of his life. He takes notes in his journal, the handwriting style switching every few lines, and even creates a “Comfort Room” somewhere in his mind in which all his various personalities can go and be comforted.Eventually, Cam and Rikki move with their son to San Francisco, into a house with a small front yard and a small enclosed backyard. There, Cam begins studying Psychology, although he realizes that it won't help him be any happier about his condition."Lief", one of twenty-four personalities, pushes Cam to study heavily, and Cam begins to push all of his alters inwards. This builds up frustration in them, eventually causing "Switch" to again physically harm Cam's body. He is checked into a psychiatric ward twice, where he meets other multiples and some doctors. After leaving, Cam visits a therapist who claims to have experience with his condition, but is startled and yells at the young boy, Clay, when he comes out.Fortunately, throughout the long journey to acceptance, Cam meets several people who are there to help and support him, including Arly, Janna, Steve, and several people who share his condition. Cam's mini-epiphany begins when his therapist, Janna, suggests that Cam try to allow his alters to come out daily, and Cam says, “I've been circling the drain... Well, no more.” (pg. 247)At long last, in the final pages, Cam allows some of his alters to be captured on videotape. After viewing this tape, Cam and some of his alters begin to fully realize the exact nature of his condition, and that they are all in the same body whether they like it or not. Afterwards, he learns that his wife isn't going to leave him, he is awarded his Ph.D. and begins to accept who he really is.
Analysis Cameron West writes First Person Plural using a first-person omniscient style, in which he is typically the narrator, but the reader can still see scenes that don't involve him, including several scenes between his wife and Andy (pg. 219), and the scene in which Rikki, his wife, is in a support group for the partners of multiples (pg. 182). He writes this book from his own first-hand experiences with Dissociative Identity Disorder.Cameron had struggled with accepting DID for several years, beginning with the first “takeovers” of his body, until at last he accepts them in the end, saying “I've spent too long covering my ears and screaming, trying to drown out the ugly sound of Denial's Rake.” (pg. 314) Cam wrote the book for several reasons, which he outlines on page 318. Cam hopes that he can show doctors and psychologists the mysteries of DID, so that others can be correctly identified and be given proper care. Furthermore, as Cam states, he wishes to reach out to others like himself and show them that “they aren't alone, that there is hope.” (pg. 318)
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