full version Three Faces Of Eve Essay

Three Faces Of Eve

Category: Psychology

Autor: Antonio 09 December 2009

Words: 988 | Pages: 4

The Three Faces of Eve
The Three Faces of Eve starring Joanne Woodward, David Wayne, and Lee J. Cobb is a screenplay produced and directed by Nunnally Johnson and based on the book by Corbett H. Thigpen, M.D. and Hervey M. Cleckley, M.D. The narrator, Alistair Cooke, introduces the plot as a true story about a young, Georgia housewife who is diagnosed by Drs. Thigpen and Cleckley as having multiple personalities. Their account of this rare case is the basis for the movie. Much of the dialogue is taken from the actual clinical record although the names have been changed.
The movie starts on August 20, 1951. Ralph White brings his wife Eve to see Dr. Luther, a psychiatrist, because she has been troubled with very bad headaches and spells of amnesia occurring twice a week. The narrator states that after consulting with Dr. Luther, Mrs. White is greatly helped by the psychiatric treatment. She has fewer and less severe headaches and no more blackout spells.
But in the spring of 1952, she purchases $218.00 worth of flashy, seductive clothing, attempts to strangle her daughter Bonnie, deserts her family to visit her cousin, and then has no recollection of what happened. Because of these behaviors, Mr. White brings his wife back to Dr. Luther. Mrs. White admits to hearing a female voice, sounding like her own, for the past few months telling her to leave Ralph and run away with Bonnie. Dr. Luther reassures her that she is not losing her mind because it frightens her and she recognizes it as a symptom of illness. He says people losing their minds think hearing voices is a privilege they enjoy like personal radio reception or built-in radar. At this point, Eve covers her face with her hands and when she looks up, Dr. Luther meets the second personality “Eve Black” who flirts with him and asks him to go dancing. She tells him Black is her maiden name, she is not married, and Bonnie is not her child. Eve Black lets her hair down, takes off her stockings because she is allergic to nylon, smokes a cigarette, and complains the office is too hot. When questioned by the doctor, Eve Black says she likes to sing and dance at nightclubs after having a few “snorts”, and the next morning she gives Eve White the hangover. She explains that Eve White doesn’t know anything about her but she knows everything about Eve White.
On May 17, 1952, Eve is admitted to the psychiatric section of University Hospital for observation and treatment. Dr. Luther decides to tell Eve White about Eve Black, and he shows Ralph how the two personalities switch back and forth. Dr. Luther discharges her two weeks later when he is satisfied that whether she behaves as Eve White or Eve Black she will not harm herself or others.
Eve’s marriage ends in divorce when she chooses to stay in therapy instead of moving away with her husband to his new job. During one of the therapy sessions, Eve Black complains that she had to “come out” to stop Eve White from cutting her wrist with a razor blade. Also, Eve Black started having blackout spells too. While using hypnosis, Dr. Luther meets the third personality “Jane” who remembers being forced to kiss her dead grandmother goodbye when she was 6 years old.
The traumatic childhood experience is the key to multiple personalities emerging as a means of self-protection in handling the stress (I. G. Sarason & B. R. Sarason, 2005, p. 175). On September 17, 1953, when Dr. Luther is able to bring out the repressed childhood memories, Jane, who had no memories, can now remember her past; and the Eve White - Eve Black personalities “die” that day. Two years later, Jane wrote a letter to Dr. Luther thanking him and stating that Eve White and Eve Black have not “returned”.
The movie shows a good example of someone with dissociative identity disorder, which is on Axis I. Eve’s symptoms fit the diagnostic criteria for 300.14 dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder) listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. There are three distinct identities that take turns controlling her behavior. There is an inability to recall important personal information, and the disturbance is not due to a substance or a general medical condition (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 529).
I. G. Sarason and B. R. Sarason (2005, p. 174) explain that each personality can have its own behaviors, interests, values, styles, wardrobes, speech patterns, accents, and memories. Examples in the movie are Eve White as a depressed, dull housewife, unsure of herself, having blackout spells (one-way amnesia), hearing voices and attempting suicide; and Eve Black as the party girl who likes to flirt, smoke, drink, wear seductive dresses, and is allergic to nylon. Both Eve White and Eve Black speak with a southern accent but Jane, a calm, sophisticated, and sensible woman, has no accent and sounds well-educated and refined.
Dr. Luther uses the psychological perspective in his treatment. With psychoanalysis and hypnosis he is able to bring out the repressed childhood memories that caused the dissociation.
Chris Costner Sizemore, the woman who was known as Eve, has written about her real life struggle. In A Mind of My Own, she explained that she sought help from 8 psychiatrists and actually had 22 personalities. In 1974, when she was 47 years old, her “birth personality” finally resurfaced and her mental health was restored (Sizemore, 1989, p. 9).


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental

disorders (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: Author.

Johnson, N. (Producer/Director). (1957). The three faces of Eve [Motion picture]. United

States: Twentieth Century Fox.

Sarason, I. G., & Sarason, B. R. (2005). Abnormal psychology: The problem of

maladaptive behavior. (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Sizemore, C. C. (1989). A mind of my own. New York: Morrow.