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'Sybil Exposed'

Journalist Debbie Nathan's new book unveils the real story behind the famous multi-personality case

Sybil Exposed by journalist Debbie Nathan tells the story of the pop phenomenon of psychotherapy that turned out to be a hoax. For a Prime Time Focus radio piece on the book.

'Sybil Exposed' by journalist Debbie Nathan tells the story of the pop phenomenon of psychotherapy that turned out to be a hoax. — Photo by AP Photo/The Mankato Free Press

The story of "Sybil," a young woman claiming 16 different personalities, spawned a book, a movie and a national outbreak of wild tales told to psychiatrists. But journalist Debbie Nathan believes the real Sybil, Shirley Ardell Mason, actually fell prey to an overzealous therapist, Connie Wilbur, and a corrupt journalist, Flora Schreiber, steering a story.

See also: A caregiver's guide to health care.

Although Mason did suffer legitimate mental illness, Wilbur's intense fascination with multiple personalities and unorthodox use of sodium pentathol, paired with Mason's extreme dependence on the doctor for therapy and even rent, led Mason into a far worse situation than where she began. Prime Time Radio's Mike Cuthbert discusses Nathan's new book, Sybil Exposed, and the dangers of doctor-patient relationships gone wrong. 

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