After a recent rewatch of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I noticed that The Winter Soldier does things (namely, hurting and attempting to kill Steve) that not only would Bucky Barnes never do, but are also against his very nature to even consider doing. In addition, the Winter Soldier appears to have knowledge and/or abilities (such as being able to speak fluent Russian) that Bucky does not.

As a result, I have formulated a theory that Bucky has Dissociative Identity Disorder, and that he and the Winter Soldier are not, in fact, the same person.

I did some research into the disorder and have since discovered that Bucky displays most if not all of the common symptoms of it, including depression, anxiety, and amnesia (although its probable that the amnesia is more of a result of Hydra constantly wiping his mind than anything else). Furthermore, he has/had no awareness of what he has done while under Hydra's control, and when the Winter Soldier's trigger words were read to him in Captain America: Civil War, he clearly exhibited "switching", which (along with the lack of awareness) is another hallmark of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Also, the root cause of Dissociative Identity Disorder is believe to be repeated, extreme abuse, as which the torture Hydra subjected him to surely qualifies.

What I want to know is this;

Is what I have outlined here a correct interpretation of Bucky's condition in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War - does Bucky have Dissociative Identity Disorder?

  • 5
    Did you catch the part of the movies where he was brainwashed and programmed to be a killer for HYDRA?
    – phantom42
    Sep 2 '16 at 2:51
  • Yes, but the point I'm trying to make here is that the Winter Soldier and Bucky are not the same. What emerged as a result of Zemo reading the trigger words in CACW was obviously very different from Bucky himself.
    – Arianna
    Sep 2 '16 at 3:41
  • I think I see what you’re saying. Are you saying that the Hydra brainwashing induced a separate personality in Bucky, one that was loyal to Hydra?
    – Adamant
    Sep 2 '16 at 5:16
  • 1
    I'm not sure that the result of extensive brainwashing and physically having your brain fried in a systematic answer really falls under Dissociative Identity Disorder, though. But yes, the essential "personality" of Bucky still exists, separately, if that's what you are really driving at. Sep 2 '16 at 16:31
  • 1
    Point to note: Bucky actually does know what he's doing as the Winter Soldier, and remembers everything even after becoming himself again
    – ASH-Aisyah
    Feb 16 '17 at 6:27

Note: I am not a psychologist of any kind. Any research in this answer was done using Google, and should be taken as such.

"Furthermore, he has/had no awareness of what he had done while under HYDRA's control, and when the Winter Soldier's trigger words were read to him in CACW he clearly exhibited "switching", which, along with the lack of awareness, is another hallmark of dissociative identity disorder."

Multiple sources [1] [2] [3] [4], including yourself, agree that a common symptom of Dissociative Identity Disorder is the inability that remember what alternate personalities have done.

However, Bucky Barnes knows exactly what he has done under the guise of The Winter Soldier, and he says as much in Captain America: Civil War;

"Do you even remember them?"
"I remember all of them."

Tony Stark to Bucky Barnes in Captain America: Civil War

From the line "I remember all of them", we can see that Bucky is not just fully aware of the things he has done as The Winter Soldier, but that he specifically remembers doing them too. Additionally, we see in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that any amnesia he has ever experienced was deliberately caused by Hydra, not naturally.

Additionally, you mention in your question that Dissociative Identity Disorder is believed to be caused by extreme abuse;

"Also, the root cause of Dissociative Identity Disorder is believe to be repeated, extreme abuse, as which the torture Hydra subjected him to surely qualifies."

But you fail to mention that most believe that Dissociative Identity Disorder is caused by extreme, repeated childhood abuse.

From the AAMFT;

"The main cause of [Dissociative Identity Disorder] is believed to be severe and prolonged trauma experienced during childhood, including emotional, physical or sexual abuse."

Bucky was most certainly not a child when he was captured by Hydra during the Second World War, and as such his abuse at their hands seems unlikely to trigger Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Being as these two points seem to rule out a diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder (as the symptoms don't match and the cause isn't present), I would say that Bucky is not suffering from the condition.

  • "Being as these two points go against the definition of what Dissociative Identity Disorder actually is". I don't think the second point, about abuse, is part of "the definition" of DID.
    – Junuxx
    Sep 2 '16 at 15:32
  • @Junuxx You're right - I've reworded it to make it better. Sep 2 '16 at 15:40
  • Alright, I have a follow up question- Is it possible that, as you pointed out, Bucky remembers what he did while under HYDRA's control because he's been away from them long enough to start shaking of their programming?
    – Arianna
    Sep 2 '16 at 20:41
  • 1
    @Arianna I don't think so. You need to remember that the memory wipes were never 100% effective - Bucky still recognised Steve in the motorway/underpass fight scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and then again during the Helicarrier battle after Hydra had specifically "wiped" him to avoid his questions about Steve. And we know that he hasn't managed to shake off his programming, as he still responds to his trigger words in Captain America: Civil War. Therefore, I doubt that Bucky's recollection of events has anything to do with him "shaking off" Hydra programming. Sep 5 '16 at 8:16

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