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  1. #1
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    10.21.16 @ 07:40 PM
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    Default "Sybil" of multiple personality fame...was a fake

    I'm not surprised that it was a fake, just surprised that someone was able to dig up a confession and that (as far as I know) it was never made public

    Crafty people with a desire for fame and cash can sure take a lot of people on a wild ride

    'Sybil' is one big psych-out
    Author exposes split-personality ‘lie’

    Last Updated: 12:33 PM, October 16, 2011
    Posted: 1:10 AM, October 16, 2011

    “Sybil,” the shocking true story of a woman shattered into 16 distinct personalities that helped her to dig up repressed memories of monstrous childhood sexual abuse, sold nearly 7 million copies when it was published in 1973. A serialized version ran in newspapers around the nation as readers gasped at “scenes of Sybil’s demented mother defecating on lawns, conducting lesbian orgies and raping her daughter with kitchen utensils. This kind of sex and perversion had never before been published on the ‘women’s’ pages,” writes author Debbie Nathan in a new book. “Sybil” was adapted into an Emmy-winning 1976 TV miniseries starring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward that was viewed by one-fifth of the American public.

    And it was an utter fraud.

    In her darkly absurd new account, “Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case,” Nathan draws on a cache of letters at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice that reveals how three women (all now dead) created what they called “Sybil Inc.” for fun, fame and profit. Sybil’s real name was Shirley Mason. She was a jittery girl who grew up quivering in a Minnesota family of Seventh-day Adventists who believed that the world was about to end and that any fiction divorced from God’s truth was a sin. As a little girl, she was so terrified of God’s watchful eye that, when she made up stories, she hid this habit from her parents. She was also made to participate in a health fad of the day, the “internal bath,” or enema. She developed a germ phobia and at one point examined her hands obsessively.

    As a student in New York City in the 1950s, she met a Park Avenue therapist named Cornelia “Connie” Wilbur. The two women adored each other even as Connie gradually got Shirley hooked on a series of “therapeutic” drugs, many of them new and seemingly wondrous, including Seconal, Demerol, Edrisal and Daprisal. (The last two were so addictive that they were soon banned.) Connie also strongly believed in giving patients Pentathol, which invariably got them blabbing, sometimes about fantasies that could not possibly have occurred. Still, the drug was widely believed to be a “truth serum.”

    One day, Shirley started talking about blackouts in which, she claimed, she became others with various names and personalities -- Peggy Lou, Peggy Ann, Vicky, etc. Fascinated, Connie offered, “Would you like to earn some money?” She suggested that her patient could be the subject of a book. Connie offered to pay Shirley’s medical-school tuition and living expenses.

    The personality split was a lie, Shirley confessed in a five-page 1958 letter that sits in the archives at John Jay. She said she was “none of the things I have pretended to be.” Shirley continued, “I do not have any multiple personalities ... I do not even have a ‘double’ ... I am all of them. I have essentially been lying ... as trying to show you I felt I needed help ... Quite thrilling. Got me a lot of attention.”

    The therapist, who was already talking up her prize patient at psychiatry conferences, dismissed the letter as “resistance” and pushed on with the drugs and the therapy -- this time, five days a week. Soon Shirley was again putting on a split-personality show in Connie’s office. No one else except her roommate was ever treated to these performances.

    The two fabulists joined forces with journalist Flora Schreiber, a self-aggrandizing spinster whose trade was in trashy, made-up “true” stories for magazines like Cosmopolitan. The two got to work juicing up the story of Shirley, whom Flora would call Sylvia. Among the tall tales they coaxed out of Shirley was a B-movie-like excursion from Minnesota to German-occupied Holland in 1942. Flora decided that since Shirley’s various personalities didn’t really do anything, the story must be a whodunit about severe child abuse -- especially sex abuse. Soon, “multiple personality disorder,” or MPD, became an officially recognized diagnosis, and a handful of cases exploded into 40,000 reported sufferers, nearly all of them female. The repressed-memory industry was born. Only in the last decade or so has the psychiatric profession begun to question the validity of Sybilmania.

    As feminist pressures began to apply themselves to the female psyche in the 1950s, Nathan writes, women did start to feel conflicted about their various roles -- mom, daughter, cook, siren, citizen, wage earner. High-school students who encounter the book, says Nathan, decide that “the takeaway message is that Sybil is beautiful and spooky in the same way that angels and ESP are beautiful and spooky. When it comes to science, she is not to be taken seriously. Still, the takeaway continues. Maybe we could take her seriously if the scientists would only come up with better research.”

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  2. #2
    Atomic Punk TheresOnlyOneWay's Avatar
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    10.21.16 @ 12:22 PM
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  3. #3
    Baluchitherium SNIC's Avatar
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    09.21.16 @ 07:14 PM
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    I didn't know. That Sybil chick always freaked me out when I was little.
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