5 Minute Monday: Patrick Suraci

I generally don’t post interviews by authors of non-fiction, but this particular submission fascinated me due to the age of the author and the subject matter at hand.

Born in May 1936, Patrick Suraci is a doctor of Clinical Psychology… and in his book he tells his story of Sybil, a well-known patient with multiple personality disorder.

A little about you, first. Do you have any hidden talents?

PS: Acting is really hidden now, since I haven’t done any movies since Spaghetti Westerns in Rome and off-Broadway shows where there were more actors on stage than people in the audience, giving credit to studying with Uta Hagen, great actress.

Now I am a psychologist/therapist treating disturbed actors. The difference between acting and therapy is that the scenes between patient and therapist are real and sometimes therapists get killed. Training as a staff psychologist for the New York Police Department has helped keep me alive.

Tell us about your book, Sybil In Her Own Words — what themes does it tackle?

PS: My book answers WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SYBIL? No one knows what happened to this woman who had 16 personalities, after she was integrated and cured in the original book SYBIL and TV movie with Sally Field.

Since Sybil/Shirley Mason was my friend, she gave me permission to tell about the second half of her life as a successful artist and teacher. In her later years the roles reversed. Shirley, the former patient, became the caretaker for her former therapist, Dr Cornelia Wilbur, after her stroke. Shirley maintained her anonymity until she died in order to live a normal life. She made me promise not to call for help when she was dying because she wanted to leave this world in her own home surrounded by her beautiful paintings, music and plants. Her wish was granted.

Is there anything you want readers to take away from your writing?

PS: My patients have been inspirited by Shirley’s story. They are surrounded by her paintings in my office reminding them that there is hope. I want people to know that there is always a solution to their problems, maybe not the best one they had desired, but there is one. Hope in therapy is important because it gives you a constructive path to follow. Shirley was hopeful until the end when cancer took her life.

Another lesson is to let go of the past. Easy to say but hard to do. When that is attained you can live life to its fullest every day. Therapy can help, but there are also other factors as Shirley illustrates religion, family, friends. and whatever you believe in that gives you a positive approach to life.

Which other indie authors do you recommend or admire?

PS: I have been working on this book for 10 year and haven’t had time for anything else. I hope to catch up on reading now. Any suggestions?

Lastly, what question should I have asked you, and why?

PS: Why did I spend do much of my life on this book?

In 1973 I met Flora Schreiber, author of SYBIL, and we became friends. I was working on my Doctorate in Psychology and puzzled why people were so fascinated by multiple personality disorder since it is so rare.

Then I realized that we all have different facets to our personality and behave differently with various people and in various occasions. Fortunately, we are aware of these changes. But what’s it like when you are only aware that you have “lost time”. What is the reason for a person developing this coping mechanism for survival?

Since Flora kept me apprised of Sybil’s artistic accomplishments while maintaining her anonymity, I had to find out if she had a lasting cure. So long as Dr. Wilbur was alive I knew that Shirley would be safe since they had formed a relationship when therapy ended. After Dr. Wlbur died, I had to find Shirley. My book tells how I discovered her identity.

Grab your copy today from Amazon Kindle.


About A.M. Harte

A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the post-apocalyptic Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate.
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3 Responses to 5 Minute Monday: Patrick Suraci

  1. Maybe a book I shoud consider as I am again taking part in the Mental Illness Advocacy reading challenge this year, this could be an interesting read towards it.

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