Dr. David Callaway, a psychologist working in New York City, decides to move with his 10-year-old daughter Emily to upstate New York. . Following his discovery of the body of his wife in a bathtub after her suicide. Meanwhile, David suffers from nightmares of the New Year’s Eve party that occurred the night before his wife died. David meets local woman Elizabeth Young and her niece, Amy, who is roughly the same age as Emily. Hoping to cultivate a new friendship for Emily, David sets up a play-date for her. The play-date is spoiled however when Emily cuts up the face of Amy’s doll. A family friend, Dr. Katherine Carson a fellow psychologist, visits David and Emily to try to help David and talks to Emily about her obsession with Charlie, her only new (and imaginary) friend. Emily reveals that she and Charlie have a mutual desire to upset her father.
Over time, odd events start to happen in the house: among other things, late at night David finds angry messages written on the wall directed at David in addition, the family cat is drowned in the tub. He naturally assumes Emily is the culprit, but she frequently denies any participation, blaming it on Charlie. When David looks at Emily’s drawn pictures, they show the murders along with her and a black figure appearing to be Charlie although Emily doesn’t say. Later, Elizabeth visits again, hoping to make peace with Emily. When Emily says she is playing hide-and-seek with Charlie, Elizabeth indulges her by pretending to look for him. When David asks Emily who did it, once more she blames Charlie, admitting Charlie made her help him. A distraught David, armed with a knife, goes outside, where he meets his neighbor Steven. He assumes that Steven is Charlie and cuts him with the knife, after which the suspicious neighbor calls the police. David realizes that he has a split personality and that Charlie is not imaginary at all Charlie in reality is David.
Whenever it appeared David was in his study, Charlie was actually in control. Once Charlie’s identity and horrible deeds are realized to David, he becomes completely consumed by Charlie, leading him to murder the local sheriff, who arrives to investigate the previous altercation. Emily calls Katherine for help. Emily hides and tricks Charlie and manages to lock herself in her room. As Charlie tries to break in, she climbs out from the window and runs into the cave where she originally met Charlie.
Diagnosis of Dr. David Callaway / Charlie
The movie deals with two mental disorders one being DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and Psychopathy. According to the DSM four (pg. 484) Dissociative Identity Disorder
(formerly Multiple Personality Disorder) is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states that recurrently take control of the individual’s behavior accompanied by an inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. Emily recognized this in her father Dr. Callaway. Then at Dr. Callaway becomes aware himself when he walks back into his office as mentioned earlier. It is also possible for Callaway to have Dissociative Disorder which is found in the DSM (pg. 477) but that do not meet the criteria for any specific Dissociative Disorder. Dissociative symptoms are also included in the criteria sets for Acute Stress Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. This may have been to him murdering his wife for her infidelity. Dr. Callaway also showed signs of Dissociative Amnesia (478) is characterized by an inability to recall important personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature, that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. Again these characteristics where shown when he would loos track of time. For example, when Callaway put a tee kettle on the stove and walked into the dinning area only to hear Emily laughing upstairs to the tee kettle whistling not aware of the time that had lapsed.
In my opinion Dissociative Identity Disorder is when someone has 2 or more distinct identities that alternately control a person’s behavior. The fact that all through the movie David becomes Charlie and Charlie has control over his actions (killing his wife, Elizabeth and a neighbor) is proof that he suffers from of Dissociative Identity Disorder. He also does not initially remember these actions, which is another symptom of the disease. For the most part, I believe the disease is portrayed quite accurately by the movie, as David appears to be quite passive and doesn’t remember the actions caused by Charlie while Charlie is aggressive and hostile and retains the majority of memories. This fits with the typical symptoms associated with Dissociative Identity Disorder.