Sybil's Personalities

What are the 16 personalities that Sybil had?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ever since I saw the television movie in which Sally Field starred in the 1970s, I have been fascinated with the story of the woman called Sybil Dorset. The story is about a patient of psychiatrist Cornelia Wilbur whom Wilbur diagnosed as having 16 distinct personalities inside her mind. In recent years, that patient has been identified as Shirley Ardell Mason, who died in 1998 after divulging her secret to a friend. There is some question as to whether "Sybil" really had multiple personalities or whether she was performing to please Dr. Wilbur. Since both Wilbur and "Sybil" are dead, we'll probably never know for sure.

Here is a list of the personalities:

  • Sybil, the main personality
  • Vicky--the personality who knew all the others and represented Sybil's confidence; spoke with a French accent
  • Ruthie--a baby who never grew beyond infancy
  • Helen--depressed and fearful, yet ambitious and determined to achieve fulfillment
  • Marjorie--happy and carefree; enjoyed intellectual pursuits
  • Peggy Louisiana--angry, violent, aggressive
  • Clara--very religious; disliked Sybil and saw her as hopeless
  • Marcia--similar to Vicky but spoke with an English accent; was an artist and a writer
  • Mary--represents Sybil during menstruation; very religious
  • Vanessa--the musician who loves to play piano; friendly and outgoing
  • Sybil Ann--listless and depressed; represents the time Sybil's mother was ill with a catatonic mental illness
  • Nancy--very religious and interested in politics; very fearful of and angry at Sybil's mother
  • Peggy Ann and Peggy Lou--formed out of Peggy Louisiana; both were hostile and aggressive and deny that Sybil's mother was their mother; Peggy Lou would break glass, such as windows, when she felt trapped or angry
  • Mike and Sid--males who represented Sybil's father and grandfather; couldn't understand that they wouldn't grow up and make babies.

I hope this helps you. Click on the links for more information.



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