Shutter Island': Psychology and Dissociative Identity Disorder

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About this sample


Words: 567 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Updated: 29 March, 2024

Words: 567|Page: 1|3 min read

Updated: 29 March, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Shutter Island: Reality Versus Illusion
  2. The Intersection of Psychology and Literature
  3. Dissociative Identity Disorder: Controversies and Theories
  4. Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder

This dissertation delves into the portrayal of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, as depicted in the film 'Shutter Island.' DID is a complex psychological condition where an individual exhibits multiple distinct identities or personalities. This disorder, also referred to as Dissociative Disorder, was first identified by Dr. Jean Martin Charcot in Paris during the 1880s. Initially termed Hystero-Epilepsy, Charcot later coined the term Multiple Personality Disorder to describe this condition. Despite an initial lack of awareness, over time, through detailed explanations and demonstrations, the public began to understand this psychological phenomenon. However, diagnosing DID poses challenges due to symptom overlap with other conditions. Early stages may present two or three personalities, which can proliferate. Commonly, individuals with DID have experienced significant childhood trauma, often leading to the cessation of personality development at the time of trauma. While there is no definitive cure for DID, symptoms can be managed and controlled.

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Historically, the first recognized case of DID dates back to 1791, involving a German woman who alternated between speaking German and French, each identity unaware of the other's linguistic capabilities. Between 1880 and 1944, a significant increase in reported DID cases spurred focused research during this period. Despite the rise in awareness, skepticism about the disorder's existence persists. Symptoms such as convulsions, fainting, and mood swings overlap with other conditions, complicating diagnosis. DID is characterized by a disconnection among thoughts, feelings, memories, and actions, leading to unpredictable personality shifts, depression, substance abuse, and, in some instances, suicidal tendencies.

Shutter Island: Reality Versus Illusion

'Shutter Island,' directed by Martin Scorsese, intricately explores the themes of perception and reality through its protagonist, Teddy, a U.S. Marshal investigating a mysterious psychiatric facility. The narrative skillfully blurs the lines between sanity and madness, truth and delusion, inviting viewers to question the nature of reality. Scorsese's film leaves the ending open to interpretation, challenging audiences to contemplate the essence of identity and the impact of trauma on the human psyche.

The Intersection of Psychology and Literature

The relationship between psychology and literature is profound, with both fields deeply invested in exploring the human condition. Literature provides a narrative means to explore psychological concepts, enriching our understanding of human behavior and emotional complexity. The collaboration between these disciplines enriches our comprehension of the mind, behavior, and the nuanced relationship between the individual and society.

Dissociative Identity Disorder: Controversies and Theories

DID remains one of the most debated disorders within psychology. The primary theory attributes DID to severe trauma, leading individuals to dissociate and develop multiple personalities as a coping mechanism. An alternative theory suggests DID may be iatrogenic, potentially induced by therapeutic practices such as hypnosis, raising questions about the authenticity of recovered memories. Despite controversies, the impact of DID on affected individuals is undeniable, with symptoms disrupting daily life and causing profound distress.

Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Individuals with DID often navigate a perplexing world, grappling with memory lapses, unexplained physical symptoms, and the challenge of multiple identities. The disorder, popularized by media representations like the film 'Sybil,' has seen fluctuating recognition and diagnosis rates over the years. While cinematic portrayals have raised awareness, they have also perpetuated misunderstandings about the complexities of DID.

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This examination of Dissociative Identity Disorder through 'Shutter Island' and broader psychological and literary analysis offers insights into one of the most enigmatic conditions, highlighting the intricate dance between reality and perception, and underscoring the enduring fascination with the human mind's mysteries.

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Cite this Essay

Shutter Island’: Psychology and Dissociative Identity Disorder. (2020, October 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
“Shutter Island’: Psychology and Dissociative Identity Disorder.” GradesFixer, 31 Oct. 2020,
Shutter Island’: Psychology and Dissociative Identity Disorder. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2024].
Shutter Island’: Psychology and Dissociative Identity Disorder [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 31 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from:
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