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Observations placeholder

Sybil spawns Vicky and Peggy Lou



Type of Spiritual Experience



In the case of multiple personalities, the extra personalities may be ‘found’ - appear to step in to save the primary personality or they can be created at the time by siphoning off aspects of the main character of the primary personality that need to be protected. Thus a new personality can be formed from the threatened parts of the primary personality. This leaves the existing primary personality depleted of some of its characteristics. The secondary personalities can often seem more complete than the primary one as a result.

As more personalities were created, some characteristics came from Sybil herself and further depleted her own personality, but some of the personalities were spawned from the original Vicky and Peggy. In this case however, the new offshoots did not deplete the characters of Vicky and Peggy. In effect, a character can deplete the primary personality but in the case of the secondary personalities the characteristic can be simply copied and inherited with modification.

 In Sybil’s case, the defining moment when the first personalities emerged as autonomous entities came when she was only three and a half. She had been to a hospital for a tonsil infection and a doctor who had been particularly kind to her and who she had thought in her child’s way might help her to escape, had not realised her predicament, even though he had noticed how malnourished she was.

A description of the experience


Sybil – Professor Flora Rheta Schreiber

Although she who was still called Sybil ostensibly rode with her parents from Rochester to Willow Corners, in the car were two other children. Vicky and Peggy Lou became autonomous, alternating selves and from that moment forward there was much that Sybil didn’t see, much that was concealed from her and would remain concealed for thirty nine years.

When the doctor denied her hope of rescue from without, the rescue came from within. The original child, Sybil, ceased to be.

These newcomers to existence contained between them everything that the new Sybil had lost. In Peggy Lou there had been invested all of the original child’s assertiveness and hostility, all of her rage. To the one who would later be called Vicky had gone most of the original child’s poise, confidence, capacity to negotiate the world. In Vicky too was centred the continuity of memory and of seeing life whole …

Dr Wilbur could see that the larger part of what the original Sybil had been – much of her libido and many of her acquisitions and modes of behaviour – had been relegated to other selves, created in the first dissociation. What remained as Sybil was a depleted personality, whose initial fear of her mother had expanded to include not only maternal figures but everybody. Driven by fear, this depleted personality had resolved never again to take the risk of involving herself with human beings. A mere waking self, drained of feeling, it was a self bereft, but it was also a self protected by powerful built-in defences against the very forces that had divided her. Not wanting to go home from the hospital, the original child did not go home. She sent two internal defenders as her deputies to represent her............

..........‘You know Vicky’ the doctor replied slowly ‘you’ve just made a very important statement. What you’re saying is that Sybil is not a whole person because parts of her have been siphoned off to the other selves. Am I correct?’

‘Correct’ said Vicky

‘The dissociations must have been caused by traumas – the result of intolerable realities against which each of the selves had to defend Sybil’

‘So far you have a perfect score’ said Vicky..............

.........It had also become clear to the doctor that whereas Sybil lost everything with which Vicky and the original Peggy were endowed, Vicky and Peggy lost nothing that their descendants inherited. Vicky and Peggy retained as their own the emotions, characteristics, acquisitions and modes of behaviour that had infused the lives of their progeny.

Ruthie, Helen, Marjorie and Clara, the doctor noted, were descended from neither Vicky nor Peggy but directly from the original Sybil.

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps