• July 13, 2024

The Shattered Identity

In the movie “Shattered” (1991), Dan Merrick survives an accident and develops total amnesia regarding his past. His battered face is reconstructed by plastic surgeons and, with the help of his loving wife, he gradually recovers his will to live. But he never develops a proper sense of identity. It is as though he is constantly but   https://przemekjurek.pl/ ill at ease in his own body. As the plot unravels, Dan is led to believe that he may have murdered his wife’s lover, Jack. This thriller offers additional twists and turns but, throughout it all, we face this question:

Dan has no recollection of being Dan. Dan does not remember murdering Jack. It seems as though Dan’s very identity has been erased. Yet, Dan is in sound mind and can tell right from wrong. Should Dan be held (morally and, as a result, perhaps legally as well) accountable for Jack’s murder?

Would the answer to this question still be the same had Dan erased from his memory ONLY the crime -but recalled everything else (in an act of selective dissociation)? Do our moral and legal accountability and responsibility spring from the integrity of our memories? If Dan were to be punished for a crime he doesn’t have the faintest recollection of committing – wouldn’t he feel horribly wronged? Wouldn’t he be justified in feeling so?

There are many states of consciousness that involve dissociation and selective amnesia: hypnosis, trance and possession, hallucination, illusion, memory disorders (like organic, or functional amnesia), depersonalization disorder, dissociative fugue, dreaming, psychosis, post traumatic stress disorder, and drug-induced psychotomimetic states.

 

Consider this, for instance:

What if Dan were the victim of a Multiple Personality Disorder (now known as “Dissociative Identity Disorder”)? What if one of his “alters” (i.e., one of the multitude of “identities” sharing Dan’s mind and body) committed the crime? Should Dan still be held responsible? What if the alter “John” committed the crime and then “vanished”, leaving behind another alter (let us say, “Joseph”) in control? Should “Joseph” be held responsible for the crime “John” committed? What if “John” were to reappear 10 years after he “vanished”? What if he were to reappear 50 years after he “vanished”? What if he were to reappear for a period of 9

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