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Kevin Crumb from The "Split" Movie: Psychology Analysis

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Review of Literature
  3. Critical Background
  4. Content
  5. Works Cited


Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a serious mental disorder which can be diagnosed in a patient with at least two split and distinct personalities within him. The mental disorder has been known as hiddenness disease and its availability frequency is higher than other mental illnesses. Most patients with DID report experiencing physical and sexual abuse, during their childhood. A study have found that a single child who experienced such terrible childhood is more likely to be diagnosed with DID than a child with siblings. “Dissociative identity disorder is a rare diagnosis. Because of the rarity of the diagnosis, there is much misunderstanding and ignorance among lay people and mental health professionals. Special attention is given to the reality of coping with the difficulties that dissociative identity disorder create”.

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Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan aka M. Night is the producer and writer of the 2017 movie Split with An entertaining story of Kevin Windle Crumb, a serial killer suffering from DID, whose multiple personalities reached 23. Kevin is more than mentally ill as the 24th personality has superhuman strength making the plot switch from psychological thriller to supervillain origin story.

“Dissociative Identity Disorder have increased exponentially, currently recognized by the DSM-IV-TR as a true psychological disorder that emerges, most commonly, as a result of early childhood sexual abuse”. This very research examines the reasons behind dissociative disorders with the traumatic stress experiences and considers problems associated with the patient. I will first provide an analysis of Kevin Windle Crumb the lead character from the movie Split played by the actor James McAvoy, all related to the different personalities he portrays within himself, and identify their resemblance and state of awareness, and relating his condition to the real DID symptoms. Second, I will discuss the reasons behind such forming of each prominent personality and the development they went through, as each distinct personality resembles a part of fear inside the patient. Third, I will address the treatment and salvation and the validity of health insurance coverage, keeping in mind the hypothesis of what if Kevin had the right treatment before it is too late?

Review of Literature

“M. Night Shyamalan may be the most gifted director of the last 20 years to see his own name turn into a punchline.” Said Owen Gleiberman, that in the way his twist endings became a signature that devolved into a tic that began to inspire a collective eye roll. Shyamalan has never indulged in the luxury of directing a movie that wasn’t based on his (catchy) (gimmicky) concepts and (decent) (functional) dialogue. Yet his talent as a director is gold. In his best films, he displays the essential moviemaking gift that fuses rhythm, character, mood, and visual storytelling. He has the instinct for how to frame a shot so that it’s the cinematic equivalent of an enthralling sentence.

“Despite continuing research on the related concepts of trauma and dissociation, childhood DID itself appears to be an extremely rare phenomenon that few researchers have studied in depth. Nearly all of the research that does exist on childhood DID is from the 1980s and 1990s and does not resolve the ongoing controversies surrounding the disorder”.

There comes that seemingly inevitable moment in each of his films call it the Shyamalanian “click” when everything falls into place and the viewer realizes (or is made to realize through a series of flashbacks) that everything that had appeared coincidental or nonsensical wasn’t accidental or meaningless at all but rather directed by some controlling force. The most famous of these ironic realizations and arguably the most effective is of course the terrific moment in The Sixth Sense (1999) when both child psychologist Malcolm Crowe and the viewer realize simultaneously that Malcolm is dead, having been shot at the very start of the film.

Critical Background

Kathryn observes that Dissociative Identity Disorder is the most complex dissociative disorder. It is also known as multiple personality disorder (MPD) which led some to see it as a personality disorder, although it is not. The defining feature is severe change in identity as in saying “I’d look in the mirror and it would be a different face. I was chaotic and unsettled.”. She adds that If someone experience DID, he may experience the shifts of identity as separate personalities. Each identity may be in control of your behaviour and thoughts at different times. (Livingston 6). Shirley J. addresses bullying and neglect by saying that it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to experience or express having endured trauma either as an adult or a child. We all respond differently to our circumstances. One person’s hang nail may be another person’s tragedy. That It is all up to our individual abilities to handle stressors in our world. According to The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) Dissociative Disorders: “are characterized by an involuntary escape from reality characterized by a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness and memory. People from all age groups and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds can experience a dissociative disorder.” The author says that it is important to note that all dissociative disorders have their common root cause in severe trauma.

Editor Rafer Guzmán offers an explanation of the film “Split,” as a psychological thriller starring James McAvoy as a man with 23 personalities. M. Night Shyamalan, a writer-director whose movies range so widely in quality that he also might have multiple personalities. He has been the Hitchcockian mastermind who gave us “The Sixth Sense,” the creative comic-book geek behind “Unbreakable” and the dunderhead who stapled together “The Last Airbender.” The good news is that, for most of its nearly two-hour running time, “Split” is quite enjoyable, a clever one-up of “Psycho” with some interesting twists and several funny-creepy moments. In its final 20 seconds, however, “Split” suffers a kind of psychotic break and does something so dumb, so exasperating so Shyamalanian that it nearly wrecks everything. For the moment, let’s focus on the positive. “Split” makes the absolute most of its star, and vice versa. We first see McAvoy as Dennis, a stern handyman who kidnaps three teenagers: friendly Marcia (Jessica Sula), pampered Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and the school outcast, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). Dennis soon gives way to matronly Patricia, outgoing Barry, 9-year-old Hedwig and even a few minor supporting roles. McAvoy shifts his speech, posture and facial expressions with ease, but even more impressive always shows us the crack in each facade. The film’s other major asset is Taylor-Joy. She’s a haunting presence as Casey, a black-haired, black-eyed misfit whose own troubled past, seen in flashbacks, gives her a unique empathy for her captor. Although “Split” repeatedly asks us to believe that the girls are too scared to fight back, grab weapons or flee through open doors, Taylor-Joy is so intriguing that we kind of want her to stick around. Shyamalan takes an inventive approach to the controversial theory of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Betty Buckley plays a renegade psychologist, Dr. Karen Fletcher, who believes each “alter” is a truly different person, even physically. When Dennis/Hedwig/Patricia talk of The Beast perhaps a 24th personality? You might feel a little shiver down your spine. As for the film’s ruinous final moment, involving a pointless reference to another Shyamalan movie and a celebrity cameo, it’s a real shame. Just when you were enjoying this clever, creative filmmaker, the dunderhead within takes over.


From the behavioral perspective it shows that Kevin the main character with the dissociative identity disorder has no recollection of what has happened while his other personalities were in action. He suffers from an extreme case of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), and has 23 separate personalities plus a final abnormal one. His father Clarence Wendell Crumb left on a train and never came back, died in the Eastrail 177 train accident which is a Disaster that took place in 2000, as the Eastrail Train #177 derailed near Philadelphia due to mechanical failure that left only one surviving passenger, leaving left 3-year-old Kevin with his abusive, obsessive-compulsive mother who was supposed to be the protector of her child, but she is either so damaged herself that she could not do the job, greedy or villainous to the point that she never had any interest in doing it properly, including being emotionally, verbally, physically, or mentally abusive, or who neglectfully allow her child to be abused by others. Sometimes, the character manages to not grow up broken, bitter, and hateful, and instead a different and better person. Bear in mind that not everyone agrees on the line between actual abuse and merely heavy-handed parenting (or even normal parenting). Some include spanking as abuse; others think it’s appropriate given certain guidelines. If a parent has just dumped the child, for whatever reason, that’s Parental Abandonment; if they aren’t paying attention, that’s Parental Neglect. If the parents refuse to discipline their kids, they are Pushover Parents. “When a parent becomes maltreating, however, even an intensive program of home visitation by nurses in addition to standard treatment is not enough to prevent recidivism of physical abuse and neglect”. As Kevin being abused, he began to take refugee by developing multiple personalities as a defense mechanism, he retreated from reality and created these many other personalities to help protect him from her.

A second dominant personality is Dennis, the protector similar to Kevin’s mother, has OCD with obsessive-compulsive cleaning habits, was a direct result of Kevin’s trauma. According to Dr. Fletcher’s files briefly seen in ‘Split,’ One of the more disturbing personalities, Dennis is cold, temperamental, and manipulative, with a perverted liking for watching young girls dance naked, and for that reason, the other personalities try to keep him from emerging. He demonstrates a firm, sometimes violent, tendency towards order, showing himself capable of talking on pleasant terms despite his explosive temper. The main reason of his formation is because of the spiteful ways Kevin’s mother punished him, and the only way to satisfy her was through keeping everything tidy and in order. “Lack of positive engagement during childhood and adolescence may contribute to a loss of the normal protection or resilience against traumatic stress”.

A third personality is Patricia. A British orderly, sophisticated, educated and polite woman who has considerable command over some of the other personalities. She is revealed to be surprisingly dangerous in her own right that can be vicious when disobeyed. She is also a priestess who only seeks to please the final abnormal character. Along with Dennis, they take a lead role in controlling the group throughout most of the time. “Multifactorial models of child maltreatment in long-term care propose that risk and protective factors in multiple domains contribute to child abuse and neglect. They include factors associated with the perpetrator; the young person in care; the type of care setting”.

Hedwig, the forth personality a nine-year-old boy with several compulsive behaviours, that loves to dance crazily, do drawings. He is disciplined by the other personalities tending to act like his parents. A rather gullible as a result of his innocence and naivety, easily baited. His desire is to not be dismissed and made fun of anymore. Hedwig attempts to dress as such in a sports outfit. He also has a habit of mentioning his sock colours randomly to show his childishness. In an attempt to blend in with their supposed age group, dressed in an exaggerated, stereotypical version of what the surrounding is wearing.

Barry as the fifth personality is a flamboyant fashion expert, working tirelessly with Dr. Fletcher to keep Kevin’s more dangerous identities ‘out of the light’. Barry is a key personality inside Kevin, as the dominant one. His singular focus is the protection of Kevin, always concerned about him more than the others. Barry qualifies as the most normal personality of Kevin’s. Barry could determine what personality should come and at what time. This is the power he had until Patricia, Denisse and Hedwing seized Kevin’s mind. It is implied that he is a very commanding individual (described at one point as an extroverted leader).

The sixth and seventh personalities are is Orwell, the personality of an introverted and highly intelligent well educated, particularly about world history who appears in a video on Kevin’s computer, and Jade a personality that we only see a couple of brief times in Split. She appears briefly in a video file like Orwell. She is diabetic, a medical oddity since none of Kevin’s other personalities are. She appears to be a teen or a young adult with a foul mouth, though her exact age isn’t clear. She is flirtatious and young, and has to take insulin injections for diabetes.

There are 16 other personalities that are not shown, but the names of which are seen on Kevin’s computer. The final and abnormal personality is called The Beast, is by far the most dangerous, hostile and terrifying of all the personalities. It is the 24th identity that resides in Kevin’s mind. The Beast is a malevolent figure, idolized by Dennis, Patricia and Hedwig, who all awaited his arrival. The Beast is extremely violent to the point of savagery, having an unquenchable lust for human flesh, and an intense perspective that the rest of the world is impure because they haven’t suffered like he has. The Beast possesses superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina, invulnerability and pain tolerance. Finally, the Beast is incredibly hard to kill, since bullets are virtually ineffective against it and knives shatter against its skin. Making the whole film switch from psychological thriller to supervillain origin story. Despite its savagery, wants to protect Kevin from all who would do him harm no matter what. Kevin’s body physically transforms to become more muscular and becomes violent personified and his freedom at the end of Split means that terrible things are likely to happen.

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In summary, the serotonin system and the genes regulating the serotonin system are influenced by early trauma. The field has not yet advanced, however, to the point where treatment can be tailored to an individual child. More work needs to be done on gene-gene interactions, possible epigenetic effects, trauma variables, and other factors, such as social supports, to achieve this aim”. “As with most traumatic events, children will exhibit symptoms such as regression, avoidance or reliving the event, hypervigilance, decreased concentration, sleep problems, and anger outbursts. However, most children will recover in a supportive environment” and poorer response to evidence-based treatments during adolescence. “Although the mental disorders found in maltreating parents and child victims are serious, they are amenable to prevention and treatment”.

Works Cited

  1. Allen, Jon G. Coping With Trauma: Hope Through Understanding. 2nd ed., American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc, 2005.
  2. Bellis, Michael D. De, and Abigail Zisk. “The Biological Effects of Childhood Trauma.” Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, vol. 23, no. 2, 16 Feb. 2014, pp. 185–222., doi:10.1016/j.chc.2014.01.002.
  3. Boysen, G. The Scientific Status of Childhood Dissociative Identity Disorder. vol. 80, 2011, pp. 329–334, The Scientific Status of Childhood Dissociative Identity Disorder.
  4. Carr, Alan, et al. “A Systematic Review of the Outcome of Child Abuse in Long-Term Care.” Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 22 July 2018, p. 1., doi:10.1177/1524838018789154.
  5. Haddock, Deborah Bray. The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook. 1 edition ed., Contemporary Books, 2001.
  6. Kopstein, Andrea. Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2014.
  7. Shyamalan, M. Night, director. Split. Universal Pictures, 2017.
  8. Stickley, T., and R. Nickeas. “Becoming One Person: Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder.” Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, vol. 13, no. 2, 16 Mar. 2006, pp. 180–187., doi:10.1111/j.1365-2850.2006.00939.x.

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