Full version Abnormal Psychology In Film: Psycho

Abnormal Psychology In Film: Psycho

This print version free essay Abnormal Psychology In Film: Psycho.

Category: Psychology

Autor: reviewessays 14 December 2010

Words: 1051 | Pages: 5

The film I chose to watch is the original Psycho, filmed in 1960 and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The stars of the cast included Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Martin Balsam. (IMDB.com, 2006) The story begins about a young woman named Marion Crane from Arizona who is fed up with her life and longs to marry her boyfriend, Sam. Unfortunately, the couple has little money and cannot marry. One Friday afternoon, she is asked to deposit forty-thousand dollars for her boss. Seeing the money as an opportunity to start a new life with her lover, she takes off for California with the money. She ends up becoming tired from the drive and pulls into the Bates Motel. Unfortunately for Marion, the owner of the motel, Norman Bates, was suffering from a severe case of dissociative identity disorder – a case so extreme that it cost Marion her life.

Norman Bates suffered from dissociative identity disorder, or DID. Dissociative identity disorder mainly involves “the existence of more than one distinct identity or personality within the same individual.” (AllPsych.com, 2006) The two identities that Norman had were his own recessive identity and his mother’s dominant identity. Norman had murdered his mother 10 years prior because she was about to remarry and feels extremely guilty for doing so. In a way to try to ease his mind of the cruel murder, he “brings back” his mother by imitating her – he does so in every way he believes she would have acted. He speaks like her and even dresses like her, complete with a wig. Norman presumes that his mother would be jealous of any attractive female. That is why his mother’s persona killed Marion. It is interesting to note that when Norman “discovered” the corpse, he was terrified but acted as if he had encountered such a situation before and went on to clean up the mess and sink all of her belongings, including Marion’s car, into a swamp behind the motel. Thus can be seen the battle between the two psyches – Norman’s weakened personality and Norman’s emulation of his mother. Dissociative identity disorder was perfectly portrayed in Psycho.

Initially named multiple personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder usually forms as a “complex mental process that provides a coping mechanism for individuals confronting painful and/or traumatic situations.” (Wikipedia.org, 2006) With this in mind, it is rather easy to see how the disorder would have formed in Norman’s case. It can be assumed that Norman was very jealous for his mother’s attention. When she was about to re-marry he decided to murder her to prevent losing his mother’s attention. After realizing the extent of his action, Norman then emulated his mother, eventually developing dissociative identity disorder. Instead of losing his mother forever, he made her a part of him by adding her to his psyche. Norman also digs up his mother and semi-preserves her using his taxidermy skills. Norman's developmental process of the disease is nearly word for word from the DSM-IV. He uses it as a coping tool for the odd and traumatic experience of taking his mother’s life.

In the film, Norman did not receive any treatment for his mental disorder. Instead, he was secluded in a cell. In the last scene of the movie, he is shown sitting in his cell with his mother’s persona having completely taken over his mind. His mother is muttering random nothingness as the movie fades out. In real life, treatment of dissociative identity disorder is not a simple matter. It is such a complicated disorder that there aren’t any direct methods of treatment, such as medication or any other type of application. The only known treatment for dissociative identity disorder is extensive work with a therapist, but even that can take years. The reason that treating dissociative identity disorder patients is so difficult is because the patients themselves are often very secretive and even unaware of their condition. For them, it is the normal way with which they go about daily life and since they are not aware of it as an issue they will not seek out help. It is also a very difficult treatment to diagnose – how does a psychologist separate imagination from dissociative identity disorder? We all have those moments where we may talk to ourselves, or certain situations in life may bring about different behavior that could be completely different from how we normally behave. In the movie Psycho, Norman’s disorder was very easy to diagnose because it was very blatant and obvious. Dissociative identity disorder subjects do not always have cases that are this obvious (obvious symptoms include cross-dressing, etc). It is important to note that the symptoms of dissociative identity disorder include having “identities [that] will ‘take control’ of the person at different times, with important information about the other identities out of conscious awareness.” (AllPsych.com, 2006) One could imagine the difficulty in identifying such the transfer of “control” from one personality to another.

Unfortunately, the American public relies heavily on the entertainment industry to help them formulate knowledge and opinions. In the movie Psycho, the disorder is seen as one of violence and complete insanity. Not all cases are like this. To reiterate, dissociative identity disorder is defined as “the existence of more than one distinct identity or personality within the same individual.” This definition does include that the personas always become violent, but many members of the impressionable American public could interpret this to be so. Overall, Psycho showed an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder. Referring to the movie, my father commented, “It was a good movie for its time but I never thought it portrayed the illness correctly – nor that it was meant to.” In contrast, my younger sister was frightened by the portrayal. “I hope I never meet anyone like that [Norman Bates],” she had said slowly after the movie had ended. Of course, those of younger age are much more impressionable – that is the reason why parents are told to restrict their children’s viewing habits until they come of age. While the classic “imaginary friend” is a perfectly natural companion during the earlier years of life, Hitchcock’s Psycho shows a case of dissociative identity disorder that, while necessary for the plot, is overly severe.