Psychology in Sybil by Flora Schreiber
The book Sybil is a book about a girl named Sybil Isabel Dorsett who suffers Dissociative Personality Disorder. The book was written based on a true case that happened with a young girl, the names were changed in the story for privacy reasons. The book was a very controversial topic; therefore, it was not published until after the deaths of the girl and her psychologist.
Her mother suffered from a mental disorder known as schizophrenia. Since her mother was undergoing such issues, she took it out on Sybil by abusing her in many ways. This resulted in Sybil’s personality disorder. Sybil’s different personalities were there to help and deal with her mother’s actions when she was unable to do so herself. Sybil’s father was somewhat better than her mom in which he did not abuse her; however, he did neglect her. Sybil eventually gets taken in by a psychologist named Dr. Wilbur, who then makes the decision to help her free of charge. He begins treatment with her and Sybil starts to gain memory of some things she may wish against. Sybil denied these occurrences but soon began to accept them after Dr. Wilbur reassured her.
Psychology and How it Relates to Sybil
Psychology is portrayed in multiple ways throughout the book Sybil. For example, Sybil’s mother portrays the authoritarian parenting style along with practicing child abuse. Another way psychology is shown throughout the book is through psychological mental disorders. Sybil’s mother suffers a mental disorder know as schizophrenia. Because of this she also suffers some depression. Sybil herself also suffers a psychological mental disorder known as dissociative personality disorder. Lastly, psychology is portrayed in the treatment of Sybil’s disorder. One of the treatments Dr. Wilbur decides to do to help Sybil was hypnosis.
The book Sybil does a great job in showing how parenting styles can affect children’s mental health, how mental disorders are, and how hypnosis can relieve a patient. Sybil’s mother is a good example of an authoritarian parent by using the authoritarian parenting style. Parents who practice the authoritarian parenting style believe that they have the only say and that their children should never question them. The parents attempt to control, shape, and evaluate the behavior and attitudes of their children according to a set code of conduct (Kasschau, 2003, p. 79). In addition to Sybil’s mothers parenting style, she practiced child abuse. Child abuse includes the physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, negligent treatment, or mistreatment of children under the age of eighteen (Kasschau, 2003, p. 80). Sybil’s mother hurt Sybil physically and mentally in which she physically abused her and sexually abused her. Both of these resulted in Sybil being emotionally abused too, because she was not being loved like a child should. Sybil’s father was not as extreme as her mother was; however, he still neglected Sybil.
Sybil and her mother both suffered from a mental psychological disorder. Sybil’s mother’s disorder is known as schizophrenia. Schizophrenia involves confused, disordered thoughts and perceptions (Kasschau, 2003, p. 466). Overburdened and stressed parents are more likely to abuse their children, which may be a factor explaining why Sybil’s mother chooses to abuse her (Kasschau, 2003, p. 80). After Sybil’s mother would do such horrible things, she would cheer in pleasure. For example, Sybil’s mother shouted “I did it, I did it!” after hurting Sybil’s and causing her to cry (Schreider, 1973).
In result of Sybil’s mother’s actions, Sybil suffered from a psychological mental disorder known as dissociative mental disorder. This disorder is more commonly referred to as multiple personality disorder. Sybil had about sixteen different personalities in which two were men and the rest females of different ages. Sybil did not know how to cope with her mother’s abuse and neglect so the disorder did for her. The personalities or “friends” that she had were there to handle Sybil’s mother’s actions when she could not.
Psychology is portrayed in one of the treatments Dr. Wilbur decides to perform on Sybil. He uses hypnosis to bring back memories and personalities of Sybil’s past. Hypnosis is a state of consciousness resulting from a narrowed focus of attention and characterized by heightened suggestibility (Kasschau, 2003, p. 191). The hypnosis that Dr. Wilbur used is known as posthypnotic suggestion, which allows a psychologist to suppress memory (Kasschau, 2003, p. 193). Things seem to be going well, until she meets the identity of her mother, in which she dissociates into a baby. However, she recovers, and the next time she undergoes hypnosis, she recalls an incident when her mother drags up her up to the roof of her barn by her hands, and then locks her in a cabinet. They undergo their last session of hypnosis, where Sybil recalls her mother having sexually abused her, she then wakes up very upset, which Dr. Wilbur tells her to accept.
In conclusion, the book Sybil showed how psychology works in a few different ways. The book does a great job in showing how severe the mental disorder schizophrenia is and how one who suffers from it reacts, this also applies to the personality disorder too. Sybil’s mother was a prime example of a parent who practices child abuse. Lastly, a good example of posthypnotic suggestion was shown when Dr. Wilbur practiced it on Sybil. Psychology relates to the book Sybil by portraying an authoritarian parenting style, showing child abuse, hypnosis, and psychological mental disorders.
Sybil by Flora Schreiber: My Impressions and the Prototypes
Flora Rheta Schreiber (April 24, 1918 – November 3, 1988), an American columnist, was the creator of the 1973 smash hit Sybil, the tale of a lady (recognized years after the fact as Shirley Ardell Mason) who had a dissociative character disorder and supposedly had 16 distinct characters. As Mason had demanded security of her protection, Schreiber gave her the spread character of Sybil Isabel Dorsett.
Schreiber was an English educator at John Jay College of Criminal Justice for a long time. She later composed The Shoemaker, a book reporting the genuine story of Joseph Kallinger, a sequential executioner who was determined to have suspicious schizophrenia.
Schreiber’s papers are housed in the Lloyd Sealy Library Special Collections at John Jay College. The accumulation is extensive documentation of her life and vocation.
I don’t know what to begin with and what to write. What stunned me more than anything else was the ideation of the novel. The issue of tyke misuse, put in a standout amongst the most stunning ways, makes this a troublesome book to ‘simply read’ through.
The book is about part characters (MPD-Multiple Personality Disorder) that is a result of kid misuse basically.
Sybil is said to be a genuine story dependent on a standout amongst the most serious instances of MPD[multi personality disorder] rand youngster maltreatment ever. It depicts sexual, physical and psychological mistreatment by the hands of a rationally aggravated mother. It uncovers the various characters living inside one lady (Sybil), over the span of (around) twenty years of her life that the book ranges. As stereotypical as it might sound, the agony and loathsome episodes reflected in the book are certain to send a chill down your spine.
In 1954, New York therapist Cornelia Wilbur has another customer – a slight, anxious young lady whining of bizarre black outs. She talks about losing time, blurring all through cognizance over sporadic time periods (at times hours, in some cases days). She talks about ending up in new urban areas and town. Dr. Wilbur takes her through a normal course of treatment until the day she meets ‘Vicky’- another character possessing Sybil’s body. Dr. Wilbur understands that Sybil is an instance of MPD (a practically inconceivable issue in those days) and she would need to delve further in to the case. Gradually around 16 characters ascend from inside Sybil (counting two male adjusts, Mike and Sid). The complex Vicky was simply the ‘record attendant’ of the, keeping down the recollections unreasonably agonizing for Sybil and the others to know. Peggy Lou was the archive of Sybil’s outrage disobedient, hawkish, scornful of Sybil and scared of breaking glass; Vanessa, a redhead with amazing melodic ability. A few, as Ruthie, were scarcely more than little children rationally. It was the start of a genuinely debilitating eleven-year adventure to make a cracked person entire once more.
The anguish of a six (or seven) year old experiencing assault, and strange, pointless constrained purifications, and different types of physical and sexual maltreatment form the chilling story. The torment finished uniquely with Sybil’s passing.
This by a wide margin is a standout amongst the most nerve twisting peruses ever, for me. Be that as it may, an absolute necessity!
The narrative of Sybil — a young lady who had been abused by her mom as a kid and, thus, had a psychological breakdown and made various characters — created an uproar. Sybil was a smash hit book during the 1970s and was adjusted as a 1976 TV smaller than expected arrangement and a full length docudrama in 2007. Creator Flora Schreiber and Sybil’s therapist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, ended up rich and well known accordingly. Sybil additionally benefitted, however her actual personality remained a mystery until after each of the three ladies were dead.
A great part of the electrifying story was manufactured, as per columnist and creator Debbie Nathan. In her new book, Sybil exposed: an extraordinary story behind popular multi personality issue, which she spoke at an ongoing meeting on the current, she uncovers truth with respect to the incident.
Sybil has described in the first book as a young lady who began to see a psychologist in new York city in the mid-19950s. Nathan describes what happened after a few sessions, point by point in the book: ‘She had a sensational minute when she began crushing windows, and split into another character, into a young lady. What’s more, as she went into further treatment with the specialist, she created numerous different characters, an aggregate of 16. The advisor accepted that something awful more likely than not occurred to her when she was a youngster to make this sort of part in her awareness. So she went through numerous years working with her. Furthermore, at last Sybil recalled awful, revolting sexual maltreatment and torment by her mom, and once she came to recollect that, she reintegrated and had a good life. So the book had an upbeat consummation.’
Sybil’s case produced far reaching interest both in the overall population and the medicinal network, and a gathering of therapists and clinicians effectively campaigned to have different character issue incorporated into the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). When that occurred, the confusion, which had been incredibly uncommon, turned into a moderately regular finding. ‘In the whole history of Western human progress, there had been under 200 [cases] over a time of hundreds of years,’ Nathan said. ‘Be that as it may, after the book and film, all of a sudden there were hundreds and thousands. What’s more, by the late 1980s there were 40,000 cases analyzed in the United States alone.’
The true name of Sybil was Shirley Mason, and she was born in rural Minnesota as a seventh day Adventist. The Christian fundamentalist community advised people not to peruse literature
Be that as it may, Shirley was an exceedingly creative tyke, who wanted to make up stories. ‘She lived in a dreamland as a young lady,’ Nathan said. When Shirley was in school, she was having mental issues, and she went to see Dr. Wilbur during the 1940s.
Dr. Wilbur had an enthusiasm for numerous character issue, and she prescribed that Shirley read up regarding the matter; a misstep, in Nathan’s view, as Shirley was so inclined to fantasize. Be that as it may, it wasn’t until a couple of years after the fact, in the mid 1950s, that Shirley came back to treatment and the different characters developed.
‘One day Shirley just thumped on Dr. Wilbur’s entryway and stated, ‘Greetings, I’m Peggy,’ a nine-year-old adjust character,’ Nathan clarified. ‘Dr. Wilbur scarcely squinted an eye. She appeared to be satisfied that she presently had a different character issue persistent. She disclosed to Shirley she’d treat her for nothing, using a loan, and she started giving her solid psychotropic medications and barbiturates. Inside half a month, [Dr. Wilbur] inquired as to whether she’d like to compose a book with her about the case.’
One of the medications Dr. Wilbur regulated was Thorazine, ‘an enemy of crazy that can have extremely, solid symptoms, including mental trips,’ Nathan said. ‘What’s more, she gave her intravenous barbiturates, which can cause a wide range of dreams which appear to be genuine while the individual’s having them. They’re similar to bad dreams, yet when you wake up from them, you accept that the material you fantasized truly occurred.’
Nathan discovered fact by poring over Flora Schreiber’s documents, the author who teamed up on the novel. Her documents, which included a large number of pages of treatment material between Dr. Wilbur and Shirley mason, had been set until 2001 in view of the fact that Shirley was not believed to be alive or dead until that time
In spite of the fact that Sybil closes joyfully, the lady who roused the story did not. Shirley turned into a barbiturate someone who is addicted, and was vigorously dependent on Wilbur, who paid her lease, gave her clothes and cash, and provided her with medications. Nathan compared the relationship to that of an addict to her pusher.
In treatment, Shirley would suggest that the characters were created in light of the fact that something awful had happened to her. ‘The specialist would pose driving inquiries, which rapidly came to concentrate on her mom,’ Nathan said. ‘Inevitably there was an extremely nitty gritty story of sexual torment by the mother, and that torment should have been appalling to such an extent that Shirley the tyke, or Sibyl, simply needed to epitomize that in various pieces of her awareness so she wouldn’t recollect it.’
Columnist Flora Schreiber got included in light of the fact that in spite of the fact that Dr. Wilbur accepted the case would put her on the map, she was certainly not a decent essayist. Inevitably, as Schreiber began reality checking the story, she started to question its veracity. Be that as it may, by then she had just been paid a development, and when she faced Dr. Wilbur and Shirley, they stuck by the story.
At the time the book was distributed, it was considered disgracing to go to a specialist, so Shirley attempted to keep her personality mystery. In any case, a few people realized that Shirley Mason was Sybil. ‘Vegetation did next to no to really camouflage Shirley’s personality,’ Nathan called attention to.
Shirley had found a new line of work showing craftsmanship at a school in the Midwest. Be that as it may, when she was adequately ‘outed’ among associates, she wound up remaining in isolation and relying upon Dr. Wilbur for help. ‘It was a dismal completion of an incredibly, glittery start with that book,’ Nathan said.
Nathan proceeded to state that the case drummed up some excitement since it addressed issues that numerous ladies were managing at the time. ‘This was a lady’s book, and the analysis that created was a lady’s determination — 90 percent of individuals who have different character issue, or get determined to have the new name, dissociative personality issue, are ladies.’
Numerous young ladies wrote to Schreiber to state that Sybil’s story evoked genuine emotion with them. They felt conflicted between the customary female job and new open doors that were opening up because of women’s liberation. ‘Finding out about this poor young lady, who had built up every one of these characters, and vanquished them, and set up them all together and figured out how to utilize them, well, that is the motivation that I got from perusing Sybil, that I can take the majority of my diverse selves and set up them back together and have a full existence,’ Nathan said.
In Nathan’s view, there are increasingly productive alternatives for managing that strain. ‘To medicalize the feeling of part and state that you are a lady who’s incredibly, sick, since you are a definitive injured individual, I think didn’t help ladies. Also, proceeds not to help them.’
The conclusion of Dissociative Identity Disorder ‘obviously exists, when you have specialists who are keen on discovering it and they analyse it,’ Nathan recognized. Be that as it may, she looks at it to the Middle Ages, when it was expected numerous individuals were controlled by demons. ‘Most ladies who went to the inquisitors during that period and said that they believed they had demons inside them weren’t tormented to state that. They openly went to the inquisitors and the ministers and said that they felt had.’
Nathan included that it’s normal for individuals to ‘express their pain by inclination that there’s something inside them, regardless of whether it’s an evil presence or a soul or a self, there’s something inside them that doesn’t generally have a place there. What’s more, contingent upon what’s happening in the way of life, and who’s accessible to characterize that and treat it, you can get pestilences of that feeling, and you can get plagues of findings. So I feel that that is the thing that occurred here.’
She hurries to state that she isn’t proposing that individuals are faking their ailment. ‘When individuals get the conclusion of Dissociative Identity Disorder, they have that analysis, and they act that out, not deliberately, fundamentally, by any stretch of the imagination,’ Nathan said. ‘So I feel that asking whether it’s actual or it’s false isn’t the useful method to consider it.’
‘Sybil: a name that evokes suffering interest for armies of fixated fans who pursued the true to life blockbuster from 1973 and the TV motion picture dependent on it — featuring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward — about a lady named Sybil with sixteen unique characters. Sybil wound up both a pop wonder and a progressive power in the psychotherapy business. The book soared different character issue (MPD) into open awareness and assumed a noteworthy job in having the finding added to the mental book of scriptures, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The Multiple Personalities of Sybil
SYBILS BATTLE WITH MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER
In the movie Sybil, Sybil has multiple personality disorder. This means that she has a rare disorder in which two or more distinct and different personalities live within one person. Multiple personality disorder is often caused by physical and sexual abuse in children (NAMI, 1996). Sybil created an escape and defense from the abuse she suffered. Different personalities were created to help her with everyday problems; this is called dissociation. Healing from this illness is a very long, hard process. A therapist has to earn a close relationship to the patient and as many of the alter personalities as possible. Eventually, after working with a therapist for a while, a patient can learn to start dealing with everyday problems without using alter personalities.
Sybil has many different personalities in the movie. Her main personality is a sweet, quiet, confused substitute teacher. At first she has no idea of her condition. Sybil just thinks she is she is loosing time or blacking out. Another personality is Peggy, an enchanting little girl. She turns into Peggy when she is scared or hurt. Also there is Marsha, a mean, miserable person who has suicidal problems. When Sybil gets depressed or upset she turns to this alter personality. A personality that Sybil uses is Vicci. Vicci is a very conservative and lively. She is a headstrong thirteen-year old that is not scared to take risks and have fun with people. Sybil goes to Vicci when is in doubt or to timid to be in a social gathering. Another of Sybils alter personalities is Vanessa. She is a young, beautiful girl who plays the piano. Vanessa comes out when Sybil feels bad or is put down by the real world. Sybils therapist contacted all of the alter perso!
nalities. All of these personalities came into effect at a time when Sybil couldnt, or thought she couldnt handle a situation. In doing this, she was using dissociation as an escape or defense for problems in the past or present (NAMI, 1996).
Multiple personality disorder is very much a result od physical or sexual abuse. This abuse usually comes from a family member or a close friend. The victim usually has a love-hate relationship with the abuser (Wilbur, 1984). In Sybils case, the abuser was her mother and both physical and sexual abuse was inflicted on her. Later in life, Sybil ended up with symptoms like: depression, moodswings, suicidal tendencies, blackouts, headaches, panic attacks, and hallucinations (NAMI, 1994). These are all symptoms of multiple personality disorder. Sybil thought she was blacking out, fell and hurt herself, when actuality she was having a multiple personality disorder episode, got angry and hit a window. After the accident, she was a little bit confused. The doctor brought in a therapist to see her and noticed amnesia and personality changes in Sybil. These are obvious signs of multiple personality disorder (Coon, 1984). At this time Sybil realizes the problem she has. These are examples of how people who have this disorder could become aware of the problem.
The healing process for this disease is a very long and drawn out process. This process sometimes takes so long and is so mind consuming and stressful that the patient ends up depressed or suicidal (Coon, 1984). A therapist has to become very close to the patient and all the alter personalities. In Sybils case, her therapist did a very good job of this, but the hard part was to get Sybil to confront the abuse from the past. If the therapist can get at least one of the personalities to remember the traumatic events that occurred, then it is progress. Eventually, Sybils therapist worked with her enough and Sybil confronted her memories. After she went back in her brain to the trauma and faced it, she realized that it was all in the past and no one could hurt her anymore. After this kind of observation from a therapist, they can usually go on in life without having to turn to any alter personalities. Sybil was very lucky in her case. In some cases the patient can never recover. Some other patients can recover, but it can take many more years than it did in Sybils case. At the end of the grieving process, creative energy is released. The survivor can reclaim self-worth and personal power and rebuild their life after so much focus and healing.
In conclusion, people with multiple personality disorder are very courageous, intelligent, creative, socially skilled, talented people whose dissociative abilities allowed them to survive traumatic abuse.
The Portrayal of the Multiple Personalities Disorder in Sybil
Sybil is a movie made in 1976, based on a true story, about a girl living with multiple personality disorder. Sybil has sixteen different personalities that each come out at different points throughout the movie depending on what she is going through. For example, when Sybil is angry, Peggy Lou comes out and expresses the anger that Sybil herself cannot. When the different personalities show, Sybil thinks she is experiencing blackouts because she remembers nothing for certain periods of time. She will come back to paintings she started finished or an entire meal cooked and have no recollection of doing these things. One of Sybil’s professors notices she is strange acting at times and sends her to a psychiatrist, Dr. Wilber. Dr. Wilber diagnoses Sybil with multiple personality disorder as a result from extreme abuse from her mother as a child.
This movie is very good at showing how physical and psychological abuse can affect people for their entire lives. In Sybil, she uses each of her personalities to deal with the emotions that she is unable to every day. Sybil herself blocked out any memory of her mother abusing her as a child and denies that her mother would ever do such a thing. It is her other personalities that remember everything and have to deal with the trauma. Sybil shows the daily struggle of someone dealing with a psychological disorder and how it can completely alter a person’s life. She cannot even maintain a normal relationship because her disorder has taken over her life.
Multiple personality disorder is when there is more than one personality inside one person and it is also a dissociative disorder. Dissociative disorders are defined as disruptions in a person’s memory, consciousness, or identity. In Sybil’s case, there are disruptions in all three. Sybil is the “host” personality and her sixteen other alternate personalities have different experiences, traits, and memories than her. In the movie Sybil, it seems that her personality switches under feelings of stress or anxiety. This common in dissociative disorders because the host is trying to block out those feelings that bring back the memories of trauma and project them somewhere else. A fight between two of Sybil’s personalities is what prompts her to give Dr. Wilber a chance. Sybil’s father always taught her not to trust doctors because they will just try to hypnotize you and give you medications. Once Dr. Wilber starts talking to Sybil she realizes Sybil is hard to get information out of, but some of her other personalities are not. Dr. Wilber concludes that stress is what causes these changes in personality when Sybil tells her that she blacked out when her grandmother died, which is a huge stress, and woke up two years older. Dr. Wilber eventually ends up taking Sybil back to her home, hypnotizing her and all her personalities finally come together.
While watching Sybil, I found the depiction of the psychological concept to be very accurate. Although multiple personality disorder is not a common disorder that you meet people with every day, it is still a major disorder that mental, physical, emotional, and psychological abuse can form. This movie is an excellent example of how childhood trauma can stay with a person throughout their entire life. At the end of the movie, Dr. Wilber meets with Sybil’s childhood pediatrician and she confirms the clear evidence of abuse Sybil showed from her mother and that her mother was always fidgety and nervous acing at the doctors. Sybil made me realize how hidden disorders can be and you never know what other people are going through. If you think about it, Sybil grew up being abused so badly by her mother and no one ever helped her. All the trauma she endured her whole life could have been stopped and she would not have needed to create these alternate versions of herself to help her deal with her experiences if someone would have helped her earlier on in life.
Study on Sybil Isabel Dorsett’s Case of The Dissociative Identity Disorder
Sybil Isabel Dorsett is perhaps the most famous case of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Dissociative Identity Disorder is the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states. Each identities has its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self (Smith, 1999). This case appears in a book by Flora R. Schreiber and was later made into a film (Sybil). Sybil seems to have experienced 16 separate personalities, two of whom were male. These personalities were created because of the horrific child abuse her psychotic mother inflicted upon her, along with the failure of her father to rescue her from it. Each personality embodied feelings and emotions that the real Sybil could not cope with. The waking Sybil was deprived of all these emotions, and was therefore a rather drab figure. She was unaware of her other personas and while they were in control of her body, she suffered blackouts and did not remember the episodes. The intervention of Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, a psychoanalyst, helped her to become aware of these personalities. As stated above, Sybil developed a Dissociative Identity Disorder. However, many of her personalities were created during therapy. After watching the movie and analyzing her developmental history, I can say that she was able to face her fears and better her life because of therapy. In this paper, I will talk about Sybil’s developmental history, her different personalities, and how Carl Jung’s theory (the personal unconscious) fit into her situation.
In her situation, the young Sybil suffered physical and psychological distress from the abuse of her beloved mother. From birth, Sybil did not experience the bonds that exist between a mother and a child. Her mother made her believe that she was the most horrible child. This misconception was well coded with the abuse and rejection that she experienced. Sybil was the only child born to her biological mother and father, and was able to acquire a loving relationship with her grandmother, who also lived in their middle class one family house in Wisconsin. Due to the authoritative manners of Sybil’s mother, her grandmother did not associate with her own daughter.
While growing up as a child (around the age of 3 – 5), Sybil experienced many distress. Her abusive mother treated her like a lower class citizen. By her own interpretations, she used the worst forms of punishment on Sybil. In other families, a child running through their home or asking polite questions is quite acceptable. Sybil’s mother believed that such behavior was rude and unacceptable. The physical cruelties that Sybil suffered were crucial. The types of abuse Sybil endured included: being hung up (both hands tied to a chain) to the roof of an old barn, being stuffed in an old chest, and being laid on the kitchen table (with a piece of wood tied to her legs and hung up from the kitchen light). Her mother also gave her a black eye, which was never reported to anybody (due to the fact that Sybil was not yet attending school). Her mother (who was a pathological liar) told her father that one of the neighbors had done it. Not by surprise, this little girl was lied to and about many times. One time, her mother tricked her by telling her that she was taking her to see her best friend. Instead, the mother took her to the doctor’s office to get her tonsils taken out. Afterwards, Sybil plead to the doctor to take her home with him. Unfortunately, the misleading ways of her parents caused Sybil to experience the fear of not trusting people. Throughout the years of abuse (childhood and adolescent), both Sybil’s mother and grandmother passed away by natural cause. After, her father remarried, and Sybil moved out on her own. Throughout her life, Sybil had to deal with painful repressed memories from her childhood abuse. Unfortunately, the memories of her childhood (when onset) caused her to develop a Dissociative Identity Disorder.
In Sybil’s case, there were sixteen different personalities, including herself or the “waking” Sybil. That’s a lot of people to share a life with. Victoria Antoinette, or Vicky, was a confident, self-assured personality who was a thirteen years old child from Paris. Peggy Lou and Peggy Ann Baldwin, were both 9-year-old personalities, and were often seen together. Peggy Lou was often mad about something, and Peggy Ann was often afraid (Vicky said Peggy Ann was more tact than Peggy Lou). Marcia Lynn Dorsett (sometimes Marcia Lynn Baldwin) was an artistic and usually suicidal personality. Ruth was the youngest personality and she was only two.
Vanessa Gail Dorsett was a personality who was Marcia’s best friend. They shared similar interests such as travelling, theatre going, concerts, visiting places of historical interest and buying choice books. They were usually in control of Sybil at the same time. Vanessa was musically inclined and played the piano. Mary Lucinda Saunders Dorsett was a grandmotherly personality, and she took her name from Sybil’s late-grandmother. Marjorie was another personality who was a tease. She usually referred to Sybil as “you-know-who”. The most interesting thing about Marjorie was that like most of the other personalities, she never seemed to be or have been depressed. Mike and Sid were the only 2 male personalities. They were both carpenters and built all kinds of stuff. Nancy Lou Ann was a personality who was interested in politics and had a fear of Roman Catholics. Sybil Ann was a personality who was extremely listless and pale. Clara was very religious and wasn’t too fond of Sybil. The Blonde was a personality who didn’t have a real name, and she seemed to be perpetually eighteen years old. The waking Sybil was depleted, had a bad self-image, and feared purple and green. All 16 personalities had separate ideas, backgrounds, and personal appearances.
Vicky came into existence when Sybil was 16 years old. At that time, it was Vicky’s responsibility to maintain Sybil’s poise, confidence, and her capacity to negotiate the world. Her observing, recording, and remembering skills gave her the foundations for establishing a continuity of memory, which was the key deficit in Sybil’s miserable existence. Vicky saw life as whole, making her the most well rounded personality of them all.
Vicky’s personality seemed to have a better sense of control when she made her appearances. While Peggy Lou seemed to instantly appear when Sybil faced any kind of anger invoking situation, Vicky seemed to drift in and out, making her own decisions about when she was needed. This passivity seems to be reflected in a later comment made by Sybil about how she didn’t leave Vicky behind, but when she couldn’t do something, Vicky did it for her.
At the age of 23, the expectation was built upon the fact that some personalities, especially Vicky, had to be in control and know what was going on because the waking Sybil was no longer aware of all her movements. Until Sybil entered therapy, she was not conscious of the events occurring during her blank moments. Vicky was able to bring the whole story together because she witnessed Sybil’s life from an early age. At the age of 28, Sybil was introduced to Dr. Cornelia Wilbur by a hospital after she slit her wrist and almost killed herself in a hospital in New York. Vicky’s poise and confidence made Dr. Wilbur wonder whether it should be Vicky that all the other personalities should be integrated rather than Sybil. This can be explained in terms of threshold values. Thus when Vicky is brought out, the neural connections involved in maintaining these aspects of Sybil’s personality (in her consciousness). These connections are weaker and have a lower threshold value meaning they are less resistant to disruption caused by trauma, and likely the first to break. However, this view implies that all the personalities have independent units in the brain that can be switched on and off from Sybil’s consciousness.
Under hypnosis a part of the individual becomes dissociated, and acts as an overseer to the events that take place. They remain in touch with the reality of the situation, but remain out of awareness of the hypnotized subject (Zastrow, Ashman, 2001). In Sybil’s case, Vicky represents this hidden observer, and logically explains why she is the first to appear.
An angry personality appears to be one of the most common in Dissociative Identity Disorder patients (Pikunas, Albrecht, 1998). Peggy was created by one of Sybil’s earliest dissociations in order to cope with the anger that Sybil felt towards her mother but was never able to express (around the age of 29). Dr. Wilbur identified that there were two levels of denial towards the mother displayed by the personalities. The first was to deny the feelings of hatred for her, and the second was to deny that she was even related (Sybil, 1976). The second level is what Vicky opted for, and went as far as creating herself a large and loving family, who lived abroad and were coming for her. When Sybil could finally accept and express hatred for her mother, it was only then that Vicky could begin to accept that Sybil’s parents were her own (later splitting into Peggy Lou who was angry and Peggy Ann who was afraid). The importance of Peggy Lou can be seen in the fact that she took over for two years of Sybil’s life when things were too overwhelming and she could not cope with life (remember that Peggy Lou was the one who kept her arithmetic skills to herself so that Sybil struggled back at school as her waking self).
Marcia was highly creative, her paintings showed a great variety of colors compared to other alter egos and she was confident that her writing and painting were superior to that of the other alter egos (with the exception of Vanessa and Vicky). Marcia would like to turn her talents to cash but becomes frustrated when prevented by the others, mainly Sybil. Marcia was desperate to be loved but was stuck in the past and depressed as a result of never being loved by her mother (Schreiber, 1973). Although she was mischievous and can be light-hearted she was basically a pessimist, somber and brooding. Marcia was also extremely emotional and appears to live in extremes. She had the greatest need of all the alter egos for a loving mother, however this was equal by her guilt from having wished her mother dead (this guilt resulted in her depression and suicidal tendencies). Marcia relieves Sybil of her need and hate for her mother. Marcia was religious, though resented the prohibitions of it. She saw religion as depriving her of the opportunity to grow up freely. She felt trapped by talk of the end of the world, though believed that a better life would follow. Carl Jung very well explains Sybil’s Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Carl Gustav Jung was one of the best known members of the group that formed the core of the early psychoanalytic movement. These followers and students of Sigmund Freud believed that the Jungian theory is experience driven. This approach keeps one foot in the world of outer events and the other in the inner realm of fantasies, dreams, and symbols (Zastrow, Ashman page 104). In a major work “Psychological Types” Dr. Jung (1921), dealt with the relationship between the conscious and unconscious as well as divided personality types into extrovert and introvert. He later made a distinction between the personal unconscious which is the repressed feelings and thoughts developed during an individual’s life and the unfolded life possibilities and much more. Further, the collective unconscious is inherited feelings, thoughts, instincts and memories shared by all humanity (class notes).
Jung taught that the psyche consists of various systems including the personal unconscious with its complexes, and a collective unconscious with its archetypes. Jung’s theory of a personal unconscious is quite similar to Freud’s creation of a region containing a person’s repressed, forgotten or ignored experiences. However, Jung considered the personal unconscious to be a superficial layer of the unconscious (Samuels, page 88). In Sybil’s case, she was stuck in the stage the personal unconscious. She did not bring into reality the painful memories that her mother inflicted upon her. Jung discussed the mother’s complex by explaining that: “The nucleus is derived in part form racial experiences with mothers, and in part from the child’s experiences with the mother. Therefore, the ideas, feelings, and memories relating to the mother are attracted to the child and formed a complex. The stronger the force emanating from the nucleus, the more experience it will pull to itself”(Jung 1954). As Jung mentioned, children’s thoughts, feelings and actions will be guided by the conception of the mother. The things she says and what she feels may mean a great deal to the child and her image will be uppermost in the mind of her child. A complex may seize control of the personality and utilize the psyche for it’s own end.
Within the personal unconscious is what he called feeling toned complexes. He said that they constitute the personal and private side of psychic life. These are feelings and perceptions organized around significant persons or events in one’s life. Jung believed that there was a deeper and more significant layer of the unconscious, which he called the collective unconscious. He believed that this layer is innate, unconscious, and generally universal. Jung saw the collective unconscious as the foundational structure of personality on which the personal unconscious and ego are built. He believed that the foundations of personality are ancestral and universal.
A primary aim of Jungian psychotherapy/analysis is to establish an ongoing relationship between consciousness (ego) and the unconscious, versus what is happening in the unconscious and what is taking place in day-to-day life. Jungian theory understands the psyche as containing a drive toward balance and wholeness, differentiating and incorporating the various elements of the personal unconscious and establishing access to the collective unconscious. Jung called this the process of individuation (Peterson, 1996). In psychotherapy this unconscious material gradually manifests itself symbolically in dreams, in products of active imagination, and in the transference/countertransference relationship between therapist and patient.
Most lost memories are lost because they were never elaborately encoded. Perception is mostly a filtering and defragmenting process. Our interests and needs effect perception, but most of what is available to us as potential sense data will never be processed, and most of what is processed will be forgotten. As shown in Sybil’s situation, information was blocked (forgotten) in order to stop her from being reminded of unpleasant things. We can assume that Sybil forgot the memories because she did not perceive closely in the first place or she did not encode the experiences either in the parietal lobes of her cortical surface (for short-term of working memory) or in her prefrontal lobe (for long-term memory). As I mentioned, Sybil repressed her memories in order not to deal with the pain that she went through as a child. Sybil used a defense mechanism (repression) that was very destructive to herself. The essence of my argument is that Sybil Developed a Dissociative Identity Disorder. The help of Dr. Wilbur gave her a helping hand to face her fears. The support of families and friends are very important to those who suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder.