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Carol Tavris Reviews the book Sybil Exposed

November 4, 2011

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent review by Carol Tavris of the book, Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan. In the comments section, predictably, a lengthy,  heated discussion has ensued which includes comments from Debbie Nathan, Richard Kluft, Wanda Karriker (DID therapist and author of a work of fiction about a DID therapist and features government sponsored mind control experiments) and several others.

Readers of this blog can note the striking similarities between the attacks leveled by DID therapy proponents on their critics and the attacks leveled at those who have criticized attachment and coercive restraint interventions that are aimed at adopted children. The nit picking on irrelevant minutia, the attempts to shift the focus by making unjustified accusations against the critics, it’s all there for people to see. It is predictable that this will occur, when true believers cannot refute the facts presented in books such as Sybil Exposed. As Carol Tavris points out, the main issue here is not necessarily intentional deception of others. Although the book presents compelling evidence that this also occurred, it is self-deception that is the more interesting and relevant issue where therapists and patients with heavy investments in belief (not just monetary) are involved.

  1. Fred Pauser permalink

    Hi Monica,

    Excellent post. I read Carol Tavris’ review and the following comments by you, Nathan, Kluft, Steele, and some of the others.

    Since I’ve been following this issue for close to 20 years, it’s easy for me to see whose views are based upon devotion to understanding what is actually true of reality (Tavris, Nathan, you), and those who have other motivations (especially Kluft, Steele).

    Kluft is quite “a piece of work,” as the expression goes. Clearly he is quite intelligent. Clearly he is not interested what is actually true. I would guess that his primary motivations for years have been money, power, and prestige. But whatever his motivations, truth is not primary for him.

    If the human species is to survive and advance in the long term, rigorous critical thinking and scientific insights based upon desire to understand reality as best we can, must win out over baser human motivations.

    I am thankful for people such as Carol Tavris, Debby Nathan, and Monica Pignotti.

    Keep up the good work. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Fred. It is an honor to have my name mentioned in the same sentence as those two.

    It really is amazing the lengths some of the believers are going to attempt to discredit Debbie Nathan, when really all that does is reveal their own need to minimize cognitive dissonance, as Carol Tavris would point out. The bottom line on the “confidentiality” straw man issue raised in that discussion is that if the material needed to remain confidential, the presenter, who bears ultimate responsibility, should have restricted the presentation to licensed mental health professionals, required them to identify themselves by signing the handout in and out so they could be held accountable and in no way could such a secret presentation be considered scientific. What Debbie Nathan has actually exposed here is what I have long suspected — the movement has gone underground in some respects.

    It is not surprising that people who make their living from DID clients would defend one another so vigorously and attack any critics such as Debbie Nathan. The saddest ones, however, are the client/patients many of whom have invested not only a great deal of money, but years of their lives being subjected to a painful intervention that to this day lacks adequate empirical support and may well have made them worse, rather than better. It is not surprising that they would be irate that Debbie Nathan has exposed the real story behind Sybil.

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