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Sybil: The true and extraordinary story of a woman possessed by sixteen separate personalities Mass Market Paperback – May 25, 1989


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Mass Market Paperback, May 25, 1989
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reissue edition (May 25, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446359408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446359405
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #694,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Astonishing . . . It forces you to look at yourself and the people around you in a new way." (Doris Lessing)

"Illumination. . . fascinating!" (Chicago Tribune)

"Spellbinding!" (Time magazine)

"A moving human narrative." (New York Review of Books)

About the Author

Flora Rheta Schreiber was the psychiatry editor of Science Digest when she first heard about Sybil. She spent seven years writing this book. She is also the author of The Shoemaker. She died in 1988 in New York City of a heart attack.

Customer Reviews

I think it is one of the most well written books I have ever read.
Marissa Shaw
Who knows, they may be going through it and this book could break them free, and they can realize there is help out there, just the way that I did.
Alexis (alexis@aol.com)
Sybil is a true story based on one of the most severe cases of MPD and child abuse in history.
Sandra D. Peters

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 136 people found the following review helpful By Sandra D. Peters on February 16, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It is impossible to say a book on such a sensitive and horrific issue as child abuse is a great book to read; in fact, this book is probably one of the most difficult ones to read that you will ever come across. Having studied psychology, it is a known fact that Multiple Personality Disorder(MPD) is associated with child abuse. The personality "splits" when the human psyche can no longer cope with the pain of abuse.
Sybil is a story of such abuse at the hands of a mentally disturbed mother - sexual, physical and emotional abuse prevail. Sybil is a true story based on one of the most severe cases of MPD and child abuse in history. Over a span of twenty years, it reveals the various "personalities" living within one woman. How one could even survive such atrocities is beyond belief. The time period of this story ends in the 40's. Today, research continues on this subject and much has been learned since Sybil's case, but one can never have enough knowledge.
Sybil's personalities eventually merge and in 1998, the real Sybil died, finding, we hope, final peace and contentment. If you are interested in books on MPD, another true life story is, First Person Plural: My Life as a Multiple, by Cameron West, PH.D.
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103 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Newstead on June 7, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In 1954, a thin, nervous young woman walked into the office of New York psychiatrist Cornelia Wilbur complaining of unusual "spells". She would inexplicably "lose time", fading out of consciousness and coming to again hours or even days later, often in an unfamiliar city and wearing clothing she never remembered buying. Believing it to be a case of hysteria, Dr. Wilbur embarks on what she thinks will be a routine course of treatment. Until, that is, her patient strode into the office one day with a confident, almost aristocratic air. "Sybil couldn't come," she says, "you can call me Vicky." Dr. Wilbur realized she was dealing with a victim of multiple personality disorder, then almost unheard of. For Dr. Wilbur and the young woman (whom the author gives the pseudonym of Sybil) it was the beginning of an emotionally exhausting eleven-year journey to make a fractured human being whole again.
In the course of her treatment, Sybil proved to have no less than sixteen different personalities (including two male alters, Mike and Sid). The sophisticated Vicky was the "record keeper" of the selves, holding back the memories too painful for Sybil and the others to know. Peggy Lou was the repository of Sybil's anger--defiant, belligerent, contemptuous of Sybil and terrified of breaking glass; Vanessa, a redhead with impressive musical talent. Some, like Ruthie, were barely more than toddlers mentally.
Vicky had good reason to keep the memories in check. Sybil had endured a childhood so horrible the word "nightmarish" doesn't do it justice. The child of a schizophrenic mother, (called "Hattie") and a passive, distant Fundamentalist father, Sybil never knew what awful or outlandish thing her mother was liable to do.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Moore on October 8, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you are interested in psychology Sybil is a must read. It is about a girl with sixteen personalities. It is based on a true story about her life. It is very well written and although it may get a little confusing, you eventually learn to recognize each individual personality within Sybil.
This book is a tantalizing journey through Sybil's life and journey to become whole again. It involves some graphic descriptions of horrible events that made Sybil split into multiple personalities and therefore may not be appropriate for children under 13 years of age.
I have learned a lot from this book and it has opened my eyes to the interesting field of psychology. I would have to call it one of the most interesting books I have ever read and I look forward to reading it again.
Therefore I hope everyone can take time out of his or her busy schedule to read this book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 20, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book over 20 years ago. It was one of the first books I read as an adult. It remains today the most fascinating book I have ever read. We are so used to outlandish fictional stories being thrown at us that we become jaded. Creatures that visit from other planets or monsters that have no purpose other than to scare teenagers are commonplace but unreal. What is much scarier than they could ever be is the real world. So horribly betrayed by what should be the most trusted person in her world - her mother; that Sybil must write her own science fiction story to survive. I remember staying up through the night reading this book. While the TV movie with Sally Field obviously isn't as detailed as the book, it too is riveting. To this day, I grow pale whenever the actress who played Sybil's mother Hattie appears on my TV - in anything. No other actor or actress has that effect on me. The recent airing of the TV movie has brought all this back to me. This is a great story of someone beating the odds and the eventual triumph of good over evil.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 3, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I actually saw the movie first and was blown away by it. Then I read the book, and "knowing" what was coming was even more devestated! What a powerful, jaw-dropping experience it was for me to read this. I'm reminded of other books dealing with child abuse ("A Child Called It" or McCrae's "Bark of the Dogwood"--though the latter is actually funny at times, if you can believe that). But Sybil remains top of the list with regards to horror stories. The pacing of the book is just incredible, and the build up to the "climax" is truly well-crafted. Highly recommended, but not for the faint-of-heart!
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