Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Communication & Journalism

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Brown

Abstract

Dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder, has been portrayed in many films over the decades. Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states that recurrently take control of the individual’s behavior, accompanied by the inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 519). This disorder draws attention in entertainment because of its rarity, complexity, and potential danger. Films have sometimes demonstrated the disorder incorrectly, receiving criticism from psychologists, while others have shown its true characteristics.

This project will first, explain DID and second, examine three American films that have incorporated dissociative identity disorder in their stories. I will look at Psycho (1960), Fight Club (1999), and Split (2016). These films are from different decades of America and will have different social and cultural influences that affect the way the disease is portrayed. I will explain how the films accurately and inaccurately depicted the disorder, leading to the conclusion that there are many different ways to incorporate DID in film and that only some are correct.

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