Shirley Mason as represented by Sybil Dorset is arguably the most well known case of multiple personality (Dissociative Identity Disorder) in modern history. It was largely through Flora Schreiber’s book about her and her psychiatrist, Cornelia Wilbur, and the subsequent movie staring Sally Fields, that the general public came to know about the condition. Now Sybil, her doctor, and the journalist who shared their story have come under attack in a new book. (Please note, I will not further this cause by naming or linking to the book or to any of its author’s other poltical or advocacy affiliations.)
Update: I will link to this article which mentions the author and her agenda and poltical affiliations. Debbie Nathan’s biases are documented by NPR’s David Folkenflik in: Seizures Hurt Memory, Ex-‘Times’ Reporter Says, dated 10/19/200, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15430924.
Nathan is a board member and donor for the National Center for Reason and Justice, a not-for-profit organization that contributes about $100,000 yearly to the legal defense of individuals convicted of child sexual abuse, whom the organization states have been wrongly convicted, including Father Paul Shanley “the most notorious figure in Boston’s Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal.
Writer, false memory activist, and advocate for convicted pedophiles, Debbie Nathan studied Flora Shreiber’s records of Sybil’s treatment. Schreiber left her records in a publicly available archive at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. Nathan picked out facts from those records and then reinterpreted them to flesh out a new and defamatory narrative. None of the 3 women are alive to defend themselves.
One of the most oft repeated of those facts is a quote from Sybil early on in her treatment. She tells Wilbur she has been lying about having multiple personalities. Nathan and members of the media latch on to this declaration as a basis for their fraud thesis, but she’s being disingenuous about the healing process. Denial is a natural part of grief. Denial is also a central feature of dissociation. Therapists who treat people with DID expect to encounter one or more personality aspects who are invested in denying that they are multiple.
Child pornography and domestic child trafficking are mutli-billion dollar businesses. There are networks of people who have high stakes in keeping survivors silenced and out of treatment. If you accept the validity of the material on this website, then for some people, the stakes get even higher. Nathan and her activist colleagues have long set their sights on the DID diagnosis. Confusing the public about the natural responses to extreme abuse, like DID, and engendering distrust of trauma therapists help to further marginalize survivors. With her Sybil campaign, Nathan has scored a major victory for people with very unsavory interests, as well as making life all the more difficult for thousands of dissociative survivors of extreme child abuse.
For the truth about Sybil, I recommend Dr. Suraci’s recently published book, Sybil, In Her Own Words. Unlike Nathan, Dr. Suraci not only knew Sybil but they were good friends. He says about the archives upon which Nathan based her work,
If Schreiber were clever enough to con the world, would she not be smart enough to destroy incriminating evidence, especially, since she taught at John Jay College of Criminal Justice?
I’ll also leave you these words from Sybil’s closest living relative, Naomi Rhode.
Originally posted here: Sybil and Multiple Perosnality Disorder
As Shirley Mason’s (Sybil) 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 for several days during the week of her death, at her request, and was one of the only people that was in constant contact with her over those 30 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 claims that she contacted me for an interview in 2008 and that I declined. Over the years many people have contacted me for information about Shirley’s life. Not knowing their intent, always, I have declined all such interviews. If Debbie was one of those people, I do not recall the call, as I do not keep records of every call in a busy business life. I apologize for this, but I do not recall her calling.
Knowing Dr. Connie Wilbur, and Flora Schreiber, 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.
Shirley did not die a recluse. Shirley was a loving, and productive woman until her final,lengthy bout with cancer. She painted, and taught painting. She sold her paintings. She corresponded with friends, and regularly with us. She was a woman of strong spiritual faith in God, loved her books and her music, and loved our family greatly. She chose, however, to live carefully and confidentially because she was adamant that her identity not be known. She was very protective of our family and any recourse her life and story may have on us.