Shutter Island Essay

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Psychology as a field is often misrepresented in modern cinema and Martin Scorsese’s latest film, Shutter Island, is one that may leave a negative impression of psychology on the viewer. In the story, U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo Dicaprio) sets out to find an escaped patient from Ashcliffe Insane Asylum on Shutter Island. However, in a radical twist, we find that Teddy is himself a patient at the asylum. He suffers from Delusional Disorder, creating a false world to escape the dark reality of his past. Shutter Island is one of the many films that present the ethical considerations of psychological treatment to a mainstream audience. While it succeeds in accurately presenting a severe case of mental illness and the changing treatment options of the time, it may ultimately fail to shed a much needed, positive light on the modern field of psychology. Was Teddy Delusional or Are We? Teddy displays features of both Grandiose and Persecutory Delusional Disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association's (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (text revision; DSM-IV-TR), this mixed type is characterized by feelings of immense importance and feelings of being watched or victimized. Teddy experiences both; believing he is on the verge of a grand discovery and simultaneously is being conspired against by the doctors at the asylum. For those with Delusional Disorder, full periods of remission may be followed by subsequent relapses, as is Teddy’s case. Perhaps in response to his experiences in war and the death of his wife and children, Teddy creates an entirely different identity, complete with a new name, profession, past and present. To prevent the truth of his situation from shattering his newly constructed sense of self, Teddy believes any information provided by his doctors is merely part of the conspiracy to keep him in the

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