Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Insanity Group # 1

Here's the reading schedule you all came up with:

  • posts on pages 3-148 due by midnight 11.15.09 (I extended so you could get work done and in on time for this one).
  • posts on pages 149-320 due by midnight 11.20.09.
  • posts on pages 320 -468 due by midnight 11.25.09 (I will extend this if needed if you let me know in advance.)

This is a 100 point homework assignment.
  • You need to make 9 posts in total. (Your book should be broken up into three sections, and for each section you should post three times.)

  • Please title your posts Post 1-3, Parts A, B, C etc.
Part A: Post your reaction to something specific and thought provoking in the book (though this is not a minimum, each post should be around 400-500 words.) Feel free to ask questions in this section as well, since everyone will be reading these posts.

Part B: You should also respond by elaborating on another comment in the stream (about the same length--).
Part C: You should continue to respond by elaborating on another comment in the stream (about the same length--).

You will be graded on the

Malden High School Open Response Rubric.

The above prompts are vague because it is up to you as a group to start to develop your own focus. You can feel free to bring in outside research etc, just make sure you cite or give a link to your sources—but I’m most interested in your “philosophical” discussions about specifics in the books and your ability to discuss the writer’s technique and how he or she affects meaning.

Here’s a links to a solid discussion from two years ago: Madame Bovary. The requirements were a bit vague for the postings and there is a variety of effort and insight in these posts, but on the whole I thought it was quite nice to read.

38 comments:

oliviak said...

Part A
This book is so interesting to me, even just the beginning. I love the way the author describes the situations, and I've gotten really wrapped up in the Sybil's life.
Sybil's mother though, made me very angry. I don't understand why she's so harsh with Sybil. Sybil knows that something is wrong with her when she's sent home from college, and she's willing to talk to someone about it. It's like her mom knows that Sybil has these mental problems, but she doesn't want anyone to know because then it would make her look bad. I was so mad when she told Sybil that she never did call Dr. Wilbur that day that Sybil was sick. I didn't expect it at all, but I also didn't expect Sybil's reaction to it either. She didn't say anything to her mom, she didn't even question her. I know that her mom was sick at the time, but it had such a big impact on her life that I felt like she would involuntarily say something. "Nobody ever questions Hattie Dorsett" (pg.40). Why?
I did realize though, the relationship between this situation and one of Sybil's personalities, Peggy. Peggy is the only one allowed to express anger, Sybil isn't. So all of Sybil's anger comes out when Peggy is the main part of Sybil's mind.
I want to ask if you had any reactions to this as well, or what your thoughts are on why Sybil's mother would do this.

hillary said...

Part B
In response to Olivia’s post:
I believe there are just certain people, such as Mrs. Dorsett, that stand their ground and do not deal with questions. Think about it, it would be frightening to have a mother like Sybil’s mother, whether you are mentally ill or not. If everyone knew not to ask Mrs. Dorsett questions, then Sybil would certainly know not to. The fact that the woman was dying didn’t help matters either since Sybil respects her mother in that way. I refrain from saying that Sybil loved her mother because I am not sure if that is true.


Why her mother would keep her from treatment, I am not sure. My guesses would be 1) she is afraid of becoming embarrassed by her mentally ill daughter, 2) religious reasons, or 3) she does not want to find out the causes of Sybil’s condition. I think this is her being selfish for her own sake.


However I am completely glad that Sybil took the liberty to get the help she needed. I was surprised that the priest and her father let her make the decision herself. That decision was very brave of her, but I am wondering if it was Vicky or the Peggy’s that made the decision. She always spoke about how she always wanted to escape home and her restricted life there, but would Sybil be so brave? I find it interesting how Sybil cannot remember a thing that her other personalities do. Do they somehow influence her thinking though? Even in the smallest sense?

hillary said...
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oliviak said...

Part B

I completely agree with you Hillary, it makes sense that if everyone else knew not to go against her mother, Sybil certainly wouldn't either.
I do think that it was Sybil herself who wanted the help and who was brave enough to go and get it. She's the one who travelled to New York just to go back and see Dr. Wilbur, I think she was genuinely frightened about everything that was going on in her mind and she needed the help. I also think that she needed the relationship with the doctor because Sybil doesn't really have friends and that seems to be the only person she can openly talk with, besides that nurse that was at he college.
I did also find it interesting that she can't remember anything about her other personalities, yet they seem to know about her. Or at least Peggy does, because in her sessions with Dr. Wilbur, Peggy expresses how she is frustrated when people confuse the two of them. It's interesting how one moment Sybil is Sybil, and the next she is Peggy or somebody else and when she switches back, she can't remember anything- all in the matter of sometimes just minutes. However, I don't think that any of them have an influence on Sybil herself. I think they come out depending on how she's feeling, so that Sybil won't have to actually feel any emotion. Each of her personalities are their own separate people in a way, they act differently from each other and that's kind of why they're present.
I did also find it odd that, on page 128, Hattie called Sybil Peggy, Peggy Ann, or Peggy Lou. Sybil has two personalities, named Peggy Ann and Peggy Lou. That allows me to better understand how they came to be created in Sybil's mind.

Stephanie A. said...
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Stephanie A. said...

Part A

I have to say that already this book is extremely interesting. From the very beginning of this story when I first learned that Sybil can’t remember what happens for days and looses track of time, made me want to read more. But the part that I was seriously intrigued was when she turned into “Peggy.” I knew she couldn’t remember what happened to her for days and she lost her memory, and I also knew before reading this book that she had multiple personalities, but for some reason it didn’t click for me that when her true self couldn’t recall what happened to her for days, she was actually going through a personality/character change.

I felt uneasy when the doctor asked Sybil “And who is Sybil” (48), and Sybil being Peggy relies “Sybil? Why, she’s the other girl” (48). I was just in amazement. I can’t even begin to imagine how scared the doctor must have felt witnessing and having to deal with Sybil, when I’m only reading the story and feeling that eerie and disturbed by her sudden change in personality. I especially found it creepy how violent she was to become a different person How is it that her other personalities can recall who Sybil, her real self is, but then when Sybil is herself, she can’t remember her other personalities? I find this all very eerie but very interesting and definitely a page turner.

oliviak said...

Part C
I feel the same way you do about the book, Stephanie. It really is a page turner. I don't completely understand why Sybil can't remember anything about her other personalities, but at the same time it makes sense for the reason that she blocks out her own feelings and lets her other selves take over and express them- so that she won't have to feel anything. I remember Vicky saying to Dr. Wilbur that she felt sorry for Sybil because she was always so afraid, but that Vicky herself wasn't ever afraid because she "had no reason to be." At the next moment though, for whatever reason, Vicky 'left' and Sybil came back into consciousness not remembering even going to Dr.Wilbur's office. It's incredibly intriguing.

Also, it's interesting to watch how Dr.Wilbur handles this case, she cares so much about Sybil and I agree with what you said about how she must have been scared when she found out about Sybil's personalities. It's overwhelming though, to think that so far, it's only Dr.Wilbur that's dealing with Sybil. She's clearly very dedicated to helping Sybil, but I feel like it could be potentially dangerous. She's engrossing herself into Sybil's life with no help and it seems like she can't stop thinking about her even when she's not in sessions with her.
Do either of you agree or have any opinions on this?

hillary said...

Part A
I find Sybil’s case to be so creepy, yet fascinating. I cannot relate, but I feel such an immense sympathy towards her troubles. Despite all of the neglect that she encountered, I believe it was her grandma’s death that truly broke her. She felt as if they were “burying love” and dragging her “away from her grandmother,” therefore trapping her in a “world without love” (140).This is so deep, but I find it more interesting that this is coming from a little girl. I would not suspect such a young child to think in this way.


I cannot seem to wrap my head around the fact that Sybil has no idea about her other personalities. I want to believe that she is acting, but that cannot be it either. This does not even seem as though she has a mental problem, but more like she is seriously possessed by other once-lived souls. I can see how Peggy Lou and Peggy Ann stem from her experiences, but where did Vicky come from? They all speak of how they are individuals, which is completely creepy! Nowadays everyone likes for things to be proven scientifically and all that, but Sybil seems impossible to decipher. I can see this tying into the topic of religion since it is mentioned several times such as on page 129. Is this insanity or is it a mystery – something beyond explanation?

Stephanie A. said...

Part B


I also don’t completely understand as Olivia pointed out why Sybil can’t remember her personalities yet they know all about her. I find it so weird that they are more comfortable in Sybil’s body then Sybil is being herself. Except Sybil isn’t always herself. So it must be incredibly hard for Sybil to even understand who she is since she has times where she isn’t herself. Maybe all those different personas combined is who she’d be if she stopped trying to suppress her emotions. And I think this just goes to show, in a dramatic way, the importance of not holding all your feelings inside. Not that you’d be crazy, but it certainly doesn’t seem healthy, especially in a case like Sybil’s where suppressing her emotions has lead her to have different personalities. Although I think its way more complicated then Sybil condition only being due to her suppressing her emotions, especially if it’s been happening since she was three. But still, how is it that all those personalities know Sybil but Sybil doesn’t know who they are? And I wonder if they have more control over Sybil’s body then she does?

I do wonder though, if the psychologist was able to witness her different personality, did other people see it too? Like the guy who wanted to marry her, did he not know she had some serious problem? Did he even know the real Sybil or just a personality she held that wasn’t really her own? And is that why the guy who originally wanted to marry her decided they shouldn’t see each other anymore?

As for Dr. Wilbur, I really think it isn’t safe for her to be invested into Sybil’s case alone. What is Sybil’s personalities go crazy and attack her like her Peggy personality stood up against that guy who window she broke. Not that she attacked him but she completely rebelled. And speaking of that moment how is it that Peggy was able to feel and watch Sybil come through and take over?

hillary said...

Referring back to the grandma’s funeral, I noticed how the text was written. There were simple sentences that created that sort of mature tone, which might have given off a more mature side of Sybil than was intended. I can see that the author’s use of techniques such as sentence variations can affect tone, so it can interfere with how Sybil actually acted. I am wondering how the story would be affected if it was written in first person. If it were in Sybil’s own words, her thoughts would probably reflect more of a childish cluelessness than a matured way of thinking. Comments about this?

Stephanie A. said...

Part C

In response to Hillary’s question, starting from the very first chapter we get an idea of what it’s like to be in Sybil’s mind. She’s just confused. She doesn’t know where she is or what’s happening. But also we didn’t know who she was in the first chapter until she turns back into herself at the end of the first chapter. The story would be affected in a huge way because we’d have to figure out on our own which personality is which, and because Sybil’s personality changes on the spur of the moment, the reader would have to pay close attention to which personality she’s portraying when. But I think that would also be pretty interesting because it would get us into the mind of Sybil to see on a deeper level how scary and confusing it must feel. Plus if the book was completely written in first person, they’re would have to be multiple “first person” speakers since Sybil is internally more then one person.

I like the way the book is written. Although, I find her personalities really confusing when they say these abstract comments at times like when Peggy was telling Dr. Wilbur “I can’t tell you. I just can’t. It’s like the guards around the palace. They can’t smile. They’re on duty” (52). Her personalities are really puzzling but they make you think. That’s why I like that the book is written in a way that it’s clear whose speaking. I also like that the thoughts of Dr. Wilbur are revealed because it shows how she’s just as confused as I personally feel reading about the characters.

oliviak said...

In response to Stephanie's comment, I don't really know too much about Stan, who supposedly wanted to marry her. After that specific moment, nothing more is said about him except that in his letter he said that he wanted to discontinue their friendship. The abruptness of his words in the letter makes me think that he was realizing that Sybil may be a little crazy and he doesn't want to speak with her anymore because he's freaked out by it.
Sybil also said that the kids at school were leaving her out and in 5th grade, whereas they didn't in 3rd grade, which makes me think that they were also noticing a difference in her. And just to say, the fact that Sybil was wholly occupied by her other personalities for two years is insane. She can't remember anything and she doesn't know how to do any of the work that she's supposed to know. I'm just thinking of how scared she had to feel during these times when she came back into consciousness.

In response to Hillary's comment, I didn't really notice the short sentences used to describe the funeral. I did, however, notice that the description of how Sybil acted was rather mature, but I think that's just how Sybil was. She was quiet and reserved, yet so aware of the feelings of everyone around her all the time. I don't think she ever really acted like a child unless it was Peggy Ann or Peggy Lou- the personalities her mother wanted her to have.It made sense to me that Sybil was Sybil at her grandmother's funeral, because she cared so much about her and was the only person she knew that truly cared about her. I find it fascinating that she somehow knew as a child that her mother was ambivalent about her and couldn't really take care of her. It's a recurring theme of Sybil herself and of all her personalities to want to find someone that truly cares about them; she hasn't since her grandmother died.

hillary said...

Part C

Stephanie, I also wonder how much control Sybil actually has over her own body. It seems as though these other personalities can come and go as they please or when they feel they should protect her. I am not sure if people right out knew that Sybil had all of these complications such as in real life we would just assume bipolarity. There are definite mood swings, though, which played a huge role in further isolating her from society.

I find Dr. Wilbur to be extremely brave and sophisticated in her craft. She really knows how to handle a situation and how to persuade her patients. Whenever people suggest that I should become a psychologist, I always reject the idea immediately because the thought of dealing with crazy people frightens me. The possibilities of becoming a target out of anger seems very likely. We eventually find out that more people start helping out with the case anyways because the author is not Dr. Wilbur after all. I am not very sure that she would have wanted to work on this case by herself either because that is a lot of information for one person.

At this point, I am just wondering how she is going to cure this girl.

R. Gallagher said...

Oliviak—good job. You seem very engaged with the book and the discussion and it shows. One thing you said (your second sentence as a matter of fact) that is of interest that you could pursue is “I love the way the author describes the situations”. Go ahead and make us see what you see in the writer’s use of language or style. Also good analysis of character[s].

Hillary—you are also doing a good job…engaged in the book. See comments below for y’all…

Stephanie A.— you are also doing a good job…engaged in the book. See comments below for y’all…

To y’all: Great start so far—you are very engaged in the discussion and the text. What you can all do to further develop your discussion and already good / solid character[s] analysis is to 1. expand the conversation to a more philosophical level—(you can even stray off topic a little and expand what the this makes you think about the human condition) and 2. show how moments in the text work, i.e. how the author creates effects with development of language.

Good place to start tho. I’m enjoying reading and am looking forward to more!

hillary said...

Part A

Hattie disgusts me. She is the biggest hypocrite I have ever heard about. Her pedophilia and gross disrepect was extreme and something that I hadn't even thought Hattie was capable of. I have no sympathy towards her insanity at all. I felt as though the author might have downplayed Hattie's childhood (sympathy) chapter because perhaps she herself did not feel that Hattie deserved too much sympathy. I am not really sure since her point of view/voice seems unbiased, yet there is a clear sympathy towards Sybil's situation.

I would like to refer to page 223 where Hattie preaches to "Never hit a child." I understand that many people unintentionally contradict themselves through careless actions or whatnot, but Hattie absolutely knows what she is doing! But I also wonder if some of her actions can be blamed on her schizophrenia. I don't want to assume too many things, but I just have a feeling that Hattie would hate her daughter even if she wasn't mentally ill. I think it lies in her soul.

Something else I noticed was the author's word choice. She had these really complicated terms or strange diction that gave the text a more psychological aspect to it. This book is really about a psychological analysis and the author reflects that well. As a psychologist herself perhaps it was natural for her to speak in these ways, but I personally felt as though her diction lacked consideration for the readers. An example would be on page 222 where she says "euphemistic crossness." (There were better ones, but I forgot to sticky note them...)

hillary said...

I would also like to open up a question. Why do you think Hattie sometimes made sure that Sybil "loved" her? There were times, like Sybil mentioned, that Hattie would do motherly-type actions such as caring to leave "little surprises" in Sybil's morning cereal. She wanted to be "the best mother in the world" (p.223), but why push Sybil away? Is the author perhaps getting to the idea that actions are heavily affected by mental illnesses? This contradicts my previous hypothesis about Hattie's actions, but it became so much more complicated after this realization...

oliviak said...

Part B- Post 1

I completely agree with you Hillary, Hattie is awful. For me, this book became much harder to read during this second part because of the things that Hattie did to Sybil. I really can't understand why she would do that, she was clearly really sick and Willard was so enveloped in his denial that he couldn't see it.
I definitely also picked up on the author's tone as well. She wasn't very sympathetic towards the reads, I felt that the way in which she wrote about Hattie's abuse was kind of flat. For example, on page 219, the author says:
"There were times when Hattie showed Sybil what it was like to be dead, when she put the child in the trunk in the attic and closed the lid or stuffed a damp wash rag down Sybil's throat and put cotton in Sybil's nose until the child lost consciousness."
It sounds like a description of an every day activity, when this is something so much more serious and traumatizing. I'm guessing the author did this to pull herself emotionally out of what she's writing. At the same time though, it feels very dry. Her repetitious use of "the child" doesn't validate Sybil as a real person.

On the contrary, however, I really liked the way the author wrote about her "interview" with Willard Dorsett. I could feel the tension, his discomfort and Dr. Wilbur's anger. An example is from page 269, when the author says "The atmosphere was like melted rock issuing from a volcano..." I thought that the author's descriptiveness was really effective in visualizing what was happening.
I had a question about what you guys think will happen. At this point, I feel as though Sybil is too sick to be able to be a person with only one personality. I just don't see how it could happen, do either of you have an opinion on it?

oliviak said...

Part B- Post 2

In response to Hillary's question about why Hattie constantly asked if Sybil loved her, I think that it was her scitzophrenia. I feel like as a child, Hattie never felt all that loved, especially since her father never cared about what she wanted or what was best for her.
She was so contradictory and unpredictable, she had the moments of being a 'good' mother, but she was sick herself. Her disease determined her actions, I don't think she had much control, and so while she wanted the love of Sybil, she didn't know how to handle it. The only real control she had in her life was over Sybil, and she took advantage of that.
I don't know if that's right, I find it confusing, but it's the only explanation I can think of.

hillary said...
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hillary said...
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hillary said...
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hillary said...

Part B

Olivia, I like your interpretation of Hattie's control over Sybil. It makes sense. I, however, still feel as though I cannot summon up enough sympathy for this woman. Even with her schizophrenia, I feel as though half of the time (more or less) she was very conscious of her actions. Such as when she defecated on her "rivals" property. Her personality is very unlikable and difficult to understand. I think the author might have decided to display a sort of lack of sympathy because 1) she felt the same way as we do, 2) she didn't feel it necessary to defend Hattie, since this is afterall Sybil's book/life, or 3) she might have wanted to keep Hattie as a villainous character.

In response to your question, Olivia, I believe the author chose to make the truth as horrible as possible. Not to say that she told any lies or elaborations per say, but it could explain the lack of sympathy on Hattie's part. It seems as though to have a happy ending a story might need some villains and some obstacles to get over first. I believe all of this unhappy, creepy, heart-clenching scenes/moments lead to a happier ending.

I would also like to add how interesting it was to find out that Sybil's family had a disarray of mental illnesses throughout. But I agree with the doctor in that Sybil's multiple personalities were outcomes of Hattie's abuse/trauma.

I keep thinking about what this book could be saying about the human condition, but I am seeing a very black and white picture right now. Something to do with connecting the pieces of Sybil's self and making herself finally whole? What do you think?

oliviak said...

Part B Post 3

I agree, I'm not really feeling any sympathy towards Hattie for what she did to Sybil, I just think it's sad that no one bothered to stand up to her or at least acknowledge the fact that she seriously needed help. Willard especially makes me angry because he just let all of this happen and didn't really care to help Sybil, he just kept saying "you're too big for that..." etc, etc.
I can see how she wanted to make the truth as horrible as it was, and I guess in that regard it was effective, but they were such horrific events that it could have helped to have someone to relate to while reading.
I also think it was interesting to learn about the family history of mental disorders. Personally, even though it hasn't been mentioned so far, I think Willard has OCD. The way that the author included the details about what Willard ate everyday for lunch for over twenty years and how he had such precision to detail and being correct all the time, felt like she was trying to get at quirks in his personality without saying that he had some type of disorder. He was emotionally disconnected, so I can see how OCD could either be the cause for his emotional disconnect, or the coping skill for it.
As for the human condition aspect, I think it shows how the relationships people have can seriously affect the people involved. It shows the complexities of peoples' lives and how the brain functions in ways of survival. In Sybil's case, she didn't know how to cope with the abuse from her mother and the emotional and physical disconnect from her father, so she created other personalities for survival. With Hattie, she never put the effort in to get help, it was like dealing with the past was too much so she was just going to stay sick for the rest of her life. I feel like Hatti is different though because she knows that she is sick, yet refuses to do anything about it. Lastly, in Willard's case he strongly enforces at least one exmple of the human condition. With enough effort, anyone can convince themselves of anything. It's just how the human mind works, and Willard didn't want to see that his wife was as sick as she was, he didn't want to see that his daughter had problems. He kept himself enclosed in a protective shell so that he could save himself. Yet, he couldn't help his daughter.
Why? This makes me so upset, he knew that she was suffering, but turned a blind eye.In any case, Sybil will have to face each and every trauma that happened to her.

On page 318, Dr. Wilbur has a 'revelation', so to speak, she says:
"Each self was younger than Sybil, with their ages shifting according to the time of the particular trauma that each had emerged to battle." How will Sybil be able to break down the walls of her conflicting personalities to actually think about what happened to her. It seems that the further into the book we go, the less we see of Sybil and the more we see of all of her other personalities. It's like Sybil retreats back so that she won't have to face re-living her traumas. If she continues to do this, how will she get better? Also, do you think that her father will play a new role in her life now that he knows what's wrong with her?

Stephanie A. said...

Part A

No wonder Sybil is the way she is, I honestly now believe that if her mother isn’t the main cause of her disorder, then she’s a major contributor in the way Sybil’s sickness began. Her mother was clearly sick herself. How can you do that to your child? Putting a child in an attack, not just an attack but in a trunk put in the attack and making her go unconscious? That is a serious cause of child abuse right there. I was especially horrified by the part when the mother started laughing again and then Sybil got scared. I’d be scared too living with someone like that, not knowing what they do next to hurt you. If Sybil’s mother is crazy herself then I am extremely not even surprised that Sybil has this disorder.

I feel like if Sybil had a sane mother, that maybe her life would be a lot different. She could possibly have the same problems of the personality disorder but I really don’t think it would have been as severe. Or maybe if she had a sane mom she would have never had a personality disorder in the first place. I looked up personality disorders and results say that these conditions can vary from “mild” to “severe” and that “environmental factors” are believed to play a role. And I really think that Sybil’s environment around her mother seriously played a huge role in how Sybil’s personality disorder and how it got to that extreme point. Sybil even said herself that her mother didn’t allow her to be angry or sad and they wouldn’t talk about it. Well another thing believed to help people with personality disorders is “talk therapy.” So to me, it’s clear that Sybil’s mom not only abused her physically but mentally as well which affected Sybil for the rest of her life.

Stephanie A. said...

Part A (continued)

And to add on to what I said before, her mom was definitely the reason why Sybil became the way she was because it said “normal at birth, the doctor speculated, Sybil had fought back until she was about two and a half, by which time the fight had been literally beaten out of her” (186). Then it says on that same page that she “created a pretend world.” And I’d like to say two things about just that which made me cringe. First of all, it makes so much sense that as to why Sybil has those personalities other then the fact that they seem to develop from situations that deeply affect her. If she made up this pretend world with a mother that she could pretend to love at such a young age, then she must have not learned how to decipher the difference between reality and imagination. No one was there to tell her that her pretend world was in fact pretend. And the part that made me cringe is the speculation that Hattie tortured Sybil even as a baby. That seriously disturbs me. Hattie was sick herself and in no condition to have a child.

hillary said...

Part C

Aha! I see what you're saying, Olivia. So the human condition would be that humans tend to see what they want to see, and cannot accept truths. I guess we can argue that Hattie really does feel something for her daughter then since she hadn't called Dr. Wilbur. I am debating whether she did that so she wouldn't be embarrassed/exposed of her abuse or if she didn't want to accept the fact that her own flesh and blood was sick - just like her. I share your frustration towards Willard. I think this book is about how humans cope with each other and their situations. Each person copes differently. Some develop multiple personalities, some hurt others to share in their own personal pain, and some ignore the facts. The human mind is such a complicated mess, but we can find that all humans share a instinctual means of survival.

I also think that this book brings about a lot of what-ifs. Let's say Willard or anyone stood up to Hattie or even paid the littlest of attention towards Sybil. Sybil would most likely be normal. The outcome was all a matter of choice and perhaps another larger idea is that the human mind tends to act in ways that lead to troublesome consequences - even when it does nothing at all. The human need for trust and love can seem so overwhelmingly unobtainable. Sybil lacked both and therefore really didn't have too many options for survival. It's like a chain reaction of one bad thing following another.

...

This book makes me think about the people I interact with daily and even myself. It makes me paranoid.

Stephanie A. said...

Part B

In response to Hillary’s question about why Sybil’s mother did “mother actions” I think I it was because Hattie probably felt guilty extremely deep on the inside. Sometimes when parents yell at their children in the harshest way, they sometimes go back and ask for forgiveness or say that they’re sorry about how they handled the situation. An adult, in my opinion, can do this “forgiveness” act for two possible reasons. They could either actually feel extremely bad or want the child to know that they understand that they were being unfair, or they could be trying to find a form of relief because they actually feel guilty about what they did. To me, I want to make the assumption that although Hattie was clearly crazy, she did have that sense of knowing that what she was doing was wrong. But although she knew her actions were wrong, I believe that she was only trying to make herself feel better not caring at all about Sybil. And the way to make Hattie feel better about her self and the abuse she inflicts upon her own child, is by knowing that someone else can forgive her for her ways. Maybe she wanted this forgiveness from Sybil because she couldn’t find the forgiveness within her own heart. Sometimes when you know someone forgives you for something awful you might have done, it takes off some of the stress of knowing what ever it may be that u did was wrong. So in my opinion I think that Hattie was only using Sybil to make herself feel better about her self.

hillary said...

Here's a random thought:

As an author, it is vital for you to know your audience. What if Scheiber knew that we would react in rage against Hattie? Is this perhaps justifying the human condition that humans tend to only see what they want to see? No matter how much we know/find out about Hattie, we will still feel a resentment towards her. What do you guys think?

Stephanie A. said...

Part C

Hillary previously spoke about the moment in the book when Sybil’s mom didn’t call the doctor back about another appointment and said, “I am debating whether she [Hattie] did that so she wouldn't be embarrassed/exposed of her abuse or if she didn't want to accept the fact that her own flesh and blood was sick - just like her. Well I have to say that I definitely believe that both of Hillary’s guesses were true. I do not see Hattie as a loving mother what so ever. And she her self was a sick women. I believe that Hattie didn’t call the doctor back because she couldn’t accept that fact that her daughter was sick just like her and because she abused her daughter so much and by talking to a doctor her abuse would be exposed which would put Hattie in trouble. If that is true, then it would make sense why in the earlier days of Sybil going to talk to a doctor when her parents wanted to know what happened during the meeting, they only asked about what the doctor said about them and not how Sybil was doing. They asked because they were scared about the dark secrets that would have to come out about Sybil’s abuse. Plus, if Hattie could accept that her daughter was sick, then I believe that she would have allowed Sybil to go to the doctor and work her problems out. But keeping Sybil from the doctor to me was for purely selfish reason and had nothing to do with actually loving her daughter.

As for Sybil’s father who now knows what’s going on with Sybil, I honestly don’t think he’s going to be any help. He lived in that house with his mentally ill daughter and crazy wife and just ignored it and did nothing about it. I mean maybe her father will pull a surprise and face this problem with his daughter together. But personally I really don’t see her father trying to help her much. Plus her father is a lot older in age and what would be possibly do. It’s said that with age comes knowledge and wisdom but if her father hadn’t done anything about her daughter’s abuse in the first place, then he won’t be doing much now that Sybil’s older.

Also this makes me think of the guy who left Sybil or which ever personality he knew. What if he left Sybil because he saw the disorder she had and was afraid of it? Maybe her father was just suck in a relationship with Sybil’s mother he couldn’t get himself out of and never knew how to deal with it.

oliviak said...

I know that it's past the posting time, but I just wanted to comment on what Hillary asked: "What if Scheiber knew that we would react in rage against Hattie? Is this perhaps justifying the human condition that humans tend to only see what they want to see?"
I think that this is a very good point. No matter what, we know that Sybil's mental illness is an extreme case, so on one hand, I feel like anyone would immediately resent Hattie for doing this to her child. On the other hand, however, I think that a reader needs to take in all the information first, without imposing judgement on any of the characters yet. It relates to the way I had said Schreiber wrote the book, I thought it was rather dry and sad how she didn't put any of her own emotion into the book. When I think about it now though, she couldn't have put any emotion into the book because there would have been too many emotional aspects going on. Also, she wanted to give the exact account of what happened to Sybil so that we, as readers, can find out what happened and establish opinions of our own.
Both Hattie and Sybil were sick women, but they're not bad people. I think that having the awareness of the 'human condition' helps in reading this book because now I can put aside my judgements until I find out more.

hillary said...

Mr. Gallagher has extended the due date for the last set of blog posts to Saturday! Hooray!

oliviak said...

I got a little frustrated with the ending of the book. I felt like a lot was repeated and it just kind of dragged, especially the line: "Well? She winced. Would she ever be well?" (pg.363) and "Why should she face it? she wondered. For what was she struggling so hard and alone? There was no way out. Of that Sybil was certain."
At the same time though, and I don't know if this was intended, but these types of remarks show just how long treatment takes to make an effect. The author really gives us the exact details of what happens. I'm amazed at the reponsibility Dr.Wilbur took on with Sybil, she became so much more than just a therapist. She is always there when Sybil's other selves take over and get her stuck in a dangerous situation.
I do have a question though, and I've been wondering about it since I started reading the book. How does Schreiber get all of this information? The way she writes is like she's in Sybil's head and knows everything that she thinks. How? I don't understand, isn't there patient confidentiality with every psychoanalysis? I just find it fascinating how incredibly detailed all of the information is. I started questioning the trust with Schreiber though because of this, I don't know how it can all possibly be true.
On page 439, though, Sybil mentions that she's close with Flora Rheta Schreiber, who was introduced to her by Dr.Wilbur. Schreiber says that she's close to Sybil, but how come we never find that out until the end? Sybil has conversations with Schreiber, but I just feel like this is random. It seems an important detail to me, so I wonder why it wasn't added earlier.
In any case, the transformation in Sybil is incredible. I thought it was hard to get through in the middle because it was so sad, but the end is hopeful and it made me happy. It took a lot of work to make Sybil whole, but it's amazing. She was able to remember everything again and she was just her one self; able to feel every emotion that comes up. I think the way the ending was written was definitely positive, it showed how Sybil was really integrated and active with Schreiber. I still am confused about the part that she plays in Sybil's life though. I like how Schreiber writes about her vast improvement, but it also leaves me wondering what part she played in that. Any ideas?

hillary said...

Part B:

Olivia, I also questioned the author's credibility while reading this. Would the emotions that Scheiber expresses in Sybil's character be considered biased? However, I remember the introduction saying something about Sybil having read it and commenting that "Every emotion is true." I believe it isn't at all wrong for the reader to question her credibility, but she proves that the information is solid. She did spend years acquiring all of this information, afterall... Scheiber's job was to capture Sybil's every emotion/thought and detail of the events leading up to her recovery. I quote her from page 15, "I was recreating what Sybil had already lived and the doctor had already analyzed. I thought she did a fantastic job in doing so. Not only did the book need her effort and dedication, but so did Sybil because Schreiber is her friend - something Sybil desperately needed.

I also kind of felt like the book was a bit draggy... I think we need to understand that psychoanalysis isn't an easy process, though. There were many questions and I believe Schreiber did well in capturing the senses of mystery and suspense throughout the book.

I thought the ending was extremely powerful. I felt so hopeful because a case as rare and as strange as Sybil's IS possible to treat and successfully cure. After all of the trauma, the obstacles, the long sessions, Sybil can finally live the way she was meant to from birth.

oliviak said...

That's a good point, I didn't remember that Schreiber said that in the beginning of the book. I agree with you though, I think that Schreiber did an amazing job at capturing Sybil's story. It felt like I was in Sybil's head for most of the time, it was really interesting.
I especially liked the description of the two parts in the end in which Sybil tries to commit suicide. One exapmple was when she wanted to jump into the river, but suddenly she turned around and went to a payphone- it was Vicky who took over to stop Sybil. I liked this despcription because it shows how Sybil didn't completely want to die. Vicky is part of her and therefore they have the same knowledge and the same brain. I thought it was really interesting how one second Sybil could be walking toward the river and the next she abruptly turns and is somebody else. Schreiber did a really good job explaining this, it helped me to understand it better.
I think that the 'dragging' in the end, as you had said Hillary, does answer many questions and has the suspense that makes us keep reading. I also thought the ending was powerful, but would you think it would have been better if Schreiber introduced herself earlier in the book?

Stephanie A. said...

Part A

I started to feel so relieved when Sybil finally started to realize that there were actually other personalities taking over her body and that they were all different parts of one person. I kept thinking, finally she can figure her life out and move on from the personalities. But then of course it couldn’t have been that easy. Especially since the personalities have had so much control over her for so many years. Practically the whole duration of her life. So I could see how the other personalities wouldn’t really let go of Sybil’s body. Of course they would want to have their own lives since they were such strong emotional parts of her, they would never just stop excising. Then again, I don’t know much about personality disorders other then from what I looked up and I’m not sure how different “personalities” are suppose to just disappear or go away completely other then talking the problem though. On top of that, Sybil had more then one personality so it only makes sense it couldn’t have been that easy.

Stephanie A. said...

Part B

I wanted to comment on something Olivia said earlier. She was saying how we had to not judge Hattie right away and see that she herself was also crazy. But really I still find it hard to not judge her. All those horrible things she did to Sybil aren’t things to be taken lightly. That’s why when the doctor started to really judge Sybil’s father and be so harsh on him, I couldn’t help but to agree with the doctor for doing so. How could he have lived in the house with his wife and not have noticed the horrible things or signs? Then again he must have been seriously oblivious to the things happening in his house. But did he not see the craziness in his wife as Sybil had? I bet he definitely did. There is absolutely no way he couldn’t have noticed. What I think is that he noticed the signs and ignored it all together. Dismissed them all as normal because he was afraid to address the problem. I lived in a house with Hattie, let me tell you, I’d definitely be afraid to address her issue too. But imagine his guilt knowing that his daughter’s cries were all due to his wife abusing her. And another thing I find it extremely hard to believe that he said he didn’t know his wife was capable of such horrible things. Was she a good pretender? Was she able to act normal around her husband? I don’t know but as for the dad, I feel bad he was so oblivious.

Stephanie A. said...
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Stephanie A. said...
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