Dissociative Disorder

Subject: Art
Type: Critical Analysis Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1362
Topics: Film Analysis, Film Review

People are often subjected to different situations during their lifetime that is from the time of birth to death. Dissociative disorder is often described by the disconnection between the three normal aspects of a person that includes the memory, identity, and thoughts. Naturally, this psychological condition can be exhibited in any person despite the age, social status, place of origin or the economic background of an individual. Patients suffering from dissociative disorder normally has the challenge of clearly distinguishing reality from fantasy due to the sudden memory loss that often results to this condition. This paper explores the dissociative disorder that attacked the main character (Leonard) in Christopher Nolan’s film called Memento.

Dissociative disorders in most cases have unique symptoms with the most prominent being amnesia. Victims of this medical condition have difficulties in recalling personal information, events, or people as a result of memory loss. Also, such individuals are often stressed and always have the inability to cope up with the stress from the different perspectives of their daily lives. Depression, detach of oneself from the emotions, and suicidal thoughts are also associated with this psychological condition (David, 57). In the film Memento, Christopher Nolan illustrates how the main character suffered from dissociative amnesia. Leonard who is the protagonist in the movie lost his memory after his spouse was raped and killed. The trauma and the pain he experienced changed his mind completely making him not even to be in a position to explain the events that happened to him earlier on.

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The personality of the main character in the Memento movie is clearly illustrated in the Freud’s theory of personality. Freud explains the human personality comprised of three elements which include the ego, the id, and the superego. The three elements of the human personality explained by Freud occur during different stages of development. The id element of personality is often associated with the pleasurable aspects of a person, the ego creates the link for distinguishing realities and societal norms as well as determining the etiquette of a person (Duggan, Milton, Egan, and McCarthy, 20). The superego element is the conscience which brings the effect of feeling guilty whenever something wrong is done or committed, and this controls the person’s moral values. For a normal human being the three elements of human personality always work in a coordinative manner to regulate the perception of the identity of things, their realistic nature, and the moral principles when handling different situations.

However, in the movie, the main character lost his memory following the traumatic attack that he experienced when his wife was killed. The story in the film explains how Leonard had a normal life and he was working happily with colleagues in the industry up to the moment his wife passed on then everything changed. He could hardly remember the events that transpired after her wife’s death. The playwright narrates that Leonard resorted to tattoos as a form of back up memory for this he considered important to him. This situation also exposed him to an instance of financial exploitation by one of the attendants at the hotel he visited as he was unable to recognize the balance he was to receive. Additionally, the main character was depressed such that his main mission was to trace the killers of his wife and avenge the same.   

Human psychological development is determined by the two factors that are nature and nurture. Nature mainly involves the general biological and genetic make-up of an individual whereas nurture involves the upbringing values that an individual obtains from the parents and the values or characters obtained as a result of interaction with the environment (Achenbach, Krukowski, Dumenci, & Ivanova, 366). In the film, Leonard had a normal life right from his childhood till the time he got married. However, he developed the mental disarray after realizing that his wife was brutally raped and murdered by some individuals. The trauma and the disbelief which are factors relating to nurture made him develop this critical dissociative disorder resulting to his memory loss.

The development of the psychological disorders in a person can be explained using the different psychological perspectives which include humanistic, behavioral, biological, cognitive and psychodynamic. Some individual often develops psychological issues as a result of one perspective while in some instances it can be a combination of two or more. With regard to the character in the film, his psychological disorder was behavioral in nature. The playwright clearly narrates how Leonard led a normal life of sound mind and complete memories until he was traumatized and developed the mental problem. Bad personal experiences at times can change the normal functioning of the human brain as a result of disbelief of the events experienced by an individual.

Initially, Leonard, the main character in the film, was brought up in a well-off family under the care of both parents. At this point, he was a normal person and started his education which he completed successfully. Consequently, he secured a lucrative employment and happily got married. At workplace, he interacted freely with his workmates and formed great friends with some of them as his mental status was still very fine and sound. Due to unexpected bad experience he encountered, Leonard’s mental status shifted abruptly making him develop serious dissociative amnesia. His condition even became more critical as he was going out finding ways on how to trace and murder the persons who killed his wife.

Recent advances in the field of medicine and human psychology have unveiled a number of remedies and treatment plans for the different types of psychological disorders. Proper administration of drugs and close monitoring of the patients of such conditions often yields positive results (Ambady, Bernieri, & Richeson, 268). For Leonard’s situation, the best treatment method to be administered to him is psychotherapy. This involves application of close mental counseling for him to overcome the traumatic experience and the dissociative attributes that captured him after the traumatic demise of his spouse. The two main forms of psychotherapy available for the treatment of this mental situation includes dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Also, Leonard should be given antidepressants tablets to help him deal with the stress and depression following the death of her wife for him to lead a fruitful and promising life after that unfortunate event.

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Day to day life experiences remains undetermined in nature. The fact that a person may be well and of sound mind today may not be true or the situation may not remain like that forever. Human beings are exposed to different situations at different stages of development. The brain is the central organ for determining the human conscience and psychology. From the story depicted in Nolan’s film, Leonard was a victim of circumstances. His earlier normal life was overtaken by the mysteries and disbelief that he experienced after the brutal murder of his wife. In life, mental and psychological disorder can cope in anytime to any person irrespective of his or her socioeconomic status in the society. However, there are some special cases where a psychological disorder is transferred genetically from parents to their respective off springs. 

Development of psychological dysfunction can be attributed to a number of factors which may include medical profession, genetic factors, drastic changes in the environment, and in some instances sudden traumatic experiences. From the previous illustrations, the main character in the movie Memento (Leonard) developed an unsound mind and serious amnesia after he was exposed to sudden traumatic exposure by the members of his society. The killers of his wife complicated his normal way of life as he was unable to continue with his job due to the mental upset as a result of the murder. Generally, in the society, there do exist individuals with bad traits that can often harm others making the persons close to them develop dissociative disorders. It is also worthwhile noting that the modern science has availed a number of remedies that can be adopted to solve the various psychological conditions. The society an individual is brought up, the environment, and the genetic factors determine the psychological status of individuals in the society.

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  1. David, H. (1985). Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders. New York, Guilford press. 
  2. Scott, F. Duggan, C., Milton, J., Egan, V., and McCarthy, L. (2003) Theories of general personality and mental disorder. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 44, 19-23.
  3. Philip, French (2000). Memento. Retrieved from the Guardian:https://www.theguardian.com/film/2000/oct/22/philipfrench
  4. Achenbach, T. M., Krukowski, R. A., Dumenci, L., & Ivanova, M. Y. (2005). Assessment of adult psychopathology: Meta-analyses and implications of cross-informant correlations. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 361–382.
  5. Ambady, N., Bernieri, F. J., & Richeson, J. A. (2000). Toward a histology of social behavior: Judgmental accuracy from thin slices of the behavioral stream. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 32, 201–271.
  6. John, E., & Norman, S (2013). A Companion to the Classification of Mental Disorders. Oxford university press: UK.
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