Fight Club is an 1999 film based on the novel of the same title by Chuck Palahniuk published in 1996. The movie appears to be a story about an underground fighting club that the narrator and Tyler Durden have created. Apparently, there is more in the movie than what an average viewer could decipher. Fight Club is a depiction of a mental disorder known as Dissociative Personality/Identity Disorder or DID, at least in a psychological point of view. Evidently, the mental imbalance suffered by the character in the film is obvious in the plot. At the beginning of the movie the narrator can be seen attending a series of support group sessions dedicated to address various medical problems. There is one particular characteristic of the narrator that explains how his mental condition has evolved into DID. First, the narrator is constantly showing discontent in life. He has an obsession for collection furniture and the reason that the narrator do that is for him to find his identity. His constant pursuit of happiness and contentment was answered by Tyler Durden that also shares the same social dillemma.
The major emotional issue that the character has in the movie is his feeling of numbness and emptiness and meaningless existence, which manifests in his inability to connect and feel deeply towards anything. Both of the characters have no significant relationship with anyone except for the sexual connection with Maria. Because of the narrator’s growing emotional difficulties, he developed a mental condition defined by Manual of Mental Disorder as Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID. The obvious symptoms of this condition as depicted in the film is the constant blackouts, memory loss and ultimately having an alter ego, which is Tyler Durden. The narrator and Tyler is the same individual of different behavioral patterns. Since the narrator feels that he is locked inside his own self the only way to escape is through Tyler. The triggering factor that sparked the mental condition on the film character is mostly derived from the society’s contemporary structure. This social structure generally promotes the Dissociative mode of existence (2004, 2). The film depicts the ubiquitous characteristic of the modern society, consumerism, rapid mobility and technology, which implicates a pervasive form of dissociation (2004, 2).
Project Mayhem or Fight Club is the fruit of the narrator’s own expression of rebellion against the society persuaded by his imaginary self, which is Tyler. People would say that the narrator and Tyler appears to accept disappointments better than anybody else. However, the truth is less inspiring for the film character because, despite the substandard living condition they are in, there is still a higher expectation of what life should have offered them. They actually do not accept disappointments, the fight club is actually their answer to life’s demands. The narrator and Tyler struggles to make decisions, but the brand of DID that he suffers contain elements of both submissive and dominant characteristic. Tyler in particular displays lack of ability to make decisions in the sense that he still needs to persuade the narrator, which is also himself to initiate his objectives. The narrator on the other hand is dependent of Tyler in such a way that he turns to his alter ego in making decisions. The bottom line is both of them have created an environment that they wanted to enforce to others to accept.
Clearly, several pathological dissociation manifests in the character in the film such as identity-fragmentation, amnesia and depersonalization is an evidence of disconnection. Therefore, dissociation can be described as the constricted ability to experience immediate access to one’s self, to the people and to the here and now (2004, 3). There are various contributors to the development of DID in the narrator/Tyler, the most evident is the environmental condition in which the film character is situated. Furthermore, the mental condition evolved from bad to worst as both characters neglected the importance of living in standard human conditions. They bathe and drink unclean water, not to mention that he lacks adequate sleep. His sleep disorder or insomnia, have also contributed to the situation since the lack of adequate sleep deteriotate the brain’s ability to process clear thinking. On top of that is the character’s engagement to activities that promote health risks such as physical trauma from the brawls and lack of medical attention. Going back to his sleep disorder (insomnia), the deteriorated mind caused by lack of sleep leads to disorientation and anxiety (2000, 597-599). This argument is evident is the very nature of the movie, which was designed to particularly convey disorientation, thus causing the person to be disconnected from the people and from himself. In the Axis V of the global functioning assessment, the narrator/Tyler appears to be in a lower scale not higher than 10. This is exhibited in the constant intention to hurt not only himself, but other people as well. In one of the scenes in the movie, Tyler applied a chemical to the narrator (which is also himself) burning the latter’s skin. At first the character doesn’t show evidence of suicidal tendencies. However, the fact that Tyler showed neglect towards his own well-being and lack of personal hygiene it already justifies his intentions to completely ignore his own self regardless of death.
Since the two personalities can recognize each other in flesh in blood at the same time, it is clear that their perception of one another is a derivative of delusion. This can be linked with anxiety because both characters are showing instances of false perception of things that aren’t there and strongly believe in the existence of one another (2000, 429-430). In analyzing the causes of the narrator and Tyler’s mental condition, there is a strong conclusive evidence on the role of mental deterioration brought by his lack of sleep. Fueled by myriad of emotional dilemmas and insomnia, his weary mind is no longer able to cope up with the physical stress causing him to mentally deteriorate. Notice in the movie that Tyler appeared after six months of the narrator’s insomnia. Having to suffer sleeplessness for months that Tyler began to take over the narrator’s life. It started when the narrator realized how the world around him seemed to dictate everything from how he should do his work in the office, what to wear or what to buy. Generally consumerism had an adverse effect to the narrator making him re-evaluate himself and seek something that will full fill his emptiness. It led to sleepless nights that slowly affected his mental health. From the simple sleeping disorder, his condition had evolved to DID in which Tyler had appeared to be a separate entity. In the process Tyler’s appearance grew from a simple acquaintance to becoming a driving force in the narrator’s life. Tyler is basically the physical representation of the narrator’s desires of what he wanted to be as a person and what freedom means to him. Insomnia is a sign of malfunction in the body and triggers serious psychiatric condition. In the case of the narrator in the movie, having to suffer insomnia for six months tremendously affected his mental health. In a nutshell, the movie can be seen to fit several theoretical perspectives. In term of psychological aspects, the characters of the narrator and Tyler represents a real cause and effect model of how human mental condition shifts balance and its effects to the an individual.
American Psychiatric Association. ” Anxiety Disorder.” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Menta Disorders . 4th ed. Washington DC, USA: American Psychiatric Association, 2000. 429-430. Print.
American Psychiatric Association. ” Dissociative Disorders.” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Menta Disorders. 4th ed. Washington DC, USA: American Psychiatric Association, 2000. 519-520. Print.
American Psychiatric Association. ” Sleep Disorders.” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Menta Disorders. 4th ed. Washington DC, USA: American Psychiatric Association, 2000. 597-599. Print.
Gold, Phd. Steven N. ” Fight Club : A Depiction of Contemporary Societyas Dissociogenic.” Journal of Trauma and Dissociation 5. 2 (2004): 2-3. Print.