Friday, September 28, 2012

Doug Mesner reviews Twenty-Two-Faces at Dysgenics

At Dysgenics, Doug Mesner pens the most thorough review, to-date, of Judy Byington's Twenty-Two Faces, noting the book "offers insight into psychological disorder, just not in the way the author intended." [1]

Instead, writes Mesner, Twenty-Two Faces
falls within an outdated genre of prurient Satanic Panic supernatural-erotica-sold-as-a-true-story pulp novels which enjoyed a certain popularity throughout the 80s and 90s ... even placing the book Satan's Underground by Lauren Stratford in the bibliography, despite the fact that this book was so thoroughly discredited as to be withdrawn from publication, with the author changing her name and running off, abandoning her claim to Satanic cult abuse to instead pose as a childhood victim of the Holocaust.
Of course, even the old MPD/DID narrative is dubious enough, to put it nicely. The most recent research from out of Harvard finds that, despite claims to otherwise, those diagnosed and demonstrating MPD/DID do not actually suffer amnesia between one personality state to the next. Nor has the notion of traumatic repression -- the likes of which is described in “case studies” like the Jenny Hill story -- stood up to scientific scrutiny in the course of the past 20+ years since MPD/DID enjoyed its Sybil-fueled faddish rise.

But, to argue against the credibility of Twenty-Two Faces by invoking current progress in brain research, or even arguing against the existence of wide-scale secretive Satanic cult mind-control plots, is to give the book far too much credit. Twenty-Two Faces doesn’t merely beggar the imagination in its over-the-top conspiracist description of MPD/DID.... [it also] defies scientific credibility altogether by being a supernatural tale.
To wit, the book includes:

    • Prophecy: The protagonist’s birth is foretold by her uncle in exacting detail.
    • Extra Sensory Perception (ESP): apparently believing that child abuse can prove beneficial to the victim, author Judy Byington describes that the protagonist, Jenny Hill, was able to break through certain subliminal barriers, not in spite of, but because of, early humiliations
    • Divine guidance: desperate and in prayer, Jenny Hill hears “a soft, yet thundering voice”, which urges her to “continue to write down your life experiences, for one day a book will be written.”
    • Divine intervention: In the midst of a Satanic ceremony in which she is bound to an altar, Jenny Hill is spared from sacrifice by a bare-footed “white-robed male personage, surrounded in a glorious White Light”. (Had this “personage” taken a little effort to arrive just a moment earlier, he could have spared the unlucky girl next to Hill, who is said to have been decapitated... but I’m sure His schedule is as busy as His Ways mysterious.)
    • Spirit Possession: Making clear that possession isn’t merely a more primitive cultural interpretation of DID, Byington describes that Hill suffered both DID and spirit possession, the latter being cured by the prayers of LDS church officials
"The antagonist of Twenty-Two Faces," writes Mesner, "is the quintessential villain of conspiracy folklore, managing membership in several scheming cabals which may appear paradoxical or mutually exclusive to the untrained paranoid."
Not only is he a God-less Jew, but 'turncoat' Nazi Jew who worships Satan. His name is Dr. Greenbaum, and his legend precedes this rambling and dissonant tome within the fringes of hysterical recovered memory-derived folklores, best explicated by a Dr. Corydon Hammond in a speech he gave in 1992 titled Hypnosis in Multiple Personality Disorder: Ritual Abuse.
Mesner also notes that Twenty-Two Faces sports a forward written by Dr. Colin Ross and an endorsement from Joyanna Silberg, Ph.D., Past President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), which, "if anything," writes Mesner, "says something negative about the ISSTD more than it tells us anything substantive about Byington’s book...."

In sum, Mesner calls the book
truly offensive, as it hijacks children’s rights and attempts to create human shields of real victims as protection against criticisms directed at patently absurd claims. In the proper context, Twenty-Two Faces is a helpful book, as it illustrates this problem clearly for those who may doubt the magnitude to which conspiracists have over-run the study of Dissociative Disorders. Byington does not simply misappropriate the condition of multiple personalities as a plot device for her ridiculous book, she shows the condition for what it largely (if not entirely) is: a collaborative therapeutically-created delusion. In trying to expose a Satanic conspiracy, Byington unwittingly exposes a foul movement that exploits vulnerable mental health consumers. Let’s hope the licensing boards and professional associations eventually move to erase such embarrassments from practice.

Read Mesner's full review.


[1] Douglas Mesner, "When Therapists are Lunatics: A Review of 22 Faces by Judy Byington." Dysgenics. September 27, 2012