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

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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

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Most Helpful Critical Review

23 out of 28 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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2011

    GREAT BOOK!!

    Well-researched and well written. A compelling read.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan was so much more than I expected!

    Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan was so much more than I expected!  Do you remember Sybil?  You know, girl with 16 different personalities?  You probably read about her in psychology class or maybe even have seen the Sally Fields movie?

    If you haven’t read Sybil, I highly suggest you do so (I reviewed it recently!), and then I suggest you grab Sybil Exposed as a sequel.  Just so you know, if you haven’t checked out Sybil yet, you can still read this review because it’s not going to give away Sybil spoilers.

    Debbie Nathan dives into research about one of the most famous cases of multiple personality: Sybil.  She uncovers facts that show that the nonfictional story of Sybil is a fabrication.

    And while this might not seem like it would be interesting to all of you, it was very readable and high interest.  Nathan delves into the pasts of the three main characters of Sybil: Sybil herself, Dr. Connie Wilbur the doctor, and Flora Rheta Schreiber the author.

    If you’re a nonfiction/psychology buff, then this book should top your reading list.

    As a side note, I was reading Goodreads reviews about Sybil Exposed and came across this one from “Sybil’s closest living relative.”  She tried to make Debbie Nathan sound like a liar, but Debbie was awesome: she shot back without insulting, and stuck to the facts.  Seriously worth checking out the conversation.

    Have you read about this famous case of multiple personalities?  What do you think?

    Thanks for reading, 

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

    Great

    Great book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Loved it!

    Having been a teenager in the 70's, I remember the original story and movie very well. This was extremely fascinating! I couldn't put it down! I don't get to read foe pleasure as often as I would like. This was interesting and a quick read!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 10, 2011

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