|| Suffer the Child
|| Judith Spencer
|| Pocket Books © 1989
1220 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York
This is a long story of the life of Jenny, suffering from
Multiple Personality Disorder. She had some 35 different personalities and was
hospitalized 27 time in 20 years. Therapists claimed that she developed her
multiple personality because she was raped, suffered sexual and physical abuse,
and was involved in cults and Satan worship. In 37 short chapters, the author
attempts to reconstruct the life of Jenny and her therapy. The book closes with
a small bibliography on cults and Multiple Personality Disorder (MDP) some of it
from non-scientific sources.
The book is based, primarily, on Jenny's daily journal,
written in poetry with no age specified. It remains an adult interpretation of a
child's world. In the very first of Jenny's journal poems she warns, "we are
lost in a dream, a dream we can't remember" (p. XXVIII).
Generalizing from a sample of one is always hazardous and the
author does not warn the reader of this. The book is characterized by
considerable editorial license and the author fills in gaps in knowledge. The
book is plagued by numerous assumptions. Jenny warned the author that "no
one knows all the missing pieces" (p.245) and the author attempts to find
missing pieces with little success.
The major portion of the book deals with two therapists'
attempt to force Jenny to remember and to reduce her multiple personalities.
accounts are accepted by the therapists. No effort was made to ascertain if her
present symptoms were related to a previous diagnosis. Burn scars and Bible
signatures are never found by anybody. "Black altars" and
"sacrifices on human flesh" (p. 75) were never located. No
asked for from campgrounds or parks where the cult ceremonies were alleged to
have happened. Although the New Hope Church was identified as cult headquarters,
it was never investigated. Jenny's fantasies, journal data, and the authors'
personal beliefs and values are all mixed to the point where the reader is left
confused over the truth. A social worker warned that Jenny's stories were a way
of getting attention. This warning went unheeded.
This book is not worth buying for the professional.
Reviewed by LeRoy Schultz, Professor, School of
Social Work, West Virginia University.