Archive for June 11th, 2008

Microscopic view (c) Lynda BernhardtIn my last post, I shared my reaction to the remake of the movie Sybil, which aired on Saturday night on CBS. In this post, I am going to compare and contrast my dissociative identity disorder (DID) experiences with Sybil’s.

Both Sybil and I were sexually abused by our mothers. With my mother, it was oral, but I have met many women online whose mothers also inserted objects and gave them enemas, just like with what happened to Sybil. I had other abusers who did the object insertion, which I won’t go into here. We both also had mothers with a very warped and sick view of God and religion. So, she and I had all of those things in common.

Both of us were raised by schizophrenic mothers, and both of us had fathers who allowed severely mentally ill women to raise us. I wanted to jump out of my seat cheering when Dr. Wilbur went off on Sybil’s father for allowing a schizophrenic to raise a child. I wish she could give my father the same tongue-lashing because he deserves it, too. Of course, his reaction probably would have been similar to Sybil’s father – defensiveness and denial.

While we both had numerous alter parts (she had 18; I had around a thousand, but most were fragments rather than personalities), our multiple systems were pretty different. Mine was seamless in switching while hers was jarring. (In fairness to the real Sybil, the director might have told the actress to be that obvious so the audience could follow along.)

Here is how seamless mine was: When I was in the process of integrating, I was typing a message on my favorite message board for abuse survivors about my plan for healing and how I was confident that this would work. When I proofread what I wrote (an occupational hazard for a professional writer), I found the words “me hope” sandwiched in between two sentences. I type 90 words per minute, and I have no memory of typing those words. However, they were there, which tells you how rapidly I had the ability to switch. Also, as I shared in this post, I am only aware of one person ever “catching me” switching.

Also, when I was co-present (when “I” – the host personality – was “out” along with another alter part), I had internal dialogue (would have “loud thoughts” that were not “mine”). I never had some freaky out loud conversation like what happened in the scene with Sybil kissing her boyfriend.

The point of being DID is to be seamless so nobody knows that you are protecting yourself. I find it hard to believe that Sybil would have been seamless in the way her character was portrayed in the movie.

Like Sybil, I had both male and female parts. I also had animal parts, which Sybil did not seem to have.

One more thing – I, and most people with DID that I have known, were born people-pleasers. That was not the impression that I got about Sybil. Sybil was very lonely for a friend. While I was lonely for somebody to “see me,” I did not have issues with making friends in adulthood, even with DID.

In my next post, I will contrast my healing method with the healing method used by Dr. Wilbur in the movie.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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