Sybil is a meticulous adaptation of an amazing true to life case of a woman who had gone through a very traumatic childhood and had developed sixteen different personalities. Here are as follows:
1. Vanessa holds Sybil's musical abilities, plays the piano and helps Sybil pursue a romantic relationship with Richard. She's a young girl, possibly 12 years old (that's what Richard says and Vanessa doesn't dispute).
2. Vicky, 13 year old who speaks French, a very strong, sophisticated and mature personality who knows about and has insight into all the other personalities, though Sybil does not.
3. Peggy, 9 year old who speaks like a little girl. Holds Sybil's artistic abilities, often appears while crying hysterically due to Sybil's fears. She has many misconceptions; for instance, she doesn't know that she is in New York City and, instead, thinks she is in the small town that Sybil grew up. Peggy feels the greatest trauma from her mom's abuse, often feeling sad/depressed and unable to find happiness. Her biggest fears include the green kitchen, purple, Christmas, and explosions.
4. Marcia dresses in funeral attire and constantly has suicidal thoughts and attempts suicide. Supposedly tried to kill Sybil in the Harlem hotel but was stopped from Vicky. She thinks the end of the world is coming, but what she really fears is the end of Sybil.
5. Mary is Sybil's memory of her grandmother; she speaks walks and acts like a grandmother, and is anxious to meet Sybil's grandmother.
6. Nancy, who kept waiting for the end of the world and was afraid of Armageddon. She's a product of Sybil's dad's religious fanaticism.
7. Ruthie is one of Sybil's less developed selves, a baby in fact. When Sybil hears her mom's voice, she is so terrified that she regresses into Ruthie, an alter that parallels Sybil as a helpless, regressive, pre-verbal baby.
8. Clara, around 8-9 years old. No info given.
9. Ellen, around 13-14 years old. No info given.
10. Margie, around 10-11 years old. No info given.
11. Sybil Ann, around 5-6 years old. Very shy.
12. Mike built the shelf in the top of Sybil's closet to hide Vickie's paintings, which she does at night. He and Sid want to know if they can still give a baby to a girl like "daddy" did even though they are in Sybil's (a female's) body. He's around 9-10 years old.
13. Sid wants to be just like his father, loves football. He's around 7-8 years old.
I may have read a book that had somehow touched the issue about multiple personality, and by multiple personality, I mean two personalities at the most, but I never thought that it was possible for a person to come to life with 16 different personalities. It was mind blowing indeed! Sybil Dorsett had gone through a very horrific childhood which her very own psychotic mother played as the antagonist in it, along with the failure of her father to rescue her from her very abusive mom, which caused this dissociative identity disorder.
Tortured body, emotionally strained, mentally affected and psychologically damaged all together –those were the things that Sybil has to go through as she was growing up. How can a mother inflict these to her very own daughter, her own flesh and blood? Being a schizophrenic (a person who has a mental disorder characterized by disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness) obviously made her a very incompetent mother for she as well had a hard time to assess herself and made Sybil as the outlet of her evil thoughts and doings. I felt so bad for the young Sybil, she was so fragile, so precious but she was so defenseless as her mother was causing her too much pain over and over again. Also, her dad should have seen the first signs of schizophrenia in his wife and taken medical attention to it than just brushing it off, not knowing that later on, something unimaginative could happen to their kid. He could have done a big difference about the situation, if only he took time to see what was really happening under his own roof. He could have saved Sybil. He could have been his knight, but it turned out that he was rather an accomplice for the disorder which aroused in Sybil.
Sybil embodied feelings and emotions the 'real' Sybil could not cope up with, she then turned to repression as her faithful companion, a psychological defense mechanism wherein one push painful events into the subconscious, not knowing that this form of “protection” will just add more insult to injury. It was only the intervention of Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, a psychoanalyst that alerted Sybil to her other personas. It was disturbing to see how she switches from one personality to another. I felt pity over the repeated nightmares that she has to go through for so long. Past is still present when you still carry it with you, but the utmost support and the superb patience that Dr. Wilbur poured into this case made it possible for Sybil to face her most dreadful fears. She had stood by her until the very end and I have to commend her for it. Their bond for 11 years was unremarkable, it was not just a doctor-patient relationship; she somehow made Sybil feel that missing part in her growing up years –the love from her mother.
My favorite part of the movie was when she had finally gained all the courage she needed and had let go of her real emotions, words of hate just came out of her mouth. She expressed how much she despised her mother and this had happened to be the turning point into making her embrace her other personalities as well --this enabled her in becoming whole again. She is above all a testament to the human spirit that this delicate young girl managed to find a way to survive despite the worst unthinkable abuse. All praises for the strong willed woman that is Sybil.
I think it is just fine to question ourselves of our capabilities on being a mother. Are we truly ready for it? Are we mentally, physically, financially, emotionally, and psychologically ready for this lifetime role? It is easy to bear a child, but to nurture a child? I don’t think so. The parents should look after their kid on what they will become when they grow up. For it is at home where one first experiences what it is to be loved, it is where they learn to trust, it is where they were taught about the do’s and the don’ts in life, it is where they will be molded if not the best, at least be a good, self-assured being. After all, what they will develop into is merely the parents’ reflection on how they raised their child.
You can download the movie here.