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The movie “Sybil” Essay

The psychoanalytic theory tells us about the causes of behavior. Freud’s theory has three parts: id (largely unconscious), ego (largely conscious) and superego (largely unconscious). These theoretical psychological concepts are “useful aids to understanding” the mind’s dynamics according to Freud. Id: has a reservoir of unconscious psychic energy constantly striving to satisfy basic id operated on the pleasure principle. If not constrained by reality, it seeks immediate gravitation. It is something that would pleasant us by doing it at the moment. In the movie “Sybil”, Sybil had different personalities. One of the personalities, Marcia’s mind was only controlled by id. She felt guilty for having wished her mother dead. This guilt resulted in her depression and suicidal tendencies. She only thought that if she was dead it would be better, so since it would please her she tried to do it. According to Vicky, Marcia felt what Sybil felt, and she relieved her anger. Ego: it teaches the young child to manage and deal with the real world. The ego functions on the reality to bring long-term pleasure rather than pain or damage. It is part of the mind that tries to satisfy the ids need for pleasure while limiting the consequence. It has the same idea that the id has but in a way with less consequences. Super ego: the voice of conscience that forces the ego to consider not only the real but the ideal, and that focuses solely on how one ought to behave.

The superego strives for perfection, judging actions and producing positive feelings of pride or negative feeling of guilt. It forces the ego to think beyond immediate pleasure and consider ideal long term aspirations. It gets the ego not to do something that would have bad consequences and would only pleasant the person at the moment. (Text book pg. 580, movie and notes)According to the DSM-IV, Dissociative Identity Disorder is “characterized by the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states that recurrently take control of the individual’s behavior accompanied by an inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.” This disorder is most likely to be a fragmentation personality rather than different and separate personalities. Dissociative Identity Disorder fails to put together different aspects of identity, memory, and consciousness. Each personality can be experienced as if it has a different personal history, self-image, and identity, or even a separate name. The different identities usually have different names and characteristics that differs the real identity.

Some identities may have different age, gender, vocabulary, general knowledge, or main affects. The identities may deny knowledge of one another, be the critical of one another, or appear to be in open conflict. Sometimes, one or more powerful identities assign time to the others. The more passive identities tend to have more limited memories, and the more controlling, or “protector” identities have more complete memories. According to DSM-IV, the time that is required to switch from one identity (personality) to another is usually a matter of seconds, but it can also be switched slowly and gradually. The behavior that is connected to the identity switches include rapid blinking, facial changes, changes in voice or demeanor, or disruption in the person’s train of thought. In the movie, Sybil has 16 different personalities. All of her personalities deny that they are all the same person. Vicky, one of the personalities, has access to all of Sybil’s memories. She was the only one who was aware continuously of Sybil’s life. She could also communicate with the other personalities.

She was the exact opposite of Sybil; she had a very loving parent with many lovely siblings. She was a visitor from Paris who was visiting “Sybil’s family” (personalities). In addition the general knowledge of the personalities was different. For example, Vanessa was very artistic and played piano; however the other personalities were not able to do that. Also when the different personalities saw them selves in the mirror they had a totally different self-image and would not see how they actually all looked like and how they were all the same person with different personalities. The best example of changing personalities in some seconds and the facial change can be when Sybil is having lunch with his father at the restaurant. In one second her facial expressions all changed and she started acting like a totally different person. Also in the sessions that she had with Dr. Wilbur, sometime she would start talking differently with different vocabulary and different thinking all of the sudden, which showed that she, had changed her personality. (DSM-IV, textbook pg 641, movie)There are 3 methods that are used to treat the DID patients.

Sigmund Freud is the person who came up with these methods. The first one is free association. In this method, you tell the patient to sit somewhere and relax, where you can see them but they can’t see you. Then you tell them to say whatever that comes to their mind, no matter how embarrassing or trivial it is. In the movie, Dr. Wilbur tells her to sit on a chair or couch and tell her whatever that comes to her mind. Sometimes when Sybil or her other personalities feel uncomfortable, Dr. Wilbur sits behind her so she doesn’t see her and Wilbur can observe about her while she would watch her. Freud believed that by having a free association with the patient, it helps to know the trouble of the patient’s past to present. It also would help to release painful and unconscious memories, which are usually from childhood.

There is another technique, called Hypnosis. Dr. Wilbur would show Sybil a statue and start talking to her. She would focus her attention this way and let her to experience changes in sensations, perceptions, thoughts or behavior. Another way of the therapy is Dream Analysis, which you describe what the dream is and what it actually means. It can be a symbolic representation of the unconscious mind. In the movie Dr. Wilbur used a cat that Sybil dreamed of as a symbol of her mother who she was following her and Sybil wanted her dead. These three methods are called Psychoanalytic therapy. Sybil had repression, which is when something harsh happens to you, you totally forget about it and it goes in your unconscious mind. However it affects you behavior a lot.(movie, textbook pg. 578-582, 668-669, notes)Scientific valid theory is when you can test your theory and find 100% answer.

We should be able to examine out argument to get the right conclusion. However Freud’s theory was not examinable. Psychoanalytic is an open argument that is not provable. The psychologists make observations, form theories and then refine their theories in new observations. They have a hypothesis but it can never be completely right because everything works different on different people. According to the book, the psychological theory is testable but in my opinion you can never get the exact right conclusion from your test in psychology. Also in Psychoanalytic, Freud’s ideas are not testable. There are reasonable hypothesis.

His theory might work on some people and not work on some others. In the movies Sybil, Dr. Wilbur uses Freud’s Psychoanalytic theories to make Sybil to relieve her painful memories of childhood. She was successful to bring all of Sybil’s personalities together. However this hypothesis can have a false conclusion. There is no evidence to show what exactly worked on and helped Sybil, and which techniques works and which one doesn’t or if these techniques was actually the matter that helped her or something else.(opinion, textbook pg. 20-24)Citation: Psychology text book. Barron’s book. Notes given in class. The movie, the Sybil.

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