“[A]n absorbing journey through a psychiatrist’s dauntingly challenging first case of multiple personality disorder–from the beginning of therapy to stable integration and recovery.”
— Colin Ross, author of Multiple Personality Order and The Osiris Complex
In 1989, Karen Overhill walks into psychiatrist Richard Baer’s office seeking help for her depression and a persistent memory problem: she routinely loses parts of her day, finds herself in places she doesn’t remember going to, and is told about conversations she doesn’t remember having. While trying to discover the root cause of her memory loss, Baer works to gain Karen’s trust, but it’s years before he learns the true extent of the trauma buried in her past. What she eventually reveals is nearly beyond belief, a narrative of a childhood spent grappling with unimaginable horror.
Then Baer receives an envelope in the mail. It’s marked with Karen’s return address but contains a letter from a little girl who writes that she’s seven years old and lives inside of Karen. Soon Baer receives letters from others claiming to be parts of Karen. Under hypnosis, these alternate Karen personalities reveal themselves in shocking variety. One “alter” is a young boy filled with frightening aggression; another an adult male who considers himself Karen’s protector; a third a sassy flirt who seeks dominance over the others. It’s only by compartmentalizing her pain, guilt, and fear in this fashion that Karen has been able to function since childhood. Realizing that his patient represents an extreme case of multiple personality disorder, Baer faces the daunting task of creating a therapy that will make Karen whole again.
As powerful as Sybil or The Three Faces of Eve, Switching Time is the first complete account of such therapy to be told from the perspective of the treating physician, a stunningly devoted healer who worked selflessly for decades so that Karen could one day live as a single human being.