Sybil Exposed

The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case

By Debbie Nathan
(Free Press, Paperback, 9781439168288, 320pp.)

Publication Date: June 12, 2012

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Compact Disc, Compact Disc, MP3 CD

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the December 2011 Indie Next List
“The powerful story of Sybil and her personalities has been absorbed into American culture since the 1973 release of the international bestseller. Now, Nathan's thorough investigation and captivating reporting exposes one of the greatest psychiatric hoaxes of all time. Delving deep into the case history and the lives of the three women central to the story of Sybil -- Shirley Mason, renamed Sybil in the book, her doctor Corneial Wilbur, and author Flora Schreiber -- Nathan presents a thoroughly convincing argument detailing how an ambitious doctor with a pet theory played on the damaged psyche of a sensitive, insecure woman to create a psychiatric case that brought them fame and fortune, but not healing.”
-- Whitney Spotts, Schuler Books & Music, Lansing, MI


Description

Sybil: a name that resonates with legions of obsessed fans who followed the nonfiction blockbuster from 1973. The book rocketed multiple personality disorder into public consciousness and played a major role in having the diagnosis added to the psychiatric bible, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But what do we really know about how Sybil came to be? In her news-breaking book Sybil Exposed, journalist Debbie Nathan gives proof that the allegedly true story outlined in the megabestseller was largely fabricated. The actual identity of Sybil (Shirley Mason) has been available for some years, as has the idea that the book might have been exaggerated. But Nathan reveals the trio of women behind the legend: the willing patient, her ambitious shrink, and the imaginative journalist who spun their story into bestseller gold.

Sybil Exposed draws from an enormous trail of papers, records, photos, and tapes to unearth the lives and passions of these three women whose story exploded into an epic movement with consequences beyond their wildest dreams. Set across the twentieth century and rooted in a time when few professional roles were available to women, this is a story of corrosive sexism, bold but unchecked ambition, runaway greed, utter human vulnerability, duplicity and shared delusion, shaky theories of psychoanalysis exuberantly and drastically practiced, and how one modest young woman’s life turned psychiatry on its head and radically changed the course of therapy—and our culture, as well.




About the Author

Debbie Nathan has been a journalist, editor, and translator for almost three decades. Debbie’s work has won numerous national and regional awards, including: The H.L. Mencken Award for Investigative Journalism, PEN West Award for Journalism, theTexas Institute of Letters Award for feature journalism, and the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Service Journalism.

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