How is absence of time a major motif in the novel?  Does Sybil live in reality? Or a fantasy world?In the novel Sybil, by Flora Rheta Schreiber, Sybil is possesed by 16 separate personalities. ...

How is absence of time a major motif in the novel?  Does Sybil live in reality? Or a fantasy world?

In the novel Sybil, by Flora Rheta Schreiber, Sybil is possesed by 16 separate personalities.   When she transforms into one personality, and eventually back into who true self, Sybil has no recollections of these "blank spells."  She does not know where time goes.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Flora Rheta Schreiber's book, Sybil puportedly has such an abusive childhood at the cruel hands of her mother that she has been unable to cope with the anxiety that reality has caused her; consequently, her mind has created different personalities that escape the situations in which Sybil finds herself.  As she escapes into different personas, Sybil certainly has memory loss because it is another personality that participates in other activities.

Sybil's story begins with her treatment for social anxiety and memory loss.  Once the multiple personalities are located, the psychologist begins treatments to recover each personality so that Sybil can become whole.

Curiously, however, it has been discovered that Sybil is actually not a multiple personality, but an extremely suggestible hysteric.

mkcapen1 | Student

Sybil is a woman who has experienced such harsh abuse that she had only one method of escape.  She had to retreat to another inner dimension within herself.  As a result her mind created different people to handle different situations.  It is evident that the people, who she becomes, her alternate personalities, are not standing in reality.

One of her personalities is that of a young child.  Sybil is an adult woman.  Split personality disorder can be considered as a fantasy world.  Look at the different features of the personalities.  They are exocentric in many ways.

Sybil's black spells are another method of self-preservation that her body had concocted to help her to cope.  A patient with split personality disorder experiences disassociation with the thoughts and feelings.   According to the Mental Health DSM IV, it is a psychotic disorder.