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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,338 Ratings  ·  408 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
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Christina White
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
james
Oct 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nancy
Jul 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jessietaylortanner
Oct 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nancy
May 16, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Angie crosby
Jul 28, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Lauren Ruth
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Kaye McSpadden
Jun 10, 2013 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
April
Jan 12, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Wendi
Jul 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
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...
Kristin
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although I gave this book five stars it is not to be recommended to the faint of heart. Detailed explanations of child torture, sexual
Abuse and mental and verbal abuse.

Having said that, it was a phenomenal story. Her multiples became real to me. At times I forgot they were In Her mind and not real.

It took me substantially longer to listen to this book because I had to give myself a break in between to read something a little happier.

How she survived what she did is a wonder and absolutely fas
...more
Heidi
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, SO fascinating! And definitely not for the faint of heart.
Resti
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
...more
Emily
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
Lauren Stanek
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Cassidy Queerface
Oh my god. I guess maybe I'm too fascinated with literature about mental illnesses, but after I read a review of this book, I couldn't wait to read it.
It was sickening and horrifying, the abuse that little girl had to go through. The multiple personality disorder she developed was actually a coping mechanism (as it usually is), and she saw it later as a gift from God to help her get through the ritual abuse (that included her father, grandfather, his friends, and "satanic" rituals).
The personali
...more
Elizabeth
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Shelly
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
...more
Jaquilyn
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Sphinx Feathers
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
Jennifer Wardrip
I've always been interested in cases of multiple personality, and SWITCHING TIME is the mother of them all.

I found myself immersed in the story of both the doctor and patient and cringing at the horrors this poor woman suffered (although I will admit that I'm not quite sure, even after reading the book, how many of the events she mentioned actually, truly happened).

This book is disturbing at times, but also immensely interesting. For fans of the subject, this is definitely a must-read!
Heather
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
Winna
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Gabriel
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Connie Johnson
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jen
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was originally going to give this four stars - the trauma that instigates MPD (and there is some debate on if that's an accurate diagnosis) is horrific. This is not a pleasant story. But getting into Karen's alters and treatment ended up utterly fascinating. So fascinating I changed the score. The audiobook is also REALLY well-narrated.
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