Donnie Darko as a film
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Donnie Darko as a film Portraying psychological disorders has become quite common in movies. In the science fiction film Donnie Darko, the story follows a troubled teenage boy named Donnie Darko. It is made apparent that there is some psychological disorder with the main character in the beginning; his sister mentions to their parents that Donnie had stopped his medication. Having no alternative, and wanting to please his mother, Donnie resumes his medicine. On October 2, 1988 he sleepwalks to the local golf course as he is led by the voice of a man in a bunny suit known as Frank. Frank informs Donnie that the world will end at a specific time: 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. When Donnie awakes and arrives back home, he comes to find that a jet engine mysteriously crashed through the roof of his family’s home, destroying his bedroom. Had he not been sleepwalking the night before and wandered out of his home, he would have been killed. Throughout the course of the film Frank appears to Donnie on numerous occasions encouraging him to damage school property, burn down a motivational speaker’s home, and opening up his mind to time travel. After one of his sessions, Donnie Darko’s psychotherapist tells his parents that he is detached from reality and that his visions of Frank are “daylight hallucinations”, which are symptomatic of a paranoid schizophrenic. Donnie later encounters a woman named Roberta Sparrow, known as “Grandma Death”, who is the writer of the book called “The Philosophy of Time Travel” which his science teacher had given him. He forms a connection between Frank talking about time travel and Grandma Death and becomes intrigued enough to look into the possibility of the idea. Six hours before the time Frank said the world would end, Donnie comes to the realization that he is supposed to save the world. He decides to go to see Roberta Sparrow to explore the possibility of time traveling with his
Adamo 2! girlfriend Gretchen. Donnie and his girlfriend get into an altercation with two neighborhood bullies in the middle of the street. At the same time, Frank is driving down the road and swerves to avoid hitting Roberta Sparrow and incidentally runs over Gretchen. Emotionally distraught by the events, Donnie shoots Frank in the eye. Grandma Death walks over to Donnie and whispers “A storm is coming. You must hurry.” Donnie carries his dead girlfriend to higher grounds to observe the storm. At that time, a plane in the sky has its engine ripped off and is sent back in time to 28 days earlier. The final scene shows Donnie laying in his bed, laughing hysterically to himself, and finally the jet engine crashes into the house, killing Donnie.
! Donnie Darko; paranoid schizophrenic In the beginning of the film, the paranoid schizophrenic Donnie Darko is awoken, but remains in a trance where he begins to sleepwalk. He is led out of his home by a voice that guides him to the golf course near his neighborhood. The voice talks to him and tells him the specific time that the world will end. His auditory hallucinations soon turn in to visual hallucinations that reveal the identity of the male voice known as Frank. Frank is a rabbit who visits Donnie and instructs him engage in mischievous acts and implants delusions into his mind that he is capable of succeeding in time travel. After vandalizing school property under the influence of Frank, Donnie begins interacting with a new student, Gretchen. While conversing with Gretchen, she reveals that her father had emotional issues, which sparks Donnie’s interest. He exclaims, “Oh! I have emotional problems, what kind of problems does he have?” his enthusiasm and openness regarding his emotional instability shows that he has dysfunctional social abilities. It is not usual for individuals to discuss their mental issues upon initially meeting
Adamo 3! someone. Another sign that he is socially dysfunctional is when he had told a teacher to “forcibly insert an object into her anus”. Although he is slightly socially unapt, he is shown to be rather intellectual and has no symptoms displaying disorganized speech. The course of the film is over a period of twenty eight days, but Donnie is shown to be undergoing psychotherapy, which indicates that he has displayed symptoms of his disorder for an extended period of time. Along with being treated using psychotherapy, there are discussions about Donnie being under the treatment of medication, but it is not stated which type he is prescribed. Based on the information provided from his therapist and interactions with his family, there is no indication that his symptoms are caused by substance abuse or other types of mood disorders.
! Diagnostic Criteria for 295.30 Paranoid Schizophrenia A. Preoccupation with one or more delusions or frequent auditory hallucinations Of the following that are features of other subtypes of schizophrenia, none of the following is prominent in paranoid schizophrenia: disorganized speech, disorganized or catatonic behavior, or flat or inappropriate affect. B. Social/occupational dysfunction: For a significant portion of the time since the onset of the disturbance, one or more major areas of functioning such as work, interpersonal relations, or self-care are markedly below the level achieved prior to the onset (or when the onset is in childhood or adolescence, failure to achieve expected level of interpersonal, academic, or occupational achievement).
Adamo 4! C. Duration: Continuous signs of the disturbance persist for at least 6 months. This 6month period must include at least 1 month of symptoms (or less if successfully treated) that meet Criterion A (i.e., active-phase symptoms) and may include periods of prodromal or residual symptoms. During these prodromal or residual periods, the signs of the disturbance may be manifested by only negative symptoms or two or more symptoms listed in Criterion A present in an attenuated form (e.g., odd beliefs, unusual perceptual experiences). D. Schizoaffective and Mood Disorder exclusion: Schizoaffective Disorder and Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features have been ruled out because either (1) no Major Depressive Episode, Manic Episode, or Mixed Episode have occurred concurrently with the active-phase symptoms; or (2) if mood episodes have occurred during active-phase symptoms, their total duration has been brief relative to the duration of the active and residual periods. E. Substance/general medical condition exclusion: The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition. F. Relationship to a Pervasive Developmental Disorder: If there is a history of Autistic Disorder or another Pervasive Developmental Disorder, the additional diagnosis of Schizophrenia is made only if prominent delusions or hallucinations are also present for at least a month (or less if successfully treated).
Clinical Features The essential feature of the paranoid subtype (commonly known as paranoid schizophrenia) is the presence of delusional thoughts or auditory hallucinations. The hallucinations or delusions generally revolve around a consistent theme over time. Those who suffer from paranoid schizophrenia are more “normal” seeming than the other subtypes of schizophrenia because they are more articulate and have more organized speech and behavior than their schizophrenic counterparts (Criterion A). Since the onset of the paranoid schizophrenia there is a significant impairment in one or more areas of functioning at work, personal relationships, academic performance, and the ability to properly care for oneself (Criterion B). The duration of the symptoms mud continue for a minimum of six months, with the first symptoms conning for at least a one month (Criterion C). In order for other mood disorders to be ruled out, there must be no signs of manic or depressive moods. If by any chance there were any occurrences, the period of the manic or depressive episode must be brief (Criterion D). If a person has a history of substance or drug abuse, it must be ruled out that the symptoms are not directly related to the physiological effects of that substance (Criterion E). If there is any history of developmental disorders in the individual, delusions or hallucinations must show to be present for at least a month (Criterion F).
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Adamo 6! The diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia is very accurately portrayed in the film, Donnie Darko. The primary symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia include delusions or auditory hallucinations without the presence of disorganized thought, speech, and behavior. Donnie portrays delusions by believing that he is capable of successfully traveling through time and preventing the end of the world. His delusions are directly related to the auditory and visual hallucinations. The hallucinations are of a giant rabbit named Frank who greatly influences Donnie’s actions. While under the instructions of Frank, Donnie breaks the water main at his high school with an ax, proceeds to embed the ax into the head of the school’s statue of the mascot, and spray paints “they made me do it” on the sidewalk. Spray painting the message indicates that it was not his idea to create the destruction. With the amount of control that Frank has on Donnie, his delusions prompt him to seek more information on time travel. While undergoing hypnotherapy he admits to his therapist that it was Frank who had forced him to commit these destructive acts. In attempt to treat his paranoid schizophrenia Donnie is under the care of a psychotherapist. As part of his treatment he is prescribed medicine, which is thought to be antipsychotics, as well as engaging in hypnotherapy. Donnie had stopped taking his medication, but once his sister had brought it to their parents attention, he resumed his treatment. His psychotherapist explains Donnie’s diagnosis to his parents during a session without Donnie. She also states that she would be increasing his medication and continuing with hypnotherapy. Although it is not possible to cure paranoid schizophrenia, it is a disorder that can be treated. Antipsychotics are most effective for the treatment of schizophrenia. Symptoms that are manageable through antipsychotics include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and disordered
Adamo 7! thinking if applicable. As part of treatment, it is important that the individual refrains from alcohol and drugs. Substance abuse involving a schizophrenic complicates treatment and worsens the symptoms. Along with the help of antipsychotics it is also recommended to join support programs that make it possible for people with schizophrenia to function in society. Rehabilitation centers specializing in schizophrenia can help assist in making it possible to live more independently. For those who need more care and assistance there are residential treatment facilities, transitional group homes, boarding homes, and supervised apartments. The family is dysfunctional and distant from one another, especially Donnie. No one in the family shows any concern for the well-being of Donnie. His father may be there physically, but he is not involved in Donnie’s life, nor is he an emotional support system. After coming to the realization that their son has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Donnie’s parents seem scared and worried about the diagnosis itself. Life for Donnie at school is completely unlike his life at home. There is no alienation when it comes to his peers. Donnie is quite the sociable type and has many friends, some of whom show concern when they hear about his sleepwalking resuming. His disorder does not prevent him from forming relationships with others. Although he has friends and a girlfriend, he fears that he will be alone. After flooding the school and an investigation to find the culprit, Donnie gets a visit from the high school bully. The bully is being wrongfully accused of the destruction of school property and believes it is all Donnie’s fault. While acting out and questioning authority figures, he gains the approval of most of his peers.
Adamo 8! When it comes to mental illnesses there will be social stigmas attached to them. The sad reality is that no one can discuss mental illnesses in the same way they would any other types of illness. Due to lack of knowledge about mental disorders, people are quick to make assumptions about those who suffer from them. A very common misconception regarding schizophrenia is that all individuals with schizophrenia display the same signs and symptoms. There are four subtypes of schizophrenia that display different symptoms; those with the same subtype often still exhibit slightly different symptoms. Individuals who suffer from schizophrenia are viewed as unpredictable and dangerous to themselves and others. What most people do not realize is when undergoing treatment, they are no more of a threat than any other person. The disorder is frequently thought to be unmanageable and makes it impossible to live a normal life, which is untrue. Although it is impossible to cure someone from the illness, their symptoms can be treated where they can live a life of normalcy. The illness will not leave the affected person hospitalized for the remainder of their life. Another misunderstanding of schizophrenia is that the medications that are used during treatment ruin the person or are worse than the illness itself. This stigma is more closely associated with the antipsychotic medications and the belief that the medication is unnecessary. It is rare for the antipsychotics to cause schizophrenics to go into a zombie-like state. The medications are used to reduce the hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thoughts and behaviors.
! Unfortunately, at the end of the movie Donnie was killed by the jet engine that crashed into the roof of his house. If the film had taken an alternate path, it is very possible that he could have lived a normal life. Donnie was still undergoing psychotherapy and had began taking his
Adamo 9! medication again. With the proper dose of medication and psychotherapy his symptoms of hallucinations and delusions could be treated and eliminated. Dealing with his illness would be a lifelong struggle, but it is not impossible. After properly managing the symptoms of his paranoid schizophrenia with medication Not only would medication play a role in allowing him to lead a normal life, support groups and therapy would be helpful. As with any type of illness, it is important to have a good family support system when it comes to dealing with the illness and treatment. Donnie’s family did get him the proper therapy that he needed and encourage him to take his medication, but they did not appear to be there emotionally for support throughout his treatment. If his family was able to come together, be united, and be there emotionally for him they could help him cope with the current symptoms. Family support system is also helpful for recognizing when symptoms return and bringing it to the attention of the therapist. With the proper treatment, care, and support system it is possible for anyone who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia to achieve normalcy. Treatment will continue throughout the course of the sufferers life, but support groups can help.
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Adamo 1! 0 References Harrison, J., & Gill, A. (2010). The experience and consequences of people with mental health problems, the impact of stigma upon people with schizophrenia: a way forward. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. doi:10.1111/j. 1365-2850.2009.01506.x Mangold, James. (Director). (1999). Girl, Interrupted [Motion picture]. United States. Columbia Pictures Corporation. Schizophrenia – DSM IV Definition. (n.d.). Psychotherapy And Counseling Site Wide Activity RSS. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://psychotherapyandcounseling.org/ schizophrenia-and-related-psychotic-disorders-category/schizophrenia Schizophrenia: DSM Schizophrenia Symptoms. (n.d.). CounsellingResourcecom Library RSS. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://counsellingresource.com/lib/distress/schizophrenic/ schizophrenia-dsm/schizophrenia-symptoms/ Schizophrenia (DSM-IV-TR #295.1–295.3, 295.90) . (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://www.brown.edu/Courses/BI_278/Other/Clerkship/Didactics/Readings/ Schizophrenia.pdf Schizophrenia. (n.d.). NIMH RSS. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/ health/topics/ schizophrenia/ index.shtml Schizophrenia: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (2013, January 31). Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/ 000928.htm
Adamo 1! 1 Tartakovsky, M. (2010). Illuminating 13 Myths of Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 16, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/illuminating-13myths-of-schizophrenia/0002709