Customer Reviews for

Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case

Average Rating 3.5
( 62 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(25)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(10)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

12 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

extraordinary tale, solidly researched

Ms. Nathan's book is about to raise much dust, as can be seen by a couple of nit-picking reviews here, apparently done by the same person. She has written a great story that ranges over the whole country before climaxing in Manhattan, and winding down to a Kentucky sub...
Ms. Nathan's book is about to raise much dust, as can be seen by a couple of nit-picking reviews here, apparently done by the same person. She has written a great story that ranges over the whole country before climaxing in Manhattan, and winding down to a Kentucky suburb. She has much to say about the evolution of psychology, of how women were swept into the workforce in the 1970s and confronted with a fracturing series of new possibilities piled on to old obligations -- and of a masterfully composed enterprise of deceit that was successful beyond the wildest hopes of its creators. The book is brilliant. It's going to be huge, and it deserves every accolade it will receive.

posted by 9851541 on October 10, 2011

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

22 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

Grave concern for accuracy by her closest living relative!

Review of 'Sybil Exposed' This review is from: Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case (Hardcover) As Shirley Mason's closest living relative, I was close to her for the 30 plus years through the saga of her life journey. In fa...
Review of 'Sybil Exposed' This review is from: Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case (Hardcover) As Shirley Mason's closest living relative, I was close to her for the 30 plus years through the saga of her life journey. In fact, I was with her several days the week of her death, at her request, and was one of the only people that was in constant contact with her all those years. I kept her identity confidential at her fervent request. Through all these years up until literally the day before she died, she verified the complete accuracy of the book, 'Sybil'. Debbie Nathan says that she called me for an interview in 2008, that I denied her. I do not recall that call, though I received many calls over the years since her death, and have denied them all, not knowing or trusting the intent of the call. Therefore, Debbie Nathan did not have information, from the person who was one of the closest to Shirley for those years. There are many untruths in this book. Knowing Dr. Connie Wilbur, and Flora Shrieber also, the book concerns me greatly. It is an attack on their credibility, their research, and their professionalism. And, the book is a complete attack on the person I loved, Shirley Mason. The years after Shirley's therapy she was a very happy woman. She would often tell me, "Naomi, I am at peace. I have my art, my music, my books and my deep faith in God." Shirley taught painting in those years, and painted avidly, selling many of her paintings. She was not a 'recluse' as some claim. She was a very private person, protecting her identity, wanting this anonymity for herself and for our family. I kept her confidence all those years.and now am very personally saddened to see her life and hard work through therapy disputed. She was a brilliant woman, who was terribly abused as a child, and had her own way of escaping that abuse. Dr. Wilbur was a pioneer in this therapy and an angel in Shirley's life. Naomi Rhode, cousin of Shirley Mason

posted by NaomiRhode on October 31, 2011

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 62 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 4
  • Posted October 31, 2011

    Grave concern for accuracy by her closest living relative!

    Review of 'Sybil Exposed' This review is from: Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case (Hardcover) As Shirley Mason's closest living relative, I was close to her for the 30 plus years through the saga of her life journey. In fact, I was with her several days the week of her death, at her request, and was one of the only people that was in constant contact with her all those years. I kept her identity confidential at her fervent request. Through all these years up until literally the day before she died, she verified the complete accuracy of the book, 'Sybil'. Debbie Nathan says that she called me for an interview in 2008, that I denied her. I do not recall that call, though I received many calls over the years since her death, and have denied them all, not knowing or trusting the intent of the call. Therefore, Debbie Nathan did not have information, from the person who was one of the closest to Shirley for those years. There are many untruths in this book. Knowing Dr. Connie Wilbur, and Flora Shrieber also, the book concerns me greatly. It is an attack on their credibility, their research, and their professionalism. And, the book is a complete attack on the person I loved, Shirley Mason. The years after Shirley's therapy she was a very happy woman. She would often tell me, "Naomi, I am at peace. I have my art, my music, my books and my deep faith in God." Shirley taught painting in those years, and painted avidly, selling many of her paintings. She was not a 'recluse' as some claim. She was a very private person, protecting her identity, wanting this anonymity for herself and for our family. I kept her confidence all those years.and now am very personally saddened to see her life and hard work through therapy disputed. She was a brilliant woman, who was terribly abused as a child, and had her own way of escaping that abuse. Dr. Wilbur was a pioneer in this therapy and an angel in Shirley's life. Naomi Rhode, cousin of Shirley Mason

    22 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2011

    extraordinary tale, solidly researched

    Ms. Nathan's book is about to raise much dust, as can be seen by a couple of nit-picking reviews here, apparently done by the same person. She has written a great story that ranges over the whole country before climaxing in Manhattan, and winding down to a Kentucky suburb. She has much to say about the evolution of psychology, of how women were swept into the workforce in the 1970s and confronted with a fracturing series of new possibilities piled on to old obligations -- and of a masterfully composed enterprise of deceit that was successful beyond the wildest hopes of its creators. The book is brilliant. It's going to be huge, and it deserves every accolade it will receive.

    12 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2011

    A Page Turner: fascinating & well documented

    This is a very readable and fascinating account of how three women created a case history of a patient with multiple personality disorder. But as the book shows, the case was partly a lie and partly a fantasy -- yet it started a multiple personality disorder craze though out America a generation ago. Why did these three women cook up "Sybil" and why did so many people believe the story was true? I couldn't put the book down. I learned a lot about the world as it was in the 1970s, and even about myself since I really did think Sybil was true back then, as strange as that seems today.

    9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 18, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    The previous reviewer has clearly not read Nathan's book. The therapist was a psychiatrist not a psychologist and Nathan does not say that MPD does not exist. Her treatment of her story is nuanced and sophisticated, having consulted experts in psychopathology and the history of medicine.

    9 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 19, 2011

    don't recommend

    One scene stood out in my mind. On page 361, she approaches ISST-D president/psychotherapist Kathy Steele to tell her of the 'extensive evidence' of 'Connie's' ignorance, and ethical misconduct that she had discovered during her research.Kathy Steele responds, "I don't know what difference it makes." She urges Nathan to look at recent studies that scientifically demonstrate DID and the relationship to child abuse. Nathan stubbornly insists that she 'looked' at the studies, and 'they turn out to suffer from the same limitations as the older work.' What? Can you imagine this little investigative reporter pulling at Kathie's sleeve telling her such a thing?

    The book begins with Nathan comparing herself to Flora Schreiber - a woman in a man's field, looking for that 'big' story. The introduction held my interest briefly. A few 'sexy stories' of abuse. I could sense her jealousy of Flora Schreiber - 'hear' the excitement in her voice as she retold the 'sexy stories'.

    Chapters one through 19 are BORING - She rambles through a kind of re-telling of the story of 'Sybil' - recreating characters: "Connie", "Shirley", and "Flora" -stripping them of their full names titles - discrediting them - a story of three women who decided to make a bunch of money by drugging this poor girl, hypnotizing her, helping her create many personalities, and then, writing Sybil - perfectly timing its release so the dumb women of America who were just 'finding' their way out of the kitchen and into the workplace would be enticed by the sexual stories and new found attention of therapists - all buying billions of copies. In chapter 19, she kills off Schreiber.

    Then, suddenly-chapter 20 - "Contagion". Okay, now I am awake. A new book? She moves from topic to topic with no sense of why,out of nowhere- Guess what? Sybil never even had multiple personalities, but pernicious anemia. Nathan surmises how embarrassed Dr. Wilbur would be had she known that. As if Nathan is again the 'expert'.

    On to chapter 21-hoping for some kind of clarity. Nope - a discussion of cult investigations? Suddenly, the FMSF is introduced. I assume to contain the problem (as Nathan describes) of people reporting child abuse - especially ritual type abuse - the liars, encouraged by incompetent therapists and trauma hospitals - who should be sued and/or removed from practice. The survivor becomes the perpetrator and the abuser the victim - today - and in her 're-telling' of Sybil.

    The reader - if still thinking clearly, wonders if Nathan realizes that child abuse is 'real'.

    Survivors struggle with many symptoms including multiple personalities. Can she give them a bit of dignity? Have they not been hurt enough? They are the victims, not the perpetrators.

    Does Nathan dare to step out and say there are NO child abuse survivors? What exactly is she saying?

    In the last chapter, Sybil dies - a symbolic chapter - kill Sybil - kill the research, the funding, the education, the chance for people who need good mental health care to ever be taken seriously again - if Nathan had her way.

    I would say that according to Nathan's statement on page 364, it is her and others' with her point of view - those unprepared to welcome the changes in the area of trauma and dissociation and test them who are not to be trusted.

    8 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 15, 2011

    Highly Recommended & Researched

    This work is thoroughly researched and meticulously written. Debbie Nathan viewed original documents written by Sybil, Dr. Wilbur, and Flora Schreiber (author of Sybil), located in the archives at the John Jay library in New York City, NY, USA. These documents can be reviewed by anyone questioning the authenticity of this work.

    A valuable tool for any researcher.

    In addition, it includes dozens of interviews with people & relatives who knew Sybil throughout her lifetime.

    This work includes information about the early lives of the people who treated Sybil as well as a review of psychoanalysis in the late 1890s and beyond viewing Sybil from a historical perspective.

    Finally, the world has the true story behind the creation of the infamous Sybil

    8 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 12, 2011

    Additional Inaccuracies Found

    In the Introduction Nathan states: "A professor in comparative literature on the West Coast had teamed up with an assistant and visited John Jay almost a decade before I laid eyes on the material. Afterward he had written several pages about the archives in a book criticizing psychoanalysis. But he'd written in French, and the book was published in Paris. Practically nobody in America read it." The truth is Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen's book "Making Minds and Madness" was published in English by Cambridge University Press in 2009. Nathan also fails to report that Schreiber's archives were used in another book "The Bifurcation of the Self" published in 2006 by Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. Both books are for sale on the Barnes & Noble website.


    ----- ***Dear Anonymous, Do you think this is "nit picking?" In the Introduction after the quotes in paragraph 14, Nathan states: "...As Sybil lies on Dr. Wilbur's couch, hypnotized, the babies, little boys, and teenagers all grow into adults within minutes, and they dutifully fold back into Sybil's consciousness, promising never to "come out" again." Besides displaying her ignorance about "integration" Nathan makes an untrue statement. In SYBIL Flora Schreiber writes on page 306: " Peggy Lou had obviously joined sleeping Sybil, Vicky and Ruthie, not through the assistance of hypnosis, but spontaneously...Meantime, between July, 1960, and early January, 1962, analysis proceeded, traumas were resolved, and the massive residue from the past began to chip away. The two and a half years, however, were a period of watchful waiting for the major breakthrough that would make Sybil one person." Then the other personalities were integrated, but hardly "within minutes."

    8 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 9, 2011

    BS & BIASED... Grasping at Straws.

    Book is written biased and persuasive. It is basically saying that the whole Sybil case was fake, the psychologist (even though she put in 11 years before Sybil was even beginning to be healed) was only trying to exploit Sybil, and the whole thing was a plot between the Doctor and the Author of the book "Sybil" to get rich together.

    The author of this book then goes on to explain and attempt to debunk Multiple Personality Disorder in itself, and thus is the core of the entire book, to convince you that MPD is not real.

    8 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2011

    Totally untrue

    To bad this author decided to pick a subject that has been proven over and over. She could only write this book AFTER Dr. Wilbur has passed away. Why? because Debbie Nathan has taken things out of context and tried to cash in on people who will believe whatever they read. I would not suggest reading this book.

    7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 16, 2011

    To Jeanette (previous post)

    Dear Jeanette Bartha, it is understandable how you feel about Nathan's book. In light of your own unfortunate experiences I do hope people will take your advice and go to the Special Collections Library at John Jay College to see Flora Schreiber's archives. Researchers have seen these documents as far back as 1998 and there is no evidence to support Nathan's outrageous and attention grabbing claims.

    7 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2011

    biased and inaccurate book

    I read this book and found it to be very biased, attacking the Sybil story and the reality of MPD. It left out important details of the story and MPD that did not back the book's agenda. Several factual inaccuracies have already been found in the book. Important people that knew Sybil were not interviewed for the book. The book has several conclusions that do not fit the facts, especially the one that states Sybil admitted the story was "fake." Like many people, she briefly denied she had MPD, like other people deny other diagnoses or addictions. Sybil told others later in life that everything in the book was true. A large portion of the book is the author's opinion about Sybil and MPD and does not fit all of the evidence about either. It is an opinion piece, molded to an agenda to discredit the Sybil story and MPD.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 22, 2011

    Skepticism Justified

    Call me a cynic, but I was always skeptical of the Sybil multiple personality story. It just seemed too "National Enquirer/Hollywood" not to have been really exaggerated. It looks like my skepticism was justified and then some. Sybil Exposed reveals that this was largely a fabricated story. Through extensive archival research and interviews with surviving acquaintances of the characters, author Debbie Nathan traces the lives and careers of the 3 women involved. There is Shirley/Sybil, a creative but troubled daughter of fundamentalist parents, Dr Connie Wilbur the ambitious psychiatrist eager to make her mark in a man's world, and writer, Flora Schreiber. Dr. Wilbur doses her pliant dependent patient with all manner of barbiturates, fantasy producing pentathol, and hallucinogenics during "therapy". Mistaking Shirley's dreamlike ramblings for literal truth, and making improperly leading suggestions, Dr. Wilbur forges the story of multiple personalities, and tales of horrific sexual torture at the hands of her mother. Enter author Flora Schreiber eager for fame and a best seller, and the story the gets embellished, despite the fact that anyone who investigates the claims of abuse concludes that the could not have occurred. Nathan ties the psychological theories that drove the fabrication to the future fads of "recovered memories" of child abuse, that resulted in lawsuits against therapists by falsely accused parents, and the the hysteria of satanic ritual abuse cases of the 1980's, which saw daycare workers falsely charged with equally impossible systematic and bizarre torture and abuse. She also interestingly frames the popularity of the story, and the subsequent flood of thousands of Multiple Personality Disorder diagnoses which had been previously rare, to the psycho-social stresses of the women's movement and their rapidly changing roles. This complex story of intertwined lives is skillfully woven together and told in an interesting, easily readable manner. Highly recommended.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 25, 2011

    Great Companion to the original

    Overall, I thought this book was well written and comprehensive in regard to not only identifying the social climate of the 70's but offering a view in which readers could thoughtfully evaluate the veracity of the original story in that context. My personal take-away was that medicine is limited by what is known at the time, influenced by the humanity of the practitioners (no matter how much they adhere to practice of "pure science"), and shaped by intentions. The real "truth" may reside somewhere between Sybil and Sybil exposed...regardless, Ms Nathan's book provides an out loud challenge to health care professionals to evaluate the power balance between patients/doctors. It also is a statement that the effectiveness of healthcare is the responsibility of BOTH the patient and the doctor...deceit, malingering, questionable motives don't just affect the immediate parties. Kudos, Ms. Nathan...I hope it hits number 1.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012

    A must read

    Anyone who has read Syble should read this book. It is amazing.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Overrated

    This book may tackle what really happened and I was so excited to read it however I could not help but think that maybe the author is fabricating it a bit to make it more interesting.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Sounded legit to me

    I thought this a fascinating read and great companion to "Sybil". The author doesn't necessarily discredit everything about the case; mainly certain situations which were highly unorthodox and quoted so by many in the psychiatric field.

    Others state she had an agenda. Of course she did. That is why she wrote the book. And, the major players are dead..so what? Does that mean all the archived material is a lie? I don't believe so.

    Whether you believe it was a scam or not, that is up to you. But a handwritten confession....I think that speaks volumes.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Excellent

    This book provided an excellent in depth view into the lives of the 3 women involved in writing "sybil". The book is hard to put down.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2011

    GREAT BOOK!!

    Well-researched and well written. A compelling read.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    As one of the many pubesent feminists that were fascinated by th

    As one of the many pubesent feminists that were fascinated by the book and the original miniseries, when I first saw this book I couldn't believe that someone could take one of my favorite books to task. But I have now spent time with reading it, and in some ways I see the " hindsight is 20-20" mindset that it reflects. It is obvious Nathan has an agenda as blatent as she claims "Sybil INC" had. But that being said, the book is a fascinating look back at three troubled souls trying to fight sexism and economic hardship. Shirley Mason was ill, but so were Wilbur and Schrieber. It will be interesting to see if Sybil is still on High School summer reading lists after this book goes mass-market paperback. Who will cite it in schlolarly work? We may never know. I have read better critical scholarship in my day, but never on such a subject..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 14, 2012

    Polarizing for all the wrong reasons.

    If you have not yet read the book, but have seen the reviews, it quickly becomes obvious that the only thing being reviewed is the respective veracity of Schreiber vs. Nathan. Schreiber's book was initially so popular for the same reason tabloids are: it was spectacle that played upon emotion. This point is clarified quite early in Nathan's book and is invaluable for any reader who did not experience the popular sensation of Sybil first hand. One can view Nathan's work (as many reviewers have) as little more than an attempt to profit from the same sort of expositional spectacle and reduce the whole thing to "gotcha' journalism." What the reader can not escape is that at publication the research behind Sybil was closed out of a motivation for profit rather than privacy, reliant on emotional rather than scientific support, and that Schreiber's work and therapeutic practices are now panned almost universally. In Sybil Exposed, Nathan does little more than inform the public of something that was obvious to professionals of the day. She explores the way Sybil took shape and verifies her claims with sources at least (and often far more) reliable than any employed by Schreiber. This is not a book for anyone who read Sybil with sweaty palms or outrage on their minds. This is a book for those who can view a deeply disturbing topic with a degree of clinical remove; for anyone who would rather learn about flawed people than a catalog of abuses.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 62 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 4