Reviews

SYBIL EXPOSED: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case

Editorial Review - Kirkus - Jane Doe

Nathan (Pornography, 2007, etc.) claims that the subject of the 1973 international bestseller, Sybil by Flora Schreiber, and the blockbuster film that followed, was a deliberate fabrication that not only fooled a mass popular audience but shaped the practice of psychiatry, opening the door to mass hysteria and misdiagnosis.The author first made her mark in 1995 with Satan's Silence, an exposť of ... Read full review

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Once in a while, a book comes along that provides a jaw dropping moment in almost every chapter. This is one such book. Nathan's methods of research and the manner in which she dissects the myth of Sybil are so fantastic that I cannot help but hear Kelso's voice (from That '70s Show) saying, "Burn!" every time she chips away at another dearly held belief. The evidence presented is so solid it will destroy your previous notions. So many people fell in love with the story, the fragile but surprisingly strong heroin, the champion doctor, and the strange and wonderful things the human mind can do in the face of severe trauma. If you are are in love with that narrative and do not want it destroyed, in the strongest, juiciest, and most interesting way possible, don't read this book. Your ideals of Sybil and helpful Dr. Wilbur not survive.
How do you create a Sybil? Nathan can lay it out, step by step, for you. I enjoyed every page of this book. Nathan does a great job of sifting out fact from fiction (oh so much fiction). She fully understands what dissociation is and how it can be useful but also fully understands how it was exploited to provide a story that we all craved, one that satiated our need for novelty and oddity. Sybil was gaper porn. We got to see, or we thought we got to see, the most private, humiliating, and crazy parts of a mind destroyed before it triumphed once again. But what did we really see?
This sentiments in this book honor and respect the difficulties people encounter in life but warns how those difficulties can be compounded by those who "help," sometimes ensuring the patient sinks into something much deeper and darker. This is a story about human beings, belief, need, love, care, mistakes, greed, and so many other all-too-human feelings that muddy the waters of clarity.
I will never forget reading I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. I had the same romantic ideals about that book that I had about Sybil. I love when authors come along and destroy what people tend to hold sacred, and this author did it in the most delicious way! Bravo! A+
 

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I remember when I read "Sybil". It was during my first year of college. Things were so different back then. We have to remember when reading Nathan's book that child protective laws were nil during that time. Children were considered chattel. Children and/or adult survivors didn't dare report child abuse to anyone. They were either punished or called liars. The idea that a person could 'tell' someone, especially privately, was brought to life in 'Sybil'. Dr. Wilbur listened and believed. It wasn't just therapists who were suddenly hearing stories of child abuse. Friends I had known my whole life read the book and told me their 'secrets'. They had been being sexually abused. It 'was' a social epidemic - the silence was broken. And child protective laws were finally being made.
Nathan would like us to believe that three woman 'created' a story that would catch public attention. That 'woman' ran to therapists with stories of abuse looking for attention - therapists 'created' personalities, etc. Before falling for this tale she has woven for us, read Sybil again. More likely and based on very solid research, the story of Sybil is true, and it finally gave survivors the strength to tell someone. Child abuse was rampant during that time, DID is a valid diagnosis caused by early childhood trauma, and therapists were doing what they could to help those who were coming forward.
She misstates many of the facts right out of 'Sybil', especially about the medication. It is well-know that Dr. Wilbur did not act unethically. Nathan is not qualified in the area of psychology, but makes assumption based on thin air.
Several years later, I studied the book 'Sybil' in more detail during my graduate studies in psychology. There is so very much 'valid' and documented research out there that makes Nathan's 'interviews', book citations, etc. laughable.
Good reading? No - boring - mostly. The only interest I had was wondering why 'she', or anyone would want to scandalize a piece of work that stands solidly on its own merit - a book that showed survivors that there are people out there who care, and that there is help available. The message is still in the book 'Sybil'. Yes, middle school children will read and know that they 'can' tell and someone will listen. It is okay. I think I will buy 3 more copies of 'Sybil'.
 

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