Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case, by Debbie Nathan, Free Press an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Since the book’s release, posts, blogs, articles and other news venues have chattered about the inaccuracies of Nathan’s research methods. Negative comments & opinions have flown around the Internet at warped speed beginning shortly after (and some before) the book’s release.
Nathan spent years pouring over archives written by Shirley Mason, known as Sybil, her psychiatrist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, and Flora Schreiber the author of the book Sybil.
What opponents of Debbie Nathan’s work either do not know, or will not divulge- is that hundreds of original resources were used and interviews conducted to complete the true story of Shirley Mason’s life.
Below are excerpts of the first few pages of the acknowledgments section of Sybil Exposed beginning on page 239:
- Conversations with Mikkel-Borch-Jacobsen (scholar) who, along with with historian Peter Swales uncovered the true identity of Sybil (Shirley Mason) in the early 1990s.
- audio tape (sent from Borch-Jacobsen to Debbie Nathan) of an interview with Virginia Flores Cravens, a childhood neighborof Shirley’s.
- David Eichman, grandson of Shirley Mason’s stepmother, Florence Eichman Mason. Eichnan inherited old correspondence between Shirley & her father – and Shirley and her step-mother. Eichman also had some of Shirley’s artwork, photographs of her as a young woman.
- Dan Houlihan, psychology professor at the University of Minnesota at Mankato – the school Shirley attended as an undergraduate. Houlihan was a student back then. He donated old correspondence between Shirley & her former teachers, legal documents about her father’s business affairs, college yearbooks, and registrar’s office records and the names and location of Shirley’s former roommates from the 1940s.
- Muriel Odden Coulter, daughter of a dorm mate shared letters penned by Shirley
- Stanley Giesel, Vadah Purtell, Frank Weeks, Vivian Beaver, Roy Langworthy and Joan Larson people who grew up in Shirley’s home town of Dodge Center, Minnesota.
- Dennae Ness Wilson who was residing in the Mason’s old home offered Nathan a tour.
- Janet Kolstadt Johnson, Roger Langworthy, Melanie Wheeler Langworthy – had conversations about growing up in Dodge City.
- Conversations with Shirley’s cousins: Patrica Alcott, Lorna Gilbert, Arlene Christensen, and Marcia Schmidt
- Members of the Seventh-Day Adventist (the Mason’s church)
- Shirley’s baptism papers
- Jean Lane, Shirley’s best friend during college
- Robert Rieber, emeritus psychology professor at John Jay College in New York City. Taught with author of “Sybil”, Flora Schreiber
- Robert Rieber shared an audio tape of Shirley’s therapy session
- Interviews with Dr. Herbert Spieger, who worked with Shirley in the late 1950s & 1960s. He and his wife, psychologist Marcia Greenlief, showed Nathan Shirley’s treatment records.
- Robert Schade, cousin of Dr. Connie Wilbur
- Deborah Brown Kovac, niece of Connie Wilbur’s second husband
- Neil Burwell Connie Wilbur’s nephew
- Warner & Douglas Burwell, Connie Wilbur’s great-nephews
Negative opinions flared, in part, from Dr. Patrick Suraci. His opinion & refutation of what he perceives as Nathan’s inaccuracies and research, in favor of his own, is being reposted by people claiming to have survived ritual-sexual abuse, members of fringe survivor groups, and by proponents of multiple personalities and dissociative identity disorder. The speed of distribution and repetition of opinions generated from this one source makes my head spin.
There is little evidence that the most out spoken critics have read the book. In one instance, a reviewer at Amazon Book Reviews admitted to not having read the book. In another the reviewer said she would not buy it, yet published many scathing posts.
Publishing disinformation about Sybil Exposed and repeating it over and over and over serves one main purpose – an attempt to discredit the author – Debbie Nathan. By attempting to discredit this author, one must also agree to discredit the publisher, Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, as well as the literary agent, editors, legal fact-checkers, members of the editorial staff, and employees at Free Press. In addition one must either discredit, or ignore, the hundreds of people interviewed, including family, who knew Sybil during her lifetime. Most profoundly, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur and Shirley Mason (Sybil) must be discredited because their own correspondence was used as source material.
The politics behind the admonishment of Sybil Exposed is clear. Many who think they have multiple personalities and their supporters view the fictitious story of Sybil, as a positive force because it tells their story and is an affirmation of their beliefs despite evidence to the contrary.
Thanks to authors and journalists like Debbie Nathan, the fictional character of Sybil was finally exposed.
Book Release: “Sybil Exposed” Exposes Supporters of Multiple Personalities & Dissociative Identity Disorder by Jeanette Bartha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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originally published 11-21-11.