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Split Personality in the Frankie and Alice Film

The film Frankie and Alice follow the life of a dancer (Frankie) who suffers from an identity disorder. The story reveals that she had experienced several traumas that led to a split personality. Her mind harbored three personalities: Frankie, the real her, Alice, a racist white woman, and Genius, who was presented as a child. Strohminger and Nichols (2015) discuss the various ways in which a mental disorder can affect a person. Therefore, the article can be sufficiently used to show the fragility of the unified self and the nature of dissociation as per the film selected.

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Critically, one can argue that the unified self is highly sensitive such that any form of trauma can impact it in various ways. In the film, Frankie lost her boyfriend in an accident. Although the experience was horrible, it did not cause her split personality. In fact, it occurred when her mother killed her child when she realized she was white. The interesting part of this realization is the fact that her brain became the person she blamed, her mother, and the person she lost, her daughter. Further, Frankie’s mind appears to have been unable to reconcile the fact that her mother would do such a monstrous thing, instead, in trying to protect her, developed the persona of a racist white woman. Going back to Strohminger and Nichols’s (2015) article, the two suggest that the issue of identity is often thought to be influenced by the inability to remember, when it is, in fact, mainly affected by the incapacity to comprehend moral and immoral components. This premise is well supported by the experiences of Frankie, who, as stated, could not believe that her mother could kill her child. The poor reconciliation ideally led to the development of the Alice personality.

On the same note, the nature of dissociation can be defined as the ability or inability to become detached from reality. The first time Frankie’s personality changes is when she kills a client with whom she had agreed to have casual sex within his hotel room. Through the scene, it is clear that Frankie does not know about her other personalities. The nature of detachment each of the personalities has in regards to reality is interesting. Whereas Frankie does not remember the trauma she went through, Genius believes she is just a lost child and does not question her size and looks. On the other hand, Alice thinks she is a white woman despite the fact that her body is actually of African American descent. Using Strohminger and Nichols’s (2015) findings, one can argue that the split personalities were meant not to heal the character but to protect her from further trauma.

In conclusion, the film Frankie and Alice show how trauma can affect a healthy mind that has not experienced any type of physical harm. The lead character was emotionally hurt when her boyfriend died and her mother killed her child. Using Strohminger and Nichols’s (2015) arguments, it is debatable that the issue of split identity can be attained both through the physical and emotional suffering of the individual. However, one aspect is clear from both the film and the article – the brain is a sensitive organ that is affected differently by similar stimuli. In addition, whereas patients might not be able to tell they have identity issues, those around them will often notice the differences.


Strohminger, Nina, and Shaun Nichols. 2015. “Your Brain, Your Disease, Your Self.” New York Times, Web.

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