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Sybil and Dissociative

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on 5 May 2015

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Transcript of Sybil and Dissociative

Sybil (1976)
Dr. Wilbur & Psychoanalysis
Dr. Wilbur is Sybil's psychiatrist - tries to help her through psychoanalysis
Gets Sybil's personalities to open up about childhood abuse and resolve the inner conflict
She has Sybil face her fears head on and eventually "meet" her own personalities - symbolic of resolving and accepting all parts of herself, including her past
Sybil and Dissociative
Identity Disorder

Thank you!
Anneliese Hummel
Sybil (1976)
is an American Drama film based on the novel
by Flora Rheta Schreiber
The story follows a substitute teacher/student named Sybil Dorsett
Sybil struggles with blackouts and sees psychiatrist Dr. Wilbur, who discovers Sybil has multiple personalities (Dissociative Identity Disorder)
Dissociative Identity
Disorder (DID)
A rare dissociative disorder in which an individual experiences two or more distinct and alternating personalities
Often the patient will not be aware of the other personalities, even though the other personalities might be aware of each other
Other personalities often called 'alters'
Patients with DID will often experience disturbances in time perception (blackouts), losing memory when other personalities take control
Majority of DID patients will report
childhood sexual and/or
physical abuse
Sybil's Personalities
Other Personalities
9 year old girl - Sybil's past self
Peggy holds the anger and hatred toward Sybil's mother, as well as the memories of the physical and sexual abuse Sybil endured as a child
Peggy fears dishtowels, hands, the colors green and purple, music, and often feels the need to "break the glass"
Peggy and Sybil share the same fears
12 year old girl - Holds the knowledge of all of Sybil's personalities and knows everything they all think or do
Claims to be from Paris and is fluent in French
Has social ease and very good manners
Does what she can to protect Sybil - doesn't believe Sybil can do anything on her own
Sybil's Symptoms
Distorted perception of time
Dissociative amnesia
Dissociative fugue
Inconsistent sense of identity
Constant blackouts
Numerous distinct personalities
Age regression (Peggy, Ruthie)
17:56 - 19:40
Social-Environmental problems:
Sybil experienced traumatizing physical and sexual abuse by her mother in early childhood
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
"Green kitchen" "the people" "break the glass" "the hands" "purple crayon"
Sybil dissociates into her other personalities when she is placed in situations of stress or fear
Recently struggling financially
Distant, neglectful father (deceased abusive mother)
Difficulty with interpersonal relationships
49:48 - 50:29
Psychodynamic Perspective
Many of Sybil's psychological problems are buried in the unconscious mind and are fueled by childhood trauma
Defense Mechanisms:
Struggles with unresolved childhood conflicts
When Sybil dissociates, some of her personalities cause harm to others or to Sybil herself (Peggy, Marcia)
Peggy - unjustifiable actions
Ruthie - preverbal
Other personalities like Sid, Mike, and Nancy
Sybil's actions during her dissociations are often disturbing in that a grown woman acts like children (even an infant)
Sybil will break obvious social norms - yelling in the street, breaking things without reason, etc.
3:05:00 - 3:05:56
Accuracy in Portrayal
12 year old girl - holds Sybil's love of music and adventure
Sybil claims to have never learned how to play the piano, though she always wanted to
A very outgoing and social child
When Sybil becomes friendly with her neighbor, Richard, Vanessa will often take over - falls in love
1:04:22 - 1:05:15
Alternating control of personalities
Dissociative amnesia & fugue
Unaware of other personalities
Traumatic unresolved childhood experiences as likely cause
Internal resolution and psychoanalysis as treatment
"Hollywood Glam" - dramatizes the thoughts and actions of Sybil's other personalities to unrealistic extremes
Dr. Wilbur's psychoanalysis tactics and end resolution scene is unrealistic
Likely that other personalities do not see themselves as possessing other bodies/appearances
Criticisms of DID not addressed
Sybil Exposed
Marcia is about the same age as Vanessa and Vickie - she holds the hatred and sadness Sybil felt toward the way her mother treated her
Marcia reflects Sybil's wish for her mother to die
Wants to kill Sybil
Really just wants to be loved
Hattie (Sybil's Mother)
Suffered from paranoid schizophrenia
Believed she had to inflict the abuse onto her daughter - it was the only way
Showed signs of grandeur and persecution
Why did she HAVE to do it?
Who made her?
1:32:24 - 1:36:09
Mary is a young girl with the personality of an elderly woman - holds the grief and memory of Sybil's grandmother
Sybil felt that her grandmother was the only one who truly loved and cared for her - grief at her passing
- pre-verbal infant that Sybil dissociates to when she is in situations of extreme distress
- girl who shares Sybil's father's fears of Armageddon and the end of the world
Sid & Mike
- two little boys not touched upon in detail
Several other little girls who are not really mentioned
Full transcript