Book: Which One Am I? - Multiple Personalities and Deep Southern Secrets by Thomas S. Smith, James Darrell Williamscategories: Book, Memoir, Autobiography, Multiple Personalities, Child Abuse, Psychiatry, Long Beach, Memphis, Southern Culture, Mental Health, Sybil, Elvis Presley, Dissociative Identity Disorder
Thomas S. Smithabout this book: "Which One Am I?" is a new book focusing on my husband Darrell's life growing up with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) but this is no standard memoir. From the beginning of our research – annotated in the eight pages that end the book – we dedicated ourselves to unraveling the social and family functions – especially the concept of Shame in Southern men -- that caused Darrell's multiple personalities. Most of Darrell's story occurs in West Memphis, though he also experienced life-changing events in Memphis itself where, as an abandoned teen, he found solace as a drag queen and eventually found a way out of the South.
There are actually three story lines presented. The first is, of course, the story of Darrell's life; how he functioned with the people inside him and how, in some instances, they functioned without him. The second story is how DID has been presented and perceived by society at large during his lifetime from "The Three Faces of Eve" through "The United States of Tara". Along this journey we note the influence on the psychological profession of legal cases including Billy Milligan, The Hillside Strangler and McMartin Preschool, all of which led to professionals being much less likely to make controversial diagnoses such as DID.
The third story is our return to Arkansas and Tennessee to try our best to determine the root cause of Darrell's DID. It all came down to family. An accidental phone call unearthed Darrell's late mother's best friend. "James Darrell," she said when her daughter in law handed her the phone. "You ain't no James Darrell Williams. You're James Darrell Jackson." Our return to Darrell's birthplace was our attempt to determine who Darrell's father really was, who was his family and why had they taken more than 40 years to deliver the news.
"Which One Am I?" was always designed to be an adjunct text, a first-person narrative about living with the concepts sociology and psychology students learn in college. There are sections about the workings of the brain as they apply to those with DID and to Darrell in particular. Born premature, just a week past being a still birth by our calculations, his brain was particularly unprepared for the emotional, physical and sexual abuse that awaited him at the hands of a father who was not his father and a mother who was mentally imbalanced herself.
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