Psychological disorders have been part of the global discourse since the 19th century. In the 21st century, numerous new disorders, movies, and books have come out addressing them profoundly. Here is a list of a few terrifying ones I came across because of the deep-level of psychosis buried within them; beyond a normal cognizance and understanding.
Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders
MOVIE: THE SHINING
Paranoid Schizophrenia is a very abstract kind of mental illness that falls under the family of psychotic disorders. “The Shining” is a movie that captured one significant dimension of the illness. Jack Torrence, a recovering alcoholic who is an aspiring writer, specifically chose to offer his services as a caretaker, for the “Overlook Hotel” situated on a secluded hilltop. His services were for six months in the winter until the tourists start coming for the summer months. His family moved in with him. Under the house-arrest, the movie transitioned into a spiral of psychotic experiences that Jack encounters. His hidden schizophrenia gets triggered by the stories buried in the hotel’s history. Delbert Grady, the previous caretaker who murdered his wife and two daughters, whispers to Jack. Jack’s insanity takes over when Delbert ends up convincing him that his wife and son were conspiring against him. A few other things that contributed to Jack’s illness was the new place and some new discoveries about his personal and professional life. Jack sought the solace of the resort as the best possible asset to his writing and creativity. Instead, it engulfed him. His disease was taking over him and the little sanity he had; he tried to use it to keep himself under control. But, a schizophrenic mind; if left untreated, can maneuver its way out of every situation. Grady tried to convince Jack of the betrayal of his wife. Jack considered his wife’s lack of intimacy with himself; as evidence.
But, who can let thoughts take over one’s logic? No one. But, if the thoughts have physical, visual, and audible incarnations; then it is very hard for a schizophrenic person to resist not falling prey to them. And, for an untreated schizophrenic, it is a mental murder of his logic. Jack tries hard to overcome his beliefs but they were very natural to him. What influenced his psychotic thoughts to an extent; that he went on a tempestuous spree of man-hunt and murder, was his creative ability as a writer. Writers have all these hidden mental processes they work through to set a tone of character or theme of a story. Jack’s creative block as a writer was inhibiting his writing abilities. His creative mind was not finding any vent; and his hallucinations were fueling his brain. The hallucinations burgeoned to a point that they took over his logic. On his murderous rampage, he probably felt himself being present in a creative episode, and that being the only way to redeem his creativity. He tried to solve the puzzle but the voice in the head convinced him of the conspiracy his family planned for him eventually.
BOOK: MY MOTHER’S KEEPER
“My Mother’s Keeper: A Daughter’s Memoir Of Growing Up In The Shadow Of Schizophrenia” is a powerful book of real-time events of a grown woman who slowly descended into the depths of the disease and how her daughter learned to manage her, understand her, and restore her to her relatively better self out of love and devotion. Not only it gives personal tips and tricks for the caretakers, but it is also a story of care and devotion and patience which serves as a guiding light for everyone under such circumstances.
When an ordinary person encounters an expression of beauty; or something he/she has regarded for too long, the enormous amount of emotional baggage that engulfs them is termed as Stendhal Syndrome. The people experiencing it feel palpitations, dizziness, anxiety, and hallucinations. It can be partially attributed to the feeling very obsessive or loving fans get when they meet their beloved celebrity. But, Stendhal Syndrome is one step further because of the physical repercussions it has over its victim.
The person to whom this syndrome owns its name; described the symptoms when he was looking at the painting of Sibyls by the great Volterrano Fresco. He felt his passions meeting the impression of the beauty that painting had on him; and the influence being so great, that he felt dizzy and falling. The hypersensitiveness of artists and art lovers; especially tourists in great cities of the world having art or historic legacy are mostly caught getting afflicted by this syndrome. They cannot handle the beauty of art, the regard for the grand legacy, and the historical importance those places hold and represent. The meanings of movements and regimes these places uphold accentuate the impression that only the visuals have on them
The term was coined in 1979; by Dr. Graziella Magherini, the Chief of Psychiatry at the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova when she encountered hundred such cases of the same symptoms in Florence.
MOVIE: THE STENDHAL SYNDROME
Stendhal syndrome is an Italian thriller 1996; starring Asia Argento. The woman chasing a serial rapist ends up in Florence. In her chase, she stumbled upon some art piece and fell herself getting shaky and weak because of the overall captivating effect of the beauty of that piece. The Stendhal syndrome takes over her. Her hallucinations were so intense that she gets abducted by the rapist who she barely escapes after a traumatizing experience. Now, that she stayed in Florence; and started studying art, the effect never dies. With a re-formed psychotic interest in art, she hallucinates about her rapist. She ends up committing three murders in the end; slowly taking incarnation of the rapist in the end.
It is a mental illness that can take a toll on one’s health to a drastic extent. Anorexia Nervosa is a disease associated with one’s prior obsession to get thinner, transitioning into a fear of putting on any weight. It can sprout other mental illnesses like Orthorexia; an obsession to eat clean and natural forms of food or body dysmorphia; a condition which makes one appear big and fat than they actually are, to their own self. The symptoms of the disease include counting calories to the last number, or throwing up food after every meal, checking your weight many times throughout the day, and rejoicing over watching the scale going down. One slowly ends up decreasing calories and eliminating food groups from one’s regular meals.
Anorexia Nervosa extreme cases end up in a rehab facility because of the patients’ bodies shutting down and multiple organs’ failure due to an extreme lack of nutrients. It’s a mental and psychological illness in the fact that its recovery process incorporates reprogramming of one’s mental state about food; which may include taking weight gain, muscle mass, and adding more food groups a positive and natural thing. One has to let go of the control of calories, meal times, and weight-scale. It’s all about the mental control that a person alludes to food which makes him/her prefer death or sickness overeating.
MOVIE: TO THE BONE
To the Bone is a 2017 American Drama film starring Lily Collins; as a 20-year old college dropout. Dealing with her parents’ divorce and the trauma of influencing one of her art fans to suicide, Lily started controlling her food. After failing to recover from a rehab training program, she meets a specialist who forces her to join it. Many facts about the eating disorders were revealed in the movie; like the patient doesn’t have to look thin to actually qualify for a program. They can be at the edge of the never-ending spiral of mental illness. She suffered another major trauma when a pregnant girl in the facility undergoes a miscarriage in her effort to purge her food. She leaves the facility; again choosing death over the fight. After a confession from her mother being negligent of her health in postpartum depression; she gives in and intends to rejoin the program again.
Gender Integrity Disorder or Apotemnophilia
A mental illness where a person feels conflicted with the mental image of their bodies and their actual physical selves. The victim tries to amputate his body part voluntarily because he does not feel comfortable with it. It develops around at age eight or twelve but only older people seek treatments. Gender Dysphoria; a person’s sexual orientation at dispute with the associated gender-type has a higher probability of suffering from GID. People around transgenders or mostly transgenders themselves are the main victims. People suffering from GID have gone to extremes to amputate; by going to railway tracks or doing it themselves. Some fighting it uses prostheses to alleviate the mental condition.
A condition where one of the four limbs seem to have a will of its own due to a disentanglement between thought and action. Alien-hand syndrome is uncontrollable hand movements; mostly left hand. People dealing with it at extremes sometimes have to use the right hand to control their movements. Mostly, people who had multiple procedures done to separate the two hemispheres of the brains, fall prey to this disease. It can be a result of any tumor or nervous-system diseases like epilepsy, or other degenerative disorders like Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
People suffering from it may not be aware of the hand-movements until it enters their focus. One form of this disentanglement is the dependency of the “uncontrolled hand” on external stimulus completely. The motor programming of the brain guides the hands to do actions which the mind cannot control. For example, if a glass of water is placed on the table, the bad hand wants to take it and make the person drink it; because that was what a person is supposed to do.
MOVIE: SANAKASTA KARA GANAPATHI
Sankashta Kara Ganapathi is an Indian film that takes a comical spin on the Alien Hand Syndrome. An aspiring artist landing a new job at a newspaper, and falling in love undergoes this brain procedure after which the syndrome takes over. The writers portrayed the challenges of the syndrome in a lighter manner; veering clear from the serious psychological genre, and how the couple learns to cope with it.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder is an abstract form of mental illness where the victim faces extreme fear of abandonment, separation, or rejection; though possible or imaginative. It swirls around a person’s personal perception of him/herself, of the relationships he/she has, and one’s behavior.
A person may start idealizing someone one instant or rebelling against them the next. There are rapid shifts in goals and values, of self-image and personal identity. A persona may suffer from periods of stress and day-dreaming. One may start to give in to one’s impulses and rapid stream of thoughts. The risky behaviors can be extremely detrimental in violent scenarios of suicide attempt and murder.
MOVIE: GIRL, INTERRUPTED!
Girl, Interrupted! is a 1999 psychological drama film starring Winona Ryder as he victim of borderline personality disorder. It is one of the most iconic psychological movies. The woman is a young teen and the disease is most prevalent in young people. She is taken to a psychiatric facility where she starts to idealize an eight-year-long patient, Lisa who is a sociopath. She resists treatment to follow in Lisa’s footsteps. The climax of the movie was when a patient at the facility commits suicide and Lisa shows no sympathy and starts to search the body for cash. Susanna; the character played by Winona, felt so repulsed at the hopelessness of Lisa’s situation that she sidelines herself and starts taking her treatment seriously.