Sunday, February 12, 2012
Book review ~ Sybil Exposed, by Debbie Nathan
Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case is the story of the intertwined lives of the women who wrote the book called "Sybil." One, was the psychiatric patient, one the doctor, and one an author. It begins in the early 20th century and continues on through the deaths of all three women, and catalogs how the book and mythos of Sybil and Multiple Personality Disorder came to be.
It discusses the impact the book had on society and the psychiatric community in the mid 1970s, and how that played out in the adoption of recovered memory as a recognized goal of psychiatric treatment.
The book seemed thoroughly researched and scholarly, but I still felt the author's hostility toward Dr. Cornelia Wilbur. Nobody walks away innocent in Nathan's book, although "Sybil" is surely the most sympathetic.
What happened to "Sybil" was tragic and today might even be considered criminal. Dr. Wilbur's unorthodox and "revolutionary" treatments today would be looked at as a complete breach of medical and psychiatric ethics.