Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday Favorites - "Sybil"

The book "Sybil," by Flora Rheta Schreiber was actually first introduced to me by--surprise, surprise--a movie adaptation. Made for television in 1976, the 2-part movie starred Joanne Woodward, as psychiatrist Cornelia Wilbur, and Sally Field as Sybil Dorsett, a role for which Fields won an Emmy. As a teenager, growing up in the 1970's mental illness was something with which I was completely unfamiliar. I was riveted by the movie and had to pick up the book to learn more.

The book, first published in 1973, tells the story of graduate student Sybil Dorsett, who initially seeks psychiatric help for social anxiety and memory loss. But, after intense therapy, drug therapy and hypnosis, it's discovered that Sybil is actually suffering from dissociative identity disorder--split personality. Because of horrific abuse in her childhood, Sybil has fractured into 16 personalities. The book chronicles Sybil's treatment, including how she became aware of each of the personalities (and they of each other) and how Wilbur and Sybil worked together to integrate the personalities into one successful individual.

Sadly, later research of the tapes made by the real psychiatrist and patient, on whom the book is based, revealed much of what is in the book to be fraudulent. Which really opened the door, in the medical field, as to how real this disorder is. It does seem easy enough for me to believe that the mind might create another self to deal with things that the real self can't handle. And none of this debate effected my opinion of the book as an incredible story.


  1. I've never read this one, at least I don't remember reading it. I did read something like this but it had a rabbit in the I need to figure out what that book was.

  2. It wasn't 100% real??? Okay, I've never read the book, but I saw the movie, which I thought was excellent.

  3. I love this book! I majored in psychology in college and that's when it was first introduced to me, by a fellow student. It definitely had an impact on me.

  4. I liked both the book and the movie. I wouldn't mind rereading the book one of these days. It's been a long time. I have no trouble imagining a mind making up another personality to handle things at all.