When thinking about mental health disorders and the portrayal of what some may deem as more intense disorders it is often confusing and misleading if not downright purposefully villainized to “amuse the viewer”. This creates a stigma towards an illness that real people suffer from in their everyday lives. In this paper I will summarize the disorders of Schizophrenia, Delusional Disorder (DD), and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), and analysis the movies Black Swan and Shutter Island to determine how realistic they are.
Shutter Island starring Leonardo DiCaprio takes place in Boston 1954 where Edward “Teddy” Daniels, a US Marshal and war veteran are inquiring about the disappearance of a patient at Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island. Teddy is a reformed alcoholic, and widow who suffers nightmares due to World War II and his wife’s death by an arsonist named Andrew Laeddis, who coincidently is held supposedly in Ward C. As he delves deeper in the asylum, he becomes paranoid of experiments and people conspiring against him. He discovers that he is Andrew Laeddis, not a detective but a patient going through radical treatment from psychiatrist Dr. Sheehan (Chuck) and Dr. Cawley. They performed this experiment as a last-ditch effort to prevent Teddy’s lobotomy to treat his DID. At the end he still elects to receive the lobotomy as to “not live as a monster but die a good man”.
In the movie he shows signs of suffering from both Delusional Disorder as well as DID. In the case of Delusional Disorder (DD) an individual has mental stability but unrealistic grandiose thoughts. Teddy has all these symptoms. For the case of DID he meets the requirements as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the individual must suffer from he has a minimum of two distinct personalities. (American Psychiatric Association & American Psychiatric Association, 2000) It often occurs as a result due to inability to digest trauma which fractures the psyche. In the case of Teddy he had a shattered ego as it could no longer function in reality; his id took over when he killed his wife and created two alters to avoid the guilt the superego enforced on to him. The movie does an accurate presentation of DID by not over exaggerating or creating unrealistic symptoms. Ads for treatment the use of lobotomies during the early 50s and 60s was a common practice and utilized on a daily basis. So This practice was not considered inhumane or monsters. This movie does a good job to not stigmatize or create an unrealistic expectation of individuals living with DID. At times it can be slightly over exaggerated but not the point of disillusionment.