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.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial