emma and her selves is the story of a long term psychotherapeutic relationship between a woman with multiple identities, someone diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Dr. May Benatar shares some of her own process as a therapist discovering the ubiquity of trauma in both the general population and in clinical populations. As she begins to treat victims of childhood sexual abuse she comes to understand that dissociation and the creation of sequestered part selves are the common consequence of trauma.
Along the way she meets Emma and her many selves and is changed over the 20 years of their work together. She learns that "parts" exist in all of us, we all have many faces, many states of mind that are called forth in different circumstance. The difference between Emma and more ordinary folks is the degree of access we have to these states and our ability to integrate them within a whole personality. Dr. Benatar becomes more familiar with her own parts in the process of treating Emma.
There are obstacles and triumphs, mystery and spiritual encounter threaded throughout the narrative.
In this engrossing memoir-cum-psychotherapy story, May Benatar offers us three rare, artfully interwoven gifts: a riveting tale of her traumatized client's struggle to unify a fractured self, a memoir of her own troubled passage toward self-hood and coming-into-being as a psychotherapist, and an exploration of the nature of human beings. And not only this. Along the way, the author opens a new and revolutionary lens into the nature of that very favorite thing of ours--ourselves. A book to be seized and shared widely.
Sara Taber, author of Born Under an Assumed Name: A Memoir of a Cold War Spy's Daughter
This unique book will fascinate practicing clinicians and the general public alike. Therapist May Benatar openly reveals her emotions--awe, shock, helplessness --as she witnesses the emergence of multiple selves in her patient, Emma. We are gripped by their subsequent heroic journey to help Emma heal. In describing their work together, Benatar accessibly helps us grasp how the capacity to fragment into parts (or "dissociate") can be an ingenious coping strategy of the brain in the context of unimaginable suffering. We come away with a deepened sense of our own humanity, as we benefit from the author's compassionate dedication to her patient and her gifted storytelling.
Cynthia Margolies, Ph.D., trauma therapist, Washington, DC: Faculty at Center for Healing and Imagery.
Table of Contents:
1. how I became a trauma therapist
2. dramatis personae
3. introducing emma
4. "when I was a boy"
6. memory: the pond
7. these are the twins
10. joey, magic and monarchs
12. "listening is an act of love"
13. sydney and emma
14. here comes goodbye
15. "disappeared david"--how I became a trauma therapist, part 2