04 December 2011

The Sum of My Parts by Olga Trujillo

The Sum of My Parts by Olga Trujillo

Published: 1 October 2011 by New Harbinger Publications (originally published 1 April 2007)

Pages: 228 (paperback)

Genre/s: Non-fiction, memoir

Source: Publisher for review

Check it Out: GoodreadsAmazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository


Olga Trujillo's childhood was marked by such extensive violence and sexual abuse that she developed the ability to observe scenes from her life as though they were happening to someone else. Blocking herself from the terrors of her real life, Olga began to "go away in her head" and create alternate senses of herself, or "parts" distinct personalities that allowed her to compartmentalize and temporarily forget her father's attacks so that she could make friends and attend school like any other child. Dissociative identity disorder (DID) had taken hold. Formerly known as multiple personality disorder, DID helped Olga to function, but this disorder is associated with horrifying flashbacks, suicidal thoughts, mood swings, memory loss, panic attacks, and the confusion of not knowing one's true identity.

The Sum of My Parts is the story of Ms. Trujillo's courageous struggle to understand and overcome the psychological aftereffects of her abusive childhood and an inspiring look into the remarkable power of the human brain to protect itself at all costs. After years of relying on a complex network of fragmented memories in order to function and survive, Olga learns to integrate her parts through psychotherapy and begins to see the whole picture of her life for the first time. Today, Olga Trujillo is an attorney, speaker, and advocate for victims of domestic violence and child abuse. This memoir of triumph over the most devastating conditions will enlighten and inspire anyone whose life has been affected by violence, abuse, or trauma.

My Thoughts

It’s been a while since I read a non-fiction book, and when I received this one as a NetGalley I was excited by the synopsis. I read another book on DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) about 10 years ago and found it to be incredibly moving and inspirational, so I was really looking forward to reading this one.

The Sum of My Parts is broken up into two halves – Olga’s retelling of childhood and pubescent trauma and abuse which cause her DID, and her treatment and life after her initial diagnosis.

Told in a straight-forward, slightly detached manner, The Sum of My Parts is an emotional, intriguing and haunting read. Olga’s openness about the horrendous abuse she suffered as a child is admirable, and she has done her best to reach a medium of revealing enough of her story to make an impact on the reader, whilst respecting the feelings and potential reactions of other DID sufferers.

The psychology and treatment of her condition make for fascinating, gut-wrenching reading, from spiraling into agoraphobia, her struggle to keep her career and to save her marriage. As Olga relives the memories that she has compartmentalized in order to keep herself from falling apart, she also discovers a side of herself that she never even knew existed.

I really enjoyed this book – it was very emotional and quite disturbing in parts, but it was also uplifting and inspirational. If you have an interest in psychology, or in real people overcoming huge adversity and using it to their advantage, this book is for you.

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