“That’s a decision we all have to make,…Including you!”




The Woman Who Split Apart



Alexander Linklater

Saturday November 25, 2006

The Guardian


At some point in his career, a doctor may find a patient who illuminates the condition he finds most interesting – and why he finds it interesting. For Dr Brockman, a psychiatrist at the New York-Presbyterian hospital, that patient was Jamie, a woman in her 30s who presented herself to him with a severe personality disorder resulting from childhood abuse, and a pain in her gut. X-rays revealed she had screws and bolts in her intestines.


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Jamie had come to Brockman covered in bruises, her clothes torn, her wrists slashed, and with lacerations around her anus and vagina. But she had no memory of what she had been doing, or what had been done to her. During their consultations, Brockman gradually came to realise that even if Jamie didn’t know where she had been, someone else might. While Jamie behaved like a terrified child, she could – if the conversation took a certain turn – suddenly transform into an aggressive seductress who called herself Angela.


Angela’s and Jamie’s contradictory stories were hard to put together into a coherent account. Brockman would shift his line of questioning according to whom he found himself speaking, but this had the effect of undermining his own clinical objectivity. Sensing as much, his patient began to interrogate him, just as he was interrogating her. When Jamie spoke of suicide, Brockman found himself saying, "That’s a decision we all have to make, including…" Jamie pounced on the unfinished sentence: "Including you!"


Multiple personality disorder is psychiatry’s most controversial diagnosis, viewed by many in the profession as a form of self-dramatisation. But Brockman believes that severe early trauma can create deeply ingrained, dissociative memories that can’t be integrated into a whole person, and that as a result the pathways to distinct personalities may be neurologically laid down. The proper diagnostic term for the condition is dissociative identity disorder.


Yet what matters to Brockman is less the conceptual dispute than the fact that his patients manifest extreme need. People with personality disorders can form desperate, sexually charged relationships with their psychiatrists, and treating them may be perilous. Yet if the doctor backs off, he risks reigniting precisely that deep-seated horror of abandonment and abuse that first precipitated the patient’s condition.


This is the problem Brockman finds interesting. "I like to work with people who are burned almost beyond recognition," he says, and he is not afraid to explain why. At the age of seven, his own mother hanged herself while he was at home, and he has spent a lifetime grappling with the irrational, but inescapable, sense that he was the cause of her death. And he has also experienced extraordinary adult trauma. In 1976, he was a passenger on a hijacked TWA flight, in which a little known group of Croatian terrorists threatened to kill their captives. Brockman found himself undergoing a bizarre dissociative experience in which he began to view events from above the plane.


Such are Brockman’s intimate points of contact with people who have been abused in childhood and found a pattern of trauma repeated in adult life. In his psychiatric career, he has revisited his own monsters to understand those that possess his patients. In the process, he has come to understand that he needs people like Jamie almost as much as they need him. She may be drowning while he has learned to swim, but they inhabit similar waters.


Brockman has his own alter ego. He is the New York playwright Richard Brockman, and his most recent play has been performed off Broadway and at the Blue Elephant Theatre in London. Angels Don’t Dance tells the story of what happened to Jamie. As a child, she was repeatedly and violently raped by her father in his carpentry shed, her face pressed to the ground among the loose screws. As an adult, Jamie repeats the pattern in the form of Angela, seducing dangerous men in an attempt to bolt back together the childhood love that has been destroyed. To kill the pain, Angela lets Jamie eat the screws.


Jamie’s story is an amalgamation of several patients Brockman has been treating, in some cases for a decade and more. The human drama that causes a child to split apart, becoming different adults, is not easily resolved. If there is another kind of drama – the therapeutic relationship – which can put the pieces back together, it will have to be conducted by a physician who is prepared to stay with a patient where others have left. The essential ingredient in that kind of therapy, as far as Brockman is concerned, is a replacement for love. And the surest motivation for committing to such a painful bond is that the physician is also healing himself.


Names and details have been changed.




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Directed by     Woody Allen

Produced by    Charles Joffe

Written by       Woody Allen

Starring           Woody Allen

Mia Farrow

Music by         Dick Hyman

Cinematography          Gordon Willis

Editing by        Susan E. Morse

Distributed by Orion Pictures Corporation

Warner Bros

Release date(s)           November, 1983

Running time   79 min

Language         English

IMDb profile


Zelig is a 1983 mockumentary movie written and directed by Woody Allen. Vincent Canby of The New York Times hailed it as "remarkably self-assured" and "pricelessly funny…" "…one of those Allen comedies by which all his other films will be compared" and "a summation and a perfection of methods and ideas that have been turning up in all his films" — a "Woody Allen masterpiece."



Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.


The film is set in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. The title character, Leonard Zelig (played by Woody Allen), is a man who has the ability to change his appearance to that of the people he is surrounded by. For example, if he is among doctors, he transforms into a doctor, if around overweight people, he quickly becomes heavy himself. Zelig is called the "human chameleon". He is first noticed at a party by F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Dr. Eudora Fletcher (Mia Farrow) is a psychiatrist who wants to help this man with this strange disorder, when he is admitted to her hospital. With the use of hypnotic techniques, she discovers that Zelig aims for approval, so he changes to fit in. Dr. Fletcher’s determination allows her to eventually cure Zelig, but not without complications; on the road to recovery, Zelig temporarily develops a personality which is intolerant of other people’s opinions.

Making posthumous cameo appearances in Zelig are Calvin Coolidge (left) and Herbert Hoover (right), with Woody Allen (center). R/GA Digital Studios provided the optical effects to seamlessly combine film of Allen with black and white footage from the 1920s and ’30s, making it possible for Leonard to hobnob with Hemingway, disrupt Pope Pius XI’s mass during Easter Week, and hijack a speech by Hitler.


Making posthumous cameo appearances in Zelig are Calvin Coolidge (left) and Herbert Hoover (right), with Woody Allen (center). R/GA Digital Studios provided the optical effects to seamlessly combine film of Allen with black and white footage from the 1920s and ’30s, making it possible for Leonard to hobnob with Hemingway, disrupt Pope Pius XI’s mass during Easter Week, and hijack a speech by Hitler.


Dr. Fletcher becomes aware that she is falling in love with Zelig. Both patient and doctor, with the media coverage of the case, are part of the popular culture of their time. However, fame is the main cause of their division; the same society that made Zelig a hero destroys him.


Zelig’s illness strikes back, he tries to fit in once more. With the accusations of women that claim to be married with him, he escapes where nobody can find him. Nevertheless, Dr. Fletcher doesn’t give up on Zelig, and finds him in Germany before World War II inside the Nazi party. Together they escape in an airplane while being chased by the Nazis. After the adventure they experienced in Germany, they return to the USA as heroes.


Zelig used a very innovative and distinctive method to create the mockumentary feeling of this movie. For the film, Allen took real newsreel footage from the 1920s and 30s and inserted himself and other actors into the footage via bluescreen technology. To provide an authentic look to his scenes, Allen and his cinematographer used numerous techniques, including the arduous task of locating some of the actual antique film cameras and lenses used during the eras depicted in the film, and even went so far as to simulate damage, such as crinkles and scratches, on the negatives to make the finished product look more like vintage footage. The virtually seamless blending of old and new footage is highly notable in the fact that this was achieved almost a decade before digital filmmaking technology made such techniques easier, as in films like Forrest Gump and various television commercials.


[edit] Cameo appearances


The film uses cameo appearances by real figures from academia and other fields to great comic effect. Contrasting the film’s vintage black and white film footage, these individuals appear in color segments, as themselves, commenting in the present day on the Zelig phenomenon with a straight face, as if it really happened. They include essayist Susan Sontag, psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Saul Bellow, political writer Irving Howe, historian John Morton Blum, and the Paris nightclub owner Bricktop.


Also appearing in the film’s vintage footage are Adolf Hitler, Charles Lindbergh, Al Capone, William Randolph Hearst, Josephine Baker, Fanny Brice, Hermann Goering, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jimmy Walker, Lou Gehrig, Josef Goebbels, Charlie Chaplin, Bobby Jones, and many others.


[edit] Box Office


!Andele! ?Qué tal y me mimetizo como Pancho Cachondo en San Lázaro mañana? A lo mejor y hasta puedo organizar al grupito de “edecanes” en la cámara. ?Quién podría desconfiar de un "inofensivo grupo" hermosas damitas? Eso, ?qué tal una protesta nudista? Yeah!!! Yo apoyo la moción. A menos que de ultimo minuto les de mello y no haya toma de posesión en ese “recinto legislativo”.

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