Hi there Norizuki,
The condition that the character in the movie suffered from is known
as Dissociative Fugue. It is a particular type of dissociative
disorder and is discussed very clearly and extensively in the Merk
Here is diagnostic criteria for Dissociative Fuge from the Diagnostic
Statistical Manual for Mental Illness, (DSM-IV), which is *the*
authoritative source for mental health diagnostic information:
According to the website Mental Health Matters, A person in a
Dissociative Fugue adopts a new identity after leaving their previous
living arrangements and forgetting or being confused about their
previous identity. They are able to perform well enough to survive
under the new identity. These episodes are generally are caused by a
severe stressor and are time limited to a few days, but may last up to
months. When the fugue ends, the person is unable to recall what
occurred during this state.
Planet Psych is a web site with good general information on
Dissociative Disorders are characterized by a disturbance in the
cohesive and unified functions of identity, memory, consciousness,
perception of the environment.
Four types of Dissociative Disorders are recognized:
1. Dissociative Amnesia is a pervasive loss of memory of significant
2. Dissociative Fugue is a sudden, unplanned excursion away from ones
itinerary accompanied by either memory loss; or confusion about, loss
assumption of a new identity.
3. Dissociative Identity Disorder was formerly called Multiple
Disorder. It is evidenced by two or more separate personalities or
identities that control a persons consciousness at different times,
each being amnesic of the other/s.
4. Depersonalization Disorder is evidenced by the sense of being
ones cognition's or body without an accompanying breakdown in reality
Dissociative fugue is also the subject of the book Exit the
Rainmaker by Jonathan Coleman. Here is the listing for the book on
Amazon, along with readers reviews at the bottom of the page:
And here is Colemans biography:
Thanks for asking this question and reminding me of a pretty
good...well..."OK" movie and a good book! If you need more
information, please dont hesitate to click on the Request
Clarification of Answer by
08 Jan 2003 08:21 PST
Hello again Norizuki,
Thanks for requesting a clarification.
I think that the point of the movie was that the mental condition
suffered by the women was a total break from reality, and the director
used dreaming as an analogy for this. I believe that in the movie,
what was thought to actually BE a dream turned out NOT to be. In
fact, the women were actually, physically having the experiences
portrayed. It was their mental condition that caused them to actually
live different lives. Not a dream.
When we dream, we are not mentally in our waking world, and the
cognizant break that the characters suffered in the movie has close
parallels to this. By using the analogy of dreaming to represent the
womens' disassociation from their own realities, the director was able
to more graphically represent their condition on film.
Dissociative fugue, in causing a person to believe that they are
existing in a life completely different from that of "reality," must
seem much like a dream to them when they do in fact return to their
own, normal perceptions.
To sum up then, dissociative fugue causes people to actually create
and live another life, not just dream about it. There is a problem in
differentiating between fantasy and reality. When the patient
realizes that they have been doing this, it must feel to them as
though they had in fact been dreaming, because we have no other means
in our experience and language to express this phenomenon. As
dreaming has such close parallels to the disorder, the director of the
film used it to represent the condition to the audience. However,
what the women thought they were "dreaming" actually turned out to be
"real." A truly frightening concept.
I realize that we are broaching highly subjective territory here.
Artistic conceptions and abstract portrayals vary from culture to
culture and individual to individual. I hope that this goes at least
some way further to address your question.