One of the many films and movies that have dealt with the disorder has been Netflix’s new docuseries Monsters Inside.
One of the most fascinating people in American history, Billy Milligan, was the first person to be acquitted on the basis of criminal insanity in Netflix’s four-part docuseries Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan. The Ohio State University campus rapes in 1977 led to his imprisonment, but he claimed he didn’t conduct the acts.
Milligan underwent psychological testing while incarcerated, and the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder was made as a result (DID, formerly known as multiple personality disorder). Milligan claimed that he had been raped by one of his 24 alternate selves, who had taken turns possessing his mind and body while the others slept. His admission of insanity sparked a national controversy regarding whether or not he was telling the truth and whether or not multiple personality disorder was really a real condition. 1.5% of people are thought to be affected by this condition, according to the DSM-5.
There are numerous references to the Sybil miniseries, which aired just a year before Milligan’s incarceration, in the show’s experts and interviews. Many shows and movies have dealt with DID, but it’s uncommon that it’s portrayed accurately: it’s one of the most sensationalist and misunderstood mental conditions, and it’s often depicted as a violent and dangerous illness in horror films. A lot of the time, pop culture perpetuates negative DID stereotypes rather than providing complexity and context. You may observe how DID has been portrayed in other series and movies by following this list of 11 after Monsters Inside.
There were more than six million copies sold in the U.S. in the first four years after publication of Sybil, a 1973 bestselling novel starring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward. Sybil Dorsett (a pseudonym for Shirley Ardell Mason) is a real-life teacher who developed 16 distinct personalities as a result of being subjected to physical and sexual abuse by her mother, according to the book. Mason eventually conceded that the personalities were fabricated, but the two-part video nevertheless provides a fascinating look at the Sybil case and the mystique around it despite this. The New York Times termed the book “important” in making dissociative identity disorder a widespread and accepted diagnosis following its debut, and the number of reported cases increased.
2. The Three Faces of Eve
In spite of the fact that it’s today considered a somewhat simple depiction of DID, this 1957 picture marks one of the first on-screen portrayals of the disease, recounting the real story of Christine Costner Sizemore. She sees a psychiatrist after suffering from terrible headaches and blackouts, and he discovers that she has numerous alter egos, including Eve White, Eve Black, and Jane. Sizemore received an Academy Award for Woodward, who went on to star in Sybil.
3. David & Lisa
When David (Keir Dullea) developed a phobia of being touched, he was taken to a mental treatment institution where he befriended a girl with DID, Lisa (Janet Margolin). As a two-time Oscar nominee for best director and best screenplay, this 1962 picture does a great job of illustrating how society treats people who are believed to be different and how medical experts often overlook and disregard troubled and neurodivergent youth.
4. Busy Inside
Follows psychiatrist Karen Marshall as she deals with her own 17 dissociative alter egos while treating clients with dissociative identity disorder (DID). The story revolves around Karen and Marshay, a patient who has a hard time accepting that Karen suffers from DID. An honest picture of DID that is unsettling at times because to the friendship between Karen and Marshay.
5. Mr. Robot
In addition to its thrilling tale and incredible detail, Sam Esmail’s four-season hacker-thriller is an enthralling investigation of mental health and trauma. It takes its time exploring the depths of Elliot’s (Rami Malek) mind, but in the end, the show portrays DID with empathy and care with its main character. (Esmail consulted a psychologist before scripting the episode to verify accuracy).
6. Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase
The true story of Truddi Chase, a woman with 92 distinct personalities, was depicted in the miniseries Voices Within, which aired in 1990. She wrote the novel, When Rabbit Howls; she also helped write the show’s script. As a result, assumptions and stigma surrounding DID are challenged, and a more intimate look at Chase’s life as she learns to cope with her condition is provided.
7. United States of Tara
On this list, United States of Tara is by far the funniest. “Tara Gregson,” a three-season Showtime series starring Toni Collette and created by Diablo Cody (Juno and Jennifer’s Body), explores the shifting identities of artist and mother Tara Gregson. Tara and her family had to deal with her in all of her various guises, from flirting adolescent to Vietnam veteran. For her role, Collette was nominated for an Emmy and acclaimed for bringing DID to life in a genuine and relatable way.
8. Primal Fear
Primal Fear tells the story of a case that is quite similar to Billy Milligan’s, even though it is a fictional thriller. Aaron (Edward Norton), a young altar boy, is accused of murdering an archbishop and is being prosecuted in a juvenile court. His lawyer pleads for a not guilty verdict based on Aaron’s insanity once it is discovered that he may or may not have DID as a result of his childhood abuse. It’s a shame that the movie falls into the trap of using DID as a villain.
9. Fight Club
Fight Club, David Fincher’s masterpiece from 1999, deals substantially with dissociation, yet DID is ultimately a cliff note in the plot. Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is the odd soap salesman who introduces Edward Norton to his decaying mansion. As a team, they form an underground combat club where men may let off steam and get some exercise. Inconsistencies exist with DID, such as the fact that the character in the film who experiences it did not suffer any childhood trauma, as is most prevalent for the disease — but it manages to depict DID as a coping technique.
Shyamalan drew inspiration from Milligan’s story while making his 2016 psychological thriller, Idiosyncratic Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a 23-person alter-ego known as “Barry,” is the protagonist. Then, one of his more aggressive personas, Anya Taylor-Joy, and her two pals, are kidnapped by him and held in his basement. A lot of people have criticized it for using offensive tropes, so it’s best to take it with a grain of salt if you’ve never seen it before.
Psycho, like Split, has a generally problematic portrayal of DID, but it remains a key entry in the pantheon of slasher films. Norma Bates (Anthony Perkins), the operator of the famed Bates hotel, has developed a second personality as his late mother, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). There are those who consider it to be one of the best films ever made, and it was nominated for four Academy Awards.