“Primal Fear” Dissociative Identity Disorder

Dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder is a psychiatric illness. It involves an individual experiencing two or more apparent individuality or distinctiveness states where each has a reasonably consistent manner of perceiving and relating to the environment.

This paper will examine the DID illness as portrayed in the Primal Fear movie. Basic concepts of DID a. Symptoms of DID People diagnosed with multiple personality disorder have several signs and symptoms with great variations with time; body functioning could vary from normal functioning to dangerous impairment. Symptoms associated with DID are as follows; dissociation or lapses in memory especially of essential life events such as wedding or birthdays and blackouts at times leading to one finding him/herself in places though not remembering how one walked or travelled to the place.

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The sufferer could also be accused frequently of lying without him or her intending to do so and being accused of theft cases especially where someone else properties are found in their homes or bags though they cannot remember the incidence. In addition they could also suffer from depression, frequent panic attacks, and sudden anger although there is no justified cause. There may be a lack of personal connections and intimacy, unexplainable phobias, auditory hallucinations within ones mind, depersonalization and loss or distortion of subjective time as well.

Individuals might face an extremely wide range of other signs and symptoms which are similar to other illnesses such as personality disorder, anxiety disorder and schizophrenia. b. Etiology of DID There is no specific cause of DID which has been identified but there are some issues which are documented as the causes of DID. These causes of DID include; inadequate taking care of a child, an instinctive capability to disconnect occurrences or memories from perception, distressing experiences and association with devastating stress.

A high proportion of the sufferers report that the disease is as a result of child abuse. Basically, individuals diagnosed with the illness state they have suffered from sexual and severe physical abuse, particularly during their childhood. DID is greatly associated with childhood trauma instead of the underlying electrophysiological dysfunction. Sometimes symptoms of DID are believed to be created by therapists when utilizing particular treatment methods with suggestible or specific patients, though this concept is not unanimously accepted (Coons, Bowman & Milstein, 1998, p. 522).

Treatment of the multiple personality disorder tries to reconnect the personality states of incongruent changes into a common or single functioning identity. Similarly, treatment might focus on the signs and symptoms in order to alleviate the distressing features of the disease and make sure that the person is safe. Treatment techniques might include; medications or patients taking a combination of specific drugs and psychotherapy. Some health care specialists primarily utilize behavioral treatments like responding to only one personality state and utilizing more convectional therapy when a persistent response is developed.

Multiple personality disorder does not recover suddenly and signs and symptoms differ over time. People with principal symptoms of dissociative disorder and characteristics of PST (posttraumatic stress disorder) generally resolve with medication or treatment. In addition, individuals suffering from other disorders such as eating, anxiety and mood disorders experience a slower and more prolonged multifaceted recovery process. People who are still linked to abusers experience the worst prognosis; medications or treatment might be long-term and exclusively involve symptoms for relief instead of personality incorporation (Gleaves, 1996, pp. 7-52). Prevalence of DID An estimate of the DID incidence is not provided, though the number of the cases has increased drastically. A probable reason for the sharp rise in prevalence and incidence of the multiple personality disorder is due to issue of misdiagnosing the condition as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or any other mental illness. Secondly, the prevalence of the condition has increased as a result of the increased cases of child physical and sexual abuse, and rise in DID awareness which has resulted into earlier and more correct diagnosis (Brown, Frischholz & Scheflin, 1999, p. 52-567). Primal Fear Primal Fear refers to a movie that has two main characters; Martin Vail and Aaron Stampler. These two characters are involved in a crime in which one of them has committed a crime while the other defends the offender. The offender is accused of killing the archbishop. In this movie, Primal Fear, Edward Norton portrays the symptoms of DID. For instance, he agrees that he was with the archbishop during the time of the murder although he argues that an unknown individual must have committed the offense while he blacked out.

During this incidence, Vail defends Aaron and gets to a point of believing that his client, Stampler, is truly innocent. Nevertheless, Vail realizes that his client had been abused sexually by the archbishop and that other civic leaders had lost millions in investments like real estate because of decisions given to them by the archbishop. The attorney realized that introducing the above evidence could make Norton more sensitive towards the jury and could also offer Stampler a motive for the crime.

Needless to say this case does not go well for the attorney because there is reasonable evidence against his client and the general public holds him guilty of the opinion (Gartner, 1999, pp. 253-628) Symptoms to substantiate that Aaron had the disorder are well seen when the attorney confronts and charges him of the offense and having lied to him. At this level, Stampler breaks down and changes to a new personality, an aggressive sociopath who starts calling himself ‘Roy’. He later acknowledges that he killed the archbishop and harms Vail by heaving him into the wall.

When the situation comes to a halt, Stampler seems to have no recollection of it. Similarly, the psychiatrist diagnosing Stampler, confirms that he is suffering from DID because of physical childhood abuse from his parents, particularly the father (Gartner, 1999, pp. 253-628). The patient, Stampler does not receive any treatment but rather he is rushed back into his cell. This happens again after Vail brings up an argument in the court and after Stampler is accused harshly. He then turns into Roy threatening to break her neck incase anybody attempts go near him (Gartner, 1999, pp. 53-628). I think the best medication for him would have been psychotherapy which could assist him to improve his association with other people and to face feelings that he could not have felt comfortable being linked with in the past. In addition, this form of treatment could help him from being devastated by anxiety; thus risking a symbolic recurrence of their former traumatic incidence that are brought about by strong emotions. Conclusion DID is a mental disease where an individual experiences two or more distinct personalities.

Signs and symptoms include blackouts in time, lapses in memory and feeling unreal among others as it has been detected in Aaron Stampler, a character in the Primal Fear movie. The disorder is mainly a result of childhood trauma due to physical and mental disorder. Treatment for DID includes medications, psychotherapy and hypnosis. Reference List Brown D. , Frischholz E. & Scheflin A. (1999). Latrogenic dissociative identity disorder – An evaluation of the scientific evidence. The Journal of Psychiatry and Law XXVII, 5:549–637. Coons P. , Bowman E. & Milstein V. (1998).


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“Primal Fear” Dissociative Identity Disorder. (2018, Jun 13). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/primal-fear-dissociative-identity-disorder-essay/