March 28, 2009
United States of Tara – Going too Far
Ok. So I was all kinds of optimistic and hopeful that the Showtime series, United States of Tara, would be a positive statement for dissociative identity disorder. After all, Showtime interviewed Dr. Richard Kluft, an informed psychiatrist, one of the founding fathers of the treatment of DID/MPD. That was a good sign, wasn’t it?
As a trauma therapist with 20+ years of clinical experience working with multiples, I have to say I’m quite frustrated that Showtime has presented multiplicity in this way.
First of all, the word is dissociation. Pronounced di-soh-see-ay-shun. The word is not disassociation. There is no additional “a” sound in the word. Saying dis-a-soh-see-ay-shun is the wrong pronunciation and a different word altogether.
Secondly, there is not a medication that can remove or prevent or end dissociative identity disorder. Medications can address various symptoms, and can even slow the thinking down, but medication cannot remove multiplicity. The idea of drugging away the parts is particularly offensive to me, and as far as I am concerned, it is totally opposite to genuine treatment. Insiders are there for a reason, and promoting the idea that the inside can be drugged into silence seems abusive to me. This idea is absolutely absurd and smacks of perpetrative behavior.
I understand the idea of “creating additional drama” for the sake of entertainment and to get a viewing audience. Fine.
And I can understand that the visual presentation of the various alters is metaphorical for how switching feels from within. It is true — or can be true — that when insiders surface on the outside, they “feel” like they look on the inside. Insiders are often confused and upset about looking externally very different than they feel internally. They are convinced they are shorter, or wearing different clothes, or have different hair, or are even a different gender, etc. And yes, internal parts are very often adamant about being a very different person from the host personality.
For the Tara show, the insiders get to look as extremely different on the outside as they feel on the inside. However, it’s not typical for DID’ers to actually present so drastically even if they wish they could.
The different presentations of Tara are excessive, but it makes the point, and it helps the viewing audience to catch on to a switch to one part from another. I would have hoped the viewing audience did not have to have that much help in recognizing switching, but maybe they do.
Now to my biggest beef about United States of Tara: the criminal behavior.
I suppose that somewhere out there in the world, there are multiples that beat up teenagers on school property, break in to and vandalize homes of others, urinate on others while sleeping, froth and drool in public, and sexually assault their child’s underage boyfriend. I suppose I cannot say that no multiple in the world would ever do that.
But really?!!! Is this the kind of message that we want the viewing audience to have about DID? Do multiples really present as the criminally insane?
Not to me!
The multiples I have met in the past 20+ years are not out-of-control monsters like this. Their inside parts know that there is a legal body age, and while they typically feel younger than the body age, the insiders have an understanding that they are not actually the same as outside people of that age.
DIDer’s might have flashbacks or a hard time functioning or emotional outbursts, but typically, trauma survivors will have enough self-control to manage their behavior without committing a crime in public.
Showtime crossed the line by making Tara a sex offender.
It is true that many multiples have been tangled up in sexual crimes, but typically, multiples that are in treatment have not chosen the life of a sex offender. All too many trauma survivors were forced to perpetrate as part of their victimization by organized perpetrator groups, or even by violent single abusers, but being forced to hurt others is not anything near the same as purposefully deciding to sexually offend in the day world.
Most multiples are not sexually inappropriate of their own volition.
For the writers of United States of Tara to present multiplicity in this light is cruel and inaccurate.
I’m disappointed, to say the least.
What a slam.
A great big huge insulting ridiculous slam.
I am not impressed.
- What do you think?
- What are your thoughts about the show United States of Tara?
- Are you criminally insane?
- Would you do the behaviors that Tara is doing on this show?
- If you are multiple, what are your feelings about being portrayed in this way?
Kathy Broady LCSW