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Medical Dissociative Personality Disorder

  1. Oct 13, 2007 #1
    I watched this movie where a lady suffering from dissociative personality disorder, hears a story about a dancer whose ghost is said to haunt a palace, and the lady starts behaving like the dancer sporadically.
    In the movie they show that she starts to speak in a language she did not know, started singing melodiously, when she had no previous training.
    Can this happen? Or was it dramatization?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 13, 2007 #2
    I think I know what you're talking about, and I'm sure they didn't check the books before they made the movie. (They usually don't.) :biggrin: But I'll wait for the experts give the proper answer.
  4. Oct 14, 2007 #3
    There is no such diagnosis listed among the Personality Disorders in the DSM:


    Dissociative Disorders are listed and described briefly here:

    Charlie Chaplin was able to convincingly fake an operatic singing voice in one of his films. He said "I just acted like i could sing opera." or words to that effect. A person in a kind of trance might be able to mimic a well trained singer, yes.

    A person in a trance might also be able to mimic, verbatim, sentences in a foreign language they didn't understand, as long as they've heard these sentences spoken at some point in their past.

    The ability to actually generate original, coherent sentences , appropriate to the situation, in a language you've never learned, though, has got to be fiction.

    I saw Val Kilmer interviewed after he played Jim Morrison. He told a story of how he would try to practice his Jim Morrison on some of the remaining members of The Doors who were on the set as technical advisors. One of them told him to stop it because he was so much like Morrison it creeped him out.

    So, a person can, indeed, do an uncanny imitation of another person, but they would have to have been exposed to that person in person, or have seen film of them, etc.
  5. Oct 14, 2007 #4


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    The sub-conscience stores up a lot of information that we don't use.
    I've heard of people who got in car accidents, fell in a coma and when they wake up realize that they can speak a language they were exposed to, but could never speak before.
    is this in some way related?

    I know I've got Italian stored in my sub conscience, when I was a kid, I used to watch a lot of Italian television. After a Week in Rome I was suddenly thinking in Italian and speaking it, when before it was very hard to do so.
  6. Oct 14, 2007 #5
    This seem like a remarkable claim. You'd have to link me to some credible studies before I'd believe it wasn't a sort of urban myth.

    This is plausible if you were understanding the Italian TV you watched as a kid. Being in Rome would have refreshed your memory. If you watched those shows without understanding them, I doubt you were "thinking" and "speaking" in Italian beyond picking up a lot of vocabulary and phrases, which anyone might do.
  7. Oct 14, 2007 #6


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    I was exposed to Italian television from age 4 - 16 , then we bought Cable and could see the Uk channels.

    Well I used to understand, infact I used to think Italian was Maltese, I remember mixing it up a lot.

    I remember the first time I entered the cafe, I was speaking half english and broken Italian. By the end of the week, I had a conversation with him about the World cup and Italy winning, then he told me he was studying part time for a Business degree and the conversation went on.
    I had no phrase book, nor did I pick up any vocabulary and phrases.
    Infact at Circo Massimo (while watching Italy vs France), I was speaking to a local there (because he fell on me Lol) and he asked me which part of Italy I was from, because my accent sounded Northern.
    Tv I watched was broadcast ed from the North all over Italy, with repeaters on Sicily reaching to Malta.

    Some phrase I picked up, It was all from the Tv.
    Infact at this very moment, I'm trying to think and speak in Italian, but I can't do it.

    I think its suppression of the Sub conscience.
    A friend whos doing Philosophy told me something about it yesterday, and I saw this thread and you know, it got me thinking if DPD has anything to do with it.

    At this very moment, its very late. I don't think I'll manage to find any valid proof, they could be urban myths overhyped by the media.

    There you go.
  8. Oct 14, 2007 #7
    I think this explains your case perfectly well: you were young enough to pick it up from the TV and understand it. 4-16, that's eleven years of exposure. When you actually went to Italy, it brought you mentally back to that.

    This is an extremely peculiar occurance. It reminds me of the thresholds waht and I have been talking about in this thread:


    The guy was studying English so he had quite a bit of exposure to it, but to cross a sudden threshold and go from a halting beginner to fluency is hard to believe, obviously. When this happened he had amnesia for who he was. The ability faded quite fast and he now, apparently, doesn't remember the incident. I can only suppose that the strange fact he was only speaking in English may have been exaggerated in the minds of those who heard him into "perfect" English. Regardless, it is weird enough for him to only be speaking a language he just started to learn instead of his native language.

    Oh, and there's no such diagnosis as DPD. There are dissociative disorders, and there are personality disorders, but there is no "dissociative personality disorder".
  9. Oct 15, 2007 #8
  10. Oct 15, 2007 #9
    Was the movie supposed to be based on a true story, or did it claim a basis in fact, or something? People are pretty much free to garble anything for film and TV. If you have ever seen the show Frazier for instance you will hear him referred to as a psychiatrist. In fact, the service he performs is not psychiatry but psycho-therapy. Talking people through their problems is one form or another of therapy or "counseling". Authentic psychiatrists don't do this at all: they just listen to symptoms and write prescriptions for medication. The show calls hims a "psychiatrist" however, because he does what people think psychiatrists do. The terminology frequently gets misused in film and TV.
  11. Oct 15, 2007 #10
    No, it was just a thriller.
    I expect them to do their research better, if they are going to talk about medical stuff.
    Thanks for providing the correct information.
  12. Oct 15, 2007 #11
    Some shows are pretty good at getting their facts straight. ER was mostly reliable according to my brother-in-law who was an ER doctor himself, and enjoyed that show.

    CSI, on the other hand, get complaints from people actually involved in forensic crime scene investigation all the time for being unrealistic.
  13. Oct 16, 2007 #12


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    I had heard that story as well, and it left me wondering if his usual "halting" speech is not for lack of knowledge of the language, but due to a shyness or inhibition about speaking it due to uncertainty, somewhat the way someone with a stutter will stutter more if they are uncomfortable with the people to whom they are speaking. In that case, the injury may have temporarily blocked that inhibition and allowed him to speak what he already knew how to speak, but now with confidence. Or, his accent is a learned affectation, and following the injury, he dropped that affectation. But I'm just guessing at reasons since none of the articles I saw went into sufficient detail to do more than guess about it.

    But, the movie may have been based somewhat on reports such as that...it makes it easier to suspend disbelief and get into the story of a movie if there is some familiarity to something you've heard about in real news.

    Hmm...this is reminding me of a thread MIH posted about how hearing something repeated, even if untrue, starts to validate the idea in a person's mind. If you hear a story such as the above in the news, then see a movie about a similar, but fictitious disorder, how many people walk away and later forget the entire premise was fiction when they later hear about someone else with similar symptoms? Do they assume they now know the name of the disorder, even if such a name only existed in a movie?

    I know I'm sidetracking on discussion a bit, but since the primary question has been answered, that such a disorder is not described in the DSM IV, I'm just relating this to some other discussions that I found interesting.
  14. Oct 16, 2007 #13
    But obviously it was:

  15. Oct 20, 2007 #14


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    Nothing about that statement negates that he might have been learning faster than he was comfortable speaking.
  16. Oct 20, 2007 #15
    He may well have been learning faster than he was comfortable speaking but a person simply doesn't know everything they need to know to express themselves "unhaltingly" in a foreign language when they have just started learning it. I studied French, Russian, German, and Spanish in college. I have a lot of experience what people are capable of when they have "just started to learn" a language.
  17. Jul 20, 2010 #16
    What if a person has two seperate personalities, one slowly losing his grip on sanity, struggling to repair his already fractured mind. While the other, the culmiination of every bit of negative energy he has kept bottled up, is desperately clawing his way out into the open. what can you do then?
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2010
  18. Jul 22, 2010 #17
    This is not a meaningful or scientific question.
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