Send Your Replies about Amnesia to Colleen & Everyone

Dear Colleen,

I have had the experience of not remembering how to do something when I know I did it before.  I just say to all of us “I know one of you did this before so could you please come and help me.”  It usually takes a few minutes of asking and talking to my different alters and then “it will come to me”.  Sometimes by the nature of the issue I know who to ask, and also ask them why they weren’t working together so I didn’t have to go through this exercise.  Sometimes you get very interesting answers.

It does have to do with co-communication and knowing the interests and talents of the different alters.  Sometimes I can tell one person to just take over, and they do.  This is especially true when I am feeling anxious and frightened I will ask my oldest male alter who is the protector to come out and take over.

I too speak to large groups and have my drama child come out and speak intermittently.  However the audience just thinks is an unusual sense of humor which lightens the heaviness of the presentations… so it’s a positive in my speaking.

Nancy S.


Oh my gosh, Colleen,
please don't do anything to yourself over this, Okay. There is alot of help out there. This is what happened to me.

When I was in grammar school at first grade, that was when I was first trying to learn addition and substraction and to read. I couldn't do it. It went on until I was in 4th grade. They told me I was retarded in 3rd grade...I had only a 71 score that would show if you were retarded or not and I still have that report... and the teachers then, just pushed me ahead and didn't do a thing about it.

In Kindergarten through 5th grade was when most horrible abuse occurred. I was scared of math and everything and did not think I could do it and had no help at home. Mother, alcoholic and Dad, never home and elderly and abusive. No back bone to prevent abusers or any bad person entering our home. I would make up stories as I went along to read.

In reading circle some girl might read aobut Dick and Jane and then it was my turn and I "added to the story" by saying someting like "see Dick run and get the dog, Spot." or what ever the picture was. When the teacher tried to tell me I was wrong, it was no use and the kids in class laughed at me horribly. BUT, I was determined and stubborn and I WAS going to make it. So during abuse, I invented people from my class mates and used their names to help me do things.

In 4th grade my mother died and I went to live with my 3 aunts and thier brother, my uncle. Tramua all over again as I didn't know who to call for help. And abuse continued there, but in different ways.

In 4th grade, after some horriffic abuse, I invented Annette, who was smart as a whip. She could do anything, just like the real Annette in class. But I copied her papers a lot. One day my teacher set me up in a way. Apparently she had been suspicious as to how I could go from not being able to do math or doing it and getting 100's. So we all took the same test but Annette was told to put any old answer down and see what I did. Yep. I copied her paper exactly. I cheated. Well, Mrs. Hinkley, my teacher told my aunts who I was living with and then teacher found out I COULD NOT SEE. Only if up close. So no wonder I couldn't read, do math or anything. Dear Mrs. Hinkley did me a great favor. She demanded I get eye care and tested and I could not read out of one eye at all and still can't at 58, never will.

Had I been taken care of properly, this would not have happened. My aunts then helped me learn. One was a teacher anyway. She made up flash cards for me and helped me learn multipications. Another aunt helped me in business and word math. Another aunt was a minister. She helped me to tell time, fractions in cooking and how to look up things in encyclopedias and write reports. And my uncle helped me in figuring out how to measure grain and apples and things on the farm. Even though abuse happened there, I KNEW I was going to get out of there and be a teacher or librarian. Nurse was out of the question, but later on in my life I did do home care!!

Had it not been for Mrs. Hinkley, and the aunts and uncle, I don't know where I 'd be today. I surely would not have graduated college twice, worked a a librarian and a nurse and worked in a law library.

However, up until this Thanksgiving I still said I could not cook and figure out calories or fractions or how to figure out how much sugar was in an eighth of a piece of pie, for instance. My therapist and I just had a lesson today. I showed him what I had done over the week and he helped me with what I had gotten wrong or only part right. Most of it was right!!! And Annette helped me but I, Dottie, did it. My therapist is very pleased with my progress and so am I.

Don't give up. I don't know how old you are but it doesn't matter. If you have alters who know math or can do things like my Annette can (she also plays the piano) let her or them help you. Ask them for help. And ask them why or what they can do and why you can't right now. It may be a flash or flood of memories but it will come in time. I believe that is why we have all created different personalities, not just ones to survive abuse but others to help us do things we were tooo busy not to learn or were unable to learn.

There are also Adult Education Learning classes in almost every town that are free. They help with math, algebra, reading and many things. I have worked with this group as an intern before I knew what I wanted to do. There is plenty of help there. Even at colleges now, they have adult tutoring and help a lot. When I first started learning computer, I had a tutor in college. ( I still do not know all about computer to this day)! It is not the end of the world. Ask for help. It' s out there and you are not the only one to go through this.

Please take care.


Dear Colleen and Everyone,

Lynn beat me to the punch: you have to work on cooperative co-consciousness. I so relate to your dilemma! As a charity fundraiser, I have done a lot of public speaking. Once I switched in mid-sentence, in front of over a thousand people. I'd learned to switch pretty seamlessly for the most part, and I think no one noticed that my moment of "whimsy" was anything other than just that. Of course, none of them would have ever even considered that a four-year-old had just come out to show off! With a huge effort of will, I was able to call upon the part that was needed to come back and finish our job. I wish I had better insight to offer, but all I can say is, such things are part of recovery. I can promise you this, though: ten years from now, that will have been just a moment in time, and you will probably laugh about it. Above all, please do not allow yourself to feel shamed by being who and where you are today. You are perfectly you.

Safe hugs,


Hi Again, Colleen & Everyone...

I just found a new possibly-useful resource for this sort of problem. I'm reading books for our Feb 2011 newsletter, & one is called "Work Makes Me Nervous" by Jonathan Berent LCSW & Amy Lemley. While I certainly wouldn't say that an alter isn't involved in your frustrating experience of "forgetting" math during a test, it might be helpful to approach this symptom as if social anxiety played a role. I recommend that you take a look at Jonathan's website, and read more about this fascinating subject. He also offers an inexpensive bio-feedback card on his website (cost about $4 total in the US) that can be used to help train yourself (or selves) to use stress for power, not blanking out.

Be sure to read our review in the Feb 2011 issue! (I'm using this workbook on myself, BTW.)

Lynn W.


Dear Colleen & Everyone,

I can imagine how troubling this is to you, although I think lots of abused people have the experience of blanking out.
When I was quite young, I had some similar odd experiences. While I cannot prove any of this, I believe that there was a time in very early first grade when I could read well--and then a time when I could not, and had to relearn reading. Also, I remember being punished for violating a school rule that I (truly) did NOT recall . What to do about amnesia? All I can think of is to try to improve co-consciousness, via journaling and other methods that your therapist might suggest. Easy to say -- hard to do.

I'm hoping others will have some more useful answers. Good Luck!