I was flipping through my latest issue of the TV Guide and saw that a remake of the 1976 made-for-TV movie Sybil will be airing on CBS on Saturday, June 7, at 8:00 p.m. EST. That movie starred Sally Field, and it was pretty interesting. Of course, I saw the movie before I recognized that I had dissociative identity disorder (DID) myself, so I am not sure how I would feel about it today. You can read about the cast for the newer version (including Jessica Lange, Tammy Blanchard, and JoBeth Williams) here.
The TV Guide says that this is a 2008 adaptation of Flora Rheta Schreiber’s nonfiction best seller and describes Sybil as a “shy but volatile young woman with multiple-personality disorder.” Hello – That label went out with the release of DSM-IV in the year 2000. However, in fairness to the movie, Sybil would have been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (MPD) before DSM IV was published, so I guess I can live with the label. However, I hope the movie explains that the label of MPD is no longer used.
I plan to watch the movie and then blog about my reaction to it. It should be interesting to watch, especially after all of the work I have done to integrate from DID.
I have watched other movies about DID, including The Three Faces of Eve and Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase, which was an adaptation of the excellent book, When Rabbit Howls. What strikes me is the lack of subtlety in switching from one part to another. I know that the actresses probably have little knowledge about DID, but it still irks me because people watch these movies and assume that is what switching is like.
The whole point of switching was to protect the inner child in a covert manner. Throughout my entire life, I can only recall one person noticing me switching, and it really freaked her out.
I was in the high school play as Mrs. Soames in Our Town. In the third act, my character is deceased, so I spent most of the act sitting quietly in a chair, along with others in the “graveyard,” doing nothing. I remember looking to the stage lights (which were only lightly on me – the spotlight was on the living characters) and feeling somewhat trancelike.
Afterward, my friend asked me what I was doing on stage during the third act. I said, “Sitting there.” What did she think I was doing? Cartwheels?
She did not know what to call it or describe it, but what she saw was various parts emerging as I sat there in silence for a long period of time. Nobody else even noticed, but this person was watching me closely and picked up on it.
Other than that one time, nobody ever picked up on me switching, even though I did it for three decades. They might notice that I went from being a doormat to %itchy in a split second, but they just thought they hit a nerve. Nobody ever suspected that I had other parts inside of myself.
So, we will see how this newer cast portrays Sybil. I cannot wait.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt