PSY 203 SUS Dissociative Identity Disorder Discussion


The M. Night Shyamalan movie, Split, features a man with multiple personalities — known as dissociative identity disorder (DID) among mental health professionals — as its central villain, Kevin. Actor James McAvoy plays Kevin, who kidnaps three unsuspecting girls and keeps them in his basement. In a scene from the movie, when the girls think they see a woman enter the basement, they shout for help. Instead, it is actually McAvoy’s character who is dressed and acting fully like a woman, as one of his “split personalities”. The psychologist in the movie claims that she’s “never seen a case like this before. Twenty-three identities live in Kevin’s body.” Split is a movie filled with stigmas about people with mental illnesses and portrays DID in typical Hollywood style, despite being highly controversial within the mental health field with critics skeptical of its validity as a mental disorder.

a) Discuss the possible causes of DID. (500 words)

  • Biological vulnerability
    • Reactivity
    • Smaller volume of the hippocampal and amygdala areas of the brain.
    • Brain Damage

  • Severe childhood abuse/trauma history
    • Fantasy life is the only “escape”
    • Process becomes automatic and then involuntary
  • High suggestibility a possible trait
    • Autohypnotic model
  • Real memories and false
  • Similar etiology to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

b) Examine the controversies surrounding DID, specifically addressing whether DID can be faked, and the validity of trauma memories recalled by DID patients. (500 words)

c) Determine if the inclusion of dissociative identity disorder (DID) in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) should be continued. (320 words)

Answers must be segregated in a), b) and c).

Note: A minimum of 3 academic journal articles published from 2009 onwards are required.

General advice for Question 1

The essay is NOT only on causes but also on the controversy related to DID. With cases such as The Hillside Strangler having been proven to have faked symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder, coupled with the rarity of Dissociative Identity Disorder, some people have raised doubts about its validity as a mental illness. This controversy exists till today. B) You need to provide a Reference list at the end of your assignment (last page), which shows all the references you have cited in your answers, the textbook or any published material like books, journals or periodicals. The references must be presented in APA (American Psychological Association) format.

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