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How the New M. Night Shyamalan Movie Hurts People With Dissociative Identity Disorder

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What if someone made a movie about you – only you were the villain? Not a brilliant, super-villain who is kind of cool, but someone horrifyingly bizarre and dangerous. That’s what M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie “Split” is doing to me and everyone with dissociative identity disorder (DID). Whatever happens with the movie — fame or flop — the ads and trailers are already driving home the message that everyone needs to fear people with DID.

What all this means for those of us with dissociative identity disorder is getting hit with a cultural tidal wave of suspicion, intolerance and abandonment that starts now and lasts long after this movie makes its money and leaves town. Once again, people with deep psychological wounds get mis-cast as the perpetrators instead of, more realistically, victims of violence. Along the way, it lowers the odds of us having friends, finding love, working at terrific jobs and getting care. At the same time it ups the odds of abandonment, rejection and someone protecting themselves against us with misguided force. In fact, while people with DID are organized differently inside (instead of one identity, we have several “alter” identities) we’re no more likely to hurt people than anyone else. Our alters are there to protect us and to help us function in spite of our emotional wounds.

This movie makes people with DID the next in a long line of cultural scapegoats. Audiences will sit through it, shivering delightfully in the dark and be reassured once again that all the evil in the world can be blamed on “the crazies.” Pass the popcorn.

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Image via the “Split” Facebook page.

Originally published: December 27, 2016
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