IPT Book Reviews

Title: Until Darkness Holds No Fear
Author: Elizabeth Mikal
Publisher: Books Beyond Borders, Inc. 1995

Books Beyond Borders, Inc.
3640 Walnut Street, Suite A
Boulder, CO 80301
$16.95 (p)

This 264-page book purports to be the history of a woman who was taken by the state from her biological parents and given to adoptive parents at age four. She claims to remember abuse, both physical and sexual, at least back to 18 months of age and continuing to the time she left an adoptive home. Both natural parents, siblings, and adoptive parents are depicted as monsters who were savage and cruel in every imaginable way. The unspeakable savagery supposedly caused the young child to dissociate, then develop a variety of personalities in order to cope with the daily horrors.

There is not much information given about the life history of the author, but scattered throughout the book are statements and accounts of events that suggest she was troubled and had a chaotic life in early adulthood.  It is not clear at what point in the author's life the claimed memories of childhood abuse began to develop, but it seems certain that ongoing therapy played a major role. It is clear that suggestions and information given by a subsequent therapist provided the impetus to develop the behaviors and roles of Multiple Personality Disorder.

The chief value of the book lies in the detailed presentations of the internal conversations, group meetings, and interactions of the purported personality entities. It is of interest that the thinking processes attributed to all entities during infancy and early childhood are those known in the science of psychology as adult-level cognitions. A reader can make personal judgments as to the validity of the structures, abilities, and cognitions assigned to the entities.

For those interested in how the behaviors and roles of a person claiming Multiple Personality Disorder (now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder) develop and take shape, this book can provide some clarity. It demonstrates the amazing fecundity and creativity of the human mind given a nail upon which to hang a story.  This is the capacity that has produced the great myths down through the ages.

Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies, Northfield, Minnesota 55057.

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