Today I’m Alice by Alice Jamieson

I’ve never made a purchase from the Painful Lives section at Waterstones. Like self-help books, all you need to know is generally contained in the title: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway say, or Daddy’s Little Earner. Who needs to read 50,000 words?

But when Amazon invited me to take a look at Today I’m Alice, by Alice Jamieson I was intrigued. As you’ll have guessed from the title, Alice suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.

Co-written with Clifford Thurlow, this is an incredibly readable memoir despite its exceptionally tough subject matter. Sufferers of DID exclusively develop the disorder as the result of severe sexual, physical and emotional abuse. It is a defence mechanism. It becomes necessary at times to reveal some of the details of that abuse and that must inevitably raise concerns that some may use it as porn, but this memoir is never voyeuristic.

What’s interesting is that we’re nearly halfway through the book before Alice – or we – really know what’s going on. She suffers lost time, like blackouts, sometimes emerging to find her homework done, say, or that her money’s been spent on something she doesn’t actually like. While she sees various mental health professionals from a young age it is not until her early twenties that she realises what’s been going on.

So did it really happen? A Brimstone and Treacle moment with her father pretty much confirms that it did and lets it all out; as do medical records that reveal physical signs of abuse, misinterpreted by medical professionals who now appear to be negligent. For reasons not revealed to the reader, Alice Jamieson is remarkably generous to her mother and elder brother.

Surviving to write Today I’m Alice is a remarkable achievement, that clearly provides its author with a sense of final victory over her father. But what does sharing all of this trauma offer the reader? Alice succeeds in providing us with an insight into how those for whom the family is a hellish place cope with the horrors that exist behind respectable looking front doors. We learn a little of how memories and personalities are formed and most intriguingly how they may be split apart.

9 thoughts on “Today I’m Alice by Alice Jamieson

  1. This is a remarkably lucid, honest and fair review of Today I’m Alice.

    Working with Alice Jamieson on her memoirs was a privilege for me and I learned to be grateful that in my own life I have not known the traumas she as a child and young woman suffered.

    The story is unembellished and is the result of two heads working closely together. As Alice wisely said, collaboration for her was easy. She has been collaborating all her life with the alter personalities inhabiting her mind.

  2. I have just finished reading ‘Today I’m Alice’, and I must say it is one of the most inspirational books I have ever read, Alice truly is a survivor and to say that she managed to even write a book on her experiences is truly fantastic..Alice has A LOT to be proud of. I for one shall recommend this book to many many people.

  3. I usually feel guilty and slightly embarrassed when I pick up ‘Damaged’ books, although I do find some of them close to home(probably why I’m drawn to them)some though do seem to be a bit ‘car crash’reading.When I first, by chance picked up ‘today I’m Alice’ I felt the same until I began to read it. Firstly, Alice writes with some great humour which is amazing considering the horrific life she endured (and still endures)and she writes with such intelligence. To say I ‘enjoyed’ the book would be the wrong word, but it did eat away at me, I cant stop thinking about all those unbelievable things that happenned to her! so I’m not sure about reccomending it? It is very disturbing, you need to be strong just to read it. I don’t know if the book solves anything other than being cathartic for her, which if it helps her that is reason alone. Maybe like she says it may prompt just one child to speak up and get help, so I suppose that is reason alone too. I think Alice should write fiction, she’s a naturally good writer and like I said is funny too. I dont know how that woman survived but I am overcome with admiration for her and hope some how she has a wonderful life.

  4. im just over half way through reading this book and it has to be one of the best books i have ever read.
    It isnt a fun, enjoyable or easy read but it takes you through ‘Alice’s’ life and the absolutely awful things that have happened to her with such detail you think that you are one of her personalitles looking down and watching it all. It is amazing, heart wrenching and inspirational and i would recommend it to anyone strong enough to handle it.

  5. I am currently reading “today im Alice” and am nearing the end. This truely is one of the best reads ever. Having said this it is not an easy read and can even be draining to read. It is written so well and i almost feel as though i am being drawn into the book and into her life.She is obvioiusly a very brave woman and my heart and awe go out to her truly inspirational. A fantastic read for the right person who is strong enough to read it but with a heart to feel for her at the same time.

  6. I have read the book, very shocking. As if it wasn’t bad enough what her father did to her, the book is an indictment on how the system protects the guilty.

    The mental “health” love to punish the innocent to protect the guilty. Then the police would not lay charges for this reason. So this lowlife gets off scot-free. . .I wonder if he abused anyone else?

    I wish you all the best, Alice, you need all the luck you can get.

  7. Just finished this excellent book, lent to me by a patient who was also subject to ritual abuse-one of a number of such people I have the privilege to know….they teach me so much about humanity, its strengths and weaknesses. I admire the way these survivors manage to live despite their horrendous flashbacks and memories and share the outrage expressed by others that most perpetrators escape punishment. I hope Alice continues to find some pleasure in her life as a small way of triumphing over her father’s shameful behaviour. Written by an Australian psychiatrist who has no doubt that Alice’s story is true.

  8. I want to hug Alice…I want to give her some happiness. It was very hard to believe what happened to her . It was a lesson to me about life it opened my eyes. Alice you are truly special to me.

  9. I bought the book this afternoon and read the first charpter. I really want to cry for what happened on dear Alice and also have full admirations for her. It must be very hurt when you shared your experiences with people. Hope you have a wonderful life in the present and future. I pray for you.

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