by Flora Rheta Schreiber

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More amazing than any work of fiction, yet true in every word, it swept to the top of the bestseller lists and riveted the consciousness of the world. As an Emmy Award-winning film starring Sally Field, it captured the home screens of an entire nation and has endured as the most electrifying TV movie ever made. It's the story of a survivor of terrifying childhood abuse, victim of sudden and mystifying blackouts, and the first case of multiple personality ever to be psychoanalyzed.

You're about to meet Sybil-and the sixteen selves to whom she played host, both women and men, each with a different personality, speech pattern, and even personal appearance. You'll experience the strangeness and fascination of one woman's rare affliction-and travel with her on her long, ultimately triumphant journey back to wholeness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446550123
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/01/2009
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 44,370
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Flora Rheta Schreiber was the psychiatry editor of Science Digest when she first heard about Sybil. She spent seven years writing this book. She is also the author of The Shoemaker. She died in 1988 in New York City of a heart attack.

What People are Saying About This

Doris Lessing

Astonishing . . . It forces you to look at yourself and the people around you in a new way.

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Sybil 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
snowbird922 More than 1 year ago
Although there is a lot of controversy behind the Sybil story regarding whether Sybil was exploited for Dr. Wilbur's personal gain I have to say I can not see how this is possible. From the time of therapy to the time of book release was 19 years not a grand master plan if you're trying to exploit someone. No I believe Sybil's story was real and that she was a truly remarkable and unique individual. The writing style of the author captured me instantly there wasn't too much of anything whether it is personal or textbook psychiatric information. It had the write balance and kept me intrigued from beginning to end. It also posed a lot of questions which I am sure have been asked in the past what causes people with two similar backgrounds to mentally handle things completely different why do some disassociate and others not. I can tell you this I had been waiting a very long time to read this book and I was not disappointed in fact it made me intensely aware that this disease can be so extreme. I can't imagine what this woman went through as the one woman who is supposed to love you unconditionally destroys your whole being. Great book excellently written I would definitely recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am only 11 years old and have read the book and loved it. It was the best book. It has twists and turns and so much more. Yes, it was harsh, but I can understand it all. I dont really recomend it to all younger kids due to the abuse and content. You should really read it, but belive me, you cant stop.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first studied Sybil in my high school psychology class. We watched the movie and talked about her. It interested me so much that I thought I would read the book. I thought the book was great, and that it was better than the movie. All of you who are interested in the mind should read this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sybil is both interesting in subject matter and characterizations. The reader follows Sybil throughout her childhood and becomes witness to many of her abuses. The book puts vivid imagery into the readers heads of a horrible mother torturing her only daughter. The reader goes through feelings of anger and disgust towards the mother. Then switches to anger and disgust at the ignorance of her father. How could her parents treat their child like that? The book also aids the reader in understanding how Sybil broke into so many identities and how these separate identities had their own specific roles in her survival. Examples are like Peggy whom took over if Sybil became angry or frustrated. Or if Sid and Mike would appear to fix things. The reader can appreciate the long road that she had to go through to piece herself back together. How she could go from dropping out of school or not holding a job to being whole again.
jadestar31 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm really conflicted about my feelings for this novel. The premise of Sybil is so riveting. A young woman, after a childhood of abuse, cruelty, and torture develops sixteen other distinct personalities. However, I found myself unable to get past the overly clinical language and all of the psycho-analysis. I don't have a psychology background at all and was only able to understand part of the diagnoses.The descriptions of the experiences had as a child and what her mother did to her were incredibly shocking. I found myself both repulsed and horrified. To imagine any child having to endure that makes me sick, and it completely explains why Sybil's subconscious fractured.I found myself really frustrated with the circular and vague responses Sybil's other selves gave when Dr. Wilbur attempted to make them understand they were a part of Sybil. (A big reason why I could never be a psychiatrist is that I have very little patience). I know the understanding is supposed to be gradual, but it was just hard for me to swallow. I suppose that's why throughout the book I found myself questioning the truthfulness and validity of the personalities.The whole book takes place over a decade. It was sometimes frustrating to realize that Sybil wasn't making much progress toward integration and there were a lot of reiterated points. The truth is that her psycho-analysis for overly complicated and repetitive and I became disinterested in it.Overall, I don't think I recommend this book. It was just too analytical for my tastes. If anyone is really interested in the details about Sybil Dorsett, just Wikipedia the case instead of wasting your time with this book.
susanbevans on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent case study of a multiple personality, Sybil is a book that after reading just once, will stay with you forever.
HeidiDenney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love psychology so this book held my interest. It wasn't the traditional novel in its format - just a bit odd. It was horribly sad also. But the case itself of 16 personalities was amazing.
Bogelskeren on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read it almost 20 years ago, have just received it through the mail and can hardly wait to get startet
pgmcc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read [Sybil] in 1978 and found it to be brilliant. Having seen and enjoyed "The Three Faces of Eve" in the 1960s (starring Joanne Woodward & Lee J. Cobb) I was fascinated to read the tragic tale of a girl who ended up with as many as sixteen personalities. The history of abuse was heartbreaking.A mini-series of Sybil was televised subsequent to my reading the book and Sybil was played by Sally Fields. Her performance was amazing, and you could see her tranform from one character to another in front of the camera. It was hard to believe the different characters were being played by the same actress. It was that series that demonstrated to me that Sally Fields is very talented.Another quirky plus for the mini-series was the appearance of Joanne Woodward as the psychiatrist.I know this has been more a movie review, but the book and these movies are all linked and part of a single entity in my mind.Sybil is well worth a read.
alevitt08 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sybil, by Flora Rheta Schreiber, is a book that takes you into the life of a troubled girl. Sybil Isabel Dorsett becomes a victim of sixteen multiple personalities. Before reading Sybil, I had a bias view towards people who claimed they had this mental disorder. I did not know how truly real it is and how deeply it affects the lives of those who possess it. The book started out with Sybil waking up and not recognizing where she was. At one point, she looked in her bag and saw a key to a hotel that she didn¿t recall checking into. I was angered as I was reading the part when Sybil wouldn¿t tell her doctor or her parents about the blank spells. At first, I was so surprised that her mother did not want to send Sybil to Dr. Wilbur. Later on in the book, I realized that it was because her own fear. She did not want the doctor to find out what exactly caused Sybil¿s multiple personality disorder. It later came out that Hattie Dorsett, Sybil¿s mom, abused Sybil as a child, both sexually and mentally. It was so interesting to find out that Hattie actually inflicted this mental disorder on her daughter. Whenever she could, she could abuse Sybil. This caused Sybil¿s mind to create multiple selves to deal with the pain she went through everyday of her life. I found it amazing that one person can cause another person to develop a major mental disorder, such as multiple personality disorder. Before starting the book, I had one major question. The question was: is there a cure for the multiple personality disorder? As I read Sybil, I was able to see, in depth, the process of curing the disorder. The cure was integration. I learned that it was a very difficult process mostly because of the face that all of the selves did not want to listen to Doctor Wilbur and integrate. They were not cooperative at all in the process because they knew that integration meant their death in a way. Doctor Wilbur hypnotized them and as one by one, a self disappeared, I was excited as I saw one more step closer to one main self, however, as time went on, Sybil¿s selves fought back and began to reappear. Out of all of Sybil¿s sixteen personalities, two of them were boys. They refused to integrate with the rest of the personalities because they knew they would have to be a girl. This did not make sense because they were never truly men, being they had all the body parts girls have. The doctor tried to explain this to them, but they would not accept the fact that although they might be men mentally, they were not men physically. Many things in Sybil surprised me. The one thing that I really found interesting was how all of the selves, with the exception of Sybil herself, knew about each other. Sybil could not remember what happened in her life during the times the other selves took hold of her mind. However, other selves such as Vicky, could tell you all about what happened when Sybil her self was in control or when another self, such as Clara, was in control. Vicky talked to Dr. Wilbur as if she was not a part of Sybil. She was unique from the other selves because she would not admit that Sybil¿s parents were her own. Vicky claimed that she was from a wealthy family who lived in France. She told the doctor about how one day her family was going to come to the United States to see her. In many ways Vicky was the most mature personality because she was the one who reported everything to t he doctor and could see deeper into situations. She knew why Sybil did the things she did. She knew that Sybil was troubled and why she had so much bottled up hanger. However, she would not face, she was Sybil, and carried some of the same grief and denial of the past as Sybil had. Although Sybil was a very long book, I found it to be one of the most interesting books that I have ever read. It showed how physiological problems, such as multiple personality disorder, affect peoples¿ lives in such a great way. People who have psychological problems should not be looked at as ¿crazy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sybil was my non-fiction novel that I read for my English class, and I chose this book because I’ve always been really into psychology, and everyone knows Sybil is the poster child for psychology, so I thought why not, and I didn’t regret reading it at all. The one thing, however, that I wasn’t too fond of was the third person point of view. It made it a little harder to put myself in the shoes of the character, but it wasn’t too drastic that it kept me from enjoying the book. Schreiber is extremely vivid in her details and it made it a very exciting read, but is expected considering this book took years upon years to write. Sybil is about a woman who had developed multiple personality disorder, and had 16 different personalities that all answer to a different name. It goes through all the disturbing verbal, physical, and sexual abuse that Sybil’s mom had put her through when she was young, and how Sybil went from being in denial of her past and disorder, to accepting and realizing the extent of her illness, with the help of her psychiatrist, Cornelia Wilbur.The book is slow developing, and takes a great deal of patience to read, along with a lot of looking up definitions, due to the use of challenging vocabulary, but is amazing and rewarding in the end. My overall rating of this novel would be a 3 out of 5 because it was on a very interesting topic and the details are incredible and well researched, but it was slow paced, and at some spots, uninteresting. This would be a very good book to have people who are into psychology , because this kind of book is gold to those who truly appreciate this kind of thing, but it's most definitely not for the faint of heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Muffin20 More than 1 year ago
I was pleased that the book was not as graphic as I'd heard. After reading it though, I understand how this poor child was able to cope. A really good book, totally worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
luvglam More than 1 year ago
This book was in the exact condition that the dealler would said it would be. Will order from them..Great job
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I chose to read Sybil because I heard that it was a fascinating book about a woman who had acquired multiple personality disorder due to a childhood filled with horrific abuse. Although I am a high school student, the story really appealed to me. Even though it was written almost 40 years ago, this book was really good and was hard to put down! The story was very intriguing and, in many parts, disturbing. This book had me thinking constantly. I often tried to imagine what it would be like, as a little girl, to have to endure the things that Sybil went through. I also found myself wondering if my own brain would splinter into numerous personalities to cope with the pain and misery Sybil suffered. It shows that we really have no idea what those around us might be going through, or have gone through, in their lives. While reading this I had so much sorrow for Sybil and so much frustration and hatred toward her parents - toward her mother for committing the abuse, and toward her father for allowing it to happen by ignoring the glaring warning signs. The things that this little girl had to go through were horrible and sometimes were almost unbearable to read. One difficulty I had with the book was that there was a lot of technical terminology and psychiatric jargon in it, which made it hard to understand sometimes. Another problem I had with the book was that it was written from a 3rd person perspective, which I wasn't crazy about. I would have preferred that the book be written either from Sybil's perspective or from the perspective of Dr. Wilbur, her psychiatrist. The story was very interesting, even from a 3rd person perspective, but a 1st person perspective might have made it feel more personal and given more insight into the thoughts and emotions of Sybil and/or her doctor. Despite these drawbacks, I really enjoyed Sybil, and I think that all high school students should read it. I think that no one would even think about abusing their child if they read it. Sybil shows some of the horrible long term effects of abuse. This story teaches us that we shouldn't judge people, because we really don't know what's going on inside of their head. There are some mental disabilities and disorders in the world and I think that we need to be aware of them. It is also fascinating to see how complex the mind is, and the mechanisms it can use to protect itself from experiences that are too horrible to endure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sybil, by Flora Rita Schreiber, is an enthralling story about a young woman, Sybil, who has multiple personality disorder. This book takes the reader through the discovery of Sybil's sixteen personalities, and the psychiatrist who discovered them. Before I read this book, I had many questions as to who Sybil was and why she was such a famous case of this disorder. This book definitely explained it! She was the first woman with more than two personalities and the unbelievable part was that Sybil herself was not aware of any of them, but each personality knew of her and the others that occupied the body. They would all take over the body when they had something that they wanted to do. The way the author wrote about Sybil's story was very unique; she made sure she included all important facts and the little details of each personality, which became tedious at times. She included what the psychiatrist, Dr. Wilbur, was experiencing, which added to the overall depth of the book. This book was very interesting and I enjoyed learning the story of Sybil and her fifteen personalities. However, I have to say that I did not enjoy that the story took so long to develop. The first of new personalities was not even mentioned until a quarter of the way through the book, and the ones introduced after that took less time to be introduced than the first. I also felt that the book was hard to follow at points and that made me not want to continue reading. Overall, I feel that this book was a great read with an interesting story line and great plot, but can get quite confusing at many points. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys psychology!
Mad-Rad More than 1 year ago
Sybil is a book about a young woman with sixteen completely different personalities. Fifteen of these know about each other and know about the one true personality that is Sybil; but Sybil, herself, does not know that they even exist. They all have different names and are in denial to the fact that they are actually in the same body, they rather just think they live side by side with Sybil and each other. This book was very well written in a way that takes a somewhat confusing and hard to follow storyline and makes it very interesting and easy to understand. The style of this book is that with every chapter you get another piece to Sybil's puzzle by meeting another of her personalities; this starts to paint the puzzle of her past and helps you to understand her story. While wanting to stay plugged into the story, I couldn't put this book down. I really enjoyed reading it because I got to see into the life of not only a woman with multiple personalities but also the therapist trying to figure her out and treat her. This dynamic makes it really interesting. It reminds me of the book Girl, Interrupted, which is a modern day Sybil with a teenage protagonist. The one thing I didn't love about Sybil was how long it took for the story to get going and for the reader to start meeting the personalities, but with such a twisted life it takes some time to introduce this character and bring the reader to an understanding of where she's coming from. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who enjoys psychology, and likes to try to understand life through other people's eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Sienna23 More than 1 year ago
The story of Sybil Dorset is sad yet very intriguing. At times I found myself close to tears as I read what she had to suffer through. It was really neat getting an inside look at the personalities and how they went about day-to-day life. This book is what sparked my interest for Dissociative Identity Disorder and encouraged me to my dream even more to become a psychologist. I highly recommend this book to anyone who aspires to be a psychologist or just wants a read that will completely engross you. The movie is pretty good too, starring Sally Field. So if you like the book definitely check out the movie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know that this book has received A LOT of criticism over the years & I can definitely understand some of the arguments behind it. For me, the easiest was to look at this book objectively was to view as a work of pure fiction. I have read this book now several times throughout my life; the first time being at a younger age than I probably should have been. This book has made me re-think the way that I look at physical and mental trauma, as well as mental illnesses. I get something different out of this book every time I read it, and I just really feel like this is one of those books that every should have to read at least once in their lifetime.