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Multiplicity 101 Podcast -- by multiples, for multiples!

Trauma recovery & DID resource info - click here

Was Sybil Real? The Film, The Book, Controversial Subjects

Sybil's closest relative, Naomi Rhode, verifies her life story
Shirley A. Mason - The Woman I Knew by Nancy Preston, Sybil's Friend

Shirley A. Mason -- Sybil

Please don't base your judgement of multiplicity, or these pages, solely on Sybil or on the real-life Shirley Mason. While we have received overwhelming confirmation that she was multiple and an abuse survivor, her story was unique, and many aspects of her case are controversial. There are a lot of myths about her story, and we carry this information only because so many people have written to us asking for it.

Please do not judge all multiples by what you've seen on The United States of Tara. This show is a comedy, it is being played for laughs, it is distorted, inaccurate, and insulting to multiples.

Who Was Shirley Mason?

Naomi Rhode, Sybil's closest relative, verifies her life story in this brief statement.

Nancy Preston, Sybil's Friend Shirley Mason's friend and student, created this loving tribute to the woman& she knew. Miss Preston was interviewed for the Sybil DVD and that interview is included in the extras. Miss Preston's website, Sybil's Friend, has lots of personal reminiscences about her art teacher, mentor and friend.

Dr. Patrick Suraci, Sybil In Her Own Words Blog post by the author of Sybil In Her Own Words: The Untold Story of Shirley Mason, Her Multiple Personalities and Paintings. (Kindle edition here) Dr. Suraci taped many conversations with Shirley Mason during her lifetime, after discovering her art in 1993. This book reveals the truth about Shirley's early life and abuse, her work with Dr. Wilbur and her later life. Dr. Suraci's Authors Guild Blog here

Shirley Mason: The Hidden Paintings Discovered after Shirley's death, these were paintings done by both Shirley and people in her inner family.

Rob Martindale and W.A. Reitwiesner, Shirley Ardell Mason's Genealogy

In this video, Dr. Suraci shows some of Shirley Mason's pictures and explains their symbolic meaning.

Sybil's Identity Revealed

Kentucky art teacher was 'Sybil,' scholar confirms From the Detroit Free Press.

Stranger In Our Midst How Shirley lived peacefully in Lexington, Kentucky with almost no one the wiser.

Unmasking Sybil A few more facts about her life.

Who was the real Sybil? From the New Yorker, January 4, 1999.

How Much Of 'Sybil' Is Real?

When you watch the Sybil movie online or the Sybil DVD, keep in mind that it is only very loosely based on the real events in the life of Shirley Ardell Mason. The novel by Flora Schreiber is not a psychiatric case history. Flora Schreiber changed details to protect Shirley's identity and added conventions common to novelistic fiction at the time.

The Sybil TV movie starring Sally Field is not a documentary. It is a heavily fictionalized adaptation which was deliberately coded (using certain types of music, lighting and camera angles) to resemble a horror film.

The Sybil book and films -- not Shirley's real life -- are the public image of multiple personalities -- and have done a lot of damage to multiples. (Please read that if you don't read anything else on this page.)

Films such as Three Faces of Eve and Sybil and shows like The United States of Tara should not be viewed as educational: they are not representative or models of "how a real multiple acts". Click here to read more about this.

Among the many untruths perpetuated by the Sybil movie remake starring Tammy Blanchard, one of the worst came at the end, with the statement that Shirley Ardell Mason ended her life as a "recluse". She was an artist who exhibited her paintings at local galleries. She taught art for years, designed toys, and owned her own business. She was a devout member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and was well known and liked there. Friends and family visited her constantly and there were family members with her when she died. Only a very few people knew Shirley was Sybil.

Sybil DVD ~ A 30th anniversary edition of the Sybil movie has been released on DVD. you can rent the Sybil DVD now through Netflix -- you can also watch a streaming version of Three Faces of Eve, if you're interested.

Watch Sybil Movie on TV -
Original Sybil movie on Amazon Prime
123Movie has the original Sybil movie, apparently uncut.

Dr. Cornelia Wilbur's personal papers -- letters, diaries, etc. -- were opened in 2005. This is primarily for the use of researchers like Peter Swales. They were apparently part of the source material used by Debbie Nathan for her recent trash-exposť book Sybil Exposed. There is no reason to believe that the general public will ever be allowed access to Cornelia Wilbur's papers. There is still no word on when or if her professional records will be opened, and it is likely that this will not happen anytime soon due to issues of client confidentiality. Additionally, it is our understanding that Dr. Wilbur kept very incomplete records, and sometimes did not keep charts or records on her clients at all. Any information on Sybil the book, Sybil the movie, Sybil DVD or Shirley Ardell Mason will be posted here.

(And if you think we're doing a bit of SEO there, you're absolutely right.)

Was Shirley Mason Really Multiple?

Was "Sybil"'s Story Bogus? New evidence or -- as we suspect -- just another gloryhound psychiatrist trying to make a buck?

Dr. Herbert Spiegel, Sybil: The Making of A Disorder from the New York Review. Was Shirley really multiple? Or did Cornelia Wilbur just talk her into it? Decide for yourself -- but beware: take what Spiegel says with a large grain of salt. He's got a certain view of women and he's using Shirley's story to 'prove that he is right'.

Dr. Robert Rieber, All About Sybil: Natural History of a Myth His interpretation of the Sybil tapes he heard, and his version of the MPD scandal of the 80s and 90s and how the misreporting of Sybil's case contributed to it. Again, a lot of what he says is complete nonsense. The mentality of these people can be judged by the way they write. Published by Psycke-Logo Press.

Bifurcation of Self A review of Dr. Rieber's book on Sybil, pointing out his obvious nonsense, misinformation and half truths. Originally appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis January 2008.

On Being The Proper Multiple By Sara Lambert. Even if you actually have the psychiatric MPD condition, it is completely unnecessary to behave like Sybil in order to be authentic or believed. Please don't use the Sybil book or film as a role model, and please do read this article if you have or think you have MPD.

Mistaken Identity There is some stuff about Shirley in this BBC Horizons report. Warning: A British friend tells us, "Horizon is a show about taking the subject of a scientific paper and making it into a 'story'. They use the expression 'sheer drama' which means that they can't tell you about the discovery of a new particle without giving you 50 minutes of the amazing chance discovery and people struggling to persuade their doubting collegues of its existence." Anyone who remembers Greer Garson sitting up in bed and gasping "Pierre! What if that stain is radium?!" should be familiar with this phenomenon.

A brief statement by Linda Massey, who was filmed in the Horizon documentary.

The Prodigy Transcripts: Cornelia Wilbur, Richard Kluft and Frank Putnam on MPD Interrogation methods developed and recommended by the foremost "experts" on this condition. One can see how a non-multiple client could become coerced into pretending to have MPD just to get the hell out of there.

Doctors Debate Multiplicity as Iatrogenic or PTSD Putnam sees multiplicity as damage, but at least he sees it. Originally appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, July 1995 v34 n7 p957(3).

Billy Milligan

A Statement from Billy Milligan We spoke with Alan of Billy's system in the fall of 1996. This is his take on the overdiagnosing of MPD/DID in the 90s. This is what he saw happen.

Is Billy Milligan a Natural Multiple? A very brief astute observation by an anonymous writer.

Other Controversies

Confused about "empowered" multiples? Click here...


"Otherkin" is a word used mostly online to refer to people who feel that their souls or spirits are other than human; they could be animals, or mythological creatures, fairies, or angels, or aliens. Until the advent of the internet, such people might have called themselves changelings. A novel called 'The Changeling' by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (Kindle edition of 'The Changeling' here ) published in 1970, presented this idea to teens and young adults.

Theosophy and later the New Age recognized the possibility of elemental spirits incarnating in human bodies or persons on a "deva" evolution path. Non-theosophical ideas about otherkin (not by that name) evolved before the internet, and are mostly associated with belief systems such as the Faerie Faith. If you're interested, check out Elf Lore Family (this is NOT Wicca).

Wikipedia's Otherkin article


"Soulbond" or fictive" are words used mostly online for people who feel they are in touch with fictional characters or the real persons on whom said characters are based. It is also called having imaginal or fictional/fictive presences -- or just having presences. Some people refer to soulbonding as a non-serious connection with an imaginary character, and use 'fictive' to mean a serious connection to a real presence with a fictional source.

Soulbonding and Related Links:
Wikipedia's Article on Walk-Ins

The Kaycee Nicole thing

May 28, 2001: I am posting information about the Kaycee Nicole thing because it is another case of "Violation and Virtuality", not because I think Kaycee/Debbie was multiple. It is relevant in terms of creating and maintaining online identities. Anthony Temple

Kaycee Nicole on Wikipedia Who was she and how did this get started?
Kaycee Nicole on Snopes with details about other similar events
End of the Whole Mess is gone, but you can see comments and discussions about the Kaycee thing on metafilter. Click on "comments" to read each post, don't use the lead links in these posts - they're gone.
A Beautiful Life, An Early Death, A Fraud Exposed New York Times article.
The Short Life of Kaycee Nicole from the Manchester Guardian.
Kaycee Nicole on Google Many links to detailed information.
Life and Death of a False Warrior From

Here's a very similar case in which some of us were peripherally involved, from 1993.

Life & Death of Jesse James Another very similar story. Again, these people aren't multiple. This is about people who have an obsessive need to lie, not about groups of actual persons sharing a body. It has much more in common with the Megan Meier case than anything else. (In our opinion, there's quite a bit of lying and posturing on the part of author Josh Olson as well, as someone on Reddit said, "This writer isn't just getting in the way of his story, he's actively shoving it into a mud puddle." Apparently, Harlan Ellison really was involved according to the victim's blog.) The real victim sued Janna St. James for fraud and emotional distress but the suit was dismissed because the laws at that time didn't cover personal relationships, just business dealings.
Metafilter discussion here.

If you think this phenomenon is only as old as the internet, click here.

Andy Temple's take on the Kaycee Nicole thing

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Truddi Chase (& The Troops) died March 10, 2010.
Click here to read their obituary and sign their memorial guestbook.

Lynn& Wasnak 1945-2013

Naomi Rhode, Sybil's closest relative,
verifies her story

Nancy L. Preston - Sybil's Friend
Interview with Nancy Preston

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