Monday, November 07, 2011

Murphy, Samantha. "Was Sybil a Psychiatrist's Creation?" NEW SCIENTIST October 20, 2011.

Nathan, Debbie.  Sybil Exposed: the Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011.

It is the tale that launched a thousand alter egos: the famous true story of "Sybil", who endured years of torture at the hands of her sadistic mother and grew up into the meek, anxiety-ridden adult whose head was said to house 16 personalities.

For many, she provided a startling introduction to a rare and intriguing condition: then known as multiple personality disorder (MPD), a disease of the mind affecting mostly women, in which a person hosts several vastly different personalities representing fractured aspects of a haunted past.

Luckily, with the help of her psychiatrist's enduring dedication to her treatment - which included many punched-out office windows and late-night house calls - Sybil was finally able to come to terms with the other sides of herself and integrate them, triumphing over her disease. The tale made for a compelling book, Broadway show and an even more engaging movie in 1976 (and a less riveting remake in 2007). The book and film became instant classics, not to mention teaching tools for psychology students.

But according to investigative journalist Debbie Nathan, the story of Sybil has one big problem: it's mostly bunk. . . .

See also: Neary, Lynn.  "Real 'Sybil' Admits Multiple Personalities Were Fake."  NPR Books October 20, 2011 (

(Thanks to Marcel Pragnell [] for the links.)

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