hey guys, I want to talk about an upcoming movie called Split.

it’s not coming out until 2017, but I feel it’s important to discuss it anyway, because its first trailer just came out…and frankly, I’m horrified.

here’s the synopsis of the movie: “When a young man with 23 different personalities is compelled to abduct three young girls, he strives to survive as the final and most dangerous one of all tries to take full control.”

….because there weren’t enough movies/shows out there demonizing people with DID as it is, of course.

a brief explanation of what dissociative identity disorder, or DID, is: it’s multiple personalities, formed by trauma, sharing one body.

very, very few of those personalities are aggressive, and I’ve never actually encountered any that were outright dangerous–and yet every movie and show that involves us makes us out to be killers and kidnappers.

Criminal Minds has had two episodes involving people with DID, and in one the man with DID kidnapped a federal agent and tortured him, on top of being a serial killer; the other man with DID was just a regular old serial killer. even a show that’s usually quite good about not demonizing mentally ill people demonizes us.

and now there’s this. a horror film about a person with DID, who presumably went through some serious trauma to get it, and how he’s a kidnapper and probably also a killer.

here’s the thing, though: we aren’t dangerous. we aren’t bad people. we aren’t killers and kidnappers fighting to stop our alters/systemmates from acting out. people with dissociative identity disorder are just typical groups of people who happen to all share a body! we aren’t dangerous to anyone; if anything, most of us tend to be more dangerous to ourselves than anyone else, thanks to self-destructive systemmates who want to hurt the body or other system members. but the bottom line is: we aren’t out to hurt anyone and we aren’t dangerous. the fact that every single movie and episode about us makes us out to be violent killers and kidnappers is appalling and horrendous and screams stigma.

DID has a serious stigma around it. and movies like this are only serving to add to that stigma, to demonize us more, to make more people afraid of us.

I refuse to stand for it.

please, if you can–boycott this movie. tell them you won’t stand for the demonization of your fellow mentally ill people anymore. tell them that we are not their props or toys to play with and create stigma against. tell them that just because it doesn’t affect them doesn’t mean it’s all right to hurt others with their bullshit. listen to systems and people with DID and OSDD who talk about this movie and how it’s bad, and don’t speak over them, but work with us to try and change things so this sort of thing is frowned upon and doesn’t happen so much. please.

The different types of dissociation

There are five types of dissociation:

  • Amnesia

This is when you can’t remember incidents or experiences that happened at a particular time, or when you can’t remember important personal information.

  • Depersonalisation

A feeling that your body is unreal, changing or dissolving. It also includes out-of-body experiences, such as seeing yourself as if watching a movie.

  • Derealisation

The world around you seems unreal. You may see objects changing in shape, size or colour, or you may feel that other people are robots.

  • Identity confusion

Feeling uncertain about who you are. You may feel as if there is a struggle within to define yourself.

  • Identity alteration

This is when there is a shift in your role or identity that changes your behaviour in ways that others could notice. For instance, you may be very different at work from when you are at home.

What are the different types of dissociative disorder?

Occasional, mild episodes of dissociation are part of ordinary, everyday life. Sometimes – at the time of a one-off trauma or during the prolonged ‘identity confusion’ of adolescence, for instance – more severe episodes are quite natural.

Dissociative disorders occur when you have continuing and repeated episodes of dissociation. These usually cause what many people describe as ‘internal chaos’, and may interfere with your work, school, social, or home life. However, you may be someone who appears to be functioning well, and this may hide the distress you are experiencing.

  • Dissociative amnesia

This is when you can’t remember significant personal information or particular periods of time, which can’t be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. You may also experience mild to moderate depersonalisation, derealisation and identity confusion.

I didn’t know I had other personalities at first because I wouldn’t remember them taking over – usually people closest to you are the first to know.

  • Depersonalisation disorder

You will have strong feelings of detachment from your own body or feel that your body is unreal. You may also experience mild to moderate derealisation and mild identity confusion.

  • Dissociative fugue

You may travel to a new location during a temporary loss of identity. You may then assume a different identity and a new life. Usually this ‘fugue’ will last for a few days, but it can last longer. To people who don’t know you, your behaviour may appear normal.

When your memory of your identity returns, you may have a range of different feelings about what you did while in the fugue, such as depression, guilt, shame, fear and/or confusion. If you experience dissociative fugue, you are likely to have experienced severe amnesia, with moderate to severe identity confusion and often
identity alteration.

Dissociative identity disorder (DID)

This is the most complex dissociative disorder. It is also known as multiple personality disorder (MPD). This has led some to see it as a personality disorder, although it is not. The defining feature is severe change in identity.

I’d look in the mirror and it would be a different face. I was chaotic and unsettled.

If you experience DID, you may experience the shifts of identity as separate personalities. Each identity may be in control of your behaviour and thoughts at different times. Each has a distinctive pattern of thinking and relating to the world. If you also have very severe amnesia, it may mean that one identity may have no awareness of what happens when another identity is in control. The amnesia can be one-way or two-way. Identity confusion is usually moderate to severe. DID also includes severe depersonalisation and derealisation.

Dissociative disorder not otherwise specified (DDNOS)

Each of the five types of dissociative response (see What are the different types of dissociative disorder?) may occur, but the pattern of mix and severity does not fit any of the other dissociative disorders listed above.

  • Additional problems

If you have a dissociative disorder, you may experience other problems too, e.g.depression, mood swings, anxiety and panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and feelings, self-harm, headaches, hearing voices, sleep disorders, phobias, alcohol and drug abuse,eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive behaviour and various physical health problems.

These may be directly connected with the dissociative problem, or could mean that you also have a non-dissociative disorder. In DID, some problems may only emerge when a particular identity has control of your behaviour, thoughts and feelings.

What are the effects of a dissociative disorder?

Dissociation can affect your perception, thinking, feeling, behaviour, body and memory. If you experience a dissociative disorder you may have to cope with many challenges in life. The impact of dissociation varies from person to person and may change over time. How well a person appears to be coping is not a good way of telling how severely affected they are.

The effects of dissociative disorder may include:

  • gaps in your memory
  • finding yourself in a strange place without knowing how you got there
  • out-of-body experiences
  • loss of feeling in parts of your body
  • distorted views of your body
  • forgetting important personal information
  • being unable to recognise your image in a mirror
  • a sense of detachment from your emotions
  • the impression of watching a movie of yourself
  • feelings of being unreal
  • internal voices and dialogue
  • feeling detached from the world
  • forgetting appointments
  • feeling that a customary environment is unfamiliar
  • a sense that what is happening is unreal
  • forgetting a talent or learned skill
  • a sense that people you know are strangers
  • a perception of objects changing shape, colour or size
  • feeling you don’t know who you are
  • acting like different people, including child-like behaviour
  • being unsure of the boundaries between yourself and others
  • feeling like a stranger to yourself
  • being confused about your sexuality or gender
  • feeling like there are different people inside you
  • referring to yourself as ‘we’
  • being told by others that you have behaved out of character
  • finding items in your possession that you don’t remember buying or receiving
  • writing in different handwriting
  • having knowledge of a subject you don’t recall studying.

I might get more into this later in the week if i have the energy and if no one else does but here’s what I think we are being shown.

Mutsuki has something resembling DID. Ishida doesn’t work directly from DSM models, but whatever it is, it’s close enough so that’s the model i’m going to work with right now because I don’t have the brain power to be more nuanced.

There is the Mutsuki we’ve seen for most of the manga who is caring, scared of blood, has gaps in his memory, and a positive association with at least part of his family. He’s the Mutsuki we got to know. 

There is also at least one protective personality/alter who is sadistic, who killed Mutsuki’s family, and who is violent in excessive, in almost ritualistic ways, as we see with the organs in the bottle or the description of Torso’s body at the end. . Things this alter/personality does are not known to the main Mutsuki we know, but do seem to influence some of his fears.

When Torso hit Mutsuki in the head, the main, dominant personality gained some of the memories that he had been locked out of.

People with DID can have alters/personalities of different genders, so i suppose it is possible that there is something going on there, though it’s also possible Mutsuki gender is constant across his different petsonalities.

Protective personalities/alters are most often formed to defend against abuse. Sometimes to absorb it, and sometimes to fight back against it. They are sometimes shaped to be exactly what the abuser wants them to be, i.e. sometimes protectors against sexual abuse will be hypersexual. This might be the case if it turns out that this alternate personality is female and was formed from Mutsuki’s abuse at the hands of his father, but that’s a lot of speculation.

Sometimes they develop in such a way as to make their “job” in defending the “core” ego easier on the mind. As might be the case for the sadism that we see in this personality. Mutsuki, the compassionate, empathetic Mutsuki, upon seeing/meeting this personality, claims that he enjoyed the act of killing and is therefore a monster. This is the sort of thing a protective personality might develop.

DID is messy, and even when a personality is developed for one role, it doesn’t always stay put and only “come out” to serve that role, hence this sadistic persona surfacing to kill the cat who was not a threat to Mutsuki at all.

It’s worth comparing this personality to other characters we’ve seen accept that they are monsters or have to act like monsters and what they have done once they accepted that. We see several characters accept the title of monster or some variant there of upon themselves in some form. Ayato does it at a young age, when he refuses to follow Touka’s path of trying to live with humans. He joins Aogiri and rises to the rank of Executive. 

Kaneki does after his torture under Yamori.

Yamori, too, is worth thinking about, as his persona he uses in the Torture room, and that he seems to have adopted to a degree in general is one he took on to survive abuse at the hands of Tokage. Tokage, who, of all people, seems to have found a kindred spirit in Mutsuki’s darker half / protector persona.

While not direct parallels to what this part of Tooru’s mind constructed as a defense against the abuse of his father, it is worth thinking about in terms of the monsters characters become voluntarily or out of necessity. 

At this point, we can only really speculate on what Ishida is really doing here, and where this road will lead. But I think it’s clear that the Mutsuki that we’ve known the whole time in this manga isn’t some sort of lie and is just as horrified by the reveals this chapter as we, the readers are. What caused this split/repression and how Mutsuki will deal with it from here, we will just have to wait and see.

But a final note - DID is a real thing real people deal with in real life and, like most people with any kind of mental illness, the vast, vast, vast majority of them are far more likely to be exclusively victims of violence and abuse than ever be violent towards anyone, even in self defense like Mutsuki in the story. Most people with DID do not have a sadistic, murderer alter who kills cats. When we talk about this this week and going forward, please keep that and these real people in mind.

A quick and dirty DID reference

A very special person to us is trying his hardest to understand us and how we relate to each other. Sometimes it is so hard to explain with words so I decided to make these visual aids for him and anyone else who might be going through the same.

Imagine it like a cone, the white being the highest point of awareness and the black being the lowest. Some of us stay higher and some lower. Sometimes we move freely between the areas but sometimes we can’t control it.

We are not always fully in a certain area, sometimes we are between. Occasionally we do something we think of as merging or blurring. We kind of fade into each other and become something between, taking on attributes of both. This often leaves us feeling like we aren’t completely sure who we are.

We all have different relationships with each other. Some of us get along great and hang out a lot, some of us don’t get along. Some of us don’t like socializing at all and avoid people. The relationships can be platonic, romantic, volatile, or like family, it all depends. 

Erase the entire idea that someone can have a natural formed system.

Erase the idea that alters can be described as “emotions”.

Erase the idea that you can call different sides of yourself alters.

Erase the idea that a system is something you can purposely create.

Erase the idea that systems are “fun” or “just other people in your head”.

Erase the idea that systems are a “coping mechanism”.

Erase the idea that having a personality disorder means you can have a system based upon your unstable personality changes.

Erase the idea that you can have a system without DID or OSDD.

Erase the idea that anyone can have a system.

Erase the romanticization and idealism that society sees systems as. Give us our terms back. Give us our disorder back. Give us the respect back.