Is it morally right to criticize people with mental disabilities and is it even ethically okay to portray these mental disabilities as harmful and dangerous when they are not?
If both of these answers are “no,” then why does Hollywood keep making movies and TV shows with characters that have these disabilities, convincing the audience that every person with a mental illness is dangerous? Why does the audience keep watching without once thinking that there are people, friends and family even, who could have these illnesses? A new thriller or horror movie has come out, yet again, spilling the ‘dangers’ of a certain mental illness. This movie is Split.
Split is about a man with “Split Personality Disorder” or more commonly known as DID, dissociative identity disorder. In this movie, Kevin, played by James McAvoy, has 24 distinct personalities. While in one of his many characters, he jumps into a car with three young females and when they quickly question him, he knocks them out and locks them up in a windowless bunker. The females, and the audience, quickly learn that he has a personality disorder.
This movie, just up to this point, has already put a bad reputation on people with DID. It makes them look like they cannot be trusted and that they should be locked away because they are dangerous. However, they are not. This movie was based off of the most extreme aspects only.
“You are going to upset and potentially exacerbate symptoms in thousands of people who are already suffering,” said Dr. Garrett Marie Deckel to CNN. Deckel is a DID specialist at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine.
Most patients with DID experience the other personalities as a coping mechanism. A high percentage of people with DID went through abuse, typically with no viable escapes, and their brain has reconfigured itself to ‘escape’ reality or at least the current situation to make them feel at ease.
Overall, the movie could be a great thriller or horror film, had it not made people scared of a disorder that may affect over 1% of Americans. More so, it not only makes people fear strangers or friends and family who have this disorder, but may make people who have the disorder feel like they don’t belong and are a danger to the people around them. The movie Split was insensitive to people who suffer from this disorder on a daily basis.
(Image Credit/Hamilton Movie Theater)