Sybil Movie Review

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Sybil is a movie about a teacher who had evil childhood experiences at the hands of her mother. In the mini-series she encounters a deadly mental illness which a psychiatrist helps her to resolve. The illness is called dissociative identity disorder and it makes her take different personalities. Some of personalities are good while others are suicidal. In this analytical paper, there will be a closer look at the history of this illness within the main character’s context and finally ways in which it can be managed perfectly.

History of Patient Illness and Diagnosis

In front of her students, Sybil suffers a breakdown and is taken in by a psychologist for counseling. In the session room, she admits having some blackouts and she feels they must be getting worse each day as it passes. In her mind, Doctor Wilbur feels that the signs are kind of hysterical and assigns Sybil a new appointment for more counseling.

She is relaxed but later in the night she receives a call from a lady named Vickie that Sybil is about to jump from her hotel window. When Wilbur rescues Sybil, she begins to take the personality of a young child and speaks just like a little girl. The little girl introduces herself as Peggy after that Doctor Wilbur realizes that the patient is suffering from Dissociative identity disorder.

Vickie told the doctor a lot of numerous personalities that Sybil takes, for example, Marcia, who is always suicidal and wants to take her life. The other is Vanessa who plays piano, although Sybil has no knowledge of the piano. Others are Richard, with who Vanessa falls in love and the doctor then explains these characters to Sybil after different session. It gets more chaotic to the point that Dr. Wilbur decided to hypnotize Vickie and ask her about the color purple in which the personalities made a Christmas card for the doctor.

Vickie mentions of a color purple in which Sybil drew on a wheat bin in a barn after being tortured by her mother when she was very young. These events unfold to the point the Sybil’s father confirms that she was molested by her mother who was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

What I Observed


The patient showed a high degree of personality changes from being suicidal and repulsive, to be lovable and moved on to being a remorseful and even an annoying person at some point. These characters were depicted in the many personalities she took during the movie.


The signs and symptoms of people suffering from dissociative identity disorder differs from patient to patient depending (healthy, 2015). Most patients exhibit high degrees of anxiety and depression which was common to Sybil especially when she woke up as Marcia. The Most notable thing when the movie begins with amnesia where instances of blackouts were noticeable in the patient. Also sleepwalking and being told things which they did when they are back to normal self. Others were Hallucinations, increased phobias, and anger.


The enablers were not noticeable, but it is indicated that Sybil’s mother was the main source of the illness and it was confirmed by her father.


The people in the movie are metropolitan and friendly to others. They are culturally embedded in the dominant white culture of America.


The first DSM-5 Criteria presented in Sybil in the movie are are those which is included by various conditions of identity. She depicted thirteen different personalities, each with its own distinct way of perceiving, thinking, and relating to her past and present environment.

The second diagnostic criteria that support the dissociative identity disorder in the movie fall under Amnesia. Sybil had difficulties remembering the torture she experienced under the hands of her mother while she was young. But once she started having those memories, she was able to link up with Doctor Wilbur who guided her to treatment.

Treatment Plan

As indicated in the movie, there is no cure for the dissociative identity disorder. But a committed patient can have the best treatment through proper counseling with the help of psychologists. Many people do not know the true treatment because of the different presenting personalities given by different patients. But in the process of getting to talk to them normally and associating different people closer to the patients it can be very easy to address the challenge. Just in the same way Vickie was hypnotized until she revealed the true source of Sybil’s illness, this can be done to any other patient.

On the other hand, effective treatment can be associated with medication because most patients exhibit symptoms which are associated with other disorders such as anxiety and depression. In this case the patient will be treated with antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs for effective stabilization. Therefore Sybil should have been prescribed some antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication in order to relieve her of the effects of having different personalities.

Expected Outcome

The expected outcome after all this medication and counseling process is that an individual will start to live her normal life just like any person. But before that, they will experience increased signs of anxiety which they will express through tears and cries.

Secondly denial may follow after being identified that they need a care. Most patients decide to think that by telling therapists that they were faking the condition, they will escape treatment and scrutiny. but they know a little that it is a part of the treatment process. In the end the patients are always stabilized and taken to a new environment after they have faced their fears of past lives and learned how to control them.


Dissociative Identity disorder is a complex condition which has no cure and its source is never understood. But with its many conflicting traits, understanding the root cause of a case by case of a professional can guide thinking in appropriate treatment. The patient has also to exhibit signs of commitment to the treatment program for effective care. In addition, the prospective close relatives should offer support to the psychoanalyst and the patient so that they can attain better treatment outcome in the end.

Reference (2015). Dissociative disorder community. Retrieved from:

June 07, 2022
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