Monday, December 26, 2011

"Sybil Exposed" by Debbie Nathan

I was never a big fan of, or believer in, the story of "Sybil", the blockbuster psychological bestseller about Sybil, a woman with multiple personality disorders. Her case spawned several decades of psycho-babble, and, as it all turns out, was largely the end product of gross manipulation by professionals looking to make names for themselves. It is also the story of a very disturbed woman who may never really have gotten the help she needed. As a matter of fact, she was probably damaged, more than helped, by a team of quacks.

Ms. Nathan writes a compelling book, detailing the use of LSD, truth serums, and "recovered memories", as tools which were employed to diagnose the patient. The results of these “experiments” were used to prove a pre-conceived notion of what was wrong, rather than first diagnosing the ailment and then treating it. It is so much more convenient to make the illness up first, and then create the symptoms to prove the diagnosis, rather than the other way around. She also delves into the cultural pressures of the times, as well as the media's share of the blame for this amazing, but true, story.

A "must read" book about something we all have been fooled into believing, this book will have you looking at mental health issues in a new light. It should be required reading for all who work in the mental health profession.

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