Character Analysis of Shutter Island

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Shutter Island Psychology Essay

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While writing Shutter Island psychology essay and taking notes on the main character of “Teddy Daniels” I have diagnosed him with standard schizophrenia. I have diagnosed him with schizophrenia because his symptoms have been happening for around two years as well as it seems that he will never succeed at a full recovery. I have seen many symptoms and signs in the movie. The positive symptoms I noticed with “Teddy Daniels” was the presence of delusions, which include delusions in a general outlook, delusions of grandeur, delusions of percussions, and delusions of cameras and hallucinations. The negative symptom I noticed was only affective flattening. The definition of positive symptoms is the feelings or behaviors that are usually not present.

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The first positive symptoms were delusions, and delusions are defined as a belief(s) that would be seen by most members of society as a misinterpretation of reality, so in layman's terms, it means that there are certain people are things in the environment, but they are perceived differently by the person than the other members of society. The movie presented In the case of delusions, the first example of delusion was at the beginning of the movie up to the very end. This example is during the movie, he believed that he was still a U.S deputy marshall(which he was in the past) rather than a prison/patient at Shutter Island psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane.

The second example was a delusion of grandeur. This is a false belief in intelligence. An example of this is when he was in a meeting with the head psychiatrist and intensely demanded files on patients, and uses that he is a U.S marshall and he is over them for authority.

The third example is a delusion of percussions. This means that the client believes they believe they are being persecuted. An example of this is when Teddy and his “partner” were being driven in one of the guards was talking about the possible violent acts that could happen and the fact that the fences were electrified.

The final example is a delusion of cameras which is the belief that someone has been replaced by another person. Teddy can’t find his “partner” and asked if anyone has seen him, then he finds him in the woods and he doesn't believe that he is really his partner anymore.

The second example of positive symptoms was hallucinations. The definition of hallucinations is that it is experiences of sensory events without input from the surrounding environment, this is typically most common in auditory symptoms. An example of this during the movie was when “Teddy” was trying to create a distraction by trying to blow up the wardens car, his dead wife came up to him and said “you have to let me go or they will never let you leave” which is obviously a hallucination because his wife had been dead for several years.

Another example was when he was back at his lake house with his wife and kids. This scene shows him at the lake house coming home after a long day at work and seeing his wife above the already dead children. Next, he picks up his children and his daughter asked him “you weren't here for us” and Teddy responded, “I wanted to be here, but I didn't get here fast enough”.

In the movie, Teddy demonstrated only one type of negative symptom which was affective flattening. Affective flattening is when a person has a lack of emotion or is unaffected by the events around them (mainly the environment). There are two examples of this. The first example is during the hurricane. During the hurricane, Teddy and his “partner” were walking outside in a graveyard, and his “partner” wanted to go back because trees were breaking and falling all around them, but Teddy was obsessed with finding Rachel.

The second example is when Teddy was determined to reach the lighthouse. To get to the lighthouse he needed to climb dangerous sharp and long cliffs while the storm was still happening, his “partner” told him it was suicide to try and do it, but Teddy decided to do it despite the danger that could’ve happened.

As Teddy’s view on his disorder, he is syntonic because he doesn't believe there is anything wrong with him, truly does the belief that he still is a U.S marshall. Synoptic means that something that is consistent with its environment, or that is consistent in light of other beliefs and personality traits, However, every other person in the movie is dystonic towards the issue because they actually know what is wrong with Teddy. Dystonic means thoughts, impulses, and behaviors that are felt to be repugnant, distressing, unacceptable, or inconsistent with one's self-concept.

This problem in my opinion is a very chronic form of schizophrenia because of how severe his symptoms are and the length of time that this has been happening. Teddy’s disorder has been happening for over two years as stated in the movie.

I would treat this symptom in several different ways. This first way would be medication. I would prescribe medication for several years as well as long time extensive treatment in a psychiatric hospital. I have chosen these ideas because treatment in a psychiatric hospital could take years and if put into a proper one, it could decrease the number of symptoms(both positive and negative). I have chosen medication because in some cases, it had positive effects on the client.

Finally, the other diagnosis that I considered was paranoid personality disorder. Paranoid personality disorder means an unrelenting mistrust and suspicion of others, even when there is no reason to be suspicious. I thought about choosing this because of the number of times in the movie it was shown that Teddy had severe paranoia. An example of this is when he had the conspiracy growing inside him that not only the people at Shutter Island were against him, but the government as a whole was planning to do something. 

Works cited

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.
  2. Andreasen, N. C. (1999). A unitary model of schizophrenia: Bleuler's “fragmented phrene” as schizencephaly. Archives of general psychiatry, 56(9), 781-787.
  3. Birchwood, M., Todd, P., & Jackson, C. (1998). Early intervention in psychosis: The critical period hypothesis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 172(S33), 53-59.
  4. Cohen, B. M., & Docherty, J. P. (2004). Psychiatric and cognitive disorders. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  5. Compton, M. T., Goulding, S. M., Bakeman, R., & McClure-Tone, E. B. (2009). The relationship between paranoia and social functioning in schizophrenia patients: a replication across two samples. Schizophrenia Research, 108(1-3), 194-200.
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  7. Gonzalez-Blanch, C., Perez-Iglesias, R., Rodriguez-Sanchez, J. M., Pardo-Garcia, G., Martinez-Garcia, O., Vazquez-Barquero, J. L., & Crespo-Facorro, B. (2008). A digit symbol coding task as a screening instrument for cognitive impairment in first-episode psychosis. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 14(3), 489-497.
  8. Green, M. F. (1996). What are the functional consequences of neurocognitive deficits in schizophrenia? American Journal of Psychiatry, 153(3), 321-330.
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  10. Rosen, C., Grossman, L. S., Harrow, M., & Bonner-Jackson, A. (2005). Neurocognition as a predictor of symptom resolution in schizophrenia. Journal of neuropsychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 17(1), 45-51.

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