Book Review: A Life in Pieces

This past year, one of my modules was Psychiatry. Matters of psychiatry have the potential to scare me, having heard of patients who tried to harm my fellow students.

My clinical psychiatry rotation will take place in my fifth year, and I am trying to build my knowledge and my confidence sufficiently so as to be the best I can for those future patients.

Recently I read a book by Dr Richard K. Baer, A Life in Pieces The Harrowing True Story of a Woman with Multiple Personality Disorder.

It follows a troubled young woman through seeking psychiatric help, to her doctor piecing together the puzzle of her mystery. The diagnosis comes in fits and starts and the treatment is novel and ground-breaking.

MPD is rare and the chance of a medical student ever encountering such a case is unlikely, but Dr Baer describes the therapeutic process with clarity and sensitivity such that it transforms the book into an invaluable source of insight and knowledge – and an excellent story.

Sensitive readers should beware: the reasons for the subject’s disorder are graphic and painful. The book remains gripping, though heavy. Once started it is difficult to consider putting it down.


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