More manifest at any age. Individuals with DID may

More than two million cases can be found altogether in psychological and
psychiatric records of multiple personality disorder also called dissociative
identity disorder. It is often thought that multiple personality disorder is a
trick, a bizarre form of “play-acting” that is committed by
manipulative, attention-seeking individuals. It is not. Multiple personality
disorder is a “disorder of hiding” wherein 80-90% of multiple
personality disorder patients do not have a clue that they have the disorder.
Most know that there is something wrong with them; many fear that they are
crazy, but few know that they have a disorder.

               “Split”
is a movie about three girls that are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23
distinct personalities. They must try to escape before the apparent emergence
of a frightful new 24th, they have to work out which of those
personalities will help them escape and which of those personalities will try
to stop them. The kidnapper is named
Kevin, portrayed by the British actor James McAvoy, who struggles to juggle two-dozen distinct
personalities. McAvoy brings to life in a slightly overdone yet
entertaining way the different personalities residing inside Kevin, from obsessive-compulsive maintenance man Dennis to playful,
9-year-old Hedwig to strict, British Patricia to flamboyant, New York
fashionista Barry. Kevin’s dramatic personalities stem from childhood
trauma which caused him to create these alters egos as a means of defense. We
get to see Kevin’s different personalities by his repeated visits to his
victims, with varying voices and personae. Moreover, we also get a greater
understanding of Kevin’s mental state through the daily sessions he (or, rather,
a version of him) schedules with his psychologist, Dr. Fletcher who publically
explains Kevin’s condition and his diagnosis, which is dissociative identity
disorder or also known as multiple personality disorder.

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            Dissociative
identity disorder (DID) is a severe condition in which two or more distinct
identities, or personality states, are present in, and alternately take control
of, an individual. This disorder is characterized by different symptoms
two of which include: two or more distinct identities or personality states, each
with its own way of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment
and self. Frequent gaps are found in memories of personal history, including
people, places, and events, for both the distant and recent past.  It is not widely understood why some people develop
DID but it is most frequently manifested in people who have experience some
sort of childhood trauma.  The disorder
may first manifest at any age. Individuals with DID may have
post-traumatic symptoms (nightmares, flashbacks, and startle responses) or
post-traumatic stress disorder.

            There are studies that explore the
etiology and causes of personalities disorders, there has been research that
suggest that genetics, abuse and other factors
contribute to the development of obsessive-compulsive, narcissistic or other
personality disorders. DID is generally viewed as a developmental mental
disorder that is a direct result from a traumatized person’s inability to cope
and adapt to extreme traumatic experiences which often causes them to develop a
unified sense of self. These is the most widely accepted view as for the origin
of such disorder, according to International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, “Severe and prolonged
traumatic experiences can lead to the development of discrete, personified
behavioral states…in the child, which has the effect of encapsulating intolerable
traumatic memories, affects, sensations, beliefs, or behaviors and mitigating
their effects on the child’s overall development (Journal of Trauma &
Dissociation, 190).” The author suggests that by experiencing multiple traumatic
events during one’s life our development could be altered and a coping mechanism,
so to speak, can arise to deal with such events. There are studies that suggest
verbal abuse can have an impact, a study of 793
mothers and children, researchers asked mothers if they had screamed at their
children, told them they didn’t love them or threatened to send them away.
Children who had experienced such verbal abuse were three times as likely as other children to have
borderline, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive or paranoid personality
disorders in adulthood (Johnson JG1, Cohen P, Smailes EM, Skodol AE, Brown J, Oldham JM,
2001). personalities disorders are many and thus there are many
ways to diagnose and categorize all the different aspects of personality
disorder.

            There is no cure for dissociative identity disorder but
there are ways that people with DID can be treated. Most psychiatrist aim to
treat DID with integrated functioning because each personality has its own sense
of self. Therapists aim to help the identities to be aware of each other
personality. DID patients tend to switch identities and personalities drastically,
these personalities can be as different as two random strangers on a bus. It is
for this reason that treatment is a delicate process that take many forms and approaches.
A desirable treatment outcome is a workable form of integration or harmony
among alternate identities. One article suggests that integration and fusion,
they explain that these two are different. Integration refers to all work on
dissociated mental processes throughout treatment while fusion refers to the
point in time when the patient’s sense of self shifts from that of having
multiple identities to that of being a unified self (Journal of Trauma &
Dissociation, 195). Treating DID patients this way seems to be the most
proactive way of dealing with a disorder of this kind because it relies on the
patient being able to accept his condition on all levels. By doing so they
accept the possibility that they are one person instead of multiple, different,
individuals which is the best possible way to join all the personalities into
one. However, due to many different factors a lot of people cannot achieve
final fusion because of other mental states that each personality may harbor,
but by doing a treatment of this nature the patient with DID can better gain a
handle of his condition and try to manage his life as effectively as possible.

            The criteria for dissociative identity disorder diagnosis
are defined in the Diagnostic and statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, fifth
edition. DSM-5 is what doctors use to diagnose a patient with DID, they use
this as a guideline to properly identify individuals with this particular
mental disorder. They are five criteria that help identify dissociative
identity disorder

1.     Two
or more distinct personalities states are present, with different ideologies
and ways of behaviors.

2.     Individual
appears to have amnesia; the person has problems trying to recall what happened
the day before or hours earlier but this could happen in an everyday basis.

3.     The
person with this diagnosis appears to have trouble funsioning in one or two
major life areas.

4.     The
disturbance is not part of normal cultural or religious practices. This DID
criterion is to eliminate diagnosis in cultures or situations where
multiplicity is appropriate. An example of this is in children where an
imaginary friend is not necessarily indicative of a mental illness.

5.     The
symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance such as
alcohol intoxication or blackouts. This characteristic of dissociative identity
disorder is important as substance abuse or another medical condition is more
appropriate to diagnose, when present, than DID.
While these are the five, recognized, dissociative identity disorder DSM-5
symptoms, please see our article for the additional signs of DID, which are
numerous.

           In the movie Split the main character
Kevin appears to have more than one of the criteria which it definitely puts in
on the list of this disorder. While Kevin was on one of his sections with his psychiatry
Dr. Fletcher, he presented to have
multiple personalities at the same time, during his interaction with Dr.
Fletcher the personality of Dennis was posing as Kevin, however Dr. Fletcher
was able to see through his façade. As a result, he came forward and did a
total 180 in his personality. We
don’t get to see all of Kevin’s alter egos, but enough to get the picture and
to make this lurid little horror stand out from the crowd. In addition,
once a personality has taken control the others do not have any recollection of
anything that happened while one personality was active. This was evident
towards the final act when Casey, Haley Lu Richardson, call out Kevin’s full
name which awakes him to a situation to which his has no understanding of’ he
was unaware of everything that had happened thus far.

           Another
criterion that Kevin shows in the movie is distress a trouble functioning, it was
stated in the movie that Kevin had a history of problems in the workplace but
that throughout the years he had been improving and functioning better in the workplace.
 However, while the personalities in charge
of Kevin planned and successfully kidnapped the three girls the other
personalities were obviously distressed and sought helped from the doctor. Kevin
seemed to have been going through something stressful because there seemed to
be a need for another personality that was stronger and faster and smarter than
all the others. Finally, the last criteria that the character fits are that at
no point in the movie were his symptoms due to the direct
physiological effects of a substance (such as blackouts or chaotic behavior
during alcohol intoxication) or a general medical condition (such as complex
partial seizures).

           The portrayal
of DID in the movie “Split” was not as realistic as it could have been, for
obvious dramatic reasons, but it did show how drastic the condition is. In the
movie, one character suffers from dissociative identity disorder or DID, due to
a childhood trauma he was forced to come up with different personalities that
would shelter him from such memories. In the movie Kevin is seen having more
than two personalities that can take control seemingly at any time. This is an exaggeration
of what happens in real life, it is rare for a person to have more than two
personalities let alone twenty-four. Another, aspect of the movie I found to be
unrealistic and unreasonable is that Kevin seemed to have developed most if his
personalities and each had a perfectly functioning life. They were all in
control of their own being while being active and in full awareness of all the
other personalities. For example, in the chilling HBO documentary we explore
the lives of three individual suffering from a form DID and while watching it
we quickly see that DID is not as simple and to-the-chase as Hollywood
sometimes puts it. One particular person from the documentary stands out as
being extremely insightful to what a person suffering from multiple personality
disorders may go through, as she watches sessions of herself on
tape, she closes her eyes and has a mental shutdown — exactly what happens to
children during abuse. Finally, the movies do not really talk about treating
the disorder, although to be fair the premise of the movie does not really allow
it to as it is a suspense thriller movie. They do show the character going to
sessions and seeking aid from his therapist but the movie fails to actually
show the steps the doctor took to help Kevin cope with his mental disorder; it skips
all the steps Kevin took in order to get to where he was in the movie. Movies like
“Split” do a good job at peeking the interest of viewers and making them
interested in the disorder however it does not do it justice. DID is a
condition that lends itself to extremes of behavior, conflict, torment, secrets
and mysteries – everything a juicy drama requires in one character.
Unfortunately, those dramas have tended to be horror movies and psychological
thrillers, which has not really helped us understand the condition.

           To conclude, Dissociative
identity disorder (DID) is a severe condition in which two or more distinct
identities, or personality states, are present in, and alternately take control
of, an individual. It is portrayed in numerous Hollywood movies such as
the blockbuster “Split” and has increased in recent years. DID was recently
added to the Diagnostic and statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, fifth
edition (MSD-5) which dictates the symptoms for primary diagnosis. Lastly,
dissociative identity disorder is a psychopathological disorder that seems to
manifest in people with childhood trauma and abuse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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