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A disordered personality


Nirmalya Mukherjee  |  New Delhi 

Bhool Bhulaiya tries to look at dissociative identity disorder.
You have to behave like a patient" were Priyadarshan's terse words to Vidya Balan, the lead actor in the film Bhool Bhulaiya.
The film tries to show a psychiatric disorder called or, as it was known earlier, multiple personality disorder (MPD).
This disorder has been recorded in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The prevalence of this disease is still hard to determine even as psychiatrists across the globe are trying to solve this aberration.
What is worse is that the causes of DID are yet to be ascertained, but it is theoretically linked with overwhelming stress, insufficient childhood nurturing and abuse and the innate ability to dissociate memories or experiences from consciousness.
DID can also be created by therapists using certain treatment techniques with suggestible clients, though this idea is neither confirmed nor universally accepted. DID in Bhool Bhulaiya has been woven into a story that naturally carries the impression of ghosts and other-worldly phenomenon.
A cross section of psychiatrists across India are still studying how a person affected by DID could recover and live a normal human life once he comes out of the trauma.
Says Balan, "As a student of sociology and psychology I knew about the disease, but never was so close to it till I worked in Priyadarshan's film."
The normal symptoms, which were absent in the movie, are headaches and body pain, distortion or loss of subjective time, amnesia and depression.
A broad array of other symptoms that resemble epilepsy, schizophrenia, anxiety, mood, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality and eating disorders with frequent misdiagnoses and ineffective treatment are the other reasons for suffering DID.
"There are a lot of lacunas in Priyadarshan's film on DID," says Balan. "I am aware of those as I have gone through it as part of my study. Of course, it is not possible to show everything in a film."
During treatment of DID an attempt is made to reconnect the identities of the disparate alters into a functioning identity and may be symptomatic to relieve the distressing aspects of the condition and ensure the safety of the patient.

First Published: Sun, March 23 2008. 00:00 IST