Saturday, July 19, 2008

When Did Multiple Personalities Get Hot?

Was I sleeping when TV and ad executives decided this summer that Multiple Personalities would be the next flavor of the month?

First the other night, I was relaxing, watching TV, coccooning on the couch, when I saw the latest Dr. Pepper commercial . Now I DRINK diet Dr. Pepper. In the summer I exist solely on Diet Peach ice tea, Cherry Coke Zero and diet Dr. Pepper. And water. For some reason, taking Lithium in the summer makes me drink copious amounts of fluid that I should just move into the bathroom, with a mini refrigerator and just stay there, computer on my lap.

It's a cute commercial, bunch of college students in a psychology lecture hall, and the prof introduces the topic for class today. Multiple personalities.

Cut to cute college kid, with obligatory notebook, writing implement and a can of Dr. Pepper. He flips the lid and the can starts singing. He covers it and when he removes his hand, it sings a different song. It goes on for a few seconds, letting the viewer come to the conclusion, for the 23 flavors advertised on the can that is in Dr. Pepper each has it's own distinctive personality.

OK, it's not so bad. But on repeated viewings, it's really starting to annoy me.

Then a month or so ago one of the networks aired a remake of the 76 movie "Sybil". It came in the top 20 that week of television shows, quite a feet for the old Big Three networks as they keep loosing more and more viewers to their cable cousins.


Now Showtime, who gave us the dishy Henry VIII last summer, have gotten in the game, announcing that, they will have a new show premiring this January, called "The United States of Tara". It stars Toni Colette, who was divine in "Muriel's Wedding" as the lead, a suburban housewife with multiple personalities. Her husband will be played by John Corbett, the fiance in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Nice job casting Showtime, but really, a show about multiple personalities?

Have they ever met anyone with this diagnosis, or are they basing it on a blurb in the DSM IV and Sybil, throwing in a bit of "When Rabbit Howls?"


I'm sorry Showtime. I cannot afford to subscribe to your channel but I was first on line to rent "Weeds". You lost a rental customer in me, and even if I had the money to get a premium channel I will go with HBO, even if they no longer run The Sopranos.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you like Toni Collette, or even if you don't, you must see "In Her Shoes."

Cameron Diaz and Shirley Mclain co-star. It's a romantic comedy with a serious bipolar element.

AK

susan said...

That movie passed me by, but it is on my list of must see rentals.

Thank you AK!

Stephany said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Camelon said...

Thank you, it is a horrible show. (Poor acting, thin writing. There are some interesting moments and Marshall is interesting, but primarily it uses the textbook case of DID and an overdose of swearing and sex to sell itself)

More concerning is the fact that the show perpetuates societies view of people with multiple personalities, going so far as to even put a 'facts on DID' section on their website. This might not be so bad if it was in anyway accurate. Unfortunately, it sticks to the textbook diagnosis, which states the popular view that the 'disease' is controversial, and it stems from children who cannot process trauma correctly (and perhaps are more susceptible to hypnosis or mental suggestion than most) - which then leads them to strengthen different aspects of their personalities to protect themselves from harm. The host has amnesia when the 'alters' are out, and switches when something triggers a change. (In the case of the show, stress.) The alters are always out for huge chunks of time, are extreme and one dimensional, and do not overlap. So on, and so forth.

As a multiple myself, and part of the multiple community, I find this very disturbing. We would also consider Tara 'disordered' - but not because she has multiple identities. Rather - she is disordered because no one communicates, there is no cross-memory between the group, and no one takes personal responsibility, especially Tara who leaves anytime there is a problem.

In a functional multiple group, everyone communicates and takes group responsibility - hence why the multiple community does not believe multiplicity is a good legal defense. I do believe trauma or other life events, for certainly most of the multiples I know have little trauma to deal with besides therapists and daily living, can lead to more difficult communication between group members.

'I think therefore I am' is a classic phrase considered in philosophy classes, yet in the case of multiples, apparently even though 'I think therefore someone else must have been abused' is the therapist's natural conclusion.

It is a complex topic, but it can never be properly studied until intitial preconceptions are put aside. I would love to look into the interplay between the mind and spirit, or why some people are single and some multiple. Why the varied backgrounds, varied ages - just why we choose the mental avatars we do to represent ourselves based off our personality. Where does personality come from? In my case we all share the same memories and experiences - yet we draw such differing conclusions out of life and feel different emotions and sensations, even while knowing and feeling everyone elses. But all these questions can never properly be explored so long as society is convinced that all multiples are the products of sadistic trauma in the past, that they all function in similar manner, and that the people are not real.

While it might not mean much, I am as real as anyone else in mind and soul. I might share a body and spirit, but that is a question for philosphers to debate, not doctors. Perhaps I will not know until I die and God returns, and I can ask Him.

- Camelon

- The Dr. Pepper commercial was amusing

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