Sybil, Inc.

“‘Sybil’ is one big psych-out,” Kyle Smith writes in the New York Post. “Author exposes split-personality ‘lie:'”

“Sybil,” the shocking true story of a woman shattered into 16 distinct personalities that helped her to dig up repressed memories of monstrous childhood sexual abuse, sold nearly 7 million copies when it was published in 1973. A serialized version ran in newspapers around the nation as readers gasped at “scenes of Sybil’s demented mother defecating on lawns, conducting lesbian orgies and raping her daughter with kitchen utensils. This kind of sex and perversion had never before been published on the ‘women’s’ pages,” writes author Debbie Nathan in a new book. “Sybil” was adapted into an Emmy-winning 1976 TV miniseries starring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward that was viewed by one-fifth of the American public.

And it was an utter fraud.

In her darkly absurd new account, “Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case,” Nathan draws on a cache of letters at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice that reveals how three women (all now dead) created what they called “Sybil Inc.” for fun, fame and profit.


Fake but accurate/accurate but fake — but then, wasn’t every allegedly true story filmed by Hollywood in the 1970s?

Update: Related thoughts from Sarah Hoyt: “Look, children, sometimes things are what they appear to be, and that’s the greatest conspiracy.”


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