Secret Window

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Secret Window

The movie, Secret Window, is a psychological thriller that is based on a novella called Secret Window, Secret Garden by Stephen King. Like most psychological thrillers, the character that has a mental illness is portrayed in a very exaggerated and dramatic way. Some portrayals can be very accurate while others are simply for reeling in the audience. For the purpose of this paper, I will discuss the accuracy of David Koepp’s portrayal of Dissociative Identity Disorder in the main character of Secret Window, some symptoms that are clear and maybe not so clear, as well as treatment options for DID.

Dissociative Identity Disorder, previously known as “multiple personality disorder”, is a mental disorder in which a person can adopt up to 100 new identities. Each alter, or different personality/identity, simultaneously coexists with each other. One hundred alters would be an extreme case but around 15 is usually the average. Because identities are only partially independent, the name of the disorder in the DSM-IV changed from multiple personality disorder to Dissociative Identity Disorder. In some cases, however, the identities can be complete and they each have their own tone of voice and physical gestures. When one personality transitions into another, it is called a switch. Although the switch is usually quick, it may be drawn out and dramatic in movies. Facial expressions, posture, and the voice may change and physical disabilities may even emerge.

Before explaining Mort Rainey’s portrayal of this disorder, let’s look at some of the symptoms of DID. One symptom that is included in DSM-IV-TR criteria is amnesia. Amnesia in this case refers to dissociative amnesia and dissociative fugue. Dissociative amnesia is the inability to recall personal information. Dissociative fugue is an inability to recall the past, often featuring a sudden, unexpected travel away from home. In DID, it is relatively unimportant how many...
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