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10 Spooky Movies That Transformed the Way We See Multiple Personality Disorder

Mental health problems have been a recurring theme in movies, especially the one popularly known as multiple personality disorder, which has been the topic of many films. The accurate name for the condition is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), and it emerges as a defense mechanism after a person goes through a traumatic experience. It’s distinguished by exhibiting different alternating personalities, each with a distinct personal history and unique qualities.

Bright Side created a list of the 10 most iconic movies portraying characters with Dissociative Identity Disorder. If you haven’t seen them yet, it’s time to add them to your list!

1. Black Swan

What happens when you want something so badly that you disconnect from your own self? That’s what happens to Nina (Natalie Portman), a talented ballet dancer who has an ardent ambition to land the lead role in the Swan Lake play, which would be a life-changing opportunity for her.

Her mother’s pressure, the play’s director, and an unhealthy rivalry with another dancer will lead Nina to lose herself in her own head and confuse reality with her imagination. It’s definitely a film worth watching.

2. Psycho

A classic thriller inspired by Robert Bloch’s eponymous novel. The story takes place at the Bates Motel, where manager Norman (Anthony Perkins) greets a young guest on a rainy night, a man who will upset “order” at the gloomy motel.

The film will show the mystery and solving of a person’s disappearance, confusion, and lots of suspense, for which it ended up becoming a milestone in the history of cinema. Ironically, the production had some financial difficulties at the beginning because producers didn’t believe it was a good story.

3. Me, Myself & Irene

Just the title of the movie alone already reveals the appearance of a character with at least 2 personalities. In this case, it’s Charlie (Jim Carrey), a hard-working policeman and a loving, dedicated father. However, one day, his aggressive alter ego named Hank wakes up when Charlie stops taking his medicine. The problem is that both are in love with the same woman, and neither is willing to share.

4. Split

If 2 personalities taking over the same body seem too few to you, how does 23 sound? That’s the number of people who “live” in Kevin (James McAvoy), who, despite going through years of therapy, begins to lose control of his mind. The story unchains when one bad day, one of his dominant personalities kidnaps 3 teenage girls who are part of his plan for something bigger and more terrifying.

Curious fact: Joaquin Phoenix was originally going to play Kevin, but due to scheduling problems, James McAvoy ended up taking his place on the set. Can you imagine what it would have been like?

5. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

When talking about classics, we’d be remiss not to mention this film, with a story based on a novel that was adapted several times for the big screen. The most acclaimed version is the one from 1920, which is still remembered a century later for how it conveyed terror using only the resources available at the time.

Doctor Henry Jekyll (John Barrymore) challenges himself to create a formula that can separate the good and evil nature of man into 2 different bodies. However, a bad calculation makes both inhabit the same body, causing serious problems. Although Dr. Jekyll’s disorder originates in a scientific experiment, the film portrays a confused sense of identity, a symptom of dissociative disorder.

6. Primal Fear

If someone commits murder while “possessed” by an alternate personality, is he or she actually guilty? This is the question posed by the film where a young altar boy (Edward Norton) is accused of murdering an archbishop. His lawyer (Richard Gere) will use multiple personality disorder as the main argument for his defense and to try to obtain a pardon.

Primal Fear brings ethical issues to the table, genuine concerns that spark controversy over good and bad, and reason and justice. It is both a crime story and a story about how mental health should not be relegated as a secondary issue.

7. Sybil

This mini-series is based on the true story of Shirley Ardell Mason as represented by Sybil (Sally Field) in the adaptation. The plot involves the experiences of a young artist who begins to suffer memory loss for short periods of time, leaving her to wake up in unknown places with bodily injuries. Determined to seek help, she makes an appointment with a psychiatrist who will reveal to her that she’s not alone, but rather, accompanied by 15 other personalities.

The mini-series’ impact went far beyond Hollywood. It contributed to an open discussion in the psychiatric community which led to what was known then as “multiple personality disorder” in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), edited by the American Psychiatric Association.

8. Frankie & Alice

Nothing seems out of the ordinary in Frankie’s life (Halle Berry), a dancer who starts to exhibit her other 2 alternative personalities without being aware of it. This is how Alice appears, an evil and extremely racist character who doesn’t care about hurting anything or anyone.

The film has mixed reviews, but all acknowledge the great artistic work of Halle Berry, whose performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination in 2010.

9. The Three Faces of Eve

Eve (Joanne Woodward) is a married woman who has become bored with her marriage and housewife responsibilities, a life that seems stagnant in monotony. When she begins having memory loss episodes, her husband realizes that something’s wrong with her and decides to seek help from a psychiatrist who will discover Eve’s hidden alter ego.

As the story progresses, the protagonist will deal with a third personality who’s ready to take over Eve’s body forever, but not before confronting her “neighbor” personalities.

10. Fight Club

A young insomniac office worker (Edward Norton), fed up with his ordinary and monotonous life, meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a quirky soap salesman. Tyler will lead him to question his way of life and convince him that self-destruction makes more sense than anything else. Together, they decide to open a fight club that will change their lives in an unexpected twist.

Although it didn’t do very well at the box office in 1999, today it’s considered one of the best films of the ’90s. It even became a cult film, praised for its direction and the protagonist character. Fight Club includes a theme of DID through its narrator as part of the plot, but that’s only one of the great topics it covers.

This is our list so far, do you think there is another movie that we should include? Tell us in the comments!

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