This wasn’t a book I read because of a multiple depiction. I tend to read Torey Hayden because of her work with elective mutism, something I find rather interesting. So it was interesting when I discovered Torey Hayden’s latest book, Twilight Children, documents her experience with a child called Cassandra in the book who is suspected of being multiple. The book also tells about two other people Torey works with – a mute four-year-old called Drake and an elderly stroke patient Gerda, but they are not multiple, so I’ll leave them out mostly from this review. Cassandra is a patient in a short term diagnostic children’s psychiatric ward. She was six when she was abducted by her estranged father from outside of her school. Nothing was seen or heard of her until two years later she was found, filthy and malnourished, rummaging through trash for food at the back of a store, and the staff called police. Almost unrecognisably altered from the child she had been prior to the abduction, Cassandra’s increasingly disturbing behaviour leads to her admittance to the ward, when she was aged nine. Torey is called in to work with Cassandra because of problems with her communication. (Torey is a special education teacher and child psychologist, for those who aren’t aware.) Cassandra cycles through periods of regular speech, through to gruesome and sexually-detailed lies and fantasy, random gibberish and periods of profound silence. Torey begins to suspect Cassandra may be multiple when she repeatedly denies bad behaviour, seems amnesiac of behaviour she has committed at times, and tells Torey that she is being punished for other people’s behaviour. She experiences sudden mood changes, hears ‘voices’ in her head, and displays changes in speech patterns and word usage. She also tells Torey about Minister Snake, Cowboy Snake, and Fairy Snake, who she says are members of her ‘other’ family (as separate from her family at home). Cassandra emphasises that Snake is a surname, that they are not actually reptiles. The Snakes all are identified by Cassandra as having distinct personality traits and emotions associated with them, and are different ages (for example, Fairy is five, joyful and innocent). Torey notes a difference in Cassandra’s voice at one point (it becomes in tone and pattern like that of a younger child) that is connected to Fairy’s presence. After a spell in the solitary confinement cell one day, Cassandra is asked by Torey using a simple, child-friendly medium, to communicate her feelings about the confinement, then the feelings of Cowboy Snake and Minister Snake. When Torey asks about Fairy Snake, Cassandra explains that Fairy was not in confinement because she was too young, and that it would be too frightening for her. Torey seems to do pretty good work in stabilising Cassandra, encouraging her to talk about her abduction, her rape by her father’s friend, and her system. Cassandra was also being seen by a psychologist during her stay on the ward and after release, but the book does not go into the methods used by this other practitioner, only those used by Torey herself, which were techniques suitable for children who had been abused, multiple or not. Torey explains towards the end of the book that Cassandra was diagnosed with a ‘dissociative disorder’. (My guess would be DDNOS, due to Cassandra’s system being aware of each other.) Her behaviour in other ways was quite similar to that of a lot of other abused kids, so I’d imagine she had a lot of PTSD issues too. According to the epilogue, Cassandra is working in dramatic arts now. (Unlike most of the books she has written, Twilight Children does not have a ‘where are they now’ follow up of the kids on Torey Hayden’s website. I don’t know if this is because she hasn’t gotten around to it yet, or because the kids are still relatively close in age and circumstance to how they were at the time of publishing.) All in all, Torey handled Cassandra pretty well. The epilogue was a bit vague about whether Cassandra had been ‘fully integrated’ or whether she was living a co-operative life with her system, but integration would have been the psychologist’s realm, not Torey’s. These days, a lot of supposedly ‘integrated’ systems seem to be systems with a lone front runner and a peanut gallery rather than ‘all smooshed up’, anyway, so maybe that’s how Cassandra ended up. And another plus – no mentions of Sybil, Billy Milligan or Chris Costner-Sizemore, or the associated books/movies. She briefly details the fuss in the eighties when multiplicity and SRA was being diagnosed left, right and centre, and then goes on to say that multiplicity was now believed to be not common, but not as rare as once thought. It’s a pretty decent, non-hysterical or drama-laden account of the time period. She does mention a statistic (I think through the comment of a colleague in the book) that 98% are abused, and around 90% have severe, repeated abuse, but from what I remember, she was talking in the context of multiples in therapy. So, all in all, a pretty okay read. As someone who’s read most of hers, it’s about par average. I wouldn’t call it her best, but it’s not bad. Though I’ve reviewed Cassandra’s story here, I found Drake, one of the other subjects in Twilight Children, to have a much more intriguing story. (Apologies for any minor errors in this review – it was a library book and I’ve returned it already.)