‘SPLITTING’ STIGMAS OF MENTAL ILLNESSES
February 9, 2017
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To this day, medicine cannot truly understand the connection between trauma and the inner workings of the brain. There are many psychological conditions caused by trauma, of which the most controversial is dissociative identity disorder. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a severe form of dissociation that was previously known as multiple personality disorder until 1994 when the name was changed to reflect a better understanding of the condition. Dissociation is a mental process which produces a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, and sense of identity. DID can be caused by a variety of factors such as sexual or physical abuse in early childhood, severe dissociation, or extreme neglect; however, severe trauma is the lead cause.
The recently released movie “Split“ portrays a negative and violent image of the community of those who are diagnosed with DID. “Split,” released on Jan. 20, depicts three girls who are kidnapped by a man diagnosed with DID with 23 personalities and their fight to survive against the 24th dangerous personality. The popular movie topped the box office more than once, presenting an uninformed population with an image of dangerous, violent criminals.
“[Seeing it] really made me think about how realistic this movie is,” said senior Tiffany Obafemi. “Movies like ‘Split’ could definitely have a negative influence on a population, because I know that I came out with a different mindset of people with DID because of the way that the [antagonist] was portrayed.”
The fact is, the majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent. Statistics show that only 3-5 percent of violent acts can be attributed to those with serious mental illnesses. This misrepresentation by the entertainment industry leads to serious gaps of information in the public which causes an epidemic of stigma, discrimination, and fear towards those with mental illnesses.
“I actually read an article about how the movie ‘Split’ was going to add to the negative stigma of those with DID and I just made me feel like they are targeting those with mental illnesses so they can be shown as the ‘bad guys’ for a scarier and creepier movie,” said junior Alonna Acord. “I don’t agree with that so I’m not going to see the movie specifically because of that.”
The lack of knowledge associated with Dissociative Identity Disorder results in fear and discrimination driven by the negative portrayal of those with mental illnesses in movies. DID is a serious condition that needs positive attention to educate others on mental illnesses and allow more research.