Now I have a secret, and it is like an illness. My habit of concealment is so highly developed I am able to accommodate it. But is is painful--hiding it, living with it. The secrecy re-creates the multiple lives that I am used to. But it is not simple, and it is not the game I had invented as a teenager. I am fifty-two. I know that a double life, a life of multiple personalities, is not an alternating existence of first one then another, like an actor changing clothes. It is both lives, multiple lives, felt and led simultaneously.
And so all the time I am Gary Freedman, watching television or listening to music; going to the library or reading a book; or walking down the street or telling my therapist stories or making plans or fantasizing about making love--all that time, the secret twitches within me.
I believe that others too lead multiple lives. Complex people playing multiple roles. Like myself there are people who are explorers and criminals, suicidal psychotics and saints, political prisoners and statesmen, actors and men of the cloth. We do not will these beings into existence. These multiple personalities emerge of their own accord. They are directed by our unconscious wishes, fantasies, conflicts and prohibitions. Psychic complexity cripples some lives and enriches others.
The multiple personalities of my self make me especially sensitive to the multiplicity of others.
Identity diffusion, like the gift of empathizing, central to such diverse arts as psychotherapy and playwriting is little understood. The special kind of imagination that permits one to imagine another, to put himself in the place of another, involves at the very least some experience of incompletion on the part of the "I," with some hope of closure by way of identification with the "thou," thus often thought in Western culture as a feminine quality. But there is more than this. There is a diffusion of identity to accommodate--an inner gallery of characters, and there is a detached witnessing of the entire process. Put to creative use, such a gallery may issue in the career choice of writer, actor, playwright, or any other artist. Given different dimensions, the outcome may be the practice of psychotherapy. With less good fortune, a self-effacing, indecisive chameleon emerges, with a chronic sense of weakness, suggestibility, fraudulence, or hypocrisy. I myself have ultimately known all these uses of my extraordinary state of multiple selves.