New to box offices on Jan. 20, “Split” has been a hit. So far, the film has made $104 million dollars worldwide. “Split” is directed by M. Night Shyamalan and stars James McAvoy as Kevin, a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Kevin has 23 “alters,” or different, distinct personalities. While some of Kevin’s alters are calm, many are extremely violent. Kevin’s alter Dennis kidnaps three girls to be sacrificed to Kevin’s 24th alter: the Beast.
Mistakenly called Multiple Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder(DID) is a psychological illness in which an individual creates separate personalities to survive traumatic events. According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), “these personality states demonstrate marked discontinuity in sense of self and/or agency, accompanied by changes in affect, behavior, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition, and/or sensory-motor functioning.” Additionally, those with DID also suffer from dissociative amnesia, a condition in which they forget the events that occur when a different alter takes control.
Personally, I do not support this movie. “Split” inaccurately portrays Dissociative Identity Disorder. Those with DID are not a risk to those around them. In some cases, certain alters are suicidal and will attempt to harm the person. Other alters try to run away or escape from centers where the patient is being treated. In all of these cases, the alters never try to hurt others.
AP Psychology and Psychology teacher at Bettendorf High School, Kelly Ager, said, “‘Split’ legitimizes that the society accepts what the media says. A negative reaction to mental illness is being promoted.”
By portraying those with DID as dangerous, “Split” stigmatizes mental illness. In the past few years, mental illness has become increasingly stigmatized. Those with depression, bipolar disorder, and various anxiety disorders are viewed as “weak” and “insane.”
“The words ‘crazy,’ ‘mental,’ and ‘psycho’ are thrown around. It (‘Split’) plays into stereotypes that people with psychological illnesses are dangerous,” Ager said.
These allegations have caused the people suffering from psychological illnesses to not seek help and suffer in their own personal hell.
When choosing what movie to see this weekend, opt for a lighthearted film like “Sing” or “The Space Between Us.” In a capitalistic society, consumers decide which films to support, both with their money and their minds.
According to Ager, “Filmmakers have tremendous power to shape society and we have the power to vote with our pocket books.”