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Switching Time: A Doctor's Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman with 17 Personalities

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,949 Ratings  ·  371 Reviews
One afternoon in 1989, Karen Overhill walks into psychiatrist Richard Baer’s office complaining of vague physical pains and depression. Odder still, she reveals that she’s suffering from a persistent memory problem. Routinely, she “loses” parts of her day, finding herself in places she doesn’t remember going to or being told about conversations she doesn’t remember having. ...more
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Crown Publishing Group (NY) (first published January 1st 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Christina White
Jan 09, 2011 Christina White rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
I finished this book last night at 2 AM, I couldn't put it down. This has been the most twisted, disturbing and crazy book I have ever read. I rated four stars, but I wouldn't recommend it to the ladies in my book club! I think I might be sick in the head lol, but I was so fascinated by this book, the same way I am fascinated when I see a fatal car accident on the side of the highway. The things that happened to Karen when she was younger were hard to believe and it is also hard to believe that ...more
Mike King
Jul 25, 2012 Mike King rated it did not like it
There were many problems with this book. The one I noticed first was composition. Dr. Baer is a terrible writer. He has a tendency to repeat words within the same sentence. I can't remember how many times a sentence would start out with the word "Suddenly," only to have the same word appear toward the end of the sentence, as in "Suddenly, X shook her head and suddenly changed her mind." Furthermore, Baer tends to repeat words and phrases - particularly descriptive terms - in three or four consec ...more
Mar 08, 2008 james rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Horrifying story. Fantastic book. My compliments to Dr. Baer for his patience, sacrifice, and success. My deepest regards, admiration, and respect for Karen Overhill.
RJ McGill
Oct 10, 2007 RJ McGill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Imagine pretending to be asleep in order to overhear conversations between your family and friends, so that you can learn your mother's name, or where your husband works. Karen was continually searching for ways to hide her obvious insanity until a desperate call to a crisis hot-line in 1989, led her to Dr. Richard Baer. The complexities of the human mind have never before been revealed with such detail, dimension and compassion. Horrific, unimaginable abuse had forced Karen to create different ...more
Aug 07, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it
Whenever I read a book involving multiple personalities, The Minds of Billy Milligan, When Rabbit Howls, etc, my first response is always - no way, they have to be making this up. However, with this book, Switching Time, Richard Baer makes the trauma that Karen Overhill endured come across as convincing and with her experiences explains how a multiple disorder takes form and how each part of the main, takes on the duties that it was designed for.

The reader is first introduced to Karen during her
Oct 13, 2007 Jessietaylortanner rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hannah, Robin, Rachelle, Shell
Shelves: non-fiction, bio
Although the details in this book are nauseatingly graphic, I found great hope and peace in it. The trauma and abuse that was suffered by this woman is beyond any normal person's understanding- the mind simply cannot reach far enough into the depths of hell to fathom such torture. Seriously, it's that intense. While reading, I found I was often grimacing, my face screwed up and only half looking at the words, trying to shield myself from it. That said, the indomitable will of the woman ('Karen') ...more
May 16, 2009 Nancy rated it did not like it
This reads as two parts Jerry Springer and one part self-indulgent, self-important indulgence on the part of the doctor and author, Richard Baer.

It is fascinating, in the deepest sense of the word, to read about the patient's family history. I'm not squeamish, and am not repelled by the details, but the patient and her history serve only as a backdrop to the doctor's feelings and thoughts. It is rather as if he's saying to us over dinner "Ooo, I have the freakiest patient! You would not believe
Angie crosby
Jul 28, 2008 Angie crosby rated it did not like it
Shelves: alex, d-i-d, non-fiction
I disliked this book. The author I felt related everything to himself when it wasn't about him. He didn't even mention other options than integration, yet he mentions how he prefers MPD to the correct term DID. Too much about the author and not enough about the multiple. I also disliked the harrowing part of the title. He acts like it was so hard for him, and i'm sure it was, but it was harder for the system, and that isn't really acknowledged
Frank Tibbetts
Jan 21, 2012 Frank Tibbetts rated it it was amazing
I have always been fascinated with multiple personality disorder, or dissociative identity order as it's called now.
Karen Overhill has spent her life in fragmentation. Her seventeen seperate personalities are the result of her traumatic and severely abusive childhood. Dr. Baer takes us on a journey through Karen's horrifying childhood. Karen's alters describe to us, the atrocities she suffered at the hands of her parents.
My heart truly went out to her in this wonderfully descriptive story. Kar
Lauren Ruth
Sep 12, 2012 Lauren Ruth rated it it was amazing
I learned so much from this book. My hat is off to the phenomenal achievement it documents. Faced with unrelenting terror from such a young age, this girl not only survived, she developed the kind, loving, generous, and sensitive aspects of herself by creating 17 distinct personalities.

The world considers multiple personality disorder a disease, but in this case, I think it was a truly creative response to shattering circumstances. Living a life the rest of us can barely imagine, this kid found
Jul 12, 2011 Wendi rated it liked it
I'm not sure what to think of this book. It wasn't terribly well written; however, it's not necessarily a book for entertainment value.

I do appreciate that Dr. Baer admitted when he wasn't sure that all the stories of abuse were true. I have read quite a few stories of survival. It's astounding the shape sexual abuse can take. It's Karen's tales of ritual abuse and Satan worship that sends up the red flags - it is true or not. Were all those people involved? There were quite a few people that we
Books Ring Mah Bell
Sep 11, 2013 Books Ring Mah Bell rated it really liked it
This is the most disturbing book I have ever read. It makes the childhood from "a child called it" look like a day at Disneyland. Awful. Engrossing. wow...
Jan 12, 2015 April rated it did not like it
Okay. This book made me angry. Very, very angry, and I think I have good reason for it.

(Also, DNF at about 70%.)

First off, treating a client who has DID is not "harrowing" for ANY therapist. If it's harrowing at all, it is for the client. Yes, I can see how it would be stressful for the clinician... but not harrowing. WTF, Baer? "Harrowing" to me implies that your life was in danger due to your client. It was not. Ever.

To me, Baer is a faker or a liar at best. According to this book, he had neve
Jun 15, 2009 Emily rated it liked it
I'm not sure how to rate this book as I can't really say I "liked" it. It was incredibly disturbing, graphically detailing the horrific systematic physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and torture of a little girl for years. I was disgusted by the evil and depravity that led so many adults to hurt her in so many ways for their enjoyment, and also by the willful ignorance of so many other adults in her life who could have made a difference and didn't. It was inspiring reading of Karen's strength ...more
Resti  Triyuliandha
pertama tama, ini buku paling mengerikan dan paling melelahkan plus buku yang paling lama aku baca.
perlu waktu 2 minggu untuk menyelesaikan buku ini.bukan karena buku ini enggak bagus. karena aku jelas-jelas kasih 5bintang buat buku ini. tapi karena buku ini terlalu berat dan mengerikan buatku. jadi bacanya mesti sedikit sedikit.

buku ini bercerita tentang Karen yang saat masih kecil mengalami banyak hal buruk akibat kekejaman ayah dan kakeknya, serta ketidakpedulian ibunya. sehingga untuk mengh
Kaye McSpadden
Jun 28, 2013 Kaye McSpadden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-audiobooks
This is a truly remarkable story. No, actually, I would say it is astounding. It's the true story of a 30-something young woman who started seeing a psychotherapist in 1989 because of depression and suicidal thoughts. Over the course of more than a decade of therapy, Dr. Richard Baer slowly uncovers the truth of Karen Overhill's life and existence -- the fact that she was living with dissociative identity disorder (or, multiple personalities), caused by a childhood dominated by abuse, torture, a ...more
Lauren Stanek
Sep 09, 2013 Lauren Stanek rated it really liked it
This was one of the most interesting books I've ever read. It was also one of the most exhausting books to get through. It provided a unique insight into what it was like for someone living with multiple personality disorder. She was constantly trading on and off with different personalities assigned to certain tasks in her daily life. I couldn't put the book down for a second, but it takes quite a bit out of you learning about the tremendous abuse the main character suffered and how she used th ...more
Mar 08, 2011 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Christina White
Shelves: biography_misc, 2011
What makes this book truly engrossing is that it is a true story that both doctor and patient were brave enough to share with the world. I found the account disturbing, gripping and fascinating. As the story begins to unfold I was shocked and horrified by the descriptions of the ritualistic and debasing abuse Karen survived in childhood. Through the discovery process of her multiple personalities, the focus really becomes about how these different people inside her were created and process of he ...more
I've always found multiple personality disorder to be a fascinating topc to read about, and was glad to see my library had a copy of this in when I went hunting for it.

Knowing it is written by the doctor that treated the patient, rather than by the patient herself, makes it a little more interesting to read for me. I rather liked having his thought process outlined and how he reacted to each alter as they were presented to him. I also really enjoyed the fact that he included actual copies of the
Apr 25, 2012 Jaquilyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This is one of the most incredible non-fiction books I have ever read. I had to continuously remind myself that this is a TRUE story.

The title speaks for itself, but essentially, this is a story of a woman (Karen) and her therapist (Dr. Baer) discovering that she has 17 separate personalities and innumerable events from her life that she has no memory of. You go through the therapeutic process with Karen and Dr. Baer and learn of the utterly horrific events that lead to Karen's dissociative ide
Sep 04, 2015 SouthWestZippy rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I had a hard time keeping up with who is who( that could be just me) and in some places I felt like it dragged along with to many details but overall I would say it is a good book. Multiple personality disorder has been a subject that is fascinating yet so disturbing to me and this book has help me see a Doctor's point of view.
Sphinx Feathers
Oct 10, 2014 Sphinx Feathers rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology, memoir
The story was interesting, but I felt bad being the patient of another doctor - very judged and wondering if my own doctor thinks such disparaging thoughts about me. The abuse was written about in a manner that was still managed to convey the horror involved without being absolutely overwhelming, but the doctor writing things like how he didn't like Karen until some of the parts he did like joined her seemed extremely judgmental. I guess I know and understand that psychologists have opinions of ...more
Jan 17, 2015 Heather rated it it was ok
This is at it's core a good story about a therapist and client. But the writing is terrible and the author is far too self-congratulatory for me to find him compelling or compassionate. He seems so invested in being this woman's therapist, but his motivations are suspect. (view spoiler) ...more
Connie Johnson
May 25, 2016 Connie Johnson rated it really liked it
Fascinating. Treating doctor's account of assisting a woman with multiple personality disorder. Karen developed 17 alters as a result of horrendous, ritual abuse. I am angry at, and baffled by. The adults who did this to her. I can fathom how they thought it ok to treat another human in the ways in which they did. The brain is capable of amazing things.
Chris Gard
Feb 07, 2016 Chris Gard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Coping takes many shapes.


Absolutely horrific yet mesmerising in detail and presentation. Confirmation of the haunting effects that sexual abuse and torture have on a small child. Priming your conscious conceptions of docile, often excruciatingly unintelligent and submissive people to account for such atrocious hardships that can be inflicted onto them as children; always taking into consideration that the very makings of a person are a specific set of experiences coinciding genetic predispositi
Myah Chapman
Nov 05, 2015 Myah Chapman rated it it was amazing
The book I read was called “Switching Time” by Richard Baer. The title fits the book perfectly. When first seeing the title you think it’s just a normal title for a book. As you begin to read the book you realize that the title means much more than just an average title would. The book “Switching Time” is about a woman who discovers that she has been living with 17 different personalities. This disease is also known as multiple personality disorder. When a personality that is not the main person ...more
Fascinating but gruesome book. A psychotherapy patient (referred to as Karen) had a mind-bogglingly awful childhood betrayed by her parents, grandfather, and a number of authority figures. To survive, different identities would split off to take on some of the emotions or memories. Baer does give you a sample of the incredible tortures the patient suffered as a child in order to show the readers the depths of the abuses, but it doesn't feel sensationalist.

I would have thought it was made up, ex
Apr 24, 2009 Winna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I took a few days to fully read this book and didn't miss anything. I had mixed feelings, but to sum up and say the least, I was hooked!

Karen's story was truly sad. Her memories consisted of terrible things and brutality. I was amazed at how she coped, by creating alters.

I have a lot to say about this book, but I think it overwhelms me too much. I'm so excited reading about it, and introduced to something new. At the same time, it sends chill down my spine.
Jan 05, 2012 Gabriel rated it it was amazing
The horrors that this poor child lived through...such sick people. It is so interesting to listen to a psychiatrist's point of view. Probing the infinite space of the human mind is such a tantalizing idea. In the context of this woman's story it is even more fascinating and at the same time extremely depressing to hear what she when through.

The story itself + the story being told from the doctors perspective makes this an amazing read for me.
Jessica Ashe
Jun 09, 2014 Jessica Ashe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Switching Time was a astonishing story of a woman named Karen who had 17 different personalities, of different race & gender, living inside her. Karen started seeing Richard Baer for the issues associated with Multiple Personality Disorder such as loosing time.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I had never read anything associated with MPD or people who had experienced such. I kept finding myself wondering had she seen a pastor or preacher about these same issues if they would have found her to
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