Fight Club: Multiple Personality Disorder (A Complete Guide)

In this article, we will discuss Fight Club: Multiple Personality Disorder. We will do that by describing multiple personality disorder or DID, its signs, and treatment. Then, we will dsicuss DID in the light of the movie Fight club. We will explain how the movie is similar and different from the actual manifestation of DID.  

Fight Club Multiple Personality Disorder 

The movie fight club depicts the main character as having a multiple personality disorder. The Narrator has anxiety and trouble sleeping at night. He does not have the will to live and lacks purpose in his life. He goes to a support group to vent out about his feelings and thoughts. Ultimately, he develops an alternate personality by the name of Tyler to help him cope with life’s problems. 

Tyler is a reflection of the original personality but he is free from fear. He develops an organization by the name of fight club and pursues ideas that are against the norm. Although, the movie is somewhat similar to the actual condition of dissociative identity disorder. However, it is not an accurate description since an alternate identity does not develop out of anywhere without any serious trauma. Nonetheless, it is a popular movie that spreads awareness about an important mental health condition.

Dissociative identity disorder

Dissociative identity disorder or more commonly known as multiple personality disorder is a diagnosable clinical condition. It involves a person having at least two or more personality states. The person suffering from multiple personality disorder has memory gaps that are distinct from normal forgetfulness. The personality states are apparent in a person’s behavior. Comorbid conditions that occur with dissociative identity disorder include posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, substance use disorder, conversion disorder, personality disorders, OCD, eating disorders, somatic symptom disorders, sleep issues, non-epileptic seizures, self-harm, anxiety issues, suicidality, amnesia or flashbacks.

People who usually suffer from dissociative identity disorder have a history of trauma or abuse in early childhood. It can also be linked with trauma due to war or any medical procedure. In some cases, genetic and biological factors also play a role. DID is our condition distinct from substance abuse, mental health problems, seizures, religious practice, or imaginative play among children.

Symptoms of DID

According to the DSM-V, DID includes the presence of two or more distinct personality states. This is accompanied by a period of inability to recall personal information. The loss of identity brings with it a loss of time and sense of self. The functioning of a person can change from minimal to severe. Dissociative amnesia can also cooccur with DID. The person suffering from DID may experience intrusive thoughts or emotions. They are also unable to remember specific information related to them. 

Usually, the total number of identities is less than 10. However, up to 16 personalities have also been reported in some cases. Females usually have higher prevalence rates for DID disorder compared to males.

DID position in psychology and legal world

DID has a controversial position in the psychiatric world. Similarly, the legal system also takes an unclear position to it. In many cases, DID is accepted as an insanity defense. It is possible that social-cultural factors as well as media portrayals of multiple personality disorder may have contributed to an increase in its prevalence. 

Cultural or religious factors may play an important role in contributing to people having dissociated or split personality states. This can include possession experiences by ghosts, spirits, mythical figures, etc. which are considered are norms. The split personality is distressing for a person and disrupts his or her functioning in daily life.

DID Treatment

Treatment of dissociative identity disorder can be done through psychotherapy. The focus of the treatment is to integrate the alternate personality states into one. Successful treatment methods include CBT, insight oriented therapy, hypnotherapy, EMDR, dialectical behavior therapy. Similarly, medications can also be used for relief for particular symptoms. For example, antidepressants may be given to improve a person’s sleep or appetite. Behavioral treatments can also be employed. It is recommended that a person gets regular treatment for multiple years to overcome DID.

Fight Club

Fight club is one of the movies that has shown dissociative identity disorder. This movie came out in the 1990s. A lot of stuff was going on around this time including the death of Princess Diana, the Persian Gulf War, generation X was also rising. They had their own way of thinking. In the same decade, the digital age began and the world may became more accessible. Internet, radio, etc. became more common and news also expanded its reach to new people. Important films were made during this time and among these special effects and CGI were given quite importance.

The movie fight club is one of these films. It is set around the 1990s and is based on a book by Chuk Palahniuk.  It includes a fictional character by the name of the narrator. He is an insomniac person with a split personality. During the day, he is the original character and by night he becomes Tyler who is chaotic and charismatic.

Plot

The plot of the movie includes the narrator as a middle-class person who works at an automobile company. He has depression and insomnia. For this, he visits support groups. There he is able to let out his feelings and thoughts. This helps him sleep. However, another character appears and his insomnia returns. After this, he is visited by a person Tyler when he is at a beach. He begins living with him and starts to meet on a regular basis in a meeting called fight club. 

Here, many people come to fight. After a series of events, Tyler develops are a new organization that promotes aggression and against the norm ideas. He says the following dialogue: 

‘I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God stop it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy stuff we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war… Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very ticked off.’

The main character becomes uneasy with the activities of this organization. However, it is revealed that both people are actually the same person. The personality of Tyler is just created to escape from his problems.

Correct and Incorrect aspects of Fight Club

Fight club is one of the most famous and popular movie. A lot of things about DID in it are right and many things were wrong as well. The main character was shown to use his altered personality state as a coping mechanism. Tyler’s personality was dominant over the narrator. This is because he was living an unhappy and unfulfilled life. He was having difficulty finding a purpose to live. Tyler was part of his dissociative identity disorder but was aware of the original identity as well. He had all the characteristics of the original personality including high intelligence, capability but with freedom from fear. 

The main character had sleep issues, anxiety, and trouble connecting with people. He would go to support groups to let out his feeling and be listened to in return. He developed a personality to cope with his psychological problems.

Things that were not right in the movie include the fact that the main character did not have childhood trauma. Usually, childhood trauma contributes to the development of DID. However, the main character develops DID because of his anxiety and feeling entrapped in society. He also believes that people are not special. However, when Tyler develops in his mind, he sees him as unique from others and helps them detach from the world. This is not an accurate description of how DID develops. Furthermore, the character is depicted as aggressive and violent. Yet, many people with dissociative identity disorder are not too aggressive or violent. There are individual differences and personalities can be calm.

If you’ve enjoyed the ”Fight Club: Multiple Personality Disorder” mentioned above, I would recommend you to take a look at ”Can a Person be Both a Psychopath and a Sociopath?” too.

FAQs: Fight Club Multiple Personality Disorder

How do you trigger multiple personality disorder?

Episodes of multiple personality disorder can get trigger by traumas that may be real or symbolic. Events that may be reminders of the trauma can initiate an episode of multiple personality disorder. These events can range from being mild like a traffic accident to adult illness or stress. Early childhood abuse may also contribute to their episodes. Especially, when the victim grows up and has a child who reaches the same age as when they were abused, they might start showing symptoms of dissociated identity.

Is the fight club based on a true story?

No, fight club is not based on the true story. It is a fictional work that is based on real-life situations and experiences people go through.

Does a person with multiple personality disorder know they have it?

No, a person having multiple personality disorder may be unaware of what is happening with them. They may experience a loss of time or gaps in memory. They can also experience states where they forget who they are and what they’re doing. So, it is not necessary that all people with dissociative identity disorder have the insight that they are suffering from our mental illness.

What is fight club our metaphor for?

Fight club would be a metaphor for drug abuse. It can be something a person is drawn to or attracted to which is to be kept a secret. However, it ultimately dominates a person’s life and gives them a purpose. It also gives one a feeling of euphoria and consumes them.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed Fight Club Multiple Personality Disorder. We found that The movie fight club depicts the main character as having a multiple personality disorder. The Narrator has anxiety and trouble sleeping at night. He does not have the will to live and lacks purpose in his life. He goes to a support group to vent out about his feelings and thoughts. Ultimately, he develops an alternate personality by the name of Tyler to help him cope with life’s problems. 

Tyler is a reflection of the original personality but he is free from fear. He develops an organization by the name of fight club and pursues ideas that are against the norm. Although, the movie is somewhat similar to the actual condition of dissociative identity disorder. However, it is not an accurate description since an alternate identity does not develop out of anywhere without any serious trauma. Nonetheless, it is a popular movie that spreads awareness about an important mental health condition.

 I hope you found this article interesting. If you have any queries or comments, please state them in the comment section 😊

Citations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Narrator_(Fight_Club)

https://mountainscholar.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11919/1377/STUW_HT_2017_Verhulst_Madison.pdf?sequence=1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociative_identity_disorder#:~:text=Dissociative%20identity%20disorder%20(DID)%2C,be%20explained%20by%20ordinary%20forgetfulness.

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.