When Therapists are Lunatics: A Review of 22 Faces by Judy Byington

Update: 04-21-14.  This post by Doug Mesner needs to be reposted periodically because this book, with all its unverifiable statements remains on the market and Amazon book reviews are still showing heated discussions. Judy Byington, the therapist turned author has many questions to answer regarding statements she insists are true, but have been debunked by readers.

Reblogged with permission by Doug Mesner @ Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/review/the-lunatics-are-all-therapists-a-review-of-22-faces-by-judy-byington

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Twenty-Two Faces.

By Judy Byington

Tate Publishing, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

Book Review by Douglas Mesner

Twenty-Two Faces by Judy Byington falls within an outdated genre of prurient Satanic Panic supernatural-erotica-sold-as-a-true-story pulp novels which enjoyed a certain popularity throughout the 80s and 90s. It tells the story of one Jenny Hill, a former prostitute and drug abuser who, upon submitting herself to psychiatric attention, learned that she had Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) (now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder [DID]). Surely, this diagnosis must have come as quite a relief, as it promised that Hill herself need not bear any of the responsibility for her own actions, which the book describes as, at times, being outright psychopathic. The book makes quite clear that every foul thing Hill ever did — from slashing her sister with a razor blade out of mere curiosity of the consequences, to allowing herself to be pimped by a husband she met whilst working with sex offenders (he was one) — was actually the mischievous doings of personalities that resided within her, and without her own conscious awareness. Unfortunately, this ultimate absolution came at a predictable cost: in accepting the MPD/DID diagnosis, Hill would also have to necessarily accept that she was harboring “repressed memories” of traumas which she would need to recall in the course of reintegrating her fractured mind. Fortunately for Hill, however, nobody required of her that the heartbreaking story of traumatic abuse that she would “recall” need make any sense, and the fact that it doesn’t seems to have completely escaped her biographer, Judy Byington.

Invoking the specter of sinister, underground secret societies dedicated anti-human Evil (as well a the comparatively petty-minded abuse of Ms. Hill) Twenty-Two Faces pays homage to debunked Satanic Panic literature of years past, 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 (though this it does, with Jenny’s “alters” [alternate personalities] recognizing themselves as merely sublimated entities that reside in hidden “rooms” in Jenny’s mind, ever watching to take over when things get too hairy). Twenty-Two Faces 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

Twenty-Two Faces follows the life of Jenny Hill as presumably reconstructed from her memories, “recovered memories”, and diaries in which Hill and her varied “personalities” wrote and signed entries. Remarkably, despite these diaries, Jenny Hill — apparently never curious as to who else was writing in her private pages — is supposed to have been unaware of her “alter” personalities until having entered therapy as a psychiatric in-patient.
We are made to understand that Hill begins to experience “lost time” at the age of 4, when her abuse is said to have begun. The lost time is accounted for as episodes during which other personalities took over her consciousness so that Hill might not be troubled with the terrors of the abuse she began suffering at that age. One would think that such episodes, starting at such an early age, would establish an expectation of occasionally lost time, or an acceptance on the part of the protagonist that she had never quite grasped what time is. Not so with Ms. Hill. Not only did she fully grasp the cultural context and broad implications of the depravities that are said to have befallen her at age 4, she is also uncannily aware of the dates and times that eluded her at an age when most children are unable to properly read a clock.
The antagonist of Twenty-Two Faces, Hill’s oppressor, 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.

Hammond, telling of this dastardly Jewish Nazi Satanist, whose existence was reported by entranced subjects of recovered memory therapies, speculated upon Greenbaum’s designs for world domination: “My best guess is that the purpose of it [the satanists] is that they want an army of Manchurian candidates — tens of thousands of mental robots who will do prostitution, do child pornography, smuggle drugs, engage in international arms smuggling, do snuff films, all sorts of lucrative things and do their bidding. And eventually, the megalomaniacs at the top believe, [they will] create a satanic order that will rule the world.”

This is heady stuff. However, the Dr. Greenbaum of Twenty-Two Faces fails to live up to one’s expectations of a such a world-dominating force. For all his power, the evil Doktor still remains very careful to return Jenny home on time for supper after her Satan-appeasing torture sessions, lest her parents become suspicious that something is amiss. This, unfortunately, renders a certain climactic twist-in-the-plot senseless, as we learn that Hill’s parents were in on the whole thing all along.

Herr Doktor is aided by two bumbling teenage ne’er-do-well buffoons, both of whom he regularly whacks with his gnarled cane while they openly discuss — like Scooby Doo-grade villains — the evil plots they are enacting. Hill remembers every word of it, even full statements spoken backward, as Satanists apparently like to do. You see, Hill’s memory for these past events is near photographic. Thus, when Hill meets a wheelchair-bound friend in a home for the disabled who describes her condition — which finds her skull grotesquely inflated with water — as encephalitis, I can only wonder why the poor girl wouldn’t know that her condition would actually be called “hydrocephalus”.

Naturally, Hill also learns, by means of “recovered memories” that she was raped by her father. She invites her parents to her psychiatric hospital, where she is an in-patient, so that she may accuse him. Apparently heartbroken and outraged, her father storms out. More narrative incoherence occurs some pages later when it is reported that Hill was saddened to not be invited over for the following Family Christmas.

All of this idiocy might be amusing if it was all written with competent pacing and prose. As it is, the reading is entirely tedious, and it seems that every other page we have to go through the whole `where-am-I-what-have-I-done?’ routine.

The book has a forward written by one Dr. Colin Ross, of whom I will say nothing, but please see my previous piece about this dubious expert here: http://www.process.org/discept/2010/02/08/dr-colin-a-ross-psychiatry-the-supernatural-and-malpractice-most-foul/

The book also contains an endorsement from one Joyanna Silberg, Ph.D., Past President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) which, if anything, says something negative about the ISSTD more than it tells us anything substantive about Byington’s book. Silberg claims that she and her peers “are all too familiar with the kinds of crimes and disorders described in 22 Faces.” Indeed, this year the ISSTD is hosting a conference which will feature a lecture on the topic of Ritual Abuse given by one Ellen Lacter, whose website offers helpful (if hardly coherent) tips such as “Pray a perimeter of protection against everything of witchcraft”, and discredited British therapist Valerie Sinason.

And here we have a real problem: therapists hiding their most unhinged paranoid fantasies under a veneer of scientific credibility derived from case studies and surveys applied to those whom they’ve previously infected with their conspiracist ideas. Never mind that Past Life Regression and Alien Abduction narratives, too, are derived from “recovered memories”; to question the bizarre claims put forward by Byington or the perpetually panicked ISSTD faithful is to invite criticisms that you, in fact, have an “agenda”. To doubt the truth of recovered memory narratives is to support child abuse.

This tactic of argumentation is 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.

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10 Comments

  1. avalon111

     /  01/15/2013

    Hi Jeanette,

    Thanks for thinking of the Dramatis site and Happy New Year!

    We have some ‘holding’ pages at;

    http://www.dramatis.org/

    The editors have been a bit sidetracked recently with the holiday. We’ve also been contributing to research for a movie, a television drama and an academic book.

    Some updates planned for 2013 will blow peoples socks off though. Some of the events that took place in the UK (it’s near-impossible to concentrate on matters going on in the US and Australia) in late 2012 defied belief; the reputation of the BBC destroyed in one fell swoop, a resounding victory for loony conspiracy theorist David Icke who saw his ideas being promoted by a senior member of the British Labour Party, and a long-suspected but final confirmation that believers in satanic ritual abuse have been sponsored wholesale by the NHS (National Health Service). All of these just mere examples of a long list of events and scandals that engulfed UK society inside 12 months.

    The book analysis of ‘Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse’ proved hugely popular before Dramatis went off-line. When we go fully live we have a chapter-by-chapter analysis of ‘Child Sexual Assault: Feminist Perspectives’ (2001) already complete (a book full of conspiracy theories which appears on the reading list of social workers university courses), and two new books from 2012 published by leading conspiracy-theory publisher Informa PLC.

    Rachel

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    • Jeanette Bartha

       /  01/15/2013

      We’re ready! You are welcome to publish an announcement if you want.

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  2. avalon111

     /  01/14/2013

    I’m tickled that Dr. Colin Ross wrote the forward. I’m even more ticket that there’s an endorsement from Joyanna Silberg, Ph.D., Past President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD).

    Dr. Silberg has a new book, published by UK conspiracy-therorist publisher Informa PLC (under its Routledtge imprint).

    http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415889957/ – The Child Survivor: Healing Developmental Trauma & Dissociation

    Not surprising ‘The Child Survivor’ is chock-full of loony pseudoscience – much like many other Informa PLC ‘academic’books.

    An analysis of ‘The Child Survivor’ will appear on the Dramatis web site in 2013. We were (as with a recent Michael Salter SRA-advocating book recently published by Informa PLC) offered a free copy by a senior Informa PLC executive (the Company does have staff & directors who try to control the loonier elements within it).

    From the looks of it the bat-shit-crazy element in the ISSTD are gaining the ascendancy. Seeing as Ross was a ‘consultant’ on the Spielberg-produced ‘United States of Tara’ I wonder if Spielberg will be interested in a movie adaptation of Twenty-Two Faces?

    Perhaps not.

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    • Jeanette Bartha

       /  01/14/2013

      Oh my, Speilberg doing 22 Faces? Sounds preposterous but who knows. If he does it, he’ll be smart enough to say – based on a true story.

      For sure, the 22 Faces bandwagon is derailed. Jenny’s son says that Byington isn’t even his mom’s therapist. I think this woman dug a huge hole for herself. Now she has to answer for it – as it should be.

      Good to hear from you! When will you site be ready to roll?

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  3. Blu

     /  01/12/2013

    I am a 45 year old trauma survivor. I have long term PTSD which was originally misdiagnosed as Bipolar Disorder. I dissociated most of my life to survive the physical and emotional torture. I do not have DDI. As an actual psychologically/emotionally challenged individual, I can tell you, without doubt, that Judy Byington is a liar and an abusive therapist. This “book” is a fabrication and alteration of actual fact. Do not buy it. Do not read it. It is a huryful and hateful attack on a vulnerable individual who trusted her now abuser to help her heal.

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    • Jeanette Bartha

       /  01/13/2013

      Hello Blu, thanks for stopping by.

      While I agree with your assessment of this book, I’m curious as to how you know, “without doubt”, it’s a fabrication?

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  4. morgan

     /  01/12/2013

    Wow. Jeanette Bartha, this is not so different from your story, is it? Except you were able to realize what was happening to you before it was too late. I do ‘lose time’ and have zero recollection at times, but I am working to improve this on my own with success. I have had therapists in the past who have guided me and ‘convinced’ me of things that happened to me that were traumatic, but that I later realized weren’t true. And I’ve also had therapists who have helped me to deal with what I know I’ve lived through, and helped me to come to terms with it, which helped ‘us’ tremendously. And then I’ve had therapists help me work through damage done to ‘us’ by other therapists!

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    • Jeanette Bartha

       /  01/13/2013

      Hi Morgan. My but you’ve been through it too! Yes, some of this story is exactly like mine.

      I applaud you for recognizing when you were being manipulated whether it by therapist or my memories. You were able to distinguish between what you know you lived through from what was fabricated – or a spin off from therapy. Most people who fall into this therapy, including me, are/were unable to do so. It’s undoubtedly what kept you from falling off a cliff.

      Therapists causing “damage” – yes, it happens all too often. Thanks to those therapists who are willing to help those of us harmed by your colleagues.

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      Reply
  5. Hi Elishean, je vous remercie de l’arrêt. J’espère que vous avez trouvé mon blog utile. Jeanette

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  1. Le syndrome des faux souvenirs, une arme de la CIA ? | ELISHEAN

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