The Real EveChris Sizemore

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As a child, Sizemore witnessed several unsettling things: her mother being severely cut in a kitchen accident; a man torn to pieces by equipment at her father’s sawmill; a drowned man’s body being recovered from a ditch. She coped by inventing imaginary friends, which developed into “multiple-personality disorder” (now called dissociative identity disorder). Her son, Bobby Sizemore, remembers that different personalities had different abilities, such as knowing how to drive — or not. “Mom drove me to a shopping center and couldn’t drive home,” he said. “For all those years, we walked on eggshells wondering which personalities might come out. You could see parts of all of them in her. Sometimes the personalities could do things that Mom could do, and sometimes they did things she could not do. Some were artists, and she maintained her artistic skills. Some could cook and sew, and she couldn’t cook or sew a lick.” Mrs. Sizemore found two psychiatrists who understood her problem, and treated her for free. In return, they got her to sign away her life story for $7,000.

They wrote a medical journal article, then a series of articles for the lay public in a popular magazine, which was turned into a book and film, 1957’s The Three Faces of Eve, both of which were hits. The book and film implied that she had three personalities (the nice Eve White, the darker Eve Black, and “Jane”), and her doctor essentially cured her with hypnosis. She actually had 22 distinct personalities, and was far from being cured. Her eighth psychiatrist helped her the most, she said, over a four-year period starting in 1970. Dr. Tony Tsitos helped her “integrate” the different personalities her mind had developed. “They were all searching for something,” she said in 1993. Tsitos helped her to accept “the fact that it was all right to be myself and I didn’t need these personalities to function, that there would be some people who dislike me and that that’s OK.” In a dream, her personalities “all joined hands and then walked behind a screen and then everything disappeared. They have never come back.” She lectured about mental illness with the theme that the ill could still be productive members of society. She also wrote her own books: The Final Face of Eve (1958), under a pseudonym, which didn’t sell well, and I’m Eve in 1977, in which she finally revealed her real name. A follow-up, A Mind of My Own, followed in 1989. That last book was to be made into a film too, but 20th Century Fox said no: they owned her life rights for that $7,000 payment. Sizemore sued them and won a settlement, but the film was never made. Sizemore died in a hospice in Ocala, Fla., on July 24, from a heart attack. She was 89.

From This is True for 31 July 2016