Dissociative Identity Disorder in the Secret Window
Secret Window, released in 2004, is a film based on Stephen King's novel Secret Window, Secret Garden. The film follows increasingly disturbing events around a character called Mort Rainey, who is portrayed by Johnny Depp & John Turturro. This character appears to suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Rainey is a middle-aged novelist recently estranged from his wife; as a result, he has isolated himself at his cottage. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Rainey has another personality called Shooter, and Rainey himself comes to the realisation that Shooter is an identity that he has created to protect himself from the pain of his marital breakdown. Shooter takes over Rainey’s mind one last time to murder his wife and the man she cheated with. After his vengeance is carried out, Rainey seems at ease and jovial, and as the film ends, Rainey seems to be in a positive emotional state. This is an ambiguous ending that leaves the viewer unsure of Rainey’s mental health status.
DID is a complex condition. It is difficult to diagnose, and it is associated with a great deal of debate and misunderstanding, both within the public realm and within the scientific community; C.M. Traub says that DID is one of the most “controversial diagnoses” (Traub, 2009). This paper will examine the diagnosis, prognosis, origins, and therapies and possible treatments for DID. In addition, DID’s controversial nature is investigated.
According to Barlow, Durand & Stewart (2012), Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is one of several dissociative disorders in which a person experiences involve detachment or depersonalization. They go on to explain that people with DID have multiple, distinct personalities which each take over control of a person’s behaviour at different times. DID is diagnosed based on the DSM-IV-TR which requires that the following four criteria be met:
A. “The person has two or more distinct identities or personality states…;
B. At least two of these identities or personality states recurrently take control of the person’s behaviour;
C. The person has an inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness;
D. The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance…or a general medical condition…” (Barlow, Durand, & Stewart, 2012, p. 205)
Rainey meets the criteria for DID because has two distinct personalities that alternately control his behaviour; his primary personality is called Rainey, and the secondary personality is called Shooter. In addition, throughout the film, he experiences events for which he has no recall. Finally, Rainey does not appear to abuse any substances or suffer from any medical condition or other mental illness.
Diagnosing DID when it is suspected can be difficult. Personalities might switch sporadically rather than on command, so it can be a...