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A Fractured Mind: My Life with Multiple Personality Disorder

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,312 ratings  ·  116 reviews
Robert Oxnam was a high-profile, successful man: A renowned scholar and president of the Asia Society, he appeared frequently on television and traveled the world as a sought-after expert. But what the millions of people who'd seen him didn't know--what even those closest to him didn't know--was that Oxnam suffered from multiple personality disorder. It was only after an i ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by Hachette Books (first published October 1st 2005)
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Dec 27, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
My Amazon review: Books on multiple personality disorder are not, as a rule, very well written and A Fractured Mind is no exception to this. It is unfortunate, however, that where those other books made up for literary lapses by being incredibly emotional, open, and intriguing, A Fractured Mind falls more than short.

Robert Oxnam's story is, indeed, a sad one. I do not wish to blame the victim - it is clear Mr. Oxnam has gone through quite a bit in his life that nobody should have to deal with. U
This book starts slowly - the initial sections with Bob describing his life and career in Asian studies and diplomatic relations are quite dull - I would ask that you give this book time to develop, because it's a rare bird in the field of memoirs that deal with multiple systems, and I'll try to explain why.

Firstly, this is not a book about trauma. Yes, trauma is mentioned, as is Bob's struggle with addiction, but they are mentioned in passing and are not the focus of this work.

Secondly, what I
Primeiro Cátia Volume
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
It's incredible, and also scary, what the human brain is capable of. While reading, sometimes I felt I was watching the exorcist, but in fact this happens and there are people in the world that struggle every day with MPD. This is a true story of someone that suffered from such a traumatic event in his life that his brain felt the need to split into multiple personalities to cope with the pain. I got so emotional when Dr. Smith discovered what was the trigger for the MPD...
The last chapter I fel
Elyse  Walters
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read most of this book yesterday while soaking in my warm-water pool...(or/and lying in the sun).
Being relaxed allowed for mental and physical harmony --all of which was necessary --for taking in the depths of this story.

This is a valuable book worth reading. 'This' author happens to be a highly educated man --(Yale University in Asian studies). Not all people with multiple personality disorder (MPD),are as highly functional in the world --(academic world, business, financial, travel, etc.) as
Dec 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audiobook, mpd-did
20151015 ◊ Take an astonishing mental disorder. Add one entitled, unsympathetic protagonist. Mix in a generous amount of unsatisfactory storytelling. Sprinkle in a healthy dose of humblebragging. Drop a name in. Drop some more names in. Tell everyone that you don't mean to drop names while you dump a few more right in. Limply swish everything back and forth for awhile. Pour everything into a negligently edited plot. Garnish with a wildly corny, overblown voice actor, and what do you get?

A bad b
Maria Pahlman
"Not as your psychological biography but rather as the autobiographies of your MPD personalities."

Halfway through I really really liked this book and out of curiosity browsed through some of the Goodreads reviews and what do I see. Such hateful commentary! I was really surprised.

This is OXNAM's book. He's entitled to tell his story as he pleases. Name-dropping comments made me laugh. Come off it! He himself said that his ambitions to succeed were strongly linked to his disorder. Have you people
Katie Followell
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
This book was... Odd.

I really enjoyed reading the therapy sections. It was almost dreamlike, like I was seeing a movie. What made it terrifying was that it was a personal account.

Other times, the book was very slow moving and was offering a lot of information that I don't think pertained to the story.

Regardless, I feel like I have a better understanding of MPD now. I appreciate the author sharing.
Hannah Greendale
A fascinating look at the life of a man diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (aka dissociative identity disorder). The reader is introduced to the man's eleven personalities and made privy to the years he spent working with a psychiatrist to unearth and then integrate his various personalities. ...more
Kristen Harris
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Just fantastic. A thrilling honest journey through life with multiple personalities and integration. The perfect balance between learning and entertainment. Anyone with trauma or an interest in advanced psychology should read.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books-read
I admire his bravery for publishing this book. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be so vulnerable in sharing his story. It was interesting to learn about DID and I appreciate that the story was told by a well educated man of status. Sounds horrible but I think it adds credibility to the diagnosis that is often dismissed as fictional. I wouldn’t recommend to a friend for leisure but would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about DID or mental health.
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
I couldn't enjoy this book. Its a boring story told by mostly unsympathetic characters. When a person is this ill its hard to NOT be sympathetic, but somehow he manages. I'm not surprised he had 11 individual personalities- because that's how many people it should take to carry around the weight of his extraordinary ego. ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I’ve read several books about people with MPD because I find it fascinating. This is a quick read, but I found it rather shallow. This author didn’t delve into his past much (at least in his book). I understand that he is trying to protect his own privacy and the privacy of his family, but because of that, this book doesn’t have the ability to invoke strong feelings in this reader.
Feb 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting insider view of multiple personalities. This book differs from others in the genre by focusing on the internal life of the personalities rather than on the abuse that caused the split.
Laina MacDonald
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
As a therapist, this book spoke to me in ways that I couldn’t possibly have expected. It is a great resource for understanding thought patterns of people who have experienced extreme trauma, and very applicable as I work with several people with DID. Shame on those who wrote nasty, mean-spirited reviews. You can dislike the book and recognize that this author was sharing a piece of his soul. Thank you, Robert, for being brave enough and vulnerable enough to share your story. Not many people can ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting read for #ReadHarder prompt 13 - written by someone who identifies as neurodiverse.
I thought this a very interesting book. I liked the fact that is was written by the different egos within the author rather than the dominant person telling everyone's story. It is, essentially, a multiple POV story with a single body encasing all the points of view.

I found the discovery and description of the castle within him where everyone lives fascinating. As a single personality I do wonder ho
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brian by: Shandra Pizzo
A friend of mine who is a nurse recommended this to me. At first I wasn't too sure, but at a bookstore, I found it and thumbed through it which did peaked my interest. So, I bought it. After a few months on my bookshelf, I decided to give it a try.

Robert Oxman is a successful person who is an expert on Asia. What made him seek a psychiatrist was his problem with alcohol, (he's also bulimic). During one session Tommy made an appearance.

This memoir is about how Robert went from 11 distinguished pe
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is by no means the best book ever written by an author who has/does suffer from a mental illness, but it's still worth reading in my opinion.

It may have been easier for me to read than others, as I was fortunate enough to meet the author years ago at a lecture put together by a professor I TA'd for in college, and his writing style made more sense having met him and having heard his story first hand.

I consider this book to be a very interesting look at the life of someone with DID, and if y
Meg Tuite
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mesmerizing! The beginning is a bit slow, but the memoir is of a man who is outwardly very successful and not until he is in his '50s finds out that he is a multiple personality. Thus, the slow beginning before he realizes the black-outs are not just from alcohol. He gets into therapy and the 11 different personalities make themselves known. It is riveting and heartbreaking and told on a linear path so the reader moves through it with the author and his therapist! I am blown away by how the mind ...more
Robert Vaughan
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had to read this book in chunks, sometimes excessive, and sometimes small. There is a ton to process here, and the MPD issues are very tough to handle at times. And yet, I am grateful for this author's bravery, especially with his professional relationships, and how well- established he is in is private life. I am also grateful personally for all of the therapy I've done in my own life, and what I've learned as a result. I don't think this is a book for everyone, but I am happy that a very clo ...more
Clare Larson
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was very interesting. I learned a lot about Multiple Personality Disorder and it really sparked an interest with me. It went into depth about a man who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and it detailed his everyday schedule. it highlighted the hardships of this disease in all aspects of life such as work, relationships, and family. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this kind of disorder and who is interested in the study of the brain. It was a ...more
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
I am honesty shocked that Oxnam did not break his arm from patting himself on the back so much. The name-dropping and arrogant ego inflation is likely part of his pathology, but it is borderline unbearable. When he does, however, actually get into the MPD, there seems to be an amazing and compelling story about a child who used extraordinary creativity to survive severe abuse. But this book is far from compelling and left me feeling incredibly detached, if not contemptuous, towards the author.
Brenna Berkley
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
At some points I was invested, at other points I was incredibly skeptical. I would never discredit someones mental illness, but at points it just seemed too much for me. I think, for my first exposure to DID, this book was too intense. It also took a few distracting turns by bragging about his fame and success (although I understand its important to share that you made all these accomplishments with DID). I'm glad I read it, would not read again. ...more
Oct 09, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
I picked up this book to add to my ever growing collection of first account stories of mental illness. The book is not difficult to read, but comes off as somewhat juvenile in content. Obviously, the author had to overcome great odds to even tell his complicated story so I would not hold it against him. Good story to add to the collection.
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting account of one person's multiple personality disorder. I have worked with people with this disorder, and I found reading first hand experience from someone articulate like Oxnam interesting. I found his life interesting as well, even though he often glosses over conflict to be political, not step on anyone's toes. It's not a tell all. Even so it's interesting. ...more
Feb 28, 2008 rated it liked it
This was a really great autobiography. It was interesting to read from his various alters point-of-view. It gave so much info about the disorder. Had to read it for a class...but would suggest it to anyone interested in MPD (DID).
I was riveted at the beginning but by the end, I couldn't wait for it to be done. I don't remember having such strong negative and positive reactions to the same book. ...more
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As with other encounters with multiple personality disorder, it seems like science fiction. I liked this biography, except at the end when he gets all excited about his Unitarian experience.
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
After reading, I really liked and sympathized with Mr. Oxnam. I wish him well.
Book was well written; however, I hoped for a more technical book. The style was more novel-ish to my liking.
Fascinating true story of a man who, while seeking professional help in the midst of a successful career, is experiencing burnout and brokenness and comes to realize there is more going on inside than he had known. Many puzzles in his life such as memory lapses begin to be answered slowly after his initial encounter with an ‘alter’ persona. Multiple Personality Disorder is something i knew nothing of, except that its caused by trauma. Now its apparently known as DID... disassociative ... somethi ...more
Sofia Fazzio
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had to read this book for my Psychology class, and I loved it. The books main focus is on a man with Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), and as you read you are taken on a trip throughout his life. Readers who do not know much about Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) will grasp a great understanding of the disorder and how it works. We meet every personality in the mans head, and we are told the true stories behind each personality. I highly recommend reading this book if you are interested ...more
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Aiossa's Senior 5...: Kayla Svara- Book Review #3 memoir. 1 3 Nov 08, 2012 07:00PM  

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“I resolved to come right to the point. "Hello," I said as coldly as possible, "we've got to talk."

"Yes, Bob," he said quietly, "what's on your mind?" I shut my eyes for a moment, letting the raging frustration well up inside, then stared angrily at the psychiatrist.
"Look, I've been religious about this recovery business. I go to AA meetings daily and to your sessions twice a week. I know it's good that I've stopped drinking. But every other aspect of my life feels the same as it did before. No, it's worse. I hate my life. I hate myself."

Suddenly I felt a slight warmth in my face, blinked my eyes a bit, and then stared at him.

"Bob, I'm afraid our time's up," Smith said in a matter-of-fact style.

"Time's up?" I exclaimed. "I just got here."

"No." He shook his head, glancing at his clock. "It's been fifty minutes. You don't remember anything?"

"I remember everything. I was just telling you that these sessions don't seem to be working for me."

Smith paused to choose his words very carefully. "Do you know a very angry boy named 'Tommy'?"

"No," I said in bewilderment, "except for my cousin Tommy whom I haven't seen in twenty years..."

"No." He stopped me short. "This Tommy's not your cousin. I spent this last fifty minutes talking with another Tommy. He's full of anger. And he's inside of you."

"You're kidding?"

"No, I'm not. Look. I want to take a little time to think over what happened today. And don't worry about this. I'll set up an emergency session with you tomorrow. We'll deal with it then."


This is Robert speaking. Today I'm the only personality who is strongly visible inside and outside. My own term for such an MPD role is dominant personality. Fifteen years ago, I rarely appeared on the outside, though I had considerable influence on the inside; back then, I was what one might call a "recessive personality." My passage from "recessive" to "dominant" is a key part of our story; be patient, you'll learn lots more about me later on. Indeed, since you will meet all eleven personalities who once roamed about, it gets a bit complex in the first half of this book; but don't worry, you don't have to remember them all, and it gets sorted out in the last half of the book. You may be wondering -- if not "Robert," who, then, was the dominant MPD personality back in the 1980s and earlier? His name was "Bob," and his dominance amounted to a long reign, from the early 1960s to the early 1990s. Since "Robert B. Oxnam" was born in 1942, you can see that "Bob" was in command from early to middle adulthood.

Although he was the dominant MPD personality for thirty years, Bob did not have a clue that he was afflicted by multiple personality disorder until 1990, the very last year of his dominance. That was the fateful moment when Bob first heard that he had an "angry boy named Tommy" inside of him. How, you might ask, can someone have MPD for half a lifetime without knowing it? And even if he didn't know it, didn't others around him spot it?

To outsiders, this is one of the most perplexing aspects of MPD. Multiple personality is an extreme disorder, and yet it can go undetected for decades, by the patient, by family and close friends, even by trained therapists. Part of the explanation is the very nature of the disorder itself: MPD thrives on secrecy because the dissociative individual is repressing a terrible inner secret. The MPD individual becomes so skilled in hiding from himself that he becomes a specialist, often unknowingly, in hiding from others. Part of the explanation is rooted in outside observers: MPD often manifests itself in other behaviors, frequently addiction and emotional outbursts, which are wrongly seen as the "real problem."

The fact of the matter is that Bob did not see himself as the dominant personality inside Robert B. Oxnam. Instead, he saw himself as a whole person. In his mind, Bob was merely a nickname for Bob Oxnam, Robert Oxnam, Dr. Robert B. Oxnam, PhD.”
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