Thursday, May 24, 2012

Think You've Got Problems?

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"That I will lead my life and practice my art with integrity and honor, using my power wisely"
 ~ from the Hippocratic oath

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the story of Sybil. Sybil was diagnosed with multiple personalities (MPD - now called DID) after years of wondering what was wrong with her. With the help of her therapist, she was able to integrate all her personalities into one complete person. The multiple personalities were the result of years of trauma and abuse at the hands of her mother. The story (and popular mini-series starring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward) chronicled Sybil's life and her journey through therapy.

Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case was full of surprises. The book follows three women: Sybil (aka Shirley Mason), Dr. Cornelia Wilbur (Sybil's therapist), and Flora Schreiber (the author of Sybil: The True & Extraordinary Story of a Woman Possessed by Sixteen Separate Personalities). Sybil Exposed chronicles Sybil's life, Dr. Wilbur's rise in the medical field, and Schreiber's journalist career. I was impressed by all the research Debbie Nathan did to present the true facts of this story.The book is highly detailed and full of footnotes. In fact, the last 50 pages include the note citations and index.  It look me longer than usual to finish this book, but I was glad I stuck with it.

If you were ever interested in Sybil's story, or want overviews of the psychiatric and journalist fields from the 50's to the 70's, this is a good read.

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