Reading through Schreiber’s papers, Nathan says it becomes obvious that the writer knew that Mason’s story was not entirely true. Memories of a traumatic tonsillectomy, for instance, morphed into a lurid story of abuse. And Schreiber seemed eager to pump up or even create drama where none existed. But if Schreiber had doubts, she suppressed them.
“She already had a contract and she already had a deadline,” Nathan says. “She was in the middle of writing the book. So she had the dilemma all journalists have nightmares about — what if my thesis turns out to be wrong as I do my research but it’s too late?”
At one point, Mason tried to set things straight. She wrote a letter to Wilbur admitting that she had been lying: “I do not really have any multiple personalities,” she wrote. “I do not even have a ‘double.’ … I am all of them. I have been lying in my pretense of them.” Wilbur dismissed the letter as Mason’s attempt to avoid going deeper in her therapy. By now, says Nathan, Wilbur was too heavily invested in her patient to let her go.
Wow. And I was just thinking about Sybil yesterday. I’d read the book in the 70s, saw the movie with Sally Field too.