#eye #eye



words by Olivia Kellerman
Picture watching a film. It's filled with violence and destruction, the main character is shown as disturbed and harmful to others around them. You see that character as a threat to society, someone who is inhumane. They’re a kidnapper and a monster and diagnosed with DID.

Split, the 2016 M. Night Shyamalan film following a violent kidnapper with dissociative identity disorder, has been deemed a misrepresentation of people with the disorder, fantasising it to appeal to a mass audience. The film follows the first movie released in 2000, Unbreakable, an American superhero, psychological thriller and the trilogies third instalment will soon be released this year following the story of Kevin who has revealed his 23 different personalities to his trusted psychiatrist.

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is defined by two or more separate split personalities that are present and constantly have power over a person’s behaviour. They have the inability to recall personal information that is too much to be considered simple forgetfulness. The alternate personalities can have their own age, race & sex and each has their own mannerisms or distinct ways of talking. “Switching” is each personality revealing themselves and controlling the person's thoughts and behaviour, which can take seconds or even days.

It is difficult even among highly trained experts to understand and diagnose the growth of multiple personalities, the diagnosis itself remains controversial amongst mental health experts. Some experts believe that it is linked to other psychiatric problems, such as borderline personality disorder or severely being unable to cope with stress and anxiety.

Speaking to a young women Sarah with DID, she expressed how everyone can have a dark side to them or something about themselves that they fear. Which doesn’t mean that people with dissociative identity disorder have a serial killer inside them. She explained, “This movie shows that we’re the ones to be afraid of when people with dissociation really have much more to fear because the stigma around us is so extreme.” The condition is immensely over exaggerated in horror films, abduction and violence by people with mental illness is more common than with anyone else. She went on further saying, “Also in films, I find it ridiculous how they show switching between identities it’s always intense and scary. But in real life for most people it’s subtle and people barely notice at first.”

Different personalities can act as distinct roles in helping the person cope with traumatic events and decisions in life. For example, there’s an average of two to four personalities present when the patient is first diagnosed, but that can increase to 13 or 15 over the course of being treated.  Events and environmental triggers can cause a switch from one personality to another. “We need support from others. Many of us have experienced pain and being afraid that people will find out we have DID builds on this”, Sarah explained, “It can be extremely lonely to be the only person you know who is experiencing this.”

The on edge intense feeling that the film uses, is good enough to grab audiences in and the story does provide some insight into the science behind DID, “Yes, some of the film is factually accurate and I could relate with the main character a times, sometimes feeling lost and not being able to talk to anyone about what I’m going through, but I don’t agree with the monster they turn him into.” The main character, Kevin, creates the ‘Beast’ inside him and feeds on humans. This perception of his character dehumanises the disorder and creates a monstrous image of people with the disorder.