Thursday, June 13, 2024

I Am Sybil: Elle Fanning and Sarah Paulson to star in Mirrah Foulkes’ dissociative identity disorder drama

Elle Fanning and Sarah Paulson will lead I Am Sybil, a new film from Mirrah Foulkes focusing on the story of Shirley Mason.

Two of the most enigmatic actresses of our time, Elle Fanning (The GreatMaleficent) and Sarah Paulson (American Horror StoryRatched), will lead Mirrah Foulkes’ new film project, I Am Sybil. Foulkes directs from a script she co-wrote with Jen Silverman, recreating the true story of Sybil, one of the first widely recognized cases of dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder).

Sybil was the name given to Shirley Mason, who, in a study conducted by Flora Rheta Schreiber, examined Mason’s treatment for MPD by psychologist Connie Wilbur. The forthcoming film draws inspiration from Debbie Nathan‘s 2011 novel Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case, examining flaws in Schreiber’s findings.

We don’t know who Fanning and Paulson play in Foulkes’ film project, but sources say Fanning plays Mason while Paulson plays Wilbur. I Am Sybil is not the first cinematic retelling of Mason’s story. Sally Field and Joanne Woodward starred in the four-time Emmy-winning adaptation Sybil, while Tammy Blanchard, Jessica Lange, and JoBeth Williams starred in another version of the same story for CBS in 2007.

Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by “switching” to alternate identities. People afflicted with DID often feel like two or more people are sharing their thoughts. In some cases, another personality overtakes the dominant one, as if the primary person is asleep and has been replaced. According to the Mayo Clinic, people experiencing dissociative identity disorder feel a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions, and identity. People with dissociative disorders escape reality in involuntary and unhealthy ways and cause problems with functioning in everyday life.

Dissociative disorders usually develop as a reaction to trauma and help keep difficult memories at bay. Symptoms — ranging from amnesia to alternate identities — depend in part on the type of dissociative disorder you have. Times of stress can temporarily worsen symptoms, making them more obvious.

Are you familiar with Mason’s case? Are Fanning and Paulson fascinating choices to bring Sybil’s unique story to contemporary audiences? Let us know if you’re looking forward to I Am Sybil in the comments.

Originally published at

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