Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Dr. Rhea Merck

First Reader

Dr. Mike McCall

Second Reader

Dr. Mike McCall


The highly popularized portrayal of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) in mainstream media has often been dubbed inaccurate; blamed on misrepresentations, bad applications of the diagnostic criteria, and the tendency to sensationalize mental illness. Through the analysis of five different depictions of DID in film, I find that all five characters met the minimum criteria for diagnosis according to the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (2013). Some depictions of DID predate the publication date of the current diagnostic manual by over 50 years, portraying symptoms that are widely recognized today but were neither accepted nor identified back then. From these findings, I argue that the controversy surrounding the supposed misrepresentation of the disorder in the media is not the result of inaccurate depictions, but rather that of indiscriminate diagnostic criteria. As the criteria required for a diagnosis of DID is one of inclusion, subjects are given multiple opportunities to meet the same criterion. Through the improved specification of diagnostic criteria, patients will need to meet more stringent benchmarks in order to receive a diagnosis. This will change the narrative surrounding DID patients. Misdiagnoses will likely decrease, and movies based on exaggerated symptoms will no longer be the face of DID.

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© 2022, Rebecca Cortez