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View Full Version : Sybil Was a Fraud



publius
2011-Oct-18, 03:03 AM
Remember "Sybil", the woman who became the poster child for multiple personality disorder, supposedly sporting 16 different personalities who story became a book and TV miniseries back in the '70s? Well, it was all a hoax and fraud.

There have been doubts for a while, but now a book, "Sybil Exposed" has come that pretty much conclusively proves the whole thing was fraud cooked up to sell books and make money by "Sybil", real name Shirley Mason, her psychiatrist, and a journalist (all three now dead). Sodium Pentathol (and others) seems to be the fuel that helped Mason cook up all the different personalities as well as the tales of horrific abuse she suffered that supposedly created all those personalities. The journalist, Flora Schreiber, wrote a bunch of "True Detective" style lurid trash for Cosmopolitan and helped spice up the whole thing (adding lots of horrific and lurid sex content to make it really good).



http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/sybil_is_one_big_psych_out_NaIEczKkVakx8ZLLi7GQPI

And the NYT excerpted some of the book here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/magazine/a-girl-not-named-sybil.html


-Richard

SkepticJ
2011-Oct-18, 05:46 AM
Not terribly surprising, considering that the existence of multiple personality disorder itself is highly controversial.

I'm still a little agnostic about it--the brain is a weird organ, after all--but it doesn't seem terribly likely since it's mostly North Americans that seem to be afflicted with it. It's not morbid obesity, it should show up wherever there are people.

That said, eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are a peculiarly Western* mental malady, and they're real enough.

*And Japan, but it's the Asian pocket of insane hyper-consumerist culture.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Oct-18, 06:49 AM
My take on it, as a layperson, is that it's likely a culturally determined interpretation of real symptoms of real mental problems brought on by real abuse.
Unfortunately this revelation is likely to cause real abuse to be dismissed and/or ignored.

SkepticJ
2011-Oct-18, 02:24 PM
Are the cultures of Europe really that different from the USA and Canada?

John Jaksich
2011-Oct-18, 02:37 PM
My take on it, as a layperson, is that it's likely a culturally determined interpretation of real symptoms of real mental problems brought on by real abuse.
Unfortunately this revelation is likely to cause real abuse to be dismissed and/or ignored.


I tend to agree here---the DSM IV or whatever statistical manual that Psychiatrists now use---need to put handles on diagnoses so they can attempt to treat individuals.

But, as you point out (HenrikOlsen)--the real problems such as it may be come out of hiding once someone either harms another person or even goes to the point of hurting animals and even property.

Buttercup
2011-Oct-18, 03:08 PM
I was fascinated by that book as a kid. Read a couple of years ago that it was suspected of being a hoax (and thank goodness for that! Otherwise it'd have been true, and what a heart-breaking misery for a real person).

However, Sally Fields' "portrayal" in the made-for-TV film was Oscar-worthy, imo.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Oct-18, 06:12 PM
Remember that there are people with those symptoms, who did go through those experiences, who are real people, who did go through that much misery. That that specific person was a fraud only adds to the misery of those people because they're not going to have the added burden of also being suspected of being frauds.