by Carlo Carrubba
Obviously, we know that movies contain a LOT of fiction. But how realistic can they get? I will be analyzing the movie “Split” and how closely it mirrors the symptoms of Dissociative personality disorder. DID (previously known as Split Personality Disorder) is a mental illness where a person who has undergone great suffering or trauma “dissociates” their identity into different personalities. It is not to be confused with schizophrenia, as the people with DID aren’t imagining their alters. We know for sure that this disorder is real because the alters a person has have no memories of the person’s life or actions. So, let’s get right into the article! Beware, spoilers lie ahead (although if you still haven’t seen the movie to this day, maybe you should go see it?).
Let’s start with the number of personalities Kevin encompasses. He has 23 of them, not including the Beast. This is actually not that much of an outlier in the community of DID because the average personality number gauged in a person with this disorder is 16. The way James McAvoy’s performance is so versatile to fit the demands of his “personalities” is impressive.
We don’t see every single one of Kevin’s personalities in the movie but we do know the key ones: Patricia, Dennis, Hedwig, Barry, and Kevin. This fact brings us to another question regarding Split: Can people undergo physiological changes due to their personality shifts? The answer is maybe. A person’s brain may shift their personality as well as shift the hormone production in a person. For example, a personality similar to the Beast may have more adrenaline production because of its great strength. Even a personality like Patricia could take place by increasing the levels of estrogen in the body of a person. Although changes like these could very well take place, the disorder would have to be very extreme in the person (and sudden changes in things like muscle mass could not happen).
One more very strange thing that happens during the movie Split is that by calling Kevin’s full name out, you “summon him”. This is unlikely to work in a random situation, as the main personality would be the “original person”, and not some other one like Barry. So calling the personality’s name would not summon them, but remind the dominant one about a certain personality. Another thing that is not true about DID is that one can’t switch out personalities at will, and it can’t be identified by a casual observer because the personalities usually are not very different to the untrained eye.
There is no question about whether DID is real, but Split does not mirror it fully. Of course, it must be acknowledged that Split is a movie, and DID is something occurring in real life. The symptoms of this troubling disorder are still being discussed and researched. So, my conclusion to this article is that Split has some degree of reality, but could be more realistic.