In 1976, millions of viewers tuned in to watch “Sybil,” a television movie based on the best-selling book of the same name, and were introduced to the agonies of a young woman said to have 16 different personalities.
The TV movie elevated a rarely diagnosed mental illness – multiple personality disorder – into a cultural phenomenon and a talk show staple. By 1980, The American Psychiatric Association officially recognized the disorder. And soon thousands of patients were being diagnosed with it.
But as the case numbers rose in the 1990s, so too did questions about the disorder, and the woman who had become the face of it.
Today, the controversy over Multiple Personality Disorder – now called Dissociative Identity Disorder – continues to shape mental health issues.
Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case by Debbie Nathan [www.books.simonandschuster.