Truddi Chase was an American author who wrote the bestselling book When Rabbit Howls, an autobiography that revealed her struggle with dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder. She claimed to have 92 distinct personalities, which she called the Troops, that emerged as a result of the horrific abuse she endured from her stepfather since she was two years old. She became a public figure after appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1990, where she shared her story and moved Oprah to tears. But how did Truddi Chase die, and what was her legacy?
A Long Battle with COPD
Truddi Chase died on March 10, 2010, at her home in Laurel, Maryland, at the age of 74. The cause of her death was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. COPD is usually caused by smoking, exposure to air pollution, or genetic factors. Some of the symptoms of COPD include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. COPD can lead to complications such as respiratory infections, heart problems, lung cancer, and depression. There is no cure for COPD, but treatments can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life.
It is not clear when Truddi Chase was diagnosed with COPD, or what factors contributed to her condition. She did not reveal much about her personal life or health in her later years, and preferred to stay out of the public eye. She did not have a funeral or a memorial service, and her death was not widely reported by the media. was brief and did not mention her book or her DID. It only stated that she was survived by her two children, Kari and Paul, her two grandchildren, Mojo and Luna, and a host of great friends.
A Remarkable Life and a Controversial Book
Truddi Chase was born on June 13, 1935, in Honeoye Falls, New York. She grew up in a poor and abusive household, where she was sexually and physically assaulted by her stepfather, and neglected by her mother. She ran away from home at the age of 16, and changed her name to Truddi Chase to avoid being found by her parents. She married and divorced twice, and had two children. She worked as a secretary, a waitress, and a real estate agent.
She did not realize that she had DID until she was in her 40s, when she started to experience anxiety, flashbacks, and blackouts. She sought help from a hypnotherapist, Robert Phillips, who discovered that she had 92 personalities, each with their own name, voice, age, gender, and role. Some of them were children, some were animals, some were male, some were female, and some were protective, while others were destructive. They called themselves the Troops, and they communicated with each other and with Truddi through notes, drawings, and internal dialogues.
Truddi Chase decided to write a book about her life and her DID, with the help of Phillips and the Troops. The book, titled When Rabbit Howls, was published in 1987, and was written from the perspective of the Troops, not Truddi. The book was a shocking and graphic account of the abuse she suffered, and the coping mechanisms she developed. It was also a testament to her courage and resilience, and her refusal to integrate her personalities into one. She said that she loved and accepted all of her parts, and that they were a family.
The book was a bestseller, and received praise from critics and readers, especially from survivors of abuse and people with DID, who felt validated and inspired by her story. However, the book also faced controversy and skepticism, as some people questioned the validity of her diagnosis, the accuracy of her memories, and the ethics of her therapist. Some people accused her of fabricating or exaggerating her story, or of exploiting her condition for fame and money. Some people also criticized her decision to not integrate her personalities, and to confront her abusers in public.
Truddi Chase defended her book and her choices, and said that she was not seeking sympathy or attention, but rather trying to raise awareness and understanding of DID and child abuse. She said that she was not ashamed of her condition, and that she was proud of her Troops. She also said that she was not interested in revenge, but rather in justice and healing. She said that she hoped that her book would help other victims of abuse to find their voice and their strength, and to seek help and support.
A Legacy of Hope and Healing
Truddi Chase’s book was adapted into a two-part ABC miniseries in 1990, titled Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase, which starred Shelley Long as Truddi and the Troops. The miniseries was also successful and well-received, and brought more attention and recognition to Truddi Chase and her story. She also appeared on several talk shows and documentaries, such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, 60 Minutes, and The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, where she discussed her book and her DID. She also gave lectures and workshops to various groups and organizations, such as therapists, social workers, and prison inmates, where she shared her insights and experiences.
Truddi Chase did not write any more books, and did not reveal much about her later life. She lived a quiet and private life, away from the spotlight. She focused on her family, her friends, and her hobbies, such as jewelry making and gemology. She also continued to work with her therapist and her Troops, and to cope with her trauma and her condition. She said that she was happy and at peace, and that she had forgiven her abusers and herself.
Truddi Chase’s cause of death was COPD, but her legacy lives on through her book and her message. She was a brave and remarkable woman, who endured unimaginable pain and suffering, and who overcame incredible challenges and obstacles. She was also a compassionate and generous woman, who used her voice and her story to help and inspire others. She was a survivor, a fighter, and a healer. She was Truddi Chase, and she will be remembered.