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The story tells of a young woman admitting to having blackouts, fearing they are getting worse. She is diagnosed as suffering from multiple personalities, as a result of severe abuse at the hands of her mother, whom her psychiatrist, Cornelia Wilbur, believes was schizophrenic. The movie Sibyl is based upon author Flora Rheta Schreiber's biography of Shirley Ardell Mason, an American psychiatric patient, suffering from multiple personality disorder. The book, also called Sibyl, was in its turn based largely on the actual accounts of psychiatric treatment that Shirley Ardell Mason underwent, documented by American psychiatrist Cornelia WilburWritten by
The original TV-version ran two nights for a total of four hours (198 minutes minus the commercials). Most video copies are pared down in length, one running 122 minutes and another "expanded" to 132 minutes. Both these versions are missing key scenes such as:
The introduction of of the alternate personality "Vanessa"
Sybil's first date with Richard
Her recollection of her childhood sweetheart.
Sybil dissociating into the personality of an infant, leading to Dr. Wilbur's memorable statements "My god Sybil, what did that monster do to you? What happened in the green kitchen?"
Dr. Wilbur confronting Willard Dorsett over him having left his daughter in the care of such an obvious and dangerously disturbed woman as Hattie
Sybil's two male personalities arguing with Dr. Wilbur about them being able to father children
Sybil finally confronting and learning to accept all of her personalities while under hypnosis
I have D.I.D. Out of the many portrayals and interviews that people in the media are exposed to, Sybil is about as close to the real thing that I've seen. Although I do tire seeing people with DID/MPD being portrayed as helpless and totally out of it. I have several friends that have DID and none of them are as portrayed in the media. I am a Paramedic and police dispatcher and have been for ten years... before that, I worked as a therapist as a social worker. I've always held a job and on those rare instances when the entire personality system does fall apart (all puns intended), there is almost always someone inside the personality system to take the reins. That's what is inherent about DID... the ability to persevere and "act normally" through the rough stuff. Sybil paved the way for future generations the way that Joanne Woodward paved the way for her generation into a better understanding of the way that DID works. I'm happy that they released the DVD (although I have yet to purchase it) now on the 30th anniversary. It is a testament to the perseverance of the human condition in times of severe abuse. I only wish that I could have met Shirley Ardell Mason and congratulated her and thanked her for her courageousness.
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