A Letter to CBS Reports: September 27, 2002
This followed a CBS 48 Hours Investigates report on the case of a Florida doctor one of whose clients claims he had sex with her on numerous occasions; complicating the issue was the fact that the client was multiple.
With words like "psychotic," "hallucinations and delusions", and "there's a war going on, raging in her mind," shots of her being upset during therapy sessions, and various special effects designed to make her look as insane as possible, it was Yet Another Freaque Show.
The case itself was interesting, and obviously they didn't show us everything, particularly since there's now a civil suit going on, but it could have been so much more. As is always the way..
So I went to CBS News and used their feedback form to write this:
[first thing I did was provide the URLs to Pavilion and the Layman's Guide]
Your story on Dr. Malave and his patient "Jane" was intriguing, but did a disservice to thousands of healthy multiples in the United States. It gave the impression that all multiples were crazy, acted weird, had "psychotic delusions," and engaged in criminal or quasi-criminal behavior.
Many multiples are self-recognised -- they know, sometimes at a very early age, that there's more than one mind sharing their body.
These minds often learn independently to communicate with each other. Many multiples never even need therapy. Those who do often merely wish help establishing a functional communication system - not delving into issues of past trauma.
That Dr. Malave had this woman in therapy for a number of years and never managed to help her people work out an operating system, much less enable them to communicate with each other, causes us to sympathize with him much less than we might.
You had a bit with skeptic Herbert Spiegel, who is widely credited with having "debunked" the story of Shirley "Sybil" Mason. In reality, according to private correspondence we've received from a co-worker of Cornelia Wilbur's, Shirley was not only multiple, but remained so despite Dr. Wilbur's repeated efforts to integrate her.
You could easily have included a minute or two with a healthy multiple. You needed equal time for those of us who are living as strong, responsible plural groups -- in everyday reality. As things stand, we cannot make our existences known to the world except through the anonymity of the Internet because the general public believes the psychotic stereotype we witnessed last night on 48 Hours.
We are everywhere, and CBS News ought to get itself together and report all the facts. You could still have conveyed a fascinating story, with the addition of a few even more fascinating facts. If you want to boost ratings, show healthy multiples.
I hope you will read this, although I realize your primary focus is on whether or not people are watching -- not what they think.
Jay Young, Astraea