We’ve been thinking a lot today about fantasy representation of #dissociativeidentitydisorder, and why we dislike SO much of it - compared to fantasy’s representation of other disorders, or just fantasy characters that are relatable, in a multiplicity sense. #DIDOSDD
There’s so many good stories out there that leave it all in fantasy - they nail DID to the wall, to the point where you just know, a writer has GOTTA have DID - but they leave the words “DID” out.
We love these stories, through and through - because they make us feel represented! They’re relatable - and that’s what stories are supposed to do. Regardless of what they call it, these stories actually deliver positive representation, without actually using the words “DID.”
BUT, the majority of fantasy stories that use “DID” have representation that’s mostly built from fantasy content - fantasy setting, fantasy powers (often one per alter) and a fantasy cause. But then “DID” is slapped onto the character and leaves us with a bad taste in our mouth.
A lot of these characters could’ve existed in their own fantasy realms without saying the words “DID” - and when no other contextualization is built in, it feels like the name “DID!” is thrown in for shock value, rather than being a base from which the character is built.
Take Legion - a Marvel character that absorbed people into his mind and uses their abilities - fantasy setting, cause, and powers - but the TV series starts with him breaking out of a psych ward. It just feels bad.
I think the reason we hate fantasy DID so much is because it’s so often used as a catch. Maybe it’s a fun way to let a character have multiple powers, an evil alter drives the plot, or psych ward imagery helps paint a negative image of the character.
It doesn’t contribute to their character, their personal struggles, the reason they make decisions, or how they joke about things. It’s primarily used as a plot device - and often a really nasty, stigmatizing plot device. (Like the last two examples in the above tweet).
This leaves us adverse to even decent stories that use DID as a plot device because it’s become such a harmful trope for our community.

Even then, being a catch is never GOOD representation, regardless of the minority you’re representing.
But especially when there is a fantasy reason why these folks have DID - whether it’s a superpower, or magical fusion, or their souls are merged - adding the label “DID” makes us even more uncomfortable.
In fantasy DID, there’s rarely mentions of dissociation, flashbacks, panic attacks, trauma, or other aspects of what makes DID disordered. Not only is this bad information, the only reason why they’re labeled “DID” - often along with “crazy” - is the fact that they’re multiple.
Happily existing multiple, without trauma, is an end goal in therapy for 2/3rds of the community. Most systems find that their alters are not what cause “problems” or make them disordered, but are simply other people struggling with overwhelming trauma together.
Let’s repeat: by only focusing on the existence of alters - without dissociation, childhood trauma, or PTSD - these shows uplift the narrative that alters are the main reason WHY someone is disordered. They push the narrative that there will always be something wrong with us.
The medicalization and demonization of multiplicity is not good representation. Its stigmatizing. It’s not relatable. And it runs against the larger narrative of what it means to have DID - so it doesn’t make me happy when I stumble across another show like that.
If you’re going to write fantasy DID well, you have to actually put in the time and effort to incorporate DID in ways that aren’t plot devices or last minute shock factors. Actually think about other parts of this disorder - you gotta commit to a real reason this person has DID.
Don’t medicalize & demonize multiplicity in and of itself - either leave it all in the fantasy realm, or actually do your research.
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