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Famous Story of Woman with Many Personalities Was a Fraud

A woman whose story of multiple personality disorder was told in a best selling book and two movies was faking all of her different “personas”.

A new book says Shirley Mason, who was revealed to be the basis for the woman known to the world as Sybil, admitted that she was lying.

via brains the head

It was a best-selling ‘true story’ that is credited with — or blamed for — creating the idea of repressed memory syndrome and planting it in the American consciousness.

The shocking account of Sybil, a girl with 16 separate personalities that developed as a result of horrendous childhood abuses, sold seven million copies, and even spawned a recognised syndrome, ‘multiple personality disorder.

The 1973 book told the story of Sybil Dorsett, a pseudonym for Shirley Mason, whose personality had splintered into more than a dozen distinct characters including a baby and two males.

Mason’s story was accepted as true for decades, but it has now been exposed as a fraud.  In her new book, Sybil Exposed, writer Debbie Nathan argues that most of the story is a lie.

Nathan writes it was concocted by a lonely woman hungry for attention, and perpetuated by a doctor and a writer hungry for fame and fortune.

via Real ‘Sybil’ Admits Multiple Personalities Were Fake : NPR.

Even today many mental health experts have doubts about the story of Sybil, but unfortunately, the full truth may never be known.  All three protagonists — the doctor, the author of the book, and Mason — are now dead.

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