Personality Disorder of Frankie in Frankie and Alice Movie Analysis

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1682 Words
Date:  2022-06-06

Frankie and Alice is a film set in the 1970's with a 2010 release date under the Motion Pictures production. Directed by Geoffrey Sax the movies follow real-life events of Francine Lucinda Murdoch or Frankie who is the film's main character. She is a Black American erotic dancer who stays by herself away from her mother and sister. In the past, Frankie family were servants at a white family house. At the onset of the film, there is no much peculiarity observable from the main character. However, Frankie sometimes does things that she cannot remember. In one incident, she finds herself at the hospital without even the slightest clue of what led to her arrival there. Perhaps where one starts to realize that Frankie has a problem is the heated Romance scene at the start of the movie. She has enticed her boss to have sex with her and have him visit her apartment. However, things suddenly fall apart when Frankie hears a sound and starts fighting off her boss hitting him in the head. This later cost Frankie her job, and she gets fired. When back to her ordinary life, she still experiences strange events like getting hallucinations of her past. The doctor diagnoses Frankie with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a condition that makes a person have multiple identities. Through the picture of Frankie's life, the film gives a satisfactory portrayal of symptoms of DID highlighting the stigma on people suffering from the condition, the racism African Americans experience in the health system and unethical behavior by psychiatrists.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder is a mental condition that is fascinating and equally inexplicable in the society. This is since the disease affects fewer people, is rare or those who experience it do not open up to get help. Having multiple personalities is something that does not occur on the regular and the idea that people have different lives is mysterious. Perhaps the strange nature of this condition and its cinematic potential is the drive for its incorporation in this film. Frankie and Alice give a satisfactory portrayal of the disease including its symptoms. According to Ross and Laura, DID is associated with episodes of memory loss, sequences of amnesia, lack of self-identity and out of the body experiences (463). In the full-blown phase, a patient will experience suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and depression. In the film, Frankie depicts some of the symptoms that are associated with the illness. Following the romance incident that led to Frankie running out and passing out in the streets, she wakes up in the hospital where a doctor is about to evaluate her. Frankie defines her experience and mentions symptoms of out of body experiences, amnesia, and detachment. She also acknowledges hearing voices which are hallucinations that accurately coincide with the characteristics discussed earlier on.

To restate the obvious, Dissociative Identity Disorder is associated with multiple personalities. The various personality is because of some factors including a traumatizing childhood experience. In the film, Frankie who was a housekeeper's daughter had fallen in love with a white boy from the family of her mother's employers. The family looked down upon interracial dating, and once they discover the relationship between the two, they quickly disengage them. However, they secretly continue with the relationship to the point where Frankie gets pregnant. The pregnancy had the two lovebirds hatch a plan to escape and start a family together with their unborn child. However, tragedy strikes when Frankie's boyfriend dies in a sad accident. Her mother who equally frowns upon interracial relationship would kill the child because of racism issues. This is the trauma that led to the onset of Frankie's DID. Owing to the traumatic events in her teenage life, she now experiences three distinct personalities. This is developed when the victim employs memory loss on traumatic events to forget them. It is the same experience described by rape victims who when describing their experiences explain a thing as if they were watching from above, or the manner veterans explain their experiences. In other words, DID is a severe form of Post Trauma Stress Disorder.

The film also portrays the societal stigmatization of people with the disorder. An older film, Sybil, is equally based on a story of a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder. In this movie, the condition is portrayed with a lot of exaggeration and dramatization painting the image of a person with the disease as dangerous, deranged, hysterical and unpredictable CITATION Sal76 \l 1033 (Daniel). It is in the light of this film that Frankie is stigmatized under the 'Sybil myth' regarding her to be in a hysteric crazy state. The society considers that she is ins unstable and erratic. While it is right that some individuals suffering from DID might display some of the features under the Sybil myth, it is worth mentioning that they are not universal or in other words descriptive of each person suffering from the condition.

Frankie family further heightens the stigma of people suffering from a Dissociative identity disorder. Despite her condition, Frankie lives by herself and her mother and sister are never helpful towards her psychological disorder. Her mother is kind and what a viewer see of her is a caring and sympathetic woman. Nonetheless, despite her lovely nature, she does little to help Frankie receive treatment. Frankie's sister is equally unsupportive, and when she experiences her hallucinations, she shows a sheer lack of understanding but rather criticize her sister disorders. She calls the episodes "one of her crazy moods" which is a lousy description of real suffering. The family worry is the stigma that they receive because of Frankie's disorder, so they channel that anger towards Frankie and prefers sweeping her condition under the rug and not let other people know about it.

The issue of racism is equally shown in the movie and the fact that African Americans have limited access to mental health treatment. The discriminatory nature of this institution is seen with the admission of more whites than blacks in mental health institutions. The black community compared with whites shows that just a few of them have health insurance and even when one has the documents, they cannot access mental health facilities efficiently as whites. Coupled up with this, the culture of not accepting psychological disability among those suffering from such disorders creates lack of trust between blacks and practitioners. This is because stigmatization accompanies mental disorders and the reason many black families will leave family members with mental disorders to live in the streets rather than stay with them within their houses. In the film Frankie and Alice, the audience sees Frankie as a typical black go-go dancer whose family are just house help to a white family. This is racist on its own and combined with a white doctor who judges not to expose to you your mental disorder because you are black makes it even more racist. The fact that black American community chooses not to understand mental disorders does not mean that Frankie will not accept her condition. Such generalization is racist on it own and lying to a patient is even worse. Additionally, despite Frankie episodes beginning at an early age of 15, no doctor diagnoses her condition.

Another issue in the film is seen in the ethical violation from Frankie's doctor. When Frankie is in the hospital, she is admitted, and her psychiatrist fails to tell her why she is there. The ethics guiding the profession as spelled in the American Psychological Association requires patients consent and integrity in any form of treatment. However, regardless of this requirement, the doctor goes against this ethical guideline. The doctor damages his sincerity when he lies to Frankie and intentionally misinterpreting the information on her condition. Rather than telling the truth that Frankie is suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, he instead claims that she has three IQ's which he wrongly measures. Lying is against the ethical guidelines that require a doctor to avoid further harm on a patient by diagnosing conditions accurately. Equally, the guidelines necessities a consent of the patient on procedures of their treatments. Frankie' s doctor displayed unprofessionalism and dishonesty in the way he carried the treatment process.

Further unprofessionalism in the treatment of this disorder is heightened in the modes through which doctors tried to treat Frankie. For sure, does anyone still use hypnosis to treat mental conditions? This is a somewhat outdated form of treatment. There is limited empirical evidence on the effectiveness of hypnosis, and there is little literature in support of the efficiency of the mode of treatment. Along with hypnosis, the injection of barbiturate to make Frankie speak more freely is unnecessary. The truth serum equally has the same issue as hypnosis with little evidence to back up its effectiveness in the treatment of mental illnesses.


In conclusion, Frankie and Alice is a film that has given a real picture of the nature of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Coupled up with this, the film manages to show the nature of the distrust African Americans hold towards psychiatrists especially in their use of outdated modes of treatment for mental conditions. The film equally explores the stigmatization that occurs at the family level and the society at large towards people who are suffering from DID. It is sad to accept that even the media stigmatizes the condition in the film. At the end of the film, Frankie is in a better state, but the negativities that brought this hope overrides the positivity. The movie can be useful primarily for learners taking psychology courses. It goes beyond fiction and brings an illness that is little known about in the society and how cultures interpret the diseases. Despite the negative critique on the medical procedures used in the treatment of DID in the film, it is crucial that a person can learn how periods in one's life can cause medical conditions.

Works Cited

Ross, Colin A. and Ness Laura. "Symptom patterns in dissociative identity disorder patients and the general population." Journal of Trauma & Dissociation 11.4 (2010): 458-468.

Sybil. Dir. Petrie Daniel. Perf. Field Sally and Woodward Joanne. 1976

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Personality Disorder of Frankie in Frankie and Alice Movie Analysis. (2022, Jun 06). Retrieved from

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