The story of Sybil transcends the imaginable possibilities of reality and tragedy that may befall to any existent human being. Sybil was a pseudonym used to cover the identity of Shirley Mason, a bright commercial artist who sought professional help from Dr. Cornelia Wilbur after having occasional blackouts and distorted time lapses. Nearly half of her life was spent in psychotherapy with Dr. Wilbur and an author, Flora Schreiber, who documented the case. Raised by a mother suffering from schizophrenia, Sybil was a subject to a sexual and sadistic upbringing.
Her father’s apathy and blind devotion to religion also played a huge part in the worsening of the symptoms manifested by little Sybil and Hattie, her mother. Clearly this illustrates the ripple effect of how faulty parenting facilitates unhealthy psychological and emotional development for children. In a broader sense, the account of Sybil speaks of how constant denial of affect and truth warps the whole experience of life and the succeeding choices. It may be referred to as a snowball effect which gets bigger when left unattended on its own, as if problems solve the problems themselves.
However, all these reactions are only valid if media accounts – movie production and written literature – are fairly accurate, supported by corporeal and scientific evidence. Are they? The extraordinary strife of Sybil has sparked several debates and controversies in the discipline of psychology and psychiatry. Was it all but an excellent performance of charade for phantom personalities in order to warrant money and clinical interest? Did Sybil receive the appropriate diagnosis she deserved for the treatment of her problems?
Were the sixteen purportedly existing personalities really true or were they just made up and labeled during hypnosis? Really? Apparently, however, no questions are necessary to point out the fact that a number of ethical guidelines and principles have been violated during Sybil’s treatment. There has been an observed transference in the part of Dr. Wilbur when she wished for and assumed the role of being Sybil’s mother in order to prevent Sybil from suffering such.