Hollywood and DID

Hollywood has a long history of utilizing DID as a sensationalized plot device, particularly for the horror and thriller genres. The list includes:

  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
  • Lizzie (1957)
  • The Three Faces of Eve (1957)
  • Psycho (1960)
  • Sisters (1972)
  • Magic (1978)
  • Funeral Home (1980)
  • Dressed to Kill (1980)
  • Psycho IV: the Beginning (1990)
  • Raising Cain (1992)
  • Never Talk to Strangers (1995)
  • Primal Fear (1996)
  • Fight Club (1999)
  • Me, Myself and Irene (2000)
  • Session 9 (2001)
  • A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
  • Identity (2003)
  • Secret Window (2004)
  • Hide and Seek (2005)
  • Sybil (2007)
  • The Uninvited (2009)
  • My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)
  • Stalker (2010)
  • Waking Madison (2010)
  • Peacock (2010)
  • Frankie and Alice (2010)
  • Silent House (2012)
  • The Scribbler (2014)
  • Split (2016)
  • Marrowbone (2017)
  • Glass (2019)

This list is by no means exhaustive, and doesn’t even begin to touch on DID in television. Shows like United States of Tara, the second season of Marvel’s Iron Fist, and more crime procedurals than we can begin to name love to draw on DID: and never positively. DC has just announced its upcoming Doom Patrol series will feature the character of “Crazy Jane,” a system of 65 alters, each of which possesses a different superpower.

We are unable to think of a single piece of media that features DID and comes close to accurately portraying it. A&E recently put out The Many Sides of Jane, a miniseries following the lives of a real system. Jane and her system repeatedly explain that DID isn’t scary, that DID isn’t violent, and that they desperately want to help reduce the stigma surrounding DID. Yet the editing is horrific; burned-in text and background music straight from a horror flick, visual effects to distort their faces during switches…the whole thing plays like serial killer documentary complete with found footage. It’s nauseating to see these people being exploited by the network in a way so antithetical to the very words coming out of their mouth onscreen.

We cannot express how devastating this is, nor the toll it takes on a daily basis. It seems now more than ever our media is saturated with misrepresentation of DID. As we’ve said before, it’s incredibly difficult to be vocal about having DID because of the stigma surrounding people like us. Because of how few of us are able to be visible, and how few people are willing to listen to those that are, most people without DID get their information about it from media like Split and Glass, making it even harder for people like us to be visible. It’s a vicious, daily cycle.

We’re tired, y’all.

DID isn’t superhuman. We aren’t monsters, killers, supervillains. We are statistically far more likely to be victimized than to be perpetrators of violence. We just want to be allowed to exist. Peacefully.

We get a lot of questions about what people can do in the way of allyship. One very easy place to start is refusing to support pieces of media like the ones we’ve discussed here, and having educational conversations with those in your lives who do. As always, feel free to share this site, as well as ask us any outstanding questions. We’re more than happy to be a resource.

– Ros and Sawyer

Headspace

Alters don’t disappear when we’re away from front, nor do we fade into darkness. Systems have any number of different names for where we go when we’re no longer fronting: “headspace” and “inner world” being most common. We use the former, which I will continue to utilize here.

The headspace is customized by each system. One alter in particular–generally a Protector or Persecutor figure–may spearhead the project, but often it’s a communal effort. The scale and detail of the headspace depend entirely on the individuals who create it. We know systems whose headspaces are vividly detailed: sometimes an apartment, an entire house, a hotel bar, etc. Larger systems tend to have larger headspaces. As far as systems go, ours is on the small side–just the eight of us. On top of that, none of us are particularly interior design savvy; consequently, our headspace has been a work in progress for longer than we’d care to admit. We’ve been meaning to buckle down on that, but hey, who has the time? When we do get around to it, Steve’s promised he’ll draw up a floor plan for us to share here.

As it stands now, we have a one-room setup. There aren’t walls yet per se; the edges of the room go fuzzy and dark, as if simply not illuminated. It’s a vaguely ovular shape, with two red-orange couches–I think they’re fun, but I’m outnumbered–and three swivel chairs bolted into the floor. We have sleeping pods for everyone along one would-be wall;  think best-case scenario overnight train travel. Not much room for personal touches–you see more of that when everyone has a room to themselves.

We all hang out together in headspace. Whoever’s fronting can always see it in the back of their mind. I can’t speak for other systems, but for us it feels like the distance between the passengers of a plane and the pilot in the cockpit. Talking to whoever’s out while the rest of us are in headspace is (for lack of a more precise example) not dissimilar to shouting at the captain from Economy seating. Or, say,  your friends calling out obscenities in the background while you’re on the phone with your mother. Same effect.

We’ll post more updates as we get our space together. Stay tuned.

Fox