Truddi Chase (& The Troops) died March 10, 2010.
Click here to read their obituary and sign their memorial guestbook.
Muster 'The Troops':
By Judi Hunt, P-I Reporter
Woman Lives One Life For Multitude Of Personalities
Saturday, June 27, 1987
Section: Living, Page: C1
Truddi Chase's slender body looks like it would have a hard time housing one personality, let alone 92.
But it doesn't take long to accept the idea that this woman - who within the space of an hour and a half shifts rapidly from being withdrawn to vivacious to agitated and then back again to withdrawn - indeed has multiple personalities in such numbers that "The Three Faces of Eve" and "Sybil" seem archaic.
She refers to these personalities collectively as "The Troops" in the book she has written about the therapy that uncovered her multiple-person disorder, "When Rabbit Howls" (E.P. Dutton, $18.95).
"That's because the real Truddi isn't just one person, she's really a cluster of personalities," explains her therapist, Robert A. Phillips Jr., who traveled with Chase to Seattle recently to promote the book.
"And it's really hard for me to divulge any of the names of the personalities who are in this room now," Chase says at the beginning of the interview. "Names are a way people can potentially control you, and that worries me a lot."
She doesn't mind, however, talking about how relieved "all of us feel now that we've made the decision not to integrate," unlike Sybil, whose 18 personalities were finally integrated at the end of active therapy.
"We might as well admit point-blank that not only are we not integrated now, but we never will be," says Chase. "The doctor (Phillips) asked if we wanted to be and we all decided it wasn't a good idea for us, even though it might be for some other multiple personalities.
"Each of us has too many experiences and life decisions that are our own that we don't want to give up. We want to go ahead on an individual basis because all of us are people, just like anyone else.
"We just didn't want to get mooshed into one disgusting whole, with all the knowledge each of us has. We liked the idea that no two of us were alike, that each of us were individualists."
And that may be a good decision by "The Troops," says Phillips. "There isn't any core personality here, like there was for Sybil. The core personality that was Truddi Chase was destroyed by the sexual abuse she suffered continuously from age 2 until she left home from her stepfather."
Certainly since "The Troops" have begun communicating with each other, "we're much more comfortable with each other and with other people as well. There is less fear, and that's a big step because, for most of our lives, we didn't want to be in a room with other people for more than 10 minutes. There was a feeling of revulsion if that happened because we couldn't trust anybody, even ourselves.
"What we wanted most before therapy and getting to know each other was to be alone, and that created a lot of conflict because we had to live in your world as well as ours," Chase says.
But now, Chase and the rest of the "The Troops" encourage probing into their lives, telling interviewers that "there are no stupid questions. Just remember, however, that we're still finding some things out about ourselves and it's a complicated process that has, at times, a lot of conflict."
There was conflict, for example, once the book was published over what would happen when "The Troops" went to get their hair done. "We knew there would be people who would think we were weird, since for every action - like going public - there is a consequence, and that's OK.
"But when it came time to call our hairdresser for an appointment, we were scared to even pick up the phone. Once we did, it was all right. She said, 'Get on in here,' and when we did, she hugged us and then gave us a tuna sandwich with something to drink."
Which brings up one of the problems "The Troops" have to face daily - what to do about food when not all the personalities like the same things. "Food was especially troublesome during therapy when the children (some of the younger personalities) wanted things like chocolate milkshakes and strawberry sodas," Chase says.
"We gained 18 pounds before we agreed about who would eat what and when."
Sometimes the 92 selves were and still are diametrically opposites in their tastes. "One of us, the one we call Lady Catherine, has a passion for broccoli and cauliflower, which some of the rest of us hate," she says. "When that happens, we complain sometimes or, if we're in someone's home, we just sit back and let her eat it. Some of the children, for example, like spinach, so the rest of us let them have it.
"But it does happen occasionally, as it did in a restaurant on this tour, that someone orders something and it's left untouched because the rest just can't eat it at that time."
Different tastes in clothes can also pose a problem. "When it's time to go shopping, we make a list of what we can afford, some potential colors and styles and then go to the store with our money tucked in our bra.
"Usually we agree immediately on what to get, but occasionally Catherine might sneak out and buy some frippery, or one of the others of us will see something for the daughter (Chase's only child, now 21 years old)."
Then there was the raspberry dress that "The Troops" once owned. "It was terribly bright, so some of us really felt quite uncomfortable in it. And we do have a problem when we look in our closets because not everyone knows who owns what clothes. Its hard sometimes to weed out things, because usually there will be a faint tugging from somebody saying, 'Don't throw that away, that's mine.' "
As the selves have gotten to know one another and what the individual tastes are, they have learned not to put the others down. "There was a whole lot of that going on because that's how we grew up. Over the therapeutic years, we've learned not to be so hard on each other."
One of the results has been a four-year-relationship with a man whom Chase and the rest of "The Troops" have allowed themselves to get close to. "When he moved to Dallas, where we live now, he said he hoped we were going along, so we did.
"He's a brilliant, wonderful guy who loves philosophy, who doesn't mind going places like an amusement park and who surprised us by wanting to be with us. We didn't think anyone would want to be with us if they knew about the disorder.
"He doesn't ignore the way we are, but he doesn't make a big deal about it either."
"The Troops" have become healthy enough to take an interest in the outside world, according to Phillips. "They've begun participating in raising money to provide Thanksgiving dinners for the needy."
Phillips, who has a Ph.D. in family social science from the University of Minnesota, has been Chase's therapist since 1980, consulting with other experts such as Dr. Frank Putnam, a researcher on multiple personalities at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Although Chase is getting more involved in the world, she says there hasn't been much time for the artistic selves who enjoy painting and other creative expressions. "But once this tour is over, we're going to go to an art supply store like the one we passed in New York City with all that wonderful stuff stacked in the window and get going with our artwork again," say "The Troops."
This article contained at least one photo or illustration as described below:
Description: GILBERT ARIAS/P-I -- On the outside, Truddi Chase is one woman. But she says that, on the inside, she has 92 personalities, some of them children who like milkshakes but don't like the broccoli another personality sometimes orders in restaurants.
Click here for our review of When Rabbit Howls
Read the New York Times review of When Rabbit Howls, July 6, 1987. Really uninformed, disbelieving and unflattering to the subject.
Psychology Today review of When Rabbit Howls
Washington Post article on Truddi&, July 25, 1987.
Brief Chicago Tribune interview with Truddi&, August 30, 1987.
Woman of Many Voices St. Paul Pioneer Press, Oct. 15, 1990.
Review of When Rabbit Howls in the Philadelphia Inquirer, July 21, 1987.
Multiple Personality, Narrative in When Rabbit Howls Deborah Carlin looks at the narrative structure, examining how the Troops came to tell their story.
When Rabbit Howls at everything2.com
Click here to return to the Early Articles & Audio Streams page
Search This Site|