The Impossible Choice offers readers a narrative of the relationship between a therapist and her patient who desperately wants to discover her past. With no memory and no way of knowing what was real, her long therapeutic journey was to last 26 years, half her lifetime. Her only reality was the life she lived in the presence of her therapist. The narrative unfolds to reveal a story of horrific events that must be hidden, yet can no longer be kept secret. It sheds light on how chronic long-term traumatisation within a closed family circle can create madness in a vulnerable and lonely child, and helps reader gain an understanding of the enigmatic phenomena of Dissociated Identity Disorder.
Having been terrorized into silence, destroying her ability to use language in a house of secrets and lies, the therapy reveals how this patient struggles to come out of her autistic-like state in search of ways to find her past, her ‘self’ and her voice. In this struggle, the reader becomes an audience exposed to the birth of dissociative personae who come forth to tell her story. As language slowly unfolds, she begins to share a first-hand account, albeit in written form, of the most complex psychological forces involved in a victim of incest who simultaneously loves, hates and is terrorized by her lover-father.
Through live vignettes it demonstrates how external violence can create inner violence that threatens to annihilate the soul, leaving only a body to survive. The book provides an original contribution to our understanding of the complex psychological forces involved in incest, featuring the patient’s own, coherent written texts, mediated by her therapist. The former’s remarkable insights represent essential reading for all readers involved in policy development for the protection of children at high risk of suffering abuse.
"This is a most striking account where different phases and happenings are recorded not in the mind but in bodily formations. For any therapist working with bizarre forms of psychosis this is an inspiring book." --Neville Symington, author, Narcissism: A New Theory, The Making of a Psychotherapist, Becoming a Person through Psycho-Analysis and co-author of The Clinical Thinking of Wilfred Bion (Routledge)
"This stunning book is destined to become a classic. The story of this patient’s journey is gripping, touching and overwhelming as it probes various depths of the most profound suffering in the face of ultimate human cruelty, the patient’s brilliantly creative - bordering on and including deranged – psychological strategies of survival, and the exquisite sensitivity of the therapist to unconscious processes along with deep caring and respect for her patient." --Israel W. Charny, PhD., Author, Psychotherapy for a Democratic Mind: Treatment of Intimacy, Tragedy, Violence and Evil
"What a wonderful book Tova Zaltz has written. A detailed portrayal of a twenty year journey in therapy engaging madness within and madness without. Profound engagement with psychic reality opened doors of violent abuse in childhood mirrored by the patient’s aggression turned against herself. This book is packed with rich psychological themes expressed in moment to moment interaction. One comes through, with Tova and her patient, challenges of working together and the need to grow." --Michael Eigen, PhD, Author, Faith, Contact with the Depths, and The challenge of Being Human
"This is a rare book - I am not aware of any other that provides a detailed and respectful clinical account of a twenty-six year psychoanalytic treatment of a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder. This is written by a brave and significant newcomer to the field with lyrical and painful openness and rigour who has honed her understanding through the encounter and fulfils the wish of the patient to be remembered." --Valerie Sinason, PhD, MACP, MInstPsychoanal, Founder Director Clinic for Dissociative Studies, 2016 ISSTD Lifetime Achievement Award
NOTES TO READER
PART I CREATING A SAFE PLACE INSIDE
Chapter One IN THE BEGINING – A STONE
Chapter Two SEPARATING INSIDE FROM OUTSIDE
Chapter Three TAKE OUT THE BADNESS – I WANT TO BE GOOD
Chapter Four FROM DEAD ENDS TO DID
Chapter Five ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO COMMUNICATE – WRITING
Chapter Six HOW CAN I KNOW THAT WE ARE REAL?
Chapter Seven THE STORY OF INCEST :KEEPING IT ALL IN THE FAMILY
Chapter Eight THE DANGER OF THE GOOD OBJECT
Chapter Nine ON INCEST, BLINDNESS AND PARANOIA
Chapter Ten THE HOSPITAL DREAM
Chapter Eleven THE SILENCE IS NOT TO BE BATTLED – BUT UNDERSTOOD
Chapter Twelve THE DEATH OF DAD: LONELINESS
Chapter Thirteen ON PIMPS AND PROSTITUTES
Chapter Fourteen WHEN TRAUMA HAS NO WITNESS
PART II LIVING THE PAST IN THE PRESENT LIVING DEATH
Chapter Fifteen ENACTMENT INSTEAD OF MEMORY
Chapter Sixteen FROM HANGING DOLL TO DATH BY HANGING
Chapter Seventeen THE CULT DREAM
Chapter Eighteen ALICE IN HORRORLAND
Chapter Nineteen THE MYSTERIOUS GARDEN
PART III FROM INSIDE TO OUTSIDE CHOOSING LIFE
Chapter Twenty ENTER: THE MINISTER
Chapter Twenty-one FROM PREGNANCY TO BIRTH