Posts Tagged ‘DID in the media’

Showtime has a new show coming out called United States of Tara in which Toni Collette plays a “suburban mom suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder” (DID). The January 26 – February 8 issue of the TV Guide ran an article about the program. All excerpts in this blog are taken from that article, which can be found on page 55.

Unfortunately, I do not subscribe to Showtime, and I am not willing to pay the extra money to view this one show. So, I can only base my impressions on what I read in this article as well as elsewhere about the show. I am generally wary of the media’s portrayal of DID, and this show is no exception. From what I have read so far, I fear it is just more of the same – more misinformation that will perpetuate the myths about DID.

For example, in the TV Guide article, Toni Collette said that playing this role “made me think about the fragility of the mind, and that in itself was scary.” I do not view my mind as fragile – just the opposite, in fact. My mind was amazingly strong to fragment itself in a way to survive horrendous abuse. If my mind was “fragile,” then it would have snapped a long time ago. Instead, I managed to not only function but succeed in life because of my strong mind. The DID made me stronger, not weaker.

Later in the article, Toni Collette said, “We have psychiatrists consulting on the show, and I read a lot about mental illness.” First of all, why not consult with somebody who actually has or has had DID? Don’t we know more about what it is like to live with DID than a psychiatrist does? And I take issue with labeling DID as a mental illness. DID is a mental disorder, not a mental illness. You cannot inherit DID, and it is not a physical impairment to the brain. The only way to develop DID is to endure severe and ongoing trauma from a very young age. That is not a mental illness.

The article included pictures of each of the personalities. As I have stated numerous times, the whole point of DID is to be seamless when you switch. The four personalities could not be more obviously different – that’s hardly going to blend.

I also saw no mention of child abuse or trauma in the article, which is the cause of DID. Perhaps they will get into this in the show. I hope so.

I do not tell many people offline about my history with DID, and this is one reason why. I don’t want people to think that I am as “out there” as this portrayal sounds like it is going to be.

If any of you have Showtime and watch the show, I would love to hear your reaction. Is my assessment fair? I admit that I am basing it upon a TV Guide interview and have not seen the show. I sure don’t like the portrayal that I am seeing in the magazine.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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