Joan Fraces Casey, The Flock

Summary by Bryan Clark

The Flock, an autobiography by Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) sufferer Joan Frances Casey, gives us profound insight into the painful, complex, and sometimes uniquely insightful life of a person suffering from this illness.The story begins when Renee, the personable and generally dominant personality, decides to visit a therapist to deal with ongoing problems of memory loss, depression, and suicidal urges. These urges are incomprehensible to her, she simply finds herself on a window ledge, ready to jump. Joan seeks help from Lynn Wilson, a therapist who works at her school. Lynn soon diagnoses her with multiple personality disorder and works to get the various personalities to recognize this fact. Renee accepts the diagnosis relatively easily. Jo, the intellectual personality, violently rejects this possibility.

As the therapy progresses, Lynn meets some of Joan's other personalities: Missy, the young artist; Joan Frances, obsessed with pleasing her mother; Rusty, a young boy who hates females; Josey, a frantic young child who seeks the blankness of being knocked out; etc.Each of these personalities seems to serve a specific function within Joan's life and each seems to have been created by some specific trauma in her past.As Josey's outbursts become increasingly unmanageable, Lynn decides to bring her husband Gordon. As the personalities unfold their past and present relationships, it becomes clear that Joan's family was cold, unnurturing, and abusive. Lynn and Gordon decide to move the therapeutic relationship beyond the confines of the office and soon their relationships resemble those of a family. Joan, Lynn, and Gordon even take trips together to a vacation home.

One day, the first fusion of personalities takes place.Two of the past-keeper personalities fused their memories and personalities into one. Slowly but surely the personalities continue to fuse. The Jo personality is the last holdout because she so long adamantly resisted the diagnosis of MPD. After some time, Joan is accepted to graduate school at Harvard. Her personalities function well for a time, but Joan Frances falls into a deep depression. Joan seeks therapy from a few other professionals, but they are either unresponsive or even harmful. With Lynn's help, Joan is able to get a handle on her studies. With this difficulty overcome, Joan continues to progress toward integration. One day an entirely new personality, Unity, is born. Unity facilitates communication and further fusions of the personalities. Finally, Unity is able to guide all the personalities into a fusion and Joan is able to continue her life as one entity.