Monday, February 04, 2008

Sybil

I watched Sybil a few days ago and the shocked numbness is yet to wear off. Sally Field's performance is stunning to the point where it she is Sybil to the viewer and not just playing her character. Some of the scenes are so painful to watch that I just closed my eyes and muted the sound until enough time had passed.

Whatever the truth of the story, it makes you ponder about multiple personality disorder. In Sybil's case it was apparently her way of coping with horrific sexual abuse she had been subjected to as a child with her mother being her perpetrator. The mangitude of the disorder was proportional to the intensity of her suffering but doesn't everyone have several personalities to a certain extent ?

The cheating partner has one face as a spouse and a parent at home. They may be someone totally different with their lover. Both of these personas would have little in common with who they are at the workplace. Don't we find ourselves suprised at times by the behavior of someone we thought we knew very well - something they do just does not fit the pattern ?

The two-faced mother-in-law whose behavior with her daughter-in-law changes like day and night depending on whether her son is present or not, the unpopular kid in school who is famous on MySpace - their avatar accquires all the characteristics of the person they are not in "real" life - are examples among many others.

Normal people go about their lives slipping in and out of the different roles they play in the world but never think they need to go into therapy to have the different personalities that support these roles to be reconciled into one. Maybe it is all an order of magnitude thing and a fine line seperates order from disorder.

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