My Hero, J.D. Salinger

I was whisked back to my teenage years as I watched a documentary on J.D. Salinger on “American Masters”, PBS January 21st. The film was made by Shane Salerno, who released the theatrical version to the public in September. I was both inspired as a writer and warmed in my heart when I learned that many people idolized Holden Caulfield as a character and J.D. Salinger as a writer, as I did.

All my feelings of angst and disapproval from my peers came rushing back to me as I remembered reading “Catcher in the Rye,” which I consider a classic. It describes teenage alienation perfectly. Didn’t we all wonder who we really were as teenagers and who we were going to become? I know my sense of self was quite elusive, parts of me floating around wondering who we were. Of course having multiple personalities did not help.

I felt that the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, was like me in many ways, especially because I attended a private girl’s school in Pennsylvania. Not only did Holden lack confidence in himself, but he also thought many other people were ‘phonies.’ I felt exactly the same way during my teenage years. It seems like teenagers can be smart and stupid at the same time, myself included.

There is some controversy that “Catcher in the Rye” was responsible for several murders. According to a blog by the atomicpoet, the only killer obsessed by Catcher was Mark David Chapman, who killed John Lennon and then stood by reading the book until police came on the scene. Chapman was supposedly a Christian who took offense to Lennon’s atheism….and saw him as a phony. Chapman hoped to save children from Lennon’s godless ways.” John Hinckley tried to kill Reagan, and a copy of Catcher was later found in his room. It can hardly be said that Hinckley idolized the book.

Thank goodness I did not kill anyone. I just read the book, loved it and identified totally with Holden Caulfield. I also saw the movie, Finding Forester starring Sean Connery as a former best-selling writer who is now a recluse living in Brooklyn. It seemed to mirror Salinger’s life in many ways.

Mr. Salinger had a concrete building on his property called ‘the bunker,” where he escaped to write every single day. I don’t think he had a window or a telephone in the small building. I get the idea he wanted to be alone. I also read that he had a penchant for taking a week to craft a single sentence. That definitely strikes a chord in my heart. I’ve worked long and hard on a few of my own.

Another interesting detail about Salinger is that when he was deployed in WWII to Europe he took the first six chapters of “Catcher” with him, and worked on them during his downtime. During the time of his combat he served in the concentration camps, and was deeply affected by what he saw there, later suffering from a nervous breakdown.

The best surprise from the PBS Show is that upon Salinger’s death in 2010, he left instructions in his will for publication of several major works that were written during his lifetime but never published. One of the books is “The Complete Chronicle of the Glass Family,” an extremely long book featuring one of Salinger’s characters, Seymour Glass, about a family with six children who are all geniuses. Other books that will be published are “The Last and Best of the Peter Pans,” and “A Counterintelligence Agent’s Diary” and “A World War II Love Story”. The books are to be published between 2015 and 2020.

For more info on the killer controversy go to


Confusion can be an effect of Child Abuse

How well I remember the embarrassing situations of high school. I was often called crazy, scatter-brained and flighty, although I didn’t really think I was any of those things. It was not until I was fifty years old and diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, DID, (originally known as Multiple Personality Disorder, or MPD) that I realized I surely did deserve these descriptions of myself. I was not only confused, I was thirteen times more confused than normal people, because I had thirteen personalities.

During my therapy, I found that confusion was at the root of creating my alternate  personalities.

The original definition of the word ‘confuse’ means to make embarrassed, or abash. It also means to make ashamed, which is how it became connected to child abuse and then to multiple personality, one of the major effects of child abuse. If a child is being abused, the confusion can help him/her to believe they are someone else, doing something else, in another place. The confusion becomes an ally for the child so they won’t have to feel the shame, pain, nausea or anguish of the abuse.

Having sex with a child degrades the child to such an extent that the child may create an alternate personality to deal with it. That way he or she can imagine themselves as someone who is not being abused. They can also imagine that their secondary personality is somewhere else, doing something relaxing and fun. The stronger their imagination is, the greater the chance that they will create another personality, or even several, to take the abuse. Their confusion becomes a way out. It is one of the ways I dealt with sexual abuse when I was four years old.

If my mind can jump around from one idea to another, it is not hard to believe I can jump from one personality to another. I’m not sure if sexual abuse causes children to become more creative or if creativity comes to their rescue by inventing an “alter.” What do you think? Have you been abused? Have you been diagnosed with DID?

Other Multiples

If you know someone with multiple personalities, please tell them about my blog. I would like to connect with them