Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The memoirs of Donna Williams

I recently read about Donna Williams, an Australian woman thought to be deaf and psychotic as a toddler and later diagnosed as autistic. She has written several books about her life, the first of which is the once best-selling Nobody Nowhere. She writes of its accidental publication:

I wrote the first of my four autobiographical works, Nobody Nowhere, on the verge of suicide after a wild half-crazy life with abuse, homelessness and ultimately hope for belonging only to find I was terrified of real closeness. I had a last inkling of hope that I couldn't truly say I'd tried my hardest to cope if I'd never fully disclosed the nature of my own private world. So I wrote out everything that mattered... and decided to give it to one child psychiatrist in the hope they could tell me what kind of mad I was... My intention was to then shred it, burn it and leave this world. Instead it was passed on to his colleague, then from her to her publisher, from him to an agent and from there out into the world it became a number one international bestseller...

In this book about her early life, Williams discusses extensively her "ghosts" Willie and Carol, two different and opposing personalities who help her exist in society. From the website:

Carol plays the mother's doll, intertwined with Willie's violent and defensive outbursts and fierce self protection mechanisms. Between Donna's autistic responses and behaviours, Carol, behaves like people on TV sit-coms, goes to school, even goes through the motions of 'friends', and develops a broad range of mimicked speech, stored phrases and charicatures, saving Donna from a life in an institution and often from the very real threat of death.

As the teenage years approach Carol and Willie fight it out for control of the body with the real Donna on the sidelines as the lot of them drift into homelessness, poverty and domestic prostitution passed from stranger to stranger.

I plan to read this book once I acquire it. Williams also has an extensive website which I recommend reading.

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