The Three Faces of Eve Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is a dissociative disorder where two or more distinct identities or personality states are present. These different identities or personalities recurrently take control of a person’s memory and is so extensive that it cannot merely be explained by forgetfulness (DSM-IV-TR 519). In the movie The Three Faces of Eve, which is based on a true story about a woman now known as Chris Sizemore, is the story of how Dissociative Identity Disorder took over her life.
Chris Sizemore, formerly known as Eve White, had three subpersonalities. Each of these subpersonalities had a unique set of memories, behaviors, thoughts and emotions. At any given time, one of them can come out and take turns controlling her behaviors (Comer 224). This case was a breakthrough in Psychology in the 1950’s and gave us our first glimpse of what people dealing with Dissociative Identity Disorder are going through. Eve White is facing several symptoms that conclude that she has Dissociative Identity Disorder.
These symptoms are: Horrific headaches and blackouts that occur before the identity change happens, voices giving instructions, the multiple identities using separate names, clothes showing up in the house that the individual doesn’t remember having bought, unable to recall important information and trying to cause harm to oneself by aggressive and suicidal behavior (DSM-IV-TR 526-529). The movie begins on August 20, 1951 when Ralph White brings his wife, Eve, to see Dr. Luther, a psychiatrist, because she has been troubled with very bad headaches and spells of amnesia occurring twice a week.
The narrator states that after consulting with Dr. Luther, Mrs. White is greatly helped by the psychiatric treatment. She has fewer and less-severe headaches and no more blackout spells. That is, until the spring of 1952, when she purchases $218. 00 worth of flashy, seductive clothing, attempts to strangle her daughter, Bonnie, deserts her family to visit her cousin, and then has no recollection of what happened. Because of these behaviors, Mr. White brings his wife back to Dr. Luther. Mrs. White admits to hearing a female voice, sounding like her own, for the past few months telling her to leave Ralph and run away with Bonnie.
This frightens her so Dr. Luther reassures her that she is not losing her mind because she recognizes it as a symptom of illness. He says “people losing their minds think hearing voices is a privilege they enjoy like personal radio reception or built-in radar. ” Eve White, Eve Black and Jane are the three subpersonalities that this individual is dealing with. Using separate names for each identity is a symptom of having Dissociative Identity Disorder. Eve White, also known as the primary, or host, personality often appears more than the others (Comer 224).
Eve White is a depressed, dull housewife, unsure of herself, having blackout spells or amnesia, hearing voices and attempting suicide. Eve Black is the party girl who likes to flirt, smoke, drink, wear seductive dresses, and is allergic to nylon. Both Eve White and Eve Black speak with a southern accent, but Jane, a calm, sophisticated, and sensible woman has no accent and sounds well-educated and refined. During a therapy session, while talking to her psychologist, Eve White covers her face with her hands and is confronted with a severe headache. When she looks up, Dr.
Luther meets the second personality of Eve Black who flirts with him and asks him to go dancing. She tells him Black is her maiden name, she is not married, and Bonnie is not her child. Eve Black lets her hair down, takes off her stockings, because she is allergic to nylon, smokes a cigarette, and complains the office is too hot. When questioned by the doctor, Eve Black says she likes to sing and dance at nightclubs after having a few drinks and the next morning she gives Eve White the hangover. She explains that Eve White doesn’t know anything about her, but she knows everything about Eve White.
This is known as “one-way amnesic relationships, which is the most common relationship pattern, some subpersonalities are aware of others, but the awareness is not mutual” (Comer 225). Eve is admitted to the psychiatric section of University Hospital for observation and treatment. While there, Dr. Luther decides to tell Eve White about Eve Black, and he shows Ralph how the two personalities switch back and forth. During one of the therapy sessions, Eve Black complains that she had to come out to stop Eve White from cutting her wrist with a razor blade. Also, Eve Black started having blackout spells, too.
In previous therapy sessions, Dr. Luther had been using hypnosis to switch back and forth to each personality to talk to them and figure out what the purpose of each one of them was. While using hypnosis, Dr. Luther meets the third personality, Jane, who remembers being forced to kiss her dead grandmother goodbye when she was six years old. The traumatic childhood experience is the key to multiple personalities emerging as a means of self-protection in handling the stress. On September 17, 1953, when Dr. Luther is able to bring out the repressed childhood memories, Jane, who had no memories, can now remember her past.
Also, both the Eve White and Eve Black personalities die that day. Two years later, Jane wrote a letter to Dr. Luther thanking him and stating that Eve White and Eve Black have not returned. “The three subpersonalities had merged into Evelyn, a stable personality who was really an integration of the others” (Comer 225). The movie does not address this, but I read in the textbook that “altogether 22 subpersonalities had come forth during her life, including nine subpersonalities after Evelyn. She has now overcome her disorder, achieving a single, stable identity, and has been known as Chris Sizemore for over 30 years” (Comer 225).
I believe that Chris Sizemore had Dissociative Identity Disorder, but I believe that it developed because she had Posttraumatic Stress Disorder when she was younger that was never diagnosed. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is “an anxiety disorder in which fear and related symptoms continue to be experienced long after a traumatic event” (Comer 168). When she was young, she experienced several traumas in a three-month period that included witnessing two deaths and a horrifying accident. The Dissociative Identity Disorder began after these incidences and helped her deal with the stress that she faced at such a young age (Comer 225).