“Sybil” is a 1973 book by Flora Rheta Schreiber about the treatment of Sybil Dorsett (a pseudonym for Shirley Ardell Mason) for dissociative identity disorder (then referred to as multiple personality disorder) by her psychoanalyst, Cornelia B. Wilbur.
The therapist called the woman "Sybil" to protect her privacy. Originally in treatment for social anxiety and memory loss, after extended therapy Sybil manifests sixteen personalities. I loved the book when I read it in high school, and I loved the miniseries.
I never really thought about my brain. You take your brain for granted. It is a bunch of complex cells, but I didn't comprehend how much a brain really “does.”
In school, I had to study the brain. I took psychology and biology. But the concept of a brain was so clinical. The structure of the brain was a just a topic to study.
When my strokes happened, it galvanized my thought process. This is my brain. Something is wrong with my brain. What! Why? Me! No way!
Now, it seems that my brain is like my secret identity. I am “Mark.” My brain is someone else entirely. Perhaps “his” name is “Todd” which was one of the choices our parents told my brothers they could name me: “Mark” or “Todd.”
Because of my strokes, I am so in tune with my brain. It seems like I have conversations with my brain all of the time. If I had a headache, in my head, I talk to “Todd” saying something like “No way Todd. We are fine. Stop this!” It is like have an imaginary friend.
Sometimes I argue with my brain, my imaginary friend. In my head, I think about my healing brain…wondering if the neuro-pathways are rebuilding. Every day, I sense that my brain is struggling to find new ways to circumvent the damage in the dead part of my brain.
Sometimes, I pause and I consider that the brain is am miracle in so many unknowing ways. I am not a patient man, but I realize that my brain – perhaps my imaginary friend – working overtime to heal me. I check in occasionally in my head saying “Keep up the great work. No days off!”
It is like I have an out of body experience. Maybe this is my coping mechanism.
Maybe I am crazy after all.