March 26th, 2013

Three faces, two movies, and a TV show

When I was very young I was fascinated by the book The Three Faces of Eve, one of the first accounts of multiple personality. Let’s put aside for a moment whether some skepticism about the disorder is sometimes warranted (it is, although the “Eve” case is not thought to be bogus) and just focus on the fact that it was a fascinating story that was made into a movie starring Joanne Woodward, who received the Oscar for the role.

Here she is in clips from the 1957 film, going from one personality to the other. Watch a couple of minutes:

When I was in college I became a psych major. One day in class they were planning to show us some film of the original Eve (whose name had not yet been divulged at the time, but who is Chris Costner Sizemore), made by her psychiatrists to present the case to other professionals. I was very much looking forward to seeing it, but unfortunately I had the flu and was very ill that day and had to miss it.

I figured that I’d never have another chance to see it. And I never have seen it—until last night, when for some reason it suddenly occurred to me that it’s probably on YouTube, along with nearly everything else.

And indeed it is. You may notice as you watch this that although Joanne Woodward is an attractive woman, Chris Sizemore is at least as attractive if not more so (especially as Eve Black, of whom the doctor is clearly rather fond). You may decide she’s acting, too, but her case is such that, as I mentioned earlier, she is generally considered to have credibility. And if she’s an actress, she’s an even better (and more subtle) one than the Oscar-recipient Woodward. This movie was made fairly late in Sizemore’s therapy with the doctor to whom she’s talking (who smokes, just like the one in the Hollywood movie but unlike doctors nowadays), at a point at which her personalities were close to being integrated (for the first time; there were several subsequent shatterings and re-integrations), and she already was used to answering to the “Eve” pseudonyms:

Chris Sizemore is still alive at 85, and has been doing very well for over thirty years. YouTube has a fairly recent video of her from an interview in 2009. Unfortunately it can’t be embedded, but if you go to YouTube to watch it I think you’ll find it rewarding. It starts with a discussion about the fact that some supposed multiples (including “Sybil”) may be fakes.

You’ll also see that even Chris herself misses everybody’s favorite, Eve Black.

6 Responses to “Three faces, two movies, and a TV show”

  1. Mike Walsh Says:

    I’ll stick with Dr. Paul McHugh on this: it’s a (well-documented) artifact of defective therapy.

  2. vanderleun Says:

    All those brunettes are quadrophrenic. The science is settled.

  3. parker Says:

    I assume it possible that actual young human beings in very stressful situations might respond to their environment by developing spit personalities to cope with their extreme circumstances. I’m also sure its very rare. Defective therapy could well be the catalyst.

    Joni Mitchell’s Troubled Child:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juE9c18fkLg

  4. George Sewell Says:

    Always fascinating topics – such as this. Thanks for the link to the original presentation.

  5. jaed Says:

    The account with the interview (last link, the non-embeddable one) has been terminated by YouTube for “copyright infringement”. Bah.

    (Now I wouldn’t mind this if the copyright holder provided a link where one could pay a fee to watch the content. But noooooo.)

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    jaed: oh, dear. They keep doing that, don’t they?

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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