In this poetic exploration of the much-misunderstood condition, “Busy Inside” follows Karen and her patient Marshay on their complicated quests for self.
55min version and discussion guide included.
Available on KANOPY.
In a remarkable narrative twist, a social worker who specializes in treating patients with multiple personalities (known as dissociative identity disorder) has 17 personalities of her own.
Karen’s clients are women with DID (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder), a puzzling condition that fascinates modern psychiatry. In her office, a woman speaks in a strange voice and plays with toys; another is wearing a disguise: wig and sunglasses. Some DID patients have up to twenty different identities (or ‘alters’) of various ages, habits, beliefs, and even genders.
Karen juggles seventeen of her own alters, organizing them into a functional supportive family: perky Rosalee who keeps everyone in line, curious child Three, and others. Living openly with DID is what helps Karen function. Her therapeutic practice is based on building self‐confidence and acceptance of one’s true selves. This includes acknowledging each alter’s desires, and finding ways to safely express the darker impulses. As Karen tells her wife, “The truth is, most people live with something: anxiety, depression, bipolar. If we don’t acknowledge it, people struggle more. If people could talk about it, they wouldn’t be so embarrassed ‐ they could be themselves, and be able to work.”
Karen’s patient Marshay struggles to believe she really has DID. It is disorienting to see Marshay behave like a sensitive teenager, a babbling little girl, and a rational adult in a short span of time. Before therapy, her personalities constantly fought for control, she would have black outs, and her violent alter egos jeopardized her safety. Karen helps her harmonize her alters into a supportive team.
This access to is remarkable given that most with DID are reluctant to reveal their condition. Nevertheless, Karen and Marshay feel their participation will help others. Karen and Marshay’s brave choice to share their stories will enable audiences to understand that DID is a more nuanced and more arduous version of the various selves we present.
I’ve watched the film twice since downloading and wow, it brought up a lot of emotions for me. I feel like it’s a beautiful way to show people what it’s like to have multiple parts inside. I’ve suggested it to my client to watch and will be letting some colleagues that work with trauma and parts know to watch it too. Thank you!
I have DID through child hood trauma so it really was beautifully and articulately put across. It’s brilliant that the explanation of where it comes from was portrayed in that as lots of people darent go there even now with the taboos surrounding it. I am so pleased it’s out there.
I'm a film student making a documentary about community care treatment of severe mental illness; I was in the audience at your last showing of Busy Inside in NYC and it brought me to tears. I thought your approach with the patients was honest, intimate, compassionate, and totally unbiased.
I thought that you really caught the "parts" of the participants. I think therapists should see it, with discussion on how to heal those parts.
I admire this film’s sharpness, bravery and the director’s ability to see and share the inner worlds of the people.