SPLIT: Stop the Stigma

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Chloe Enero, Photography Editor

The trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s Split recently just has been released and has caused only the “slightest” of controversy. The basic premise of the movie based on the two and a half minute trailer is about Kevin, played by Golden Globe nominee James McAvoy, a middle-aged man who suffers with Dissociative Identity Disorder is compelled to kidnap 3 teenage girls. Kevin suffers from 23 different personalities and causes his abductees serious harm and terror.

Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder, is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct or split identities or personality states that continually have power over the person’s behavior. Each personality may have a unique name, personal history and characteristics. It is a serious chronic mental illness that does not have a cure and it affects almost 200,000 people in the US per year.

The controversy is that the movie delivers a harmful message about mental illness and those who suffer from it. The plot of the movie advocates for the fact that all people who suffer from a mental illness, more specifically a multiple personality disorder, are harmful and inhumane beings. Kevin’s character, in a larger retrospect, only supports the negative stigma about mental illness. If you look at society as whole, you will only find connotations of mental illness and those who suffer from mental illness to be frowned upon, dehumanized or portrayed as the villain. Mental illness should not be dehumanized or romanticized. The battle against the stigma surrounding mental illness is on-going one and movies that villainizes those who suffer from mental illness only make it extremely difficult.