Content Warning: this content is very sensitive in nature. We have made an attempt to put heavier and triggering content towards the bottom. Due to the nature of this content our first suggestion is to avoid all trailers for this documentary, and of course do not watch the actual documentary itself which premiers on Netflix on January 24th. No matter how good-looking his mug is.
Additional Warning: the movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is to also come out, also based on Ted Bundy. All the same warnings apply to the fictionalized/dramatized movie. This movie is NOT safe content for people who have been traumatized.
Updated 1/26/2019: Even Netflix is warning viewers not to watch this documentary alone. Even hardened true crime aficionados are left paranoid and frightened by the documentary.
We’ll try to give some of the basic reasons that his name may be associated with plurality and DID in a moment. He was never proven to have DID or any related issue.
Theodore “Ted” Bundy was a serial killer active between 1974 and 1978.
The issue for the plural community as a whole is that there have been many diagnoses given to him while he was in prison. On an individual basis, anything about him can be extremely triggering or retraumatizing — he’s a classic case of NPD or ASPD (more below). That alone may be enough for some people to walk away.
His case was quite sensationalized. He was charismatic, handsome, and young. He got and ate up a lot of attention during his trials, his charismatic swagger and self-assuredness, his insistence that he would get absolved of guilt, and how he soaked up media attention made him “interesting” to the news and he acquired quite a fanbase during the proceedings. He also mostly defended himself in court, a privilege which he abused twice in order to escape custody.
Most folk with DID and related disorders could probably stop here. Feel free to click away. We are only going to continue for those who don’t understand that this story goes way downhill from here and need more facts to know for certain whether to avoid stories, videos, etc. associated with him.
At this time, the most likely diagnosis for Ted Bundy is NPD (narcisstic personality disorder) or ASPD (antisocial personality disorder). While the documentary features never-released recordings, none of the footage can be trusted. While in jail, in interviews, Bundy was a keen liar and manipulator who could tell one set of facts in the morning to one interviewer, and change them up for an interview in the afternoon contradicting what was said earlier regarding victim counts, where he got his “inspiration” or how his obsessions developed, etc. Whatever it took to keep his interviewer’s attention or to gain power over their perspective. If the interviewer had an interest, he’d either already known it or found it out and would exploit it to keep their attention. Thus nothing in the documentary out of his mouth, possibly out of the mouths of those he manipulated, could be trusted.
Thus, in many ways, the words he said on those recordings can only hurt people, and not tell the truth. He may have made very reasonable-sounding arguments, manipulated and coerced, and sway people’s minds. Nothing good can really come from listening to it. It happened 30+ years ago. He’s dead now. And this gives him power beyond the grave to influence and manipulate, and gain power and control. That’s pretty disturbing.
For a short time it was thought Bundy might have DID/MPD based on 2 witnesses’ testimony (his aunt, and one prison official) and a brief tentative diagnosis of one female psychiatrist who changed her diagnosis several times. Due to stigma for DID, of course this could plausibly come back to bite us in the community, depending on how the documentary frames information.
Bundy was a master of manipulation, especially manipulating women. It’s uncertain whether he just was messing with the doctor to keep his own diagnosis shifting constantly. The “switching” seen by these 2 witnesses could plausibly be a personality disorder unmasking (of the behaviors some people take on in order to “pass” in society) and not a switch between inner people or parts. Given the time-frame of him being evaluated, DID/MPD was not very well-known and while the possibility was briefly entertained, it was never confirmed.
Experts at the time and today agree that NPD &/or ASPD are indicated.
Since narcissists can quite commonly be abusers in cases of DID, we think it’s safe to say that most people with DID will find no peace or solace from watching this documentary or listening to his lies, manipulations, or gaslighting.
Bundy admits to his crimes while on death row, doesn’t apologize for them, feels no remorse, escaped prison twice (the second time he commits stomach-wrenching atrocious acts in Florida before being caught again, the Wikipedia page contains graphic details and probably could use CWs of its own — link provided as citation not a suggestion to click on it!), demanded to do the majority of his own defense in court, etc. He doesn’t appear to have memory lapses, he said he doesn’t have split personalities on tape (not that he’s a reliable witness), and so on. His profile and information on him is frightening to read, much less hear on tape recordings.
This isn’t the profile of someone with DID. By far.
Bundy had at least 30 victims. Details are very highly disturbing in nature. He also left behind many now-disabled assault victims. He was executed in 1989 for his crimes.
If you must watch the trailers or the documentary, be warned that he’s a serial killer, rapist, kidnapper, burglar, and necrophile. He committed heinous acts for both reasons of power and control, and for sexual fulfillment. The details of his crimes require immense content warnings, beyond just violence but assault and bodily harm to specifically disable or kill people — the overwhelming majority of his victims were women. Since you got this far, I’d suppose you’re still considering watching it. After viewing the trailer, it may also be a good idea to arm yourself before the documentary by reading the Wikipedia page so you’re forewarned of just how deep this goes. But be warned, the recounting even there is still full of gory details and graphic descriptions of assault and violence. With this person being the focus of a documentary, it would be impossible to avoid them.