Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sybil Exposed

The Extraordinary Story Behind
 the Famous Multiple Personality Case

By Debbie Nathan

Sybil became popular, both in psychiatry and modern culture in the 1970’s. Both the book and the movie made the complex disorder known as “Multipersonality”  a phenomenon, though sensationalizing it, as well. Not only did it bring this disorder to the spotlight in mental health, it created a catchphrase and controversy, in spite of its horrific nature.

Psychiatry and psychology are not absolute, as the mind is a complex, hidden area. The memory is not always exact in time or place, being affected by many things. It deals with fact, feelings, and the shaded grey areas in between. The mind deals with the melding of both fact and feeling. Sometimes the mind remembers what the heart may have felt. History is recounted by what the mind remembers, sometimes losing things to interpretation, and sometimes colored by emotion, whether intentional or not.

For many years, the story of Sybil, as well as the ethics and motivations of her therapist have been questioned. This book is written by investigative reporters whose goal is to shed light on the truth of Sybil’s case, as well as the disorder.

Letters and documentation were supplied by the family of Sybil to researchers of what is now known as “DID”, Dissociative Identity Disorder. This disorder is still misunderstood and often misdiagnosed. The intent was to dispel myths, answering decades of questions and speculation.

Notes at the end of this fascinating book list the documents used and the resources that Debbie Nathan was privy to, in her writing of “Sybil Exposed”. I have no doubt that Sybil and her case will continue to be controversial, as will DID.

4 comments:

  1. I so remember seeing the television presentation--I think that's what it was--of Sybil. Who were the stars? Sally Field? I can't remember, but I do have the picture of the young child strapped to the piano leg while her mother played the piano and the child had a full bladder. I never knew before seeing that film that a mother could be so unloving. So mean.

    Is it the mother who provided the author of this new book with information? I need to get this book.

    Peace.

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  2. one of the most horrific books I've ever read, without a doubt. next to "When Rabbit Howls" (which was written by the victim).
    Would be interesting to read this follow-up and see how much was real, and how much was fabrication.

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  3. Sally Field DID play the part of Sybil in the movie.

    I guess I didn't realize that it was based on a true story. But now from what I've heard, some of that was fabricated.

    Don't know if I could read this book.

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  4. That is one of the great things about books, there are so many of a wide variety.
    Mental illness is difficult on many levels. But it does need to be discussed, addressed, and dealt with realistically.
    I agree that it can be horrific. When Rabbit Howls was one that definitely was.

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