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Dissociative Identity Inaccurately Portrayed in the Movies

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

Movies like Sybil, Split, Identity, and David and Alice portraying dissociative identity disorder do the condition and the people diagnosed with it an extreme disservice.

Some of these Hollywood films are categorized as thrillers and the music alone adds to the suspense and fear factor to bring disturbing entertainment to the audience just for the thrill of it. None of these renditions of DID show the realistic aspects of the life of a person living with the behavioral response to trauma and abuse. I can remember when the movie Sybil was popular and it was more fascinating and sensational than it was accurately showing what MPD was all about. Yes, a person loses time, can find themselves in a different place with something different on than the last time they remember but it seemed like there was an air of insanity surrounding the whole way they showed Sybil Dorsett's life and her mother was definitely a loon. Fast forward to present day and now they are making movies about DID that are so far fetched and out there to thrill the audience with fear and horror just for entertainment.

(I do not recommend anyone watch the movies Split or Identity. TRIGGER WARNING for survivors if you even watch the trailer)

Split preview starts out with a man who gets in the driver's seat of a car with three girls inside in a parking lot and he ends up holding them hostage. While I only watched the trailer, I saw enough to see that he was shown as someone who was dangerous and psychotic. The narrator of the preview said, "An individual with multiple personality disorder can change their body chemistry with their thoughts and there was no limit to what he could become." Then another person made the statement, "What will he become when he unlocks the potential of his brain?" As a viewer just in the trailer I was led to think that he was then going to turn into a beast. I'm glad I didn't watch the film! The preview was depicting more of a horror flick combined with scifistead of a realistic accurate story of someone with dissociative identity. While I understand that movies about any mental illness can be made into a thriller, but in doing so with the topic of DID makes it seem like this is the reality for those with the mental health diagnosis which is far from true!

Identity another thriller with a killer shows a hotel where people are dying and disappearing when a person with DID is staying there. The common theme that each of them have is that they all have the same April 6th birthday.

Frankie and Alice was a movie I watched and actually liked. I watched the entire film. The only thing I questioned about the accuracy of the movie was that when her psychiatrist used phenobarbital and hypnosis to get to her repressed memories, her trauma was when she was much older (upper teens but not older than 20) and unless there is repeated trauma before the age of 7, she wouldn't have had the capability to dissociate to that degree. Her trauma was from her and her boyfriend being in an accident together and her boyfriend getting killed and then having a baby that her mom helped deliver only to have the baby die.

Other than the possible error in her ability to create alters from the traumatic situations at her age, I think it's pretty accurate for showing a person with DID. Halle Berry did a great job as Frankie.

I'm more inclined to watch a documentary or a Youtube video that is created by someone with or knows someone with DID than I am to watch a movie. I recommend the Youtube video titled 15 Personalities in One Woman (mental health documentary). It is one of the Real Stories Channel about Paula with Colin Ross who started the Colin A. Ross Institute for Psychological Trauma which provides research, education and consultation on psychological trauma. He interviews Paula and her alters Mariah, Melinda, Johnathan, and Mrs V who see her parts so vividly that she had a police sketch artist draw them as she describes them to him. The thing that I disagree with that was mentioned in this film is that dissociative identity is a rare condition. Underdiagnosed, underreported, and because of the length of time between abuse and a person remembering the trauma that was repressed by having dissociative identity, I think the percent of people with DID is much higher than what is known.

Why does Hollywood depict DID and those having the condition as dangerous and psychotic? They are some of the most loving, wonderful people who have been harmed tremendously but are people with such creativity and amazing abilities, not psychotic psychopaths who are dangerous. I think part of the answer is because of the evil agenda behind those who are making the movies and are a huge part of the cover up for the pedophiles and those who are actively participating in child porn and sex trafficking. If they can make the victims look bad, then maybe no one will believe them when they do tell of their abuse and their abuser.

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