In the movie, Frankie and Alice, an African American woman is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. This disorder is also known as multiple personality disorder. Throughout the film, the main character produces three different personalities. The first personality she expressed in the film was Frankie, a strong and self-sufficient dancer trying to make a living. Genius, who is a smart seven-year-old. And finally, we have Alice, who is a racist Caucasian southern woman.
The movie begins with Frankie, an exotic dancer in Los Angeles. She takes a man home with intentions to have sex with him but falls on an object that makes a noise and triggers Alice. She commences to call him vulgar and racist names and claims he is trying to rape her. The man is unaware of Frankie’s condition so he passes her off as begin crazy. This moment becomes very overwhelming for her which causes her to run out of her apartment and faint in the middle of the street. When she comes to, the police are taking her to the hospital where she meets Dr.Oswalt, a psychiatrist.
During Frankie’s work up Dr.Os realizes that she is not just another crazy person on drugs. He urges Frankie to check herself into a mental institute under his care, allowing him to run more tests and do more research. His coworkers were very skeptical and told him that she was just another “pothead” with mood swings. Dr.Oswalt assures them that it is much more than that. The actions that Frankie displays are results of Dissociative Identity Disorder.
DID is a condition that results in a person having two or more split personalities. This condition can be controlled, but not cured. This disorder is often confused with schizophrenia. While they do hold some similarities, they are very different. The symptoms of schizophrenia include disorganized thoughts, paranoia, hallucinations, etc. While victims of Dissociative Identity Disorder would show symptoms of amnesia, blackouts, mood swings, depression, and self-harm. The symptoms are often developed as a response to a traumatic event.
Later in the movie, Dr.Oswalt brings Genius (the smart eight-year-old) out with hypnosis. She explains that she is only there to help Frankie from Alice. Before Genius could give the doctor any more information, Alice arrives. This shows that she is stronger and more dominant than the additional two personalities. She tells him that Frankie will have no recollection of their conversation because she is weak, frightened, and incapable. He goes on to ask her what traumatic event is Frankie trying to mask with this multiple identities. She would often avoid the question by changing the subject to something personal about him.
After the conversation with Genius, Alice comes to and expresses how upset she is with having to share a body with a black woman. This anger is so strong that she throws herself into a mirror, breaking the glass and causing herself to have a slight cut on her forehead. Frankie tells the doctor that she’s trying to fight.
A disease as rare as this is the least studied but the most debatable. In a study that included over 425 physicians, over one-third of them thought that diagnosing a patient with Borderline Personality Disorder was more suitable than DID. While most of the psychologists thought DID was a valid diagnosis, thirty-eight percent thought that this disease could be created by a therapist’s influence. It is shown that in the general population, females are more likely to be diagnosed with DID, with a ratio of 9:1.
The most important reason for the controversy is the fear of criminals getting off on serious trials without punishment because of assumptions of this disorder. The suspect would be tried in a courtroom as not being mentally stable at the time of the crime and would not be held responsible.
Towards the end of the film, the truth of Frankie’s past comes to light. When Frankie was fifteen she was a maid for her best friend’s family. She and her best friend’s brother(Pete) were in love. They were so in love that they decided to run away together. Sadly, they did not make it very far before they were in a tragic car accident where Pete lost his life. While in a state of hypnosis Frankie goes back to when she gave birth to Pete’s child. Unfortunately, Frankie’s mother killed the child right after she gave birth. This shocking realization has Dr.Oswalt question if Frankie made up Alice to fill the gap of her child.