“Sybil” is a movie which revolves around a girl; Sybil with her therapist; Dr. Wilbur. Sybil is diagnose with Multiple personality disorder, or also currently known as dissociative identity disorder (DID). Some of her 16 personalities include babies, teenage girls, young girls, and teenage boys. These characters were created by her mainly for protection.

DID-Cause and Illness

According to the DSM-IV-TR, one has to obtain 2 or more distinct identities to be diagnose with DID. In the movie, Sybil is diagnose with 16 separate personalities, hence, the portrayal of DID in the movie is relatively accurate. Moreover, she was also unable to remember her childhood; more appropriately, she was reluctant to do so. This is also another criteria in the DSM-IV-TR to diagnose a person with DID.

On top of that, Sybil would unconsciously travel far away from her home and suddenly realize that she does not remember how and why she is here. This has caused a significant distress in her social and work life. According to the DSM-IV-TR, these symptoms are symptoms of dissociative fugue. Both DID and dissociative fugue disorders were dissociative disorders, but the latter disorder was not fully explained in the movie.

Aside from the illustrations of the disorder demonstrated in the movie, the reasons shown of Sybil’s suffering was also portrayed relatively accurate.  We can see in the film that Sybil was abused by her mother at a very young age. It was believed that she was sexually abused by her mentally ill mother, whom suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Her mother would punish her by inserting cold water into her vagina and wouldn’t let her go to the washroom. As a child, Sybil was traumatized by her mother; hence has caused her to develop a defend mechanism by having different personalities to protect herself.




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