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