Wednesday, September 26, 2007

MPD or DID with Law & Order SVU

Last night's episode of Law & Order SVU had a storyline based around Dissociative Identity Disorder previously know as Multiple Personality Disorder. I knew ahead of time that DID was the basis for this week's show so I had it set in my memory to be sure and watch.

Because the show is set up around the Special Victims Unit of a police department, I have followed it from its inception. I was interested in seeing who they portrayed victims not to mention how the writers had the police officers deal with them.

During most of my life, no one has really cared much about the victims of sexual assaults. The new trend towards acknowledging victims and making adjustments in the way they are treated within the system has a long way to go in my book. However, I do think that this television show has worked hard to give a true picture and maybe educate the masses. The only way change will come is for people to understand what the issues are.

I have lots of trepidation about storylines utilizing the DID diagnosis. They are usually sensationalistic and that's about it. I think that people can get caught up in the "mystic" of the diagnosis and totally forget there is a real person at the bottom of it.

So it was with great interest that I sat down to watch last night's episode of SVU. While I knew going into it about the use of DID, I didn't say anything to my husband or my daughter. It was interesting to note that my daughter figured it out before the police on the show had a diagnosis.

I think the writers did a good job of showing the different officers reaction to what appeared to be a very troubled individual. It's one thing I like about the show, the cops aren't all compassionate or understanding even considering the unit in which they serve. There's a good mix of all different matter of human reactions to the criminal element and to victims. I think the public is more likely to learn by looking at a scenario as realistic as possible than one altered to be more palatable.

I think there were some holes in the premise. Right from the start I knew that something was amiss. There were inconsistencies with individual alters. I would suppose if the writers didn't really understand the disorder, they might lose track of things. Still, the detectives missed opportunities to figure out what was happening or it was holes by the writers and no one had a clue. I

I thought the actress who played the individual did a great job of portraying the different personalities. Had the character truly had the disorder, it would have been a believable performance. However, they copped out to the "she made it up to get away with murder" scenario.

Personally I think it would have been far more interesting to have the diagnosis be real. There are so many angles to consider when deciding the legal culpability of someone with DID. The times when an individual with the diagnosis have been tried for criminal activities, the arguments and the outcomes have been as varied as the systems of the multiples themselves.

So the bottom line for me is I think that SVU missed out on a great opportunity to educate the public about this complex issue. With even the professionals still out on whether DID is a valid diagnosis or something trumped up by unscrupulous professionals, it could have been helpful to have a character who actually had the disorder.

That character didn't necessarily have to be a perpetrator either. There could be lots of drama around a case with a multiple as its star witness. Such a scenario could have enlightened people as to the problems many multiples and their families face in their daily lives as well as educated people about the disorder itself. I guess that's too much to expect a tv show to responsible.


arthist99 said...

I saw the previews for that and thought of you. I wasn't home when it aired, but wondered how they did with the subject. Stinks that they missed the boat.

keepers said...

we used to watch Law & Order before it exploded into we don't know how many shows, we have just gotten away from television only bothering to watch a handful of comedies, and most of them are reruns. We tend to stay away from movies and tv shows about DID figuring they will only trivialize it or just out and out lie about it or it is a phony. sounds like we didn't miss a whole lot.

peace and blessings


Frazzled Farm Wife said...

I totally agree with you...the only way to change peoples attitudes about this is to educate them. Pat yourself on the back for doing your part in trying to educate some of us.

Lori Schmidt (LoriProPhoto) said...

Law & Order is one series I have very rarely watched. Pity they didnt use the theme to its full advantage.

I do like a few of the reality shows but we mainly watch TV Land, reruns of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy etc. LOL. I think I have watched every episode at least twice each!!!

((((Hugs)))) will check in after the weekend.


Cat said...

I hate it when it's so sensationalized. I was on a show this past week that made me realize that so many that write about this disorder really are working off of ignorance of the details.

It is always assumed that we just flip out and have no control or balance. I think in time, some of us do gain this and although we always have struggles or hurdles, the TV shows really make it hard to present this disorder to others close to us, without feeling "crazy".

I hope that I was able to represent the numbers of us with MPD that are searching for that balance and healing, and not portray this as some "strange" or "odd" thing but instead as something rare and unique!!

Dr. Deb said...

Yup, I agree with you. I used to do the occasional tech advising work with one of the writers, and was very proud of those shows. They really need to have a tech advisor full time for all the shows, as they get ALOT wrong. And it keeps stigma out there.