Sybil – Flora Rheta Schreiber

sybilThis is a non-fiction book about the treatment of a woman for multiple personality disorder. “Sybil” suffers extreme childhood abuse which causes her to separate into sixteen different “alters.” She has huge memory gaps given the differing personalities in charge. With help from her psychiatrist, these selves gradually become co-conscious, ending with Sybil’s integration as a whole person with full knowledge of past and present. The book was wildly successful when published, spawning two movies, and an upsurge in cases of reported dissociative identity disorder. However, it remains highly controversial as critics suggest Sybil was a simple hysteric, manipulated for profit by her psychiatrist. They cite tapes in which the psychiatrist is heard describing to Sybil her personalities. They also suggest the fabrication of material to protect her identity does not constitute a proper case history as would appear in a peer-reviewed journal. Supporters claim critics left out important facts, distorted evidence and didn’t reveal certain information until all the principles were dead. Whatever your opinion, the book remains a truly fascinating read!

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