assignment, I decided to review the film Fight Club directed by David Fincher,
staring Brad Pit, Edward Norton, and Helena Carter. In this film, the main
character portrays strong traits of Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple
Personality Disorder) that become more and more apparent throughout the
duration of the film. It is interesting to see this character’s mental illness
unfold throughout this 2.5-hour film (Fincher, 1999).
In this film, the
unnamed main character (Edward Norton) works as a traveling automobile specialist,
and feels “disconnected” from his life. He suffers from insomnia, and is
recommended by his doctor to attend various support groups. Although he does
not suffer from the illnesses that these groups cater to, they provide him
relief and allow him to sleep. At these groups, he finds another “imposter”
Marla Singer (Helena Carter), and they negotiate trading off groups to attend.
The main character
meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who is a soap salesman, flying home from a work
trip. Later when he returns, he discovers his home has been tragically
destroyed, so he contacts Tyler, and moves into his home. The two often engage
in fist fights for entertainment, which eventually move into a bar’s basement
where many men form a “Fight Club” which meet regularly as a recreational
The neurotic Marla
Singer calls the main character, and the two begin a strange friendship. She
and Tyler begin sleeping together, and he warns the main character to never
talk to Marla about it.
expanding the club, despite the main characters wish to shut it down after
legal issues begin. The main character ends up staying in a hotel room, and
calls Marla- who believes he is Tyler. Tyler appears in the room, and reveals
to the audience that they are actually the same person, and explains the
character’s illness of Dissociative Identity Disorder. The main character is
unnamed for a reason. He is both Tyler and himself. Tyler is everything he
wants himself to be, fun loving, adventurous, sexy, and well liked. Whereas he
is dull, nervous, and unsatisfied with life. In the end, the main character holds
a gun to his head and shoots himself, but does not get hurt. Instead, Tyler is
dead and gone (Fincher, 1999).
Clinical Disorder Overview:
Identity Disorder (which used to be known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is
a psychological illness in which two or more separate personalities are inside
one individual. The etiology of this disorder can be linked to a history of
physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. When someone experiences a traumatic
situation, dissociation can serve as a defense mechanism. Individuals with this
disorder can have hallucinations, depression, mood swings, sleep disorders,
drug/ alcohol abuse, and violent personalities on top of dissociation (Varcarolis,
Plan of Care Related to Dissociative
for anxiety related to loss of control of behavior and feelings.
irrational thoughts or fears are present, offer the client accurate information
and encourage him or her to talk about the meaning of the events contributing
to the anxiety,” (Ackley, 2017).
and suppress painful emotions, thoughts, and sensations, and limit their
involvement in meaningful activities,” (Ackley, 2017).
personal identity related to inability to distinguish self as evidenced by
Dissociative Identity Disorder.
expression of positive thoughts and emotions,” (Ackley, 2017).
emotions contribute to disturbed personal identity and poor coping,” (Ackley,
memory related to altered state of consciousness as evidenced by forgetting
actions that were previously committed.
client use cues, including alarm watches, electronic organizers, calendars,
lists, or pocket computers, to trigger certain actions at designated times,” (Ackley,
Rationale: “Cues and
external cognitive strategies can help remind clients of certain actions,
particularly for future intentions known as prospective memory,” (Ackley,
There are many
hints in this film of the main character’s mental illness, although it never blatantly
said that he has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Dissociative Identity Disorder
includes troubles with memory, awareness, perception, and identity which are
all present in the main character. Throughout the film you really have to pay attention
to small details that lead to this disorder. Some of these hints include: the
main character never gives his name, and he gives fake names at support groups.
The main character works days, and Tyler works nights. The main character
states, “It’s not clear if reality slipped into my dream or if my dream is
slipping into reality,” (Fincher, 1999).
Professional Clinical Critique:
One aspect that
was not portrayed accurately in this film was that in real patients with
Dissociative Identity Disorder, their multiple personalities never meet. In
this film, the two characters interact with each other on a regular basis.
There are some patients with three or four personalities, but they never meet (Varcarolis,
2013). There is a scene towards the end of the film where the audience can see
the other people’s point of view during the first fight between the narrator
and Tyler Durden. The people outside the bar could only see the narrator
beating and hitting himself. This would never happen to a person with Dissociative
Identity Disorder. Showing no interaction would not make for a suspenseful
movie, so it makes sense why this interaction was included into the film.
I think that this
film shows many accuracies of an individual with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
I think it also exaggerates and draws out some of the signs and symptoms for a
more dramatic “Hollywood” effect. It did not include an accurate or preferred
method of treatment either (In the end the main character shoots Tyler Durden).