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The movie "The Three Faces of Eve" directed by Nunnally Johnson is an American mystery drama film produced in 1957 based on a book by psychiatrists Hervey M. Cleckley and Corbett H. Thigpen who contribute in writing the screenplay. The film was primarily about the story of a woman who was suffering from multiple personality disorder. Multiple personality disorder is a frightening syndrome in which the patient is possessed by two or more personalities of varying ages and backgrounds. The patient often complains of headaches and blackouts.
In the film, the main character is Joanne Woodward (Eve White). She acts as the person who is suffering from the multiple personality disorder disease. She plays out the three faces of eve "Eve White," "Eve Black" and "Jane." Eve White represents the timid personality. Eve Black represents flamboyant personality while Jane represents the practical or real personality of the patient. Woodward is supported by other characters including David Wayne (Woodward's husband), Lee J. Cobb (Woodward's psychiatrist), Edwin Jerome (Woodward's doctor) and Mimi Gibson (playing as Woodward at age 8).
Multiple personality disorder, now known as dissociative disorder, is a disease that involves at least two personalities taking control of the behaviors of an individual (Harrison, 2006). Due to its impact on an individual's behavior, the disease has a potentially negative impact on relationships with others. In the film, Woodward appears depressed, and her behaviors are strange. Her Eve White personality presents with problematic behaviors leading to her experiencing blackouts. These dramatic changes in personality and behaviors from time to time present unique difficulties to Wayne who is frustrated, confused and feels painful. The two were locked up in an unhappy marriage, but eventually, Wayne is overwhelmed and decides to "leave alone" Woodward as she remains in the psychiatrist's care unit for therapy. Woodward later divorces him. Wayne did not understand Woodward's mental problems and found her boring. Their relationship ends. Multiple personality disorder, therefore, potentially destabilizes a relationship in marriage, especially where the other partner does not apprehend the condition.
Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by some symptoms. According to Lynn et al. (2015), dissociative identity disorder is characterized by split personalities, distinct memory variations, and flashbacks, depression, mood swings and hallucinations. Woodward shows all these characteristics and behaviors. Most profound is the split personality in which she exhibits three different identities "Eve White," "Eve Black" and Jane. The two personalities, Eve White and Eve Black, are alternating each other leading to clear differences in voice and mannerism. For example, Eve White is characterized by the depressed state while Eve Black is flamboyant, dancing and lively. The psychiatrist is surprised when Eve White who was complaining of a headache certainly shifts to Eve Black who was now happy and dancing (Nunally, 1957). Also, Woodward shows signs of hallucinations as she narrates to the psychiatrist. She confesses that she suffers from hallucinations and blackouts. Moreover, Woodward shows distinct memory variations with the ability to flashback, a typical characteristic of dissociative identity disorder. This is evident during one of the therapy sessions when Woodward recounts her past traumatic life events such as being forced to kiss a corpse when she was only two years old.
Dissociative identity disorder displays high comorbidity with other mental related illnesses such as schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, posttraumatic disorder and depression (Sar & Ozturk, n.d). Conditions such as depression were evident, but their development had eventually led to dissociative identity disorder. It became easy for the psychiatrist to diagnose the disease since the patient showed two distinct personalities during the first day of treatment. There was a possibility of diagnosing the patient with depression since depressive symptoms were quite evident.
As I watched the movie, I felt empathetic for Wayne who experienced a boring marriage as a result of the weird behaviors of Woodward who was mentally ill. Wayne did not understand his wife's condition and only perceived it as problematic behaviors from the wife. Had he understood her situation, he would handle her better and could have a different view of the marriage. Jerome and Cobb demonstrated a professional relationship with Woodward and were willing to help her recover. In fact, they accommodated her in their care unit for the therapy sessions until her real personality, Jane, emerged.
If I were the nurse for Woodward, there are some questions I would have asked her for proper diagnosis, making a plan of care and treating her. Because the main symptom of the disease is split identities, I would ask the patient if he or she feels like more than one person. If he or she answers yes, I would easily rule out other mental problems and ask about the personal life history to unravel the childhood traumatic events that could be underlying. Establishing the patient history will yield more insights into the patient's case and help in preparing a care and treatment plan that helps the client address the root cause issues for healing.
There are common treatments for dissociative identity disorder. These include pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy (Sar & Ozturk, n.d). However, psychotherapy is most common and involves three phases; stabilization, trauma work, and integration. The patient is encouraged to stabilize through counseling sessions and hypnosis. Trauma work entails helping the patient address the traumatic events ever gone through and reach to harmony. He or she is then integrated back into society's mainstream. In the film, there is evidence of treatments administered to Woodward. Upon recognizing the existence of multiple personalities in Woodward, psychiatrist Cobb embarks on psychotherapy to unravel her missing memories. Eventually, psychotherapy helps her to a repressed memory of childhood abuse where she was forced to kiss a corpse. Also, the psychiatrist involves hypnosis as a treatment method in which he challenges Woodward to break the bad habits and replace them with positive ways of life.
Dissociative identity disorder is medically treated using some drugs. According to Kluft (2014) sedative and hypnotic drugs may be prescribed for the patient. Sedative drugs are meant to reduce sleep disturbances. Also, minor tranquilizers are used. Besides, monoamine oxidase inhibitor may be prescribed to treat depressive disorders that may be present. These treatments were not present in Woodward's case.
The most traumatic event is where Wayne slaps Eve Black as she returns to the hotel after having gone out to dance with another man. It is from then that Wayne proceeded to divorce. It shows how Wayne never understood his wife and was hurting a mentally ill person. This seemingly inhumane act made me eager to see the movie to the end to find how Woodward's miserable life turned around.
Overall, dissociative identity disorder is a scaring mental sickness that adversely affects the quality of life and relationships with others. Nonetheless, the disease is curable. It helps for the people around the patient to be understanding and handle them humanely as they help seek out treatment.
Harrison, L. (2006). Multiple personality disorder: an alternative theory. Cengage.
Kluft, R. P. (2014). Treatment of multiple personality disorder: A study of 33 cases. Psychiatric Clinics of North America.
Lynn, S. J., Merckelbach, H. L., Giesbrecht, T., Lilienfeld, S. O., Lemons, P., & van der Kloet, D. (2015). Dissociative disorders. John Wiley & Sons, Inc..
Nunally, J. (Producer &Director). 1957. The three faces of Eve. [Motion picture]. United States:CinemaScope.
Sar, V., & Ozturk, E. (n.d). Dissociative Identity Disorder: Diagnosis, Comorbidity, Differential Diagnosis, And Treatment. Capa Istanbul Turkey.
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