Sybil: The Classic True Story of a Woman Possessed by Sixteen Personalities by Flora Rheta SchreiberAnother old book review from my blog:
This was one seriously fucked up book. I have never seen the movie but, of course, knew what I was in for when I got the book. The name Sybil is very well known, and carries some stigma, in pop culture.
However, I had no concept of the extent or the perversity of Sybils mothers abuse which had been the prime instigation for Sybils dissociations. When I was reading the sections describing what she had done to her daughter, I was literally beating my head with the book and saying Thats so fucked up! out loud. (Good thing there was nobody around to hear me except for Magnum).
As far as writing style, I wouldnt say it was the best. A little too clinical in the language, and a little lacking in the dramatic elements. I am sure this is mostly due to the fact that the author (Flora Rheta Schreiber) was a psychiatrist, and this was one of her first (only?) novels. Not to mention that most of the conversations in the book were probably transcribed from tapes.
But despite slightly distracting writing quality imperfections, this book was completely absorbing. The more I got to know about Sybil and the strange ways her unconscious had devised to help her cope with her abusive childhood, the more I felt like I was losing my own mind. It was strange, to ponder upon the potential psychoses that our brains/minds are capable of. It seems that no matter how normal we might tell ourselves we are, there are so many things we cant remember....so many events in our childhoods that can only be known through other people telling us...its frightening to wonder where those memories are, and if there is some unconscious self lying beneath our conscious personality that is hoarding those memories from us, or, from a different perspective, is protecting those memories...and yet they are inaccessible to our waking self.
These are the kind of things I found myself thinking about on the bus, or walking down the street, while reading this book. Also, it was my first step away from sci fi/fantasy in some time, and it opened my mind up to new knowledge of psychology and psychoanalysis that I found fascinating and plenty of food for thought.
I would recommend this book to anybody who is interested in the mysteries of the human mind.
The Woman with 7 Personalities
Dissociative identity disorder DID , previously known as multiple personality disorder MPD ,  is a mental illness characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring personality states. Some professionals believe the cause to be childhood trauma. Treatment generally involves supportive care and counselling. DID is controversial within both psychiatry and the legal system. Dissociation , the term that underlies the dissociative disorders including DID, lacks a precise, empirical, and generally agreed upon definition. Thus it is unknown if there is a common root underlying all dissociative experiences, or if the range of mild to severe symptoms is a result of different etiologies and biological structures.
L ess than seven years ago Ruth Dee, aged 50, was the head teacher of a large special-needs school in the Midlands, chairing meetings, managing a staff room and troubleshooting the stressful problems that come with educating children outside the mainstream system. With years of experience behind her, she was respected for her clear thinking, for her ability to be both decisive and considered, and for the way she found it easy to form a connection with and control the often severely disturbed children in her care. She had a husband, three almost grown-up children, stepchildren, friends, a house. Ruth Dee had a life, although all that was about to end. At the age of three-and-a-half, Dee was raped by her grandfather. This continued throughout childhood, added to by her paedophile father and his ring of friends.
Tragic year-old Helen has to grapple with seven different personalities The university graduate suffers from a rare disorder which makes her play out the roles of different children - and she never knows who she is going to be at any one time. Without warning, eerie voices of kids aged between five and 16 appear in Helen's head. The year-old said: "All the personalities have their own lives. They go shopping, eat and sleep.
It is absolutely an act. Dissociative Identity Disorder still has its defenders, but at the very least you have to acknowledge that the pitch of one's voice is.
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Channel 4 has won the right to screen a documentary about a woman with a disturbing multiple personality disorder after a high court action tried to stop the broadcast going ahead. It emerged today that Mr Justice Munby, at a hearing in camera, ruled that Channel 4 had the right to broadcast, following a challenge from the official solicitor, who represents the interests of people who cannot represent themselves. Pamela Edwards has dissociative identity disorder - which was the subject of a BBC1 drama, May 33rd, last year - and requires round-the-clock care at a cost of half a million pounds a year. Ms Edwards has four different internal characters, which she has named Andrew, Sandra, Margaret and Susan, and harms herself when the characters fight among themselves. The official solicitor and Ms Edwards' local authority claimed the documentary was a breach of her privacy under the Human Rights Act, because she is unable to give permission to filming. But Mr Justice Munby, in the family division of the high court, set aside the concerns about privacy and instead gave greater weight to the right to freedom of expression. He is due to set out his reasoning in full today.