Journalist Debbie Nathan reveals the true story behind the famous case of Sybil, the woman with sixteen different personalities.
©2011 Debbie Nathan (P)2011 Tantor
"Leveling a steady eye on her oft-sensationalized subject, Nathan serves up a tale just as shocking as the famed original," (Publishers Weekly)
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I didn’t care for the book that much; I didn’t feel like I was uncovering an extraordinary scoop. Sure some parts were interesting, but overall it was just ok.
In a nut shell, it’s the biography of “The Real Sybil”, her overzealous doctor, and the author of the 1973 book “Sybil”.
Essentially, the doctor’s highest interest was the advancement of her own career and saw in Sybil what she wanted to see. She and the writer had dollar signs in their eyes and really getting to the bottom of Sybil’s issues was secondary to making money and achieving fame through her story.
Was it all a hoax? We’ll never know. I am certain Sybil was not in her right mind, but I’m ready to believe elements of her case were exaggerated and sensationalized.
I had previously read the Sybil book, and loved it, then come to find out it was a hoax, made me so upset that I had to know why and if any of the book was true. Amazing what really happened and puts a different perspective on certain people. Good read though!!!!
Once in a while, a book comes along that provides a jaw dropping moment in almost every chapter. This is one such book. Nathan's methods of research and the manner in which she dissects the myth of Sybil are so fantastic that I cannot help but hear Kelso's voice (from That '70s Show) saying, "Burn!" every time she chips away at another dearly held belief. The evidence presented is so solid it will destroy your previous notions. So many people fell in love with the story, the fragile but surprisingly strong heroin, the champion doctor, and the strange and wonderful things the human mind can do in the face of severe trauma. If you are are in love with that narrative and do not want it destroyed, in the strongest, juiciest, and most interesting way possible, don't read this book. Your ideals of Sybil and helpful Dr. Wilbur not survive.
How do you create a Sybil? Nathan can lay it out, step by step, for you. I enjoyed every page of this book. Nathan does a great job of sifting out fact from fiction (oh so much fiction). She fully understands what dissociation is and how it can be useful but also fully understands how it was exploited to provide a story that we all craved, one that satiated our need for novelty and oddity. Sybil was gaper porn. We got to see, or we thought we got to see, the most private, humiliating, and crazy parts of a mind destroyed before it triumphed once again. But what did we really see?
This sentiments in this book honor and respect the difficulties people encounter in life but warns how those difficulties can be compounded by those who "help," sometimes ensuring the patient sinks into something much deeper and darker. This is a story about human beings, belief, need, love, care, mistakes, greed, and so many other all-too-human feelings that muddy the waters of clarity.
I will never forget reading I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. I had the same romantic ideals about that book that I had about Sybil. I love when authors come along and destroy what people tend to hold sacred, and this author did it in the most delicious way! Bravo! A+
Well, an interesting look into the world of multiple personalities, with the main character personality being, Sybil.
Was it real? Was it a hoax? Fascinating, that’s for sure!
The author, takes us back to over the last 100 years of treatment that was common in the United States at the time. The discussion is about various methods and treatments, medications, sexual deviance and multiple personalities.
This whole “cottage” industry sprung up and really took hold in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s at a time when women were “discovering themselves, but at the same time, were being misdiagnosed in many cases of multiple personality disorders.
Of course, many books, movies and plays became part of Western cultural folklore with all of this going on.
I've seen movies, read books about the subject in various forms and whatnot, but it’s good to see that this book was well written and exposed the whole Sybil case.
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