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Friday, August 30, 2013

Dear Jeannie: Displaced Anger and Multiple Personalities

Dear Jeannie,
In the 18th year of Blake's life, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and he learned that his father had another son, Jaxon, who is just 6 months older than Blake. Jaxon was born in England of a different woman. Blake's mother died a year later, and Blake believed that his mother lost the battle with cancer so quickly because of her husband's obvious betrayal. How would these issues affect the way Blake deals with the woman he's in love with, and what would his feelings be for the half brother, Jaxon, whom he never really knew. How do you think Blake would react when he meets Jaxon for the first time?

Author in the Tropics 

Dear Author in the Tropics,

You could go a few different ways with this, but most likely Blake will harbor residual resentment toward the brother he never knew. It's human nature to want to find a target to blame, even in circumstances when there clearly is no one to blame. Jaxon would be a prime mark. The timing of uncovering the knowledge of his existence, coinciding with his mother's lost battle to cancer would make his emotions run very high. Depending on how much you let Blake simmer and stew about Jaxon, that would make a big difference in how Blake reacts when he meets him. You could have him be standoffish, or take a swing at him, or give him an evil eye. Bound to be tension. As to how he reacts to the woman he loves...I'm not sure I understand the connection. Are you thinking Blake would be wary to commit to someone, being fearful that he might be cheated on like his dad cheated on his mom? Otherwise, I'd think he's cling to the woman in his life to help him get through these difficult events.

I also want to make sure I understand something, so there's not a potential hole in your plot. Did Blake's mother find out about Jaxon when Blake was 18? Or had she already known about him? Feel free to dialogue in the comment section. Good luck!

Dear Jeannie,

My characters were on a cruise ship that exploded, and they lost their memories. Before this, they'd each had multiple undercover assignments. Mary can only remember one of her covers, with her husband, but no children. Meanwhile Charlie/Nicolo/Martin/Danil so compartmentalized his identities that he has developed MPD and different languages or situations will trigger each personality, none of which were married. Which would be the greater trigger to put him back together: falling in love again in the place where he originally proposed, or seeing his daughter's face?

Splitting Hairs in Alaska

Dear Splitting Hairs,

The scenario you've presented is fairly unlikely; however, I realize that you're writing a work of fiction. The proper terminology for multiple personalities is now Dissociative Identity Disorder. (Click on the link and read about half-way down...lots of info.) It's true that people suffering from DID can have various different languages, handwriting styles, tones of voice...very cool. So that works for your story, and it's neat that you've got two people who specialize in undercover operations. As to what can put him "back together," that's oversimplifying things. Treatment for DID varies according to practitioner, but it's never like the self completely shatters and there are no vestiges of the primary identity left. True DID would mean Charlie is aware of the other alternate personalities, but perhaps not in control of when they come out.  Since you've moved away from this idea, I imagine you could take your pick of how you want to reintegrate him. Just make sure it's clear that it's a work of fiction and that you took creative license. No one should take offense. :) Best of luck!

Got questions of your own? Leave them in the comment section, using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle, and I will post my answers in next week's column.