Content & Spoiler Warning: This article focuses on the new film ‘Split’ by M. Night Shyamalan. As such, it includes some fairly disturbing and explicit information about the film (including references to incest and explanations of how ‘Split’ plays into dangerous elements of rape culture and violence against women). Meanwhile, no effort whatsoever has been put in to avoiding spoilers. In fact, if I could push the film right out of theaters with righteous spoilage, I would do so in a heartbeat. ‘Split’ does not deserve respectful protection of even its most coveted secrets, for all the respect it has clearly failed to have for our hearts, our hurts, and our very humanity.
So, for starters, and before anyone offers this argument to shut the rest down: Yes, every ‘type’ of person takes their turn being represented as a criminal or in some other negative way in popular media. And, yes, such representations can be all in good fun or for the sake of the story. However, until the ratio of people labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis who are represented as ‘good’ verses those represented as inherently bad or broken matches the ratio of ‘good’ verses ‘bad’ for… say, undiagnosed, heterosexual, white males … then it’s just flatly unacceptable.
Because it’s precisely these out of whack ratios that lead the general public to believe they know what these diagnoses mean, and to assume that all people with such labels are some sort of monolith. Because even though they know they’re watching fiction, those fictionalized representations are basically all they’ve ever seen. (Well… those and pharmaceutical commercials.) At best, perhaps some will also be eager college students co-mingling these fictionalized accounts with Psychology 101 or ‘Abnormal Psych’ classes where information tends to be about as skewed and one-sided as our nation’s average history text.
Will ‘Split’ lead directly to someone dying or being beaten up? No, probably not. Not exactly, anyway. But, is it a pretty outrageous piece of evidence illustrating cultural trends that regularly represent people with psychiatric diagnoses as frightening and volatile? Absolutely. Do those cultural trends (and the beliefs they engender) lend themselves directly to people dying at the hands of police brutality, or languishing in psychiatric units where they are incarcerated against their will, violently restrained, force drugged, and ultimately dying decades earlier than they otherwise might? For sure.
After all, there really are only two ways that psychiatric diagnosis shows up in pop culture.
First you have the goodhearted soul loved by all (or at least most), but who inevitably slips up every now and again, falls off their drug regimen and gets at least a tad out of control… Perhaps all in effort to provide a sort of ‘Public Service Announcement’ about just how bad it can get when one is so ‘non-compliant.’
Television is full of such for instances. They seem to think they’re being ‘progressive’ for the inclusion… Maybe even (dare to dream) kinda ‘hip’? For example:
Silver on 90210 (the reincarnated version) was bipolar and doing great until one young ‘mean girl’ came along and switched out her pills for placebo. She hit a bit of a bump, but got back on the (drug) horse as soon as she figured out what was up. Because those pills are “just like insulin for diabetes” her doctor spouted off like the model NAMI spokesperson she seemed to want to be. (Never mind that it’s nothing like diabetes at all.)
More recently, Callie’s half-sister Sophia on the Foster’s revealed she had “Borderline Personality Disorder,” which she went on to explain was the result of a “chemical imbalance,” but she’d be just fine with treatment, of course! (Pay no mind to the fact that the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory has been, in reality, summarily debunked.) And, Rosie O’Donnell’s daughter on the same show went wild with a bipolar outbreak when she went off her drugs. She stole, lied, and cheated with the best of them, but poor Rosie only sighed. She’d seen it before. (One might speculate that she had a hand in modeling this character after her real-life daughter who she has thoroughly exploited in the media, as well.)
Then you have Ian and his mom over on Shameless. One is properly in check and ‘medicated’ (at least, most of the time), the other clearly careening toward chaos on the regular. Some might even remember Sally Field’s bipolar portrayal on ER back ‘round about 2000. Apparently, it really wore her out.
The message is clear. It’s the best sort of advertisement (especially for the young among us): Cool kids take their drugs as prescribed. Psychiatric diagnosis can be glamorous when properly medicated. This too can be you.
Almost never do these shows venture into the land of questioning meaning or challenging dominant paradigms. And, those who do question (like yet another character on The Fosters, Jesus, who contemplates the need for his ‘ADHD’ drugs over the course of several episodes) are slapped back down to ‘reality’ in the best pharmaceutically driven spirit of the game.
Then there’s the other side of the diagnostic coin. The untreated villains. The dark and unlovable. The dangerous caricatures. Our worst nightmares come true. This is where ‘Split’ comes in.
‘Split’ is the latest in a growing line of twist-driven flicks offered up by M. Night Shyamalan who seems to forever be chasing his way to re-creating that satisfying “wait, what!?” so many experienced with the ‘Sixth Sense’.
But, the end result of this particular attempt is nothing short of dehumanizing, degrading, and dangerous. One of the main characters in ‘Split’ (played by James McAvoy who – at the very least does appear to be enjoying himself) carries the birth name of Kevin, although we only glimpse him by that name for about thirty seconds of the film because apparently ‘Kevin’ has been sequestered from the ‘light’ (of day) for about four years by a handful of the twenty-three other personalities occupying his body.
We learn that Kevin has been diagnosed with ‘Dissociative Identity Disorder’ (DID for short, and previously known by the medical profession as ‘Multiple Personality Disorder’). As it turns out, this film has several lessons to teach us about what it means to be multiple (a non-diagnostic way in which many people with this experience identify). Here’s just a handful:
Split Says People Who are Multiple are Pedophiles:
One of Kevin’s most dominating personalities heads out and kidnaps three teenage girls from a gathering at a local mall, including the closest to what the story has to offer as a ‘hero’, Casey (played by Anya Taylor-Joy). The reasons are more than one, but the first reason offered up is that that particular personality has pedophiliac tendencies. (He likes to watch underage girls dance naked.)
In fairness, Shyamalan writes in one other adult without psychiatric diagnosis (as far as we know) who likes little girls. Perhaps some may say that balances ‘Split’ out a bit, but honestly, the second character’s actions simply serve as a plot device to justify one of the ‘twists’ at the end. More on that later.
Split Says People Who are Multiple are Super Funny:
But not in a good way. More in a degrading ‘comic relief’ sort of fashion. Early on in ‘Split’, we meet Hedwig, Kevin’s 9-year-old part. He says lots of ‘funny’ things that get film goers tittering. The hilarity includes:
“My name is Hedwig. I have red socks.”
“Kanye West is my main man.”
“You might be pregnant now.” (After he gives a quick peck on the lips to one of the female characters.)
He also ends lots of sentences with “Etcetera” which is meant to somehow be ‘cute’ or endearing. All the ‘funny’ continues right up until he tries to smash the female lead over the head with a baseball bat. Hardy har.
Split Says People Who are Multiple are Also Super Funny When They Cross Gender Lines:
The other ‘Split’ character who seems to generate the most laughs is called Patricia. This is especially interesting because – in a contest for most malevolent personality she’d place at least top three, and she’d win the ‘who likes knife play most’ prize hands down. Alas, audiences seem to find her most humorous. Presumably because Kevin (and the others we see) at least appears to be a cisgender man (someone whose biological sex assigned at birth was ‘male’ and who also has a matching gender identity of ‘man’), everyone thinks it’s the height of humor to see him dressing and taking on (somewhat) feminine ways of expressing himself.
Probably worth noting here that multiples who have parts that identify as a different gender than their core personality (Kevin, in this instance) nonetheless don’t typically change their gender expression (for example, the way they dress) in quite that way. But, hey, thanks for the transphobia radar, M. Night!
Split Says Clinicians Who Take Non-Medical Views of These Experiences are Stupid:
“I don’t know how you work with those people,” says some unidentified older woman to Karen Fletcher, Kevin’s therapist. (Or psychiatrist… Not quite sure which!) Karen responds in a kindly fashion, trying to explain. People with ‘DID’ aren’t dangerous. They’ve experienced trauma. This is their brain finding a way to cope. It’s amazing, not scary!
‘Split’ offers us the opportunity to see Karen approach this topic at least a few other times. She presents on a panel at a conference, frustrated to be grouped in with the ‘mood disorders’. She has a lengthy conversation while out for a stroll with a colleague during which they both speak to the role of trauma in such experiences.
Great. Some of this might be vaguely redeeming if the end result weren’t one of Kevin’s personalities killing Karen.
Apparently, she’s not just stupid. She also needed to be punished for all her oversights and the grandest transgression of believing that her friend from the start was wrong to be afraid.
Split Says Trauma Makes You a Superhero. No, Really.:
Um, what? So, Karen – before her demise – takes things several steps further than the idea that ‘DID’ develops as a result of trauma and the brain’s efforts to cope. She points out that some people have personalities that are allergic to bee stings when others in the same body are not. (Kevin, in fact, has one part that requires insulin for diabetes that is not shared by the others.) That eyesight or cholesterol levels can be different. And, in fact, this is all consistent with what we know about being a multiple in the real world, too.
It continues. At one point, she goes so far as to suggest that perhaps people who experience what gets called Dissociative Identity Disorder are actually ‘more’ for the trauma they’ve survived and not ‘less’, that the trauma they’ve experienced has led to them unlocking some of the brain’s secret capacities. She is basically seen as a quack for this revelation, but it is an interesting one that is – at times – echoed within (for example) the Hearing Voices Movement by people who speak about the strength and additive nature of their voices, and so on.
But then… There’s the Beast.
The Beast is Kevin’s twenty-fourth personality. The one that has yet to visibly surface. The only one that Karen denies is real, suggesting that it is a fantasy of the collective others. But – in the last fifteen minutes or so of the film – spirited along by a werewolf-like transformation – we learn it’s no fantasy at all.
The Beast can crawl on walls. Literally. It can bend steel bars by hand. It eats young women for lunch (and, I suspect, dinner). It seems to be bulletproof. And, unfortunately, ‘Split’ forces us to bear witness to all of that.
But Then Split Says Self-Injury Saves the Day:
The Beast eats two of the three kidnapped girls. They are (so another personality tells us) ‘sacred food’. But, as he goes to eat number three (Casey) he discovers something that fascinates him. This particular young woman (who, unlike the others, has managed to stay mostly fully clothed until this point) has finally lost her shirt, and what he sees are the telltale signs of self-injury.
There are cut and burn marks all over Casey’s torso. (This is where the other pedophilia-related storyline links in, as we’re meant to connect the dots and understand that sexual abuse at the hands of her uncle has led to so much self-harm.) And, when the ‘Beast’ sees that, he stops his bar bending (necessary to reach her), declares she’s ‘different’ like him, and runs off.
So, apparently Shyamalan subjected Casey to childhood sexual abuse as a sort of shield to save her later in life. Nice twist. Great. Bizarrely in sync with what people like Bessel van der Kolk have noted old versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used to claim about incest (that it was rare and really no big deal, and could even be a protective factor for women who’d experienced it). (See the ‘Psychiatry Must Stop Ignoring Trauma’ video below at one minute and thirteen seconds in.)
Piecing Split Back Together
So, what did we learn in total? People who are multiple are dangerous, except when they’re portrayed to be making a fool of themselves. Then they’re super funny. Especially if they’re gender-nonconforming, because who doesn’t like to get a good laugh out of that. (I’m being facetious here, folks. Just in case that wasn’t already abundantly clear.) But, really, they’re pedophiles, murderers, and maybe even cannibals. All our worst nightmares about ‘the mentally ill’ are true. (For more on this: See also the Boston Globe’s Spotlight on Mental Health Series!) Clinicians (and anyone else) who suggest otherwise are not only idiots, but they deserve to be punished. Oh, and incest might save you in the end.
We also learned that ‘Split’ is basically one big set-up for a sequel to one of Shyamalan’s other films, ‘Unbreakable’. The Beast is given the superhero (or, rather, supervillain) name of ‘The Horde’ (to represent the fact that he is both murderous and possessing of so many people within his one body). Bruce Willis (who played David Dunn in ‘Unbreakable’ back in 2000) even makes a cameo appearance at the end to drive the ‘sequel-en-route’ point all the way home.
Except. Except NONE of that is true.
‘Split’ is most dangerous for the fact that it has done some research on the ‘DID’ diagnosis. It interweaves vague realities of people who experience being multiple (like some of the language, connections to trauma, and different parts having different physiologies to name a few) with devastatingly dangerous fiction (like… almost everything else). This makes it all the harder for the unsuspecting film goer to separate those two things out.
A Little about What We Do Know:
People can experience plurality (another word sometimes used in place of multiplicity) for many reasons, and it can look and feel like many things. However, the type of plurality expressed in ‘Split’ is typically the result of severe early childhood trauma. Not infrequently, that trauma has included the sort of ritual abuse that some might find reminiscent of a few of the more disturbing scenes in this film.
Being multiple can mean there are two parts or dozens. And, several of those parts may even have their own social media accounts and so on. It’s also possible for the different personalities to share a co-consciousness and co-operation (a sort of process of permission and consent to who is ‘in the room’ in a given moment and awareness of what each other is doing), as well as for there to be less integration and non-cooperation or disagreement.
Switching from one personality to another can be small and only internally noted, or it can be big and hard to miss. Interestingly, even when it’s the latter, people in the surrounding environment tend not to understand or to make up explanations for what they’ve observed (e.g., ‘x suddenly seemed awfully confused,’ or ‘x sure has frequent mood swings’) because we humans have a strong tendency to see and make sense of everything around us through our own lens. We want the world to be as we understand it.
As aforementioned, many people who are multiple have come to develop their various parts as a product of trauma. It’s their brain’s way of surviving, or trying to protect them from various things that have happened in their past. Others see and experience plurality more as a natural or cultural phenomenon that is largely positive or a gift. Some describe it as not unlike tapping into different parts of themselves that are in possession of different skills, like Sarah K Reece does in the following excerpt from her blog, “I’m Multiple and I Don’t Kill people.”
You do not need to be afraid of me switching. Switching is just like someone leaving a room and another person coming in. One of us catches the seagull and figures out how to keep it safe, we switch and someone else comforts the distressed child who saw the bird get hit by a car. We tag team our life. It’s actually completely lacking in drama.
From that description we can gather that – at least for some – being multiple can become a different way of recognizing that we all have different ways of being in the world or skills that rise to the surface depending on what’s going on around us. Like so many other experiences, perhaps this one rests on the same spectrum where we all find ourselves, rather than on some other completely unrelatable planet. Yet, it remains essential to understand that being on a spectrum and fostering our ability to relate does not mean one is multiple. We are not all multiple, and to mistake relatability for actuality is a show of disrespect for the tremendous trauma people who are multiple have often been through and all they’ve needed to do to survive.
Most importantly, people who are multiple are not dangerous, at least not as a group. Let’s turn once again to Sarah who explains this so well:
Have multiples ever been killers? Yes. It’s rare but possible. Are some multiples violent or abusive or frightening? Of course. And so are some people who eat fish… Some psychiatrists. Multiples run the full gamut of human expression from demons to angels not because of our multiplicity but because we are human. Statistically, you are far more likely to be a threat to us than we are to you.
In many ways, it really does make sense to think of this in a manner that’s very similar to the ‘Hearing Voices’ movement’s framework. No assumption of disease needed. The goal does not have to be to get rid of all but the core personality. Many explanations of ‘why’ are welcome, and many pathways forward are encouraged to be explored.
All that said, it’s also important to note that hearing voices and being multiple are also different things (although it’s not unprecedented for someone who is multiple to have a personality that hears voices, or for someone who is a voice hearer to also be multiple). There are many differences in terms of how each is experienced, but another difference can be found in how the experience is perceived. For example, most clinicians (and the world) surely accept that people hear voices and buy wholeheartedly into the diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’, whilst many fewer believe that being multiple is real (or even know what it means). A substantial number of doctors and therapists will still diagnose people with more than one personality occupying their body of having a personality disorder and accuse them of making the experience up altogether.
There’s much to be learned, and it’s incredibly unfortunate that the most visible teacher at present is a fraud called ‘Split’. It’s also hard that so much of what is out there about being multiple comes solely from a ‘mental illness’ frame, but what else is new ‘round these parts.
In truth, it’s difficult to find good information on being multiple out on the web, but here are a few reasonable spots to try:
- Some videos from people who are multiple
- A variety of articles speaking out against ‘Split’ (though most from that aforementioned ‘mental illness’ perspective)
So, what now?
We’re living in a nation where the ‘alternative facts’ phenomenon is currently a ‘thing’ that’s being promoted all the way up to (and most fervently by) our country’s senior leadership. (For more on ‘alternative facts’ see the video below at about two minutes in.) It’s dizzying to imagine where to even begin, but ‘Split’ – and each and every instance of ‘alternative facts’ that surfaces and impacts any vulnerable, oppressed, or dismissed group – needs to be a big deal to all of us.
For starters, you can sign on to this letter to M. Night Shyamalan, though we all know that doesn’t tend to lead to much. More importantly, it’s become increasingly clear to me that we need to create our own media.
Some of you are already doing that. We need to do more. Movies. Articles. Zines. Podcasts. Books. Maybe most of all, we need to start sneaking characters with positive and alternate representations of such psychiatrically labeled experiences into fictional stories that don’t broadcast themselves as ‘about mental health’ or the system (or running counter to it), so we can trick the general populace into listening. So, perhaps we can lure them in to care.
I don’t know quite how to get there, but it’s clear that’s where we need to go.
A special thanks to Emma and Sharon for helping me with this blog, and supporting my own learning about the experience of being multiple. It would have been a much lesser piece without you!
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
Good blog, Sera…. I particularly agreed with this part:
“Because it’s precisely these out of whack ratios that lead the general public to believe they know what these diagnoses mean, and to assume that all people with such labels are some sort of monolith. Because even though they know they’re watching fiction, those fictionalized representations are basically all they’ve ever seen.”
There is the persistent myth that labels like “DID” or “bipolar” are explanations in themselves for behavior or thoughts/feelings, not merely descriptions. To me it is a most damaging delusion… or perhaps, what is most damaging is the underlying ideas attached to the label, which tend to include otherness, strangeness, inscrutability, incurability, chronicity, biogenetic causes, etc.
Only one point of disagreement, about this:
“However, until the ratio of people labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis who are represented as ‘good’ verses those represented as inherently bad or broken matches the ratio of ‘good’ verses ‘bad’ for… say, undiagnosed, heterosexual, white males … then it’s just flatly unacceptable.”
Not sure why there’s the need to bring race into this piece, which was quite good without it. Obviously, people with a psychiatric diagnosis are never going to be represented exactly the same as a dominant social group, at least as long as diagnosis persists. And since there is more poverty and trauma experienced by many, not all black or Hispanic people, there’s going to be more emotional problems on average among them and thus more representations of social struggle (correlated with psychiatric diagnoses). But that’s not innately a value judgment nor is there any causal connection between someone’s literal skin color and a psychiatric label (although those connections are inappropriately made)… things are never going to be exactly equal or just, so if we expect that they will then we’re going to be chronically disappointed.
But yes, having said this it would definitely be great if experiences of suffering related to trauma were presented with much more insight, sensitivity and compassion.
I say what I say because it’s cis, white, heterosexual men who are most frequently portrayed on TV and in movies as strong, smart, non-criminals and non-sex objects, etc. I say what I say because the ‘default’ role for the portrayal of a white, heterosexual man in pop culture is *not* as the disposable sidekick for comic relief or who is most easily expendable when someone needs to be killed off. I say that because the majority of big Hollywood (etc.) directors and producers are white men who so commonly create starring roles in their own ‘default’ way of thinking (also influenced by what they think will ‘sell’)… which is basically in their image. This doesn’t make them (necessarily) ‘bad’ or ‘evil’, not does it make the average man so. It’s simply more evidence of our container, and how we’ve been taught to think and prioritize and skew. Media is no different than any other part of our culture in that way.
What you say – that more people of color experience poverty, and so on – is certainly also accurate. But, this is not what is at the root of this phenomenon, even if it’s one influencing factor.
Race (and gender, etc.) are *always* a relevant issue. Because ‘systemic oppression’ means just that. *Systemic*.
Thanks for your comment, and for giving me the opportunity to explain. 🙂
Ok, we will have to differ on whether race is always a relevant issue. In some situations, it is not. Few things are always or never.
Also, poverty is extremely important and may be a large part of the cause of how minorities are portrayed – relative income inequality and poverty are actually the top two factors correlating with receiving serious mental health diagnoses, according to the John Read research. I would argue it is a root factor that accounts for much, perhaps most of the discrimination and social problems that minority people face more frequently than white people. Money and what comes with it – security, housing, jobs, etc – are like oxygen in our capitalist society, unfortunately.
The one multiple (that I knew was multiple) of my acquaintance recovered on a treatment program featuring nutrients and thyroid, got an Associate’s degree from a local community college, and has been a Physical Therapy Assistant for 30+ years. She can still call up an alter ego who was sadistic, to help her at work, but she’s still in charge, so the patients aren’t abused.
Thanks for reading, bcharris. Yes, I think there are lots of people who are multiple doing well out there in the world. 🙂
Unfortunately, many on the left see sites like MIA as “alternative facts”. It’s a complex situation.
Thanks! And yes, that’s true.. Except, it’s also so interesting… Given those who make such accusations (or suggest we’re ‘anti-science’ or whatever) are often running counter to the clearest evidence, themselves.
Thanks for this Sera. This has been an ongoing issue for me. I remember an episode of ER where the adolescent was being drugged and wanted to stop but was not allowed to. The leap from “Splendor in the Grass” to this movie says sadly too much.
I find the concept of DID interesting because for me going into the psych world and then trying to do the psych survivor world it is like having different personalities or living in different worlds or realities. I had over fifty years as a an “aware” but not really “aware’ professional and then my less than twenty years of psych world.
It reminds me of the old children’s book”Caps for Sale” which cap am I going to wear today?Actually my memories keep all the caps on. But I still haven’t integrated them into my entire self. They are so bad, at times horrific in terms of hospitalization that I think I and others really need a ritual to process them and go on with life. Sometimes I escape the memories but that requires no integration. Some day I hope to accept all of me.
The issues are so complex, so deep, and twisted I find myself getting snickered and then oh no sets in. Movies, and books, articles, and news so can all look good at first and then no.
And how does on fight Hollywood? Especially when there is so much yes and needed – to steal from Improv- Yes for some folks meds work and for many others they really really don’t.Many don’t want to listen after the yes if you are working that way. Sometimes No is louder though less nuanced for better and for worse.
“King of Hearts” and “Madwoman of Chaillot” are movies and or plays that show a less fearful aspect to psych world. We desperately need modern and better versions.
Thanks for all your thoughts, CatNight. I remember the ‘Caps for Sale’ book from my son’s childhood (somehow we missed it with my daughter several years later). I’m actually not familiar with the pieces you mentioned (King of Hearts and Madwoman of Chaillot), but curious to look them up! Somehow, I think we need something of … Harry Potter… status or something… that really takes hold in pop culture, but gets at all these issues!
1) Well, Sera, some bad news for you: “alternative facts” is what we here, on MIA, claim and support. The facts presented here are “alternative” in being explicitly non-mainstream – and, often, anti-mainstream, while coercive biomedical psychiatry is mainstream through-and-through – and, therefore, have an institutionally supported monopoly on “mainline facts”. They are “respectable”; we are “fringe”. So, lambasting “alternative facts” here, on alternatives-related MIA, is both logically self-contradictory and ethically hypocritical.
2) Please stop your devoted promotion of “social justice warrior-ism” (SJW-ism) – its claims are usually in direct opposition to actual observable reality. For example, contrary to your claims, most “bad guys” in American movies are cis-genderd heterosexual white males.
But complete separation from empirical data is what SJW-ism is all about. The groups – or, more correctly, categories – of people SJWs claims to defend (women, LGBT, people of colour etc.) no longer require defense. They have struggled – sometimes literally, physically fought – against oppression to which they were once subjected for decades, and they have won. Nowadays, structural – that is, institutionalised and practiced in systemic manner – racism, misogyny and homophobia are over. They no longer exist on a social large-scale. There are still – and always will be – individual, separate cases and incidences of racism, misogyny and homophobia, enacted by persons and small-scale informal communities; but they are not systemic, not supported by institutions of power. Women, LGBT and people of colour are equals to cis-genderd heterosexual white males, both legally and effectively. In fact, sometimes, in some ways they are even more privileged – cis-genderd heterosexual white males don’t have access to “affirmative actions”, specialised supportive organisations etc. Their sexuality is being demonised by furious, uncritical and baseless “rape culture”, “child sexual abuse” etc. propaganda campaigns, that may be called “misandric” – that is, man-hating. They are considered to be principal oppressors, while many power elite types are definitely neither while nor male; and many dismissed, attacked, marginalised types – such “white working class” which is so hated by SJWs – are both white and male (as well as heterosexual and cis-gendered).
So, please, give up your absurd “identity politics” – it only spreads mutual hostility and division in the movement against institutional psychiatric violence. We’re all in the same boat here – so let’s turn our attention from gender-and-race issues (which are mostly irrelevant in 2010s) and on the painfully relevant issues of state-supported, corporate-paid psychiatric power, since even today no one is safe from being labeled “mentally ill” and subjected to legally allowed torture. Further spread of “alternative facts” exposing counterfactual, irrational and unethical nature of institutional psychiatry is desperately needed!
I quite disagree with the idea that ‘Alternative Facts’ are what we offer here, as noted in a previous response to a commenter. I see ‘Alternative Facts’ (as they’re currently being offered up in the media) as NOT facts. People in this world all too often confuse what is opinion with what is fact, and in many instances those ‘Alternative Facts’ are just. not. facts. 🙂 As we get accused of being ‘anti-science’ and all that, I often find we’re being so accused by people who refuse to look at the actual science. I find people I’ve met from this website, on the other hand, to be particularly interested in what research has to say.
Meanwhile, it is an error in evaluation to simply count up what the majority of villains *look* like. What I spoke to was the *ratio* of representation… Number of characters represented positively who are from a particular group verses number of characters represented in some negative way. Totally different reference point.
I find it really unfortunate that you are making the assertions you are about race (mostly irrelevant in the 2010s? Really?), and that it is actually your apparent need to diminish the relevance and prevalence of racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on as it very clearly exists in today’s pop culture. My comment on that point amount to one sentence in the actual blog. At this point, it is you and other commenters who feel they must argue about it that are actually diverting the focus away from what this blog was actually about.
I am hoping that most commenters will be interested in talking about the actual blog and its points. I’m going to do my best to resist the urge to respond to further comments on this point. 🙂
“The groups – or, more correctly, categories – of people SJWs claims to defend (women, LGBT, people of colour etc.) no longer require defense. They have struggled – sometimes literally, physically fought – against oppression to which they were once subjected for decades, and they have won. Nowadays, structural – that is, institutionalised and practiced in systemic manner – racism, misogyny and homophobia are over. They no longer exist on a social large-scale.”
You must have some killer weed.
This is what happens when liberals allow the political climate to become so confused that people react to their simplistic and self-righteous pontification by denying the very existence of racism and sexism.
You must have some killer weed.
I’ve never seen marijuana make someone racist. 🙂
The key word is LARGE-SCALE. No one denies that racism, sexism, etc. still exist.
Sanism is very mainstream. Take Law and Order for example. The cute Asian doctor (not sure if he’s a psychiatrist or psychologist) will say stuff like, “The culprit obviously suffers from acute Bipolar Disorder. We can tell this because he chopped up the body in the middle of the kitchen floor. Due to his OCD, he scrupulously sliced his victim’s corpse into slices like deli meat before roasting and eating them.”
Try replacing these sanist statements with racist ones. “The culprit obviously suffers from being descended from Africans. We can tell this because he chopped up the body….Due to his hereditary barbarism (proven through the science of phrenology) he scrupulously sliced his victim’s corpse….
The NAACP would get that yanked off the air in no time. As well they should. You won’t see NAMI doing much. It might make a stigma alert–until the show’s writers explain to the NAMI zombies that they were referring to a “bipolar” villain (Is there any other kind?) who wasn’t med-compliant. Naughty, naughty. The appeased NAMI zombies go home to pop pills and everything is peachy keen. Right. 😀
Great blog, as always! I have known several multiples and have provided brief counseling to one for about 6 weeks, and I can say that your description of their reality is SO much more accurate than the stupidity this movie represents. In particular, the movie plot seems to represent that calm and rational alters can suddenly become violent, which I have never seen (alters seem VERY consistent in their presentation, and I think they have to be for the whole system to work properly), and it was also very common for such people to be diagnosed as Borderline and treated as such. (The one I did the most work with had a ‘teenager’ personality with a major attitude that she pulled out for dealing with threatening people, which she used with the psychiatrist who evaluated her. Not surprisingly, he diagnosed this alter with ‘BPD’ and that was that.)
I so appreciate the reality you are able to create for people who get these diagnoses of whatever type. You really have a gift for portraying others’ reality in a compassionate way. Thanks for being you and for sharing!
Hmmm… I replied to this yesterday, but it seems it didn’t show up, so let’s try again:
Thanks, Steve! 🙂 I particularly appreciate your sharing about the woman who used her ‘teenager’ personality (that she used against people she found threatening) against the psychiatrist. It says a ton about the dynamic we have going in this country with the system that is supposed to ‘help’!
I thought it notable that the psychiatrist didn’t even notice that she was totally threatened by his approach. She was not hard to read, in my estimation. The DSM makes it SO easy to blame the client when you irritate or frighten them!
So good to see your understanding of why someone with DID will switch to any particular part at any given time – there is always a reason and, usually, those parts capable of being most confrontational will be ‘out’ when the person’s system overall feels threatened and needs to defend itself. As you say, not a difficult dynamic to read at all.
With the character of “Chloe”, “The Fosters” crossed the not-so-fine-line between fiction and lies. Many of us on MIA have REAL firsthand experience with the plot-lines that are constantly being dumped on her and “The Foster’s” other Mad characters. Basically, what’s happening is that “Rita” is making “Chloe” “sick”. For years, “Rita” alternated between emotionally neglecting and completely neglecting her daughter. That was a baby-step into neglecting her daughter completely, and occasionally erupting in outbursts of physical violence against her (but only when she “has it coming”). As if ANYTHING could rationalize this pathogenesis, “The Fosters” chose to write it all off as the inevitable consequence of “Chloe’s” refusal to get “treatment”. Just like in real life, the identified patient is given only one “option” for care and human contact – an abomination of “medicine” and “science” that will forever stop them from becoming honest, autonomous, loved, healthy, and understood human beings. And even that “option” isn’t a priority for “Rita” until AFTER “Chloe” grovels for her help, when she finally makes a “serious” suicide attempt. My guess is that “Rita’s” and “Chloe’s” relationship will continue to mirror the relationship between Rosie and Chelsea, their real-life counterparts. If Rosie can’t control Chelsea and nobody commits to reparenting her, we’ll see her pseudo-fictional alter, “Chloe”, march arrogantly to either death or suicide. But since we haven’t heard much out of Chelsea lately, I suspect that Rosie has her trapped in amber somewhere, and “The Fosters” will script a TAC-approved “recovery” for “Chloe”. Stay tuned!
Thanks for your take on The Fosters. Fortunately, Rita (Rosie)’s daughter (or even the character diagnosed with ‘borderline’) doesn’t show up often.. But I do fear where they might take it should they bring her back!
I just skimmed this article and will read in depth later.
This film sounds appalling, sensationalist, tosh.
Thanks for the warning.
Thanks, John. I’d agree with your assessment. 😉
By the way, here’s one thing to consider: A few days ago I noticed a film on Youtube titled “The Truth About Depression”, challenging some of the assumptions of the biomedical model (although not in a way I would entirely support). It received hundreds of thousands of views. The guy who made it is with…Guess what?
He’s one of the guys working for…Alex Jones’ Infowars. The epitome of “alternative facts” in the public’s eye at the moment.
I agree that people are suffering, and that they do need support. Where I live the streets are teaming with victims of the mental health and recovery systems, and of familial abuses and exploitation.
And then there are plans to build something like a concentration camp for the homeless, and it is designed to make people accept a mental illness interpretation, and it is to have these onsite mental health services. So the situation if bleak.
So I don’t think anyone should ever be turned out onto the street. But this does often happen. But nor should anyone ever be pressed to accept a recovery or mental illness interpretation of their own life. Recovery is just another version of sin and salvation, and mental health is too.
Some are talking about Citizenship Pay, or an economic floor. This is necessary and it has to happen.
I think the most important thing though is just for those labeled as mentally ill to start standing up for themselves. Some won’t be able to, but some will. Once someone realizes that they can be part of the solution, and that they are needed to do this, then I believe things change. The most important thing is that they come to see how they are abuse and exploitation survivors.
I will tell you that for myself, this has enabled me to start re-educating myself. It has shown me that I am worthy and deserving of the investment.
So we should stop in anyway stigmatizing the survivors. No therapy, recovery, or life coaching. Instead these are those who have been abused and marginalized. Now they are learning to fight back and finding ways to claim justice.
And once one understands that they are fighting back against pervasive injustice, the first thing they do is stop discussing their affairs. After all, these are issues which will be settled in a court room.
So there should never be any pledges to non-violence. If you jab at an animal with a stick for long enough, then something is going to happen. These abuse survivors have been jabbed at with sticks for a very long time. The fact that nothing happens guarantees that they will continue to be used as scapegoats.
And then we should be tracking court cases. We must find ways to sue parents and to prevent dis-inheritance.
And we must stop pretending to be politically neutral. This is entirely political. The middle-class family was invented to exploit and abuse children. One person on MIA was quoting Margaret Thatcher at me. We have to engage with this. And the main reason people want the survivors to be passive and powerless, is because Capitalism needs visible scapegoats, to support the eugenics argument. And the fact instead of standing up for themselves, that they instead seek solace with their therapists only adds to the bogus eugenics arguments.
Who has been able to hold parents accountable in court, where are the high water mark cases, and which lawyers are trying to do these things?
And then we should be protesting in front of county hospitals and in front of the offices of psychotherapists. And of course those who put children on drugs should be prosecuted in international court for crimes against humanity. Other countries already have the Nuremberg inspired legal structures in place to do these international prosecutions. These doctors deserve what Josef Mengele had coming.
In letting Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists have a protected space to post in, the mental health system is being promoted. They each get to proclaim how they are part of the solution and not part of the problem.
And then the same goes for Life Coaches and Recovery Movement Promoters. Not one of these people is promoting redress or helping the survivors to stand up for themselves and fight back. They are still turning it all back on the survivors.
We need to organize an Anti-Mental Health and Anti-Recovery forum, and then take some actions.
I know you don’t know me in person, but I’m the one who says that none of the system stuff – not therapy, not the diagnoses, not the drugs, none of it – worked for me. That ‘non-compliance’ saved my life. That getting away from the system when I did saved my life. Also, whenever I share my story, I share how problematic the word ‘recovery’ is and how it’s just another part of the ‘mental health/illness’ box that I don’t want to be in. So, you’ll get no argument from me on much of what you say.
And at the same time, I just don’t find myself wanting to be another person who tells someone else how to live or what they need to do to find their own way. In fact, sometimes, I think doing that actually pushes people *more* into the system, rather than helping them be open to at least considering if there’s another way.
To be clear, this in *no way* amounts to me encouraging people into system stuff. I spend the bulk of my time trying to build alternative choices to all that, and sharing information about things beyond the medical model, etc. But I don’t want to be just another person in someone’s life saying, ‘Hey, I know better than you.’
It’s a tricky balance.
Sera, ditto here. I don’t do the System, nor System duplication, yet at the same time, I feel the intense need to share my experience and in doing so, I am sometimes accused of imposing my views in a way that might discourage others from “getting help.” But…yes, I am! Because I do not see it as help!
So yes, it’s a quagmire.
Things will change, not by a tricky balancing act, but when instead of stuffing, and instead of being passive, people respond with counter accusations and indictments.
We cannot tell people that they need to do this, but people who are still in touch with their anger will want to do it. So the way to lead is by example.
And likewise if you or I are still in touch with our anger, we will want redress. The reason people stuff this is that they see it as out of reach, and also because the real pain is not in the acts of abuse, it is in all the ways our society condones it, and turns it against the victim.
So the most important thing is to NEVER endorse Recovery, Pacifism, or Passivity. Never say anything which vindicates the idea that the so called ‘mentally ill’ or those in ‘recovery’ have any innate problem, or would be wrong in acting to defend themselves.
Learn to fight back, not to provide cover for psychiatrists, psychotherapists, or the recovery movement. Please Join:
Follow up reply:
Thing is usually what gets someone into the psychiatric system is that they are angry. People pick up on this. But they have good reason to be angry. So the psychiatric system is like what police to do to people, hand cuff them to a table in an interrogation room, and then talk them down. That is all psychiatry and psychotherapy are. And so I am glad that you practiced total non-compliance.
What we need to do is organize and teach, so that the angry can fight back, but to it effectively, instead of in ways which just get themselves into trouble and accomplish nothing.
Most of us were not able to do this when we were children. And today’s children can’t do it either. But as adults we should be organizing and fighting back. Mostly this means the criminal and civil courts, but it could go beyond this, and we must also show that we will stop at nothing to defend the children of today.
Sera, thanks for the laugh. I don’t watch movies. But I truly loved reading this. It is affirming to me, a good reason to stay away from all that nonsense.
Those I knew who were DIAGNOSED with DID were sometimes taking it on as temporary false diagnosis. So while they were diagnosed, they temporarily became their diagnoses, whatever the DOD (diagnosis of the day) happened to be. DID isn’t very safe for the diagnosee, from what I understand, due to problems with memory loss or complications should one get behind the wheel of a car. I have never heard of a DID diagnosee being a danger to others.
The DID as misdiagnosis is a serious danger to patients and their families, however, possibly lethal. I have known people to take on this role for many years. Sadly, the docs and therapists have a heyday with it. It supposedly requires extensive, intensive, and expensive treatment, so that makes such patients excellent commodities. The last time I saw a patient in such a predicament, a fellow inmate, it was a very very sad situation indeed. I feared she would be institutionalized for life. I wondered if she knew who she was anymore.
My DID(?) friend also had trouble with psychic transports, finding herself uncontrollably going to a hallucinated funeral, location unknown, or to a place she thought of as “Willow Brook,” Maine. If she were driving, she’d have but seconds to pull over and stop before the ordinary world faded away. The nutrients and the thyroid put and end to this, fortunately.
Had some really bizarre episodes of seeing and hearing non-existent people which were brought on by Anafranil. The psychiatrist claimed that never happened.
Now that I have discovered psychiatrists lie regularly to people depending on them, and that the psychiatric system is based on a network of lies, I will never trust one again. That truly would be crazy!
Thanks, Julie! It is indeed so hard to separate out whether someone is as they are as a result of the system verses something else in the world. That ‘iatrogenic’ effect isn’t isolated to simply psychiatric drugs, for sure.
Thanks, Sera. It’s my understanding that DID is not too common, as it is considered an uncommon reaction to a sort of trauma that is uncommon to begin with. So I’d assume a slim minority. I also know for sure there was a period, if memory serves me correctly, the late 1990’s, early 2000’s, when the DID diagnosis was popping up so frequently that it seemed as suspicious as “childhood bipolar.” I wondered if it was the fashion in the medical schools or something, or even becoming a default diagnosis when all else failed. In my own personal experience I have not known a person that I knew for sure was not misdiagnosed. However, I am not saying that to invalidate another’s experience. In fact, the overdiagnosis of ANYTHING discredits those that are genuine! This confuses the public totally! And it gets to the point where folks don’t know what to think.
Let me give an example. We know that squirmy kids are given the diagnosis ADHD far too often. We are certain that this is overdiagnosed. Is it possible that a very slim minority of these kids, I mean like 1% of ADHD diagnosees have “attention issues” that might be serious enough to cause them to suffer if not heeded to? (this has nothing to do with pills) And isn’t it true the the overdiagnosis of this is harming the very few, if they exist, from being taken seriously, down the road? At the same time, those that have been misdiagnosed and given wrong treatment are also being gravely harmed. To quote my former shrinks, which honestly I hate doing, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Diagnosis hurts those who suffer by minimizing suffering or belittling what genuine sufferers go through by calling it a disease. Misdiagnosis causes suffering or prolongs it.
I didn’t throw my former shrinks out completely because I kept that stupid little quote around. Otherwise, the bathwater is happily thrown out.
You are really fortunate to be able to find this article a “laugh”. Sadly, this issue is not funny at all to those many people who are like this.
It’s unfortunate that your experience has been of people misdiagnosed, it’s very unfortunate when that happens. Most studies report that it’s in fact much more common for people who do, in fact, have DID, to not be recognised as such and spend many years (average cited = 7 years) in and out of the psych system, receiving mis-diagnoses such as bi-polar or schizophrenia, before they are accurately diagnosed as dissociative. My own experience of over 30 years matches this work and is also that most psychiatrists refuse to acknowledge DID as real and so simply don’t diagnose people with it. Many more today refuse to treat people with it as they are considered just “too hard”.
Re your comment that DID is not too common, the most usually cited numbers these days are anywhere from 1-3% of the population which is, in fact, a very great many people (these numbers are congruent in studies across the US, Australia/NZ, Europe and the Middle East). So it is likely more common than schizophrenia and as many as may have bi-polar (if those are labels you use, I’m not suggesting I do) and the ways these many people experience their multiplicity will vary greatly. The numbers are also highlighted by the incredible proliferation of international groups such as the hearing voices network. Hearing voices is a very common experience with DID, and one of the primary reason so many people are misdiagnosed.
The belief that DID is uncommon is, as you also mention, closely tied to the belief that the types of experiences that cause it must also be extraordinarily uncommon. Do you remember the textbooks of psychiatry which still, in the 1980s, were claiming that incest occurred in only 1 in a million families? As Dr. Colin Ross, who has worked with people who have experienced trauma for many decades has said, he began to wonder at that time, if incest truly was so uncommon, how was it that 47 of the expected 100 victims of incest in the whole of the US had managed to find themselves in his one little consulting room in one medical centre in one city all at the same time? Another doctor I knew once said to me: “You’d be so surprised to hear how many of the women who have post-natal depression come out with stories of incest – you’d be really surprised…”. Unfortunately, I doubt I’d be surprised at all. These experiences highlight how incredibly wrong it is to assume that severe child abuse is “uncommon”.
I do though find it rather extraordinary to hear that you know people who have (apparently successfully?) ‘played the role’ of having DID for many years when they have not, apparently, really been this way. Knowing what it’s like to be many, I find it very difficult to believe that anyone could sustain the fiction of having many parts convincingly enough over time as the complexity of systems can be quite extraordinary and emotionally extreme so, to those who are familiar with dissociation it is also rather clear when someone is faking it. The blatant presentation of ‘different parts’ to outsiders without any apparent external trigger for that part being present (as seems to be the case for the character in this movie) can be a common indicator that someone may be ‘faking it’. The vast majority of people with DID do not show their parts flagrantly to outsiders. Again, numbers cited in the literature are that only around 6-7% of those with DID will present their different parts flagrantly to outsiders, so the numbers of people like that really are extremely small. I do also wonder at what motivation anyone might have to fake DID, and would think this would be very important to understand for anyone who feels they need to fake this, as it truly is not a pleasant or easy way to be.
I know you acknowledge how important it is to recognise the real experiences of those who are validly ‘like this’, but, it’s societal beliefs such as these that DID and severe child abuse are so rare, together with the perpetuation of sensationalised representations of what it is to be multiple, like that in this movie, which make living with DID so extraordinarily difficult as those of us who do have to continually negotiate a never-ending gamut of disbelief both of our current experience and also of the causes of that experience in the first place.
And, you know, it’s also rather insulting to be referred to as “an excellent commodity”. Yes, the treatment for DID is very intensive and long but, it’s difficulty due to the severe trauma reactions contained in various parts (usually meaning there are many issues with severe self-harm and suicidality) also makes it extremely demanding for any therapist so, many also refuse to work with people with DID and most people I’ve come across (of probably hundreds) have a great deal of difficulty finding a therapist who is both capable and able to help them. If people do find a therapist who is able to help, the treatment for DID is also extremely effective and absolute resolution and moving on from this way of being is very possible.
The comments in this thread are only confirming again just how stigmatized and de-legitimized those who do live with DID really are and, with that, exactly how damaging this movie is to so many.
i don’t believe in multiple personalities. i know it to be spiritual possession. but then, that would be the battle of beliefs (spiritual war). lol!
demonic possession is a known consequence of incest (an extreme sin, evil). incest destroys and annihilates boundaries which makes spiritual trespassing, intrusion and possession easy as a breeze.
there are unclean spirits, lying spirits, malevolent spirits, seducing spirits and more,
psychiatry vs spirit,
denial of the spirit is a sin (and that’s why we have the antichrist system, psychiatry). ever hear the saying “go to the light”? psychiatry is the house of darkness. the light is the bible (the book jesus christ lives in).
I tend to agree with you, CPS. I benefited much more in a few hours during a deliverance ceremony than I did in 20 years of psycho-therapy (helpful and abusive) and psych drugging.
I never told the MI folks about this though. Anything supernatural I may experience is a hallucination/delusion. How do they know this? Because only the material universe exists.
I wonder why so many evangelical Christians fall for this load of bologna sauce. They need to do their homework on the beliefs mainstream psychiatry is grounded on before they invite NAMI zombie “spokespeople” and big pharma reps to tout the religion of pharma-psychiatry in their churches!
people are terrified of the spirit world. it’s unpredictable and unless you’re a master of universal law it is uncontrollable. the spirit world has been put in its place and psychiatry (the antichrist) has been allowed to reign over. in my experience it is part of the torture of the saints.
the entire world is mislead and deceived by the antichrist. that includes the body of christ (believers), the church. i call psychiatry’s anti pills the unholy eucharist, which is the offering of salvation. but that salvation is ultimately denied because the pills are harmful, injurious and worse. i’ve been speaking about psychiatry as the antichrist for 5 years now. even religious people ignore me to death.
Ignoring is bad, but it could be worse. They could have you locked up. 🙁
i am locked up in many, many ways.
There certainly are people who make sense of their experiences from a spiritual perspective, and that’s valid for many. I certainly feel skeptical, though, when I hear anyone present anything as a ‘this is what this is for EVERYONE’ sort of thing.
Although I benefited from a deliverance, it certainly isn’t for everyone. It must be done only with the consent of the individual. Coercion is not only wrong, but forcing someone to go through a deliverance WILL NOT WORK.
Too bad we can’t psychiatrists to understand this. I guess it “works” for them because they get paid handsomely no matter what happens to their patients/victims.
yes, the spirit is universal and it applies to everyone.
Hi Sera – much thanks for this article which is an unusual one on this movie in that it’s clear you’ve seen the whole thing, rather than just the shorts, so from that perspective this piece has been very informative for me. Most people I’ve met who are upset about this movie are too triggered by it to see the whole thing in the first place – including me.
I lived with dissociative identity disorder for over 50 years of my life until achieving integration (or fusion) of my parts some years ago now and have studied dissociation and particularly DID for many years, so feel I have some basis for commenting on this topic. I also work as a health and mental health care professional. I have spoken to many people who have DID or know others with DID who are extremely upset by this movie.
The biggest problems I see with it – besides the (typical to the entertainment industry) extraordinary sensationalising of the state of being multiple – is that it casts a person with DID as the perpetrator of child abuse. Just about all of us who live like this have experienced abuse, usually by more than one perpetrator and we carry PTSD type memories (and parts) that constantly remind us of the abuse we experienced. Most of us have spent lifetimes rejecting the parts of ourselves who are anything at all like our abusers and doing our utmost to actively not be like those who abused us.
To then imply that we ourselves are ‘like’ the people who abused us is the most horrifically painful and re-traumatising insult there could possibly be.
As you have also mentioned, sure, there can be some people with DID who end up being abusive to others – I have known at least one. But, the vast majority of people like myself are much more likely to be abused by others and re-traumatised again and again and this movie participates in that re-traumatisation.
The other aspects of the movie, that it sensationalises what being multiple is like and in drawing on some accurate scientific knowledge re dissociation yet ignoring the broader context in which these facets of dissociation manifest, such as the different types of parts, how they might switch, different physiologies between parts etc. only add to the difficulties we face in a world where far too many people, including mental health care professionals, still will not accept that this experience of being multiple is real.
It’s true there is no such thing as having many ‘personalities’. Even those of us with many parts still have an overall personality style as our parts function, whether we are aware of it yet or not, as a system. I’ve seen nothing in this movie to indicate there is any portrayal of the reasons for switching and the subtle interactions between parts. There are always reasons, triggers in the environment, for any particular part being out. Yet, at the same time, if one particular part wants to behave in a way that is unacceptable to the system overall, the overall system will, usually unconsciously, manage to not allow that part out to behave in that way. There also appears to be no portrayal of what is one of the most fundamental aspects of DID – the extent of utterly disabling internal terror that is associated with many internal parts.
Sad also to see comments in this thread that are disbelieving of the state of being multiple and critical of the diagnosis of DID per se (and note: believing in DID and ‘being multiple’ doesn’t equate with believing in bio-psychiatric approach to mental illness and yes, there have been many instances of problematic ‘diagnosis of DID’). People may have varied ways of interpreting their own internal psychic experience and prefer to use varied words for explaining their experience but, that does not make it OK to deny the validity of another’s lived experience and their preferred ways of expressing their experience. The generally cited numbers of people who live with DID are anywhere from 1-3% of the population so, really very, very large numbers indeed.
I always hoped that MIA threads were a place where the many varied ways of being human in this world would be accepted yet, even here the really extraordinary degree of stigma and disbelief those of us who live this way are subjected to is prevalent. Just goes to show how deep the sensationalising and associated disbelief, which is also tied to our society’s unwillingness to accept and acknowledge just how prevalent severe early childhood abuse really is, can be.
“To then imply that we ourselves are ‘like’ the people who abused us is the most horrifically painful and re-traumatising insult there could possibly be.”
did you know that mother-daughter incest induces in the daughter an embodiment of her mother? it is possession; spiritual possession, bodily possession, demonic possession.
“Essentially, the daughter has experienced the most extreme disconnection and violation because she has been physically, emotionally and sexually violated by the one person in her world who was supposed to protect, nurture and guide her. This is representative of a most severe form of psychological trauma, and in many cases it causes disassociation, detachment and freezing of emotions in the survivor.
“Many daughters possess aspects of their mother’s personalities, physical appearance, or interests. Some sexually abused daughters, however, may feel that their mothers have poisoned their potential to become healthy women. They may feel that parts of their mothers now live within them. Just as the daughters may come to loathe and mistrust their mothers, they come to loathe and mistrust anything in themselves that they believe comes from their mothers. These feelings can be profoundly disturbing. A daughter may feel that just as her mother was abusive to her from outside, the mother can now be abusive and destructive from inside her as well.”
maybe other abuses are different but in the case of incest the victim embodying the abuser is par for the pathological course.
As I mentioned before, I find it very sad that others commenting in this thread find it too difficult to accept others’ way of being in the world and the way other people choose to interpret and express the way they feel themselves to be.
Of course I know that the effects of mother-daughter incest are extreme. I also find it rather condescending that you presume I don’t. I have included the possibility you cite in my answer above when I stated: “Most of us have spent lifetimes rejecting the parts of ourselves who are anything at all like our abusers and doing our utmost to actively not be like those who abused us.”
The concept of “internalised abusers”, which is exactly what you are describing, is a very common one in DID and not isolated to mother-daughter incest alone at all. In fact, it is extremely common. You are using the terminology of demonic possession. In the trauma and dissociation literature (which I prefer as a way of explaining my experience), it’s generally referred to as “an internalised abuser part”. Often these parts look and speak and behave exactly as the actual abuser did and even believe themselves to actually be that person.
But, this doesn’t negate the other aspect of DID that I stressed, that all people like this have “an overall general personality style”, expressed by their overall system of parts, which means that the system overall will not allow ‘out’ a part to behave in a way that the system overall does not like or accept. “Internalised abuser” parts generally act internally and abuse other parts within the system while the other parts are terrified of that part. It is the person with DID themselves who usually suffers abuse from these internalised abusers, not other people around them.
The exception to this is those extremely few people with DID who do end up to be overall sadistic and/or psychopathic, like the main character in the movie “Split”. But, there is no reason for there to be more people with DID who are like this than there are in the general population.
Your comment to me here highlights just how difficult it is for anyone to openly admit to being dissociative, even more than any other “mental illness” label (there is difficulty in using the term “mental illness” for DID as in the vast majority of cases it is an adaptive reaction to extreme trauma). Always implicit in admitting to living with dissociative identity disorder is also the admission of having experienced some kind of extreme abuse during childhood and this tends to elicit both very disbelieving and also voyeuristic reactions from people.
There are many more people speaking out about experiences of depression, anxiety or schizophrenia and people generally accept that each person will experience these things and prefer to understand them in their own individual ways.
The societal myths associated with this particular label are extreme, and often associated with a reluctance to accept that child abuse severe enough to have caused such symptoms can ever really have happened. Sensationalising it, as usually happens in the entertainment industry, is a way of distancing from the reality.
Even in forums like this one people assume we do not know what we are talking about and disbelieve our experience, presuming they understand us better than we do ourselves. This is exactly why the harm caused by this particular movie, and the way it portrays the lead character with DID, is also extreme.
i asked “did you know…”
it was a benign question and no, it was not condescending in tone. i responded to one specific aspect of your lengthy comment. to repeat,
““To then imply that we ourselves are ‘like’ the people who abused us is the most horrifically painful and re-traumatising insult there could possibly be.””
i provided a response to that claim which might constitute an exception to the proverbial rule you’ve laid out.
as for possession, i’m inordinately experienced and have the advantage of knowing both spiritual truth and psychiatric concepts (which is a massive undertaking; an extreme burden and great sufferings). i understand the utility of worldly concepts but i’m spiritual and i know spirit to be the highest truth.
anyhow, the word incest appears three times in Sera’s article yet i’m the only voice bringing spiritual knowledge to the table. you may despise me for it and you may despise the truth but incest is a great sin, a great evil, and it is known that spiritual, demonic possession is not so-called mental illness. getting people to recognize so-called mental illness for its spiritual truth is next to impossible.
Hosea 4:6 (AKJV)
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge
Rather cold PTS. Kallena didn’t choose to be molested.
People who are robbed aren’t robbers. Women who are raped aren’t rapists.
Great comment, Kallena. I know that everything you wrote is accurate. Sadly, some of the other commenters really don’t know what they are talking about with this subject.
Thanks uprising. I’m saddened you can know my comment is accurate. I’m always extremely saddened when anyone clearly understands the experience of being dissociative as it’s generally an extraordinarily difficult and distressing way to be. And yes, so often people presume to know our experience when they obviously do not.
Thanks so much for your comment. I checked out my language (I’d originally used the term ‘alter’ and got feedback that that was not ideal and that ‘personality’ and ‘part’ were better), so I apologize if I got that piece wrong. And thank you for sharing additional layers in terms of how parts might work together and influence one another, etc.
I’m also saddened here (and wherever) I see people trying to force frameworks on each other, even when it’s a non medical one. It just seems to be a way of being that misses a large part of the point of what we’re fighting for…
Personally I have no objection if people use the word “alters” when writing generally about DID. It’s considered a more old-fashioned term these days but, there may still be people who prefer it to others.
It’s different when referring to someone’s personal experience of having parts. Then it’s important to acknowledge the terminology they prefer to use themselves. Just another aspect of acknowledging and accepting the validity each person’s understanding of their own internal experience, which you clearly do.
In saying that people are non-violent you are saying that it is okay to continue to abuse them, and you are feeding into the eugenics argument, which though bogus, says that these people are not fit to live.
People misunderstand Gandhi, and they misunderstand Jesus. And one who definitely misunderstood was Martin Luther King Jr.
No one lives strictly by non-violence. That is just a situational tactic, and one usually taken when there are others poised for extreme violence. Gandhi and Jesus both aggravated tensions and brought things to the very brink of extreme violence. MLK did not understand this, he made non-violence into a way of life.
If you keep jabbing at an animal with a stick for long enough, something is going to happen.
People who stand up for themselves are treated with respect. But those who ask for pity, get what they ask for, along with scorn and contempt.
The model to follow is your total non-compliance, along with direct opposition in all means imaginable.
300 Americans per year kill one or both parents. While we should not encourage this, we should still stand with the perpetrators because everyone knows the sorts of things which must underlie it.
And we must use EVERY MEANS AVAILABLE to protect the children of today from being exploited and abused in the middle-class family.
Never does an open ended pledge of non-violence help, it makes us into continuing victims.
Capitalism has always depended on having visible scapegoats. We used to get them in the immigrants and racial minorities who did low wage labor and slave labor. Letting people see this, maintained work force discipline. And this is why welfare has always been designed to humiliate and regulate, rather than provide for needs.
But today, much less labor is needed. So instead we have the mental health system which takes the scapegoats of the middle-class family and progressively turns them into basket cases. This creates jobs, in caring for these basket cases. But it also provides that same visible reminder to people as to why they must not step out of line.
So we must be opposing this. We should not worry if people think that the ‘mentally ill’ are dangerous. We should not worry if sometimes the ‘mentally ill’ really are dangerous. If you keep jabbing at an animal with a stick, something is going to happen. And those who have been subjected to the mental health system have already been denied any social standing, and for a very long time.
So we should not worry if people make movies playing to stereotypes about psychopathic killers. That is not important. And trying convince people not to believe the stereotypes is worthless, and it does amount to asking for pity on behalf of the ‘mentally ill’, homeless, and convicts. We should not do this.
What we should be doing it teaching your total non-compliance. We should be demonstrating this. We should also be filing lawsuits over child abuse and mental health system abuse. These are the ways we actually change things.
And we should be organizing to show that the ‘mentally ill’ are not going to be basket cases, but are going to stand up for themselves. Total non-compliance is the first step in standing up for ourselves.
Where I live they are planning to build a homeless community which is very much like a Concentration Camp and Mental Hospital. The objective is to get poor people to accept a mental health interpretation.
They are taking economic problems and high housing costs, and turning these into mental health issues.
Providing a protected space for Psychiatrists, Psychotherapists, Life Coaches, and Recovery Program leaders to try and justify how they take advantage of the survivors of abuses, but without doing anything to help them get legal redress, is wrong.
my wife has d.i.d. I am the one guiding her healing journey for the most part. She has a counselor, but her host tells me regularly I do far more for her and the other girls just by the fact that I have 100% access to everyone in the system and I live with them 24/7. And our now adult son played a pretty big role in her healing as well when he was living with us during his undergrad years.
My wife has never known what ‘healthy’ is: she would tell me that regularly at the start of our healing journey. So I began to look at myself and how my personality functioned so I could help her rebuild hers. Let’s just say I came to the conclusion that I actually do function as a multiple, but the key difference between me and her is the lack of dissociation brought by her trauma. So we focus on healing the trauma and removing the dissociation and we have NO desire to remove the ‘multiple’ aspects of her personality. I always tell the other girls, “I worked too hard to find you: there’s no way I’m getting rid of you now!” The integration occurs naturally the way we are doing it, but it is better seen as ‘group integration’ rather than what is forced upon people with d.i.d. because our cultural ignorance about hearing voices.
Anyway, thanks for the article about Switch. I hope some day we can turn the tide, and Hollywood and the media will stop promoting false and inflammatory views of this disorder. I have never been scared of any of the girls except at the very beginning because of the views promoted in the media. Once I actually met them, they may have been angry, and one HATED me passionately, but I was never afraid. And once I helped the angry girl (defender) heal. she transformed and 6 years later now we are in the process of getting engaged.
I really appreciate your sharing your experience, and the work you and your wife have done to build a life and family together. 🙂
Hmmm, skipped over most of the comments before I made my first comment. It’s sad to see so much ignorance surrounding this disorder in the comments section here. If it can be ‘exorcised’ it sure as heck wasn’t d.i.d. Sadly many good-meaning but ignorant Christians have taken that approach to the insiders of a d.i.d. system and all they accomplished was sending the insiders to hide back inside. They’ll be back later or the host may go blithely on in ignorance and never realize that the trauma was hidden more deeply by the ‘exorcism’.
When my wife’s defender first came out, she could have played the part of demonic possession with her voice all gravely and the vitriol that she spat toward me. But I just loved her until I broke thru to her, and then she transformed into the most beautiful of girls and now she has matured to the point of wanting to marry me. The Exorcist may make great watching, but it’s not reality and d.i.d. isn’t spiritual. It’s just the way a child’s mind desperately tries to cope with overwhelming trauma, and it all makes sense when the rest of us be quiet long enough to listen to those with the disorder and understand what’s going on from their perspective. I’ve considered myself a Christian for most of my life, but trying to spiritualize this disorder is just as bad as what the movie does by trying to sensationalize it.
And though I strongly object to what ISSTD proscribes in their healing standards for d.i.d. sufferers and would NEVER allow my wife to be subjected to their ignorance, I certainly don’t find the diagnosis ‘laughable.’ Really? I find it very sad what the ‘experts’ proscribe and do for the healing of this disorder but one thing they got 100% correct, unlike the rest of the mental health experts, is they understand that this disorder is, indeed, trauma based. And in that respect, I feel like those of us in the d.i.d. world hit the jackpot because we aren’t subjected to the biomedical model of the brain quackery that the rest of mental health patients are…though the prejudice and methods of that model still bleed thru to many of the ISSTD therapists.
Hi Sam – thank you very much for your insightful and very understanding comments re DID. Your wife is very fortunate to have found you – you are both quite extraordinary people. Absolutely agree with you: if it can be exorcised, it sure as hell isn’t DID.
I saw this movie in the library https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Voices. It’s about a “schizophrenic” that kills people because the evil animal voices tell him to. It has a picture of Ryan Reynolds holding a bloody handsaw. The summary on the back said he was seeing a “court ordered psychiatrist.” I took the DVD into the bathroom and scratched it with a pen until it was destroyed and then put it in a random part of the library non one will find.
Maybe I was inspired by the women’s protests. Maybe madinamerica wouldn’t approve of my protest.
Also this is the same library that recently got rid of their copy of Anatomy of an Epidemic right after I checked it out. I’m assuming because some librarian must have skimmed through it and been horrified that THE EVIL SCHIZOPHRENICS IN THE VOICES ARE BEING TOLD TO STOP TAKING THEIR MEDDDDSSS!!!!
This is the same library that has an entire shelf of child “bipolar” books.
Also for the record, the son of Sam guy told his psychiatrist that he lied about the evil dog voice and probably used it as a way of getting an insanity defense. His psychiatrist confirmed this.
Chinese Gov’t Announces Takeover of All Six Hollywood Studios
Foreign propaganda coming to a theater near you!
The Chinese government is planning to invest heavily in six Hollywood studios in hopes that this will allow them to freely propagandize the American people.
Government-connected Chinese investors have recently bought AMC Entertainment, Legendary Entertainment studios, Carmike Cinemas, Dick Clark Productions, and have formed a partnership with SONY. The Chinese are also buying up movie theater chains in Australia and Europe.
I don’t doubt the truth of that. My question is, what difference will that make? Hollywood is nothing but a propaganda factory to begin with.