Remember Sybil

Remember Sybil

Our cultural moment tells us to affirm, affirm, affirm; when in reality we are destroying human bodies because the medical professionals have told us that this is the right treatment for this type of problem. Soon we will have our Sybil moment. Sybil was a fraud and eventually the egg on the face of society was exposed. According to a 2011 NPR article, “Shirley Mason was the psychiatric patient whose life was portrayed in the 1973 book Sybil. The book and subsequent film caused an enormous spike in reported cases of multiple personality disorder. Mason later admitted she had faked her multiple personalities.”

Orlando just had its Pride Weekend, complete with a fair-like atmosphere downtown, thousands and thousand of sexual tourists, a rainbow themed parade, and an evening of fireworks. The parade’s Grand Master was an 11 year-old boy who believes he is a girl. He was featured on the front page of the Orlando Sentinel and was being praised for knowing his true self and living his best life. He’s eleven. We ought to remember Sybil.

Remember Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD)? The 1980 diagnostic manual called DSM-III defined MPD for the first time, but the psychiatric professionals in 1994 changed the diagnosis (in the DSM-IV) to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). According to Psychology Today the change was “to reflect a better understanding of the condition—namely, that it is characterized by fragmentation or splintering of identity, rather than by proliferation or growth of separate personalities.” (PT, 9.21). Splintering rather than separate.

In other words MPD was not real, although it was really experienced. The professionals realized that the condition was not truly different personalities, rather one identity (person) that was a “fragmented” or “splintered” identity. The professionals then amended their definition, diagnostic criteria, and the name of the disorder.

The psychological community knew about these symptoms as early as the late 1700s, but it was extremely rare. In 1973, the book Sybil was published and cases began to skyrocket. Daytime Television began featuring persons with MPD and the amount of personas and complexities increased. Phil Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, and even Larry King interviewed persons with the disorder. The more exposure the disorder got, the more popular it became. Eventually the Soap Operas were on board as well: All My Children; One Life to Live; Guiding Light, and others all featured characters with MPD.

Read More

Scroll to top