The Secret and Life-Changing Impact of Early Childhood Abuse: Dissociative Identity Disorder
November 13, 2023
The book “Sybil” and the subsequent 1976 movie in which Sally Field portrayed a girl with more than a dozen different personalities were the result of a collaboration between psychiatrist Cornelia Wilbur and author Flora Rheta Schreiber.
The goal was to have people better understand a child abuse victim who developed alternative personalities as a coping mechanism.
While the book and movie raised the profile of what is now known as dissociative identity disorder (DID), they also created some significant misconceptions.
“Do people come into my office and switch personalities in a dramatic way, with different voices. Does their makeup suddenly change? No,” says Milissa Kaufman, MD, PhD, about the character Sybil.
“It may feel like that to them internally, but there’s no dramatic thing that happens.”