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Extended Audio Sample Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case, by Debbie Nathan Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,905 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Debbie Nathan Narrator: Marguerite Gavin Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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SYBIL: A name that conjures up enduring fascination for legions of obsessed fans who followed the nonfiction blockbuster from 1973 and the TV movie based on it—starring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward—about a woman named Sybil with sixteen different personalities. Sybil became both a pop phenomenon and a revolutionary force in the psychotherapy industry. The book rocketed multiple personality disorder (MPD) into public consciousness and played a major role in having the diagnosis added to the psychiatric bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.But what do we really know about how Sybil came to be? In her news-breaking book Sybil Exposed, journalist Debbie Nathan gives proof that the allegedly true story was largely fabricated. The actual identity of Sybil (Shirley Mason) has been available for some years, as has the idea that the book might have been exaggerated. But in Sybil Exposed, Nathan reveals what really powered the legend: a trio of women—the willing patient, her ambitious shrink, and the imaginative journalist who spun their story into bestseller gold.From horrendously irresponsible therapeutic practices to calculated business decisions, the story Nathan unfurls is full of over-the-top behavior. Sybil's psychiatrist, driven by undisciplined idealism and galloping professional ambition, subjected the young woman to years of antipsychotics, psychedelics, uppers, and downers, including an untold number of injections with Pentothal, once known as "truth serum" but now widely recognized to provoke fantasies. It was during these "treatments" that Sybil produced the rambling, garbled, and probably "false memory"-based narratives of the hideous child abuse that her psychiatrist said caused her MPD.Sybil Exposed uses investigative journalism to tell a fascinating tale that reads like fiction but is fact. Nathan has followed an enormous trail of papers, records, photos, and tapes to unearth the lives and passions of these three women. The Sybil archive became available to the public only recently, and Nathan is the first person to have examined all of it and to provide proof that the story was an elaborate fraud—albeit one that the perpetrators may have half-believed.Before Sybil was published, there had been fewer than 200 known cases of MPD; within just a few years after, more than 40,000 people would be diagnosed with it. Set across the twentieth century and rooted in a time when few professional roles were available to women, this is a story of corrosive sexism, unchecked ambition, and shaky theories of psychoanalysis exuberantly and drastically practiced. It is the story of how one modest young woman's life turned psychiatry on its head and radically changed the course of therapy, and our culture, as well. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Leveling a steady eye on her oft-sensationalized subject, Nathan serves up a tale just as shocking as the famed original.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • Leveling a steady eye on her oft-sensationalized subject, Nathan serves up a tale just as shocking as the famed original, Publishers Weekly Starred Review
  • “Marguerite Gavin provides this audio edition with strong, declarative narration that suits the thorny subject matter…This is a fascinating audiobook that will interest listeners fascinated with the human psyche.”

    Publishers Weekly Audio Review

  • “Excellent for general readers interested in psychiatry, especially those fascinated by Truddi Chase’s When Rabbit Howls or, of course, by Sybil herself.”

    Library Journal

  • “A nuanced, not-entirely-unsympathetic account of the women who perpetrated a sensational literary fraud.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Carli Entin | 2/5/2014

    " Full review to follow. . . overall impression is that this was a story begging to be told, but the author's obvious bias, assumptions, and questionable research taint what could have otherwise been a compelling case that the original "Sybil" was a fabrication. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Katherine Williams | 12/4/2013

    " I thought the book was interesting and well researched. However, I hardly think it comes as a huge shock to most people that the story of Sybil is mostly a fabrication and the actions of her psychiatrist was unethical. I gave the book two stars because I think the author has an agenda with the book which she fails to state up front. At the end of the book she spends about five pages going on about false memories. The whole issue of false memories has become a highly contensious issue in mental health since the 1990's. The author quotes extensively at the end of the book from the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF). FMSF was founded by a couple after their daugheter --Jennifer Freyd-- (a psychologist) accused her father of sexual abuse. The Freyd's have engaged in a viscious and public campaign against Jennifer Freydt a well respected academic and researcher. FMSF have "assisted" other parents to engage in litigious campaigns against therapists working with sexual abuse victims. It is my opinion that Debbie Nathan wrote this book in large part to further the cause of FMSF. Nathan fails to point out that Dr. Wilbur -- Sybil's psychiatrist-- behavior was considered unprofessional at the time and by today's standards she would have lost her license to practise. My biggest concern with this book is that people with real mental health issues will fail to seek treatment because they consider Sybil's treament to be the normal standard of treatment. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Mindy | 11/25/2013

    " Interesting enough...didn't knock my socks off. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Eric | 11/23/2013

    " This is a pretty fascinating book. I'm guessing there are three sides to the story--What Wilbur & Schreiber say happened, what Debbie Nathan says happened, and what really happened. Nathan makes a convincing argument though. "

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