|Walker calls personality disorder 'God's guardian angel'|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 10 May 2008 10:18|
Family members, including Walker's father and brother, said they had no hint he had a multiple-personality disorder. Walker's former University of Georgia coach, Vince Dooley, also was surprised Walker has been found to have what also is called dissociative identity disorder.
Some critics have said Walker just wanted to bring attention to himself. Others said he was just weaving a creative element into the book ``Breaking Free'' to make money.
The reaction hasn't surprised Walker, who says he also was skeptical when initially told by a doctor that he had DID.
``This is very unknown with people. This is very foreign,'' Walker said last week. ``They don't know about it. Coach Dooley said 'I don't know anything about DID, but if it's a personality that plays football, I like it.'''
Walker said Dooley's assessment was closer to truth than the coach realized. He said Walker the football player was different from Walker the student or Walker the family man.
``That's what you've got, you've got what you look for,'' Walker said. ``I tell people I guarantee you Coach Dooley did not want that football player baby-sitting his grandkids. That's a different person.''
Walker wrote that his 12 personalities he calls ``alters'' were created as defense mechanisms, in part because he was bullied as a boy who stuttered and was overweight.
``What helped me to recognize there was such a thing as DID and I may be suffering from this was when the doctor first asked me to go look at my writing from a year ago to a couple of months ago to today, and as I was looking at my writing, I could see the content and style was totally different,'' he said.
``I still wasn't convinced until I went to outpatient therapy at a hospital to see for myself if somebody was just pulling my leg. That's when I started taking it a little more seriously.''
Walker revealed in his book he once played Russian roulette at his kitchen table. He said he pulled the trigger with the gun pointed to his head and in his mouth.
Walker won the 1982 Heisman Trophy and played 15 years in the USFL and NFL. He still lives in Dallas, where he enjoyed his most successful NFL seasons with the Cowboys, and operates a food distribution service with offices in Texas and Savannah.
The 46-year-old Walker says that because of his disorder he doesn't remember winning the Heisman Trophy, but skeptics remain. He says a TV crew from New York left an interview without following through with plans for a story when he couldn't reveal one of his alters on the spot.
``People say Herschel is just trying to write something to make money,'' he said. ``I say, 'Guys, why would I write something like this to make money? I could write about football.' You look at my life and my approach to life and the things that I do and I'm very serious about it and very straightforward.
``What DID really is, is a coping mechanism to overcome some type of trauma that they may have suffered at the hands of someone else or some type of trauma they may have seen. I say it's God's guardian angel taking care of you.''
Frank Ros, Coca-Cola's assistant vice president for Latin affairs, was captain of the 1980 national championship team at Georgia and one of Walker's best friends. Ros says he never saw signs of extreme behavior that people may associate with DID.
``I think to get the context of the book you really have to read it,'' Ros said. ``I think what he's trying to tell you is we all have different personalities and different issues. The key really is to make sure you have them all in balance on the right occasion.
``I've known him for years. He's a wonderful guy. I've never seen him do anything erratic that would bring attention to him.''
Walker says he doesn't mind if skeptics doubt his sincerity.
``It doesn't matter what people think about me,'' he said. ``I know who I am. I know where I've come from and where I'm at. What matters is whether this can touch someone and help someone, and not only someone with DID but someone who is struggling with any problem they have been hiding in their closet who is ashamed, that people put them down because of it.
``This is to let them know it's OK to ask for help and correct it because I think a strong man is a man who is going to do that.''