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Archive for January 4th, 2010

Let me begin with a disclaimer – this blog entry is just my own opinion based upon my own observations watching biographies about different actresses. I have no firsthand knowledge of any of their lives, nor am I aware of any of them being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID).

Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, let’s speculate. :0) I have often wondered how many successful actors and actresses (especially actresses) have DID and whether their disorder is actually partially responsible for their successes.

I first thought about this idea based upon my own brief experience with acting. When I was in ninth grade, I was a very shy and withdrawn student, so it was a shock all around when I landed a part in my school’s one-act play that was loosely based upon the movie, Arsenic and Old Lace. I played one of the sweet, but murderous, little old ladies. I was fumbling at rehearsals at first. Then, I showed up at rehearsal one day and was my character, down to the voice tone, accent, and inflection. The cast member who played the other little old lady was in awe and asked me how I did that. I realize in hindsight that I created an alter part to play that role. I had no idea how I did it at the time, but today I realized that I simply “switched.” It was a piece of cake.

Then, several years ago, I saw the Marilyn Monroe biography starring a then-unknown actress named Poppy Montgomery. Admittedly, the movie always claimed to have taken some liberties with the portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, but I was struck by how she seemed to “switch” from one personality to another. I have seen interviews in which people claim that Marilyn Monroe was actually Norma Jean Baker’s most successful “role.” That got me speculating about whether Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe had DID.

I love to watch biographies and watched quite a few while most of my TV shows were on hiatus over the holidays. I watched a biography on Beyonce Knowles in which she shared that she “becomes Sasha” when she is on stage. Sasha is outgoing and daring while Beyonce is reserved to almost shyness when not on stage.

I then watched one on Mackenzie Phillips. Of course, her traumatizing childhood is well-known and, especially with her recent revelation of the incestuous relationship with her father that she shared in her book, High on Arrival, certainly fits the profile for a traumatizing childhood that could cause a child to develop DID. Many people in her life chose to be interviewed, included her second ex-husband/father of her child. In his interview, he shared a conversation with her that sounds right out of the book of Faith: He said that she said, “This is how I am feeling right now,” and she was bawling her eyes out. He walked toward her to comfort her because she looked so incredibly sad, but she looked up with a completely serene and bubbly face and said, “But this is how other people will see me.” Wow!

Another person from the set of One Day at a Time shared that, while the camera was not on Mackenzie, she would have a glazed over expression. However, when her camera came on, she was “on,” and you would have no idea that her expression had been blank just a moment before.

Is this DID? I don’t know, but I think it is interesting to speculate about.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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