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Review of the Film “Shutter Island”

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Which would be worse, to live as a monster? Or to die as a good man? (Shutter Island)

Shutter Island takes place in and around Ashecliffe Hospital in 1954. Ashecliffe is an institution for the criminally insane. The film opens on a ferry transporting U.S Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels played by Leonardo DiCaprio and his new partner Chuck Aule played by Mark Ruffalo. They are sent to Shutter Island to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Rachel Solando played by Patricia Clarkson who has somehow escaped from her cell.

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While on the Island. Teddy Daniels starts being haunted by hallucinations of his wife, Dolores played by Michelle Williams who is in his dreams, giving him directions. Once the missing patient reappears halfway through the film it becomes apparent that Daniel is there to uncover a bigger plot. Daniels at that point tries to uncover secret, experimental surgeries forced on the patients in an old lighthouse near Ashecliffe. By the end of the movie it is learned that Daniels is the one being treated.

(Shutter Island) It was not until the last minutes of the movie that it becomes clear what are the psychotic delusions, hallucinations, disorganization and cognitive impairment Denials is facing.(Beckmann 4 67)

Daniels exhibits symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) throughout the film. PTSD is an anxiety disorder characterized by haunting memories, nightmares, social withdrawal, jumpy anxiety, and insomnia that lingers for four weeks or more after a traumatic experience. (Myers, 573) This was evident from his flash back memories from when he was in the WWll and the concentration camp, where he participated in a massacre of guards. There was one scene that he actually watch a Nazis slowly die. (Shutter Island) Daniels has a dislike for Germans also. This can be seen when Dr. Jeremiah Nearing, played by Max Von Sydow was talking to Daniels and recognized his accent, Daniels becomes nasty toward him, sparking Dr.

Naehring to comment that Denial has “excellent defense mechanisms.” (Shutter Island) According to the DSM-lV-TR a person can be high functioning cognitively, socially and emotionally and not only suffer from delusions (fixed, adamant beliefs that run contrary to clear, consensual evidence) but experience such a state without mental problem. As the DSM-IV further classifies Delusional Disorder via content of the delusion. (178) Daniels delusion is that he is U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, investigating a disappearance on the Island. He also meets people on Shutter Island who are not real, like Dr. Rachel Solando. He exspernces grandiose delusions because he believes he is a U.S. Marshal with a special mission. First to find a missing woman and second to uncover a secret government operation.(Shutter Island) According to DSM-IV-TR, in order for someone to be diagnosed with Delusional Disorder, they must have no bizarre delusions, or not have schizophrenia, be able to function normally with relatively normal behaviors, have short, if any, mood episodes, and not be taking any substance which causes a direct physiological effects of a delusion.(178) Delusions are false beliefs often of persecution or grandeur that may accompany psychotic disorders. (Myers, 590) Delusional

Disorder includes delusions that the person or someone to whom the person is close is being malevolently treated in some way. (DSM-IV-TR, 329) Daniels experiences persecutory delusions when he believes that the doctors at Ashecliffe are lying to him and experimenting on patients and when he believes that the doctors have taken Chuck away to the lighthouse to operate on him at the end.

(Shutter Island)

It also comes out in the movie that Daniels has a drinking problem and is a work-aholic. At the end of the movies we learn that Daniels wife Dolores was, according to Dr. Cawley, suicidal manic-depressive. Also known as Bipolar Disorder.(Shutter Island) Bipolar Disorder is “a mood disorder in which the person alternates between the hopelessness and lethargy of depression and the overexcited state of mania (Myers, 581).

The only time I think Daniel lied about his symptoms was at the end of the movie. Daniels then tells Dr. Sheehan that he wonders, “Which would be worse? To live as a monster or to die as a good man?” Daniels calmly stands up and walks away with the orderlies, leaving Dr. Sheehan. Daniels was not delusional at this point, and was voluntarily submitting himself for a lobotomy. He still could not live with the thought that he killed his wife and that she killed their three kids. From him submitting to the lobotomy shows he still can’t live with himself.

(Shutter Island)

The first physiological disorder Daniels has is post-traumatic stress disorder. We see this When he keeps having flashbacks of piles of dead bodies left by the Nazis that he couldn’t save. After he comes home to find his wife killed his three kids he losses it and kills her. That is when Daniels defense mechnasim kicks in and then has Delusional Disorder. Both disorders mix together as can be seen in the movie, Daniels has guilt that he could not save his children and the people in the camp during WWII. This is evident by the same girl that initially appears in his war memories, starts appearing in his personal life flashbacks and becomes his daughter. He then develops this feeling that he could not save his own daughter, children.(Shutter Island) Dr. Cawley is a humanist psychologist because he believes that “if you treat [a patient] with respect, listen, [and] try to understand, you just might reach him.” Dr. Cawley refers to his branch of psychology, which includes psychopharmacology, as the “new school”. The “old school” is the experimental way, the way of Dr. Naehring. Experimental psychology in this film is characterized by psychosurgery, the lobotomy.(Shutter Island) A lobotomy is a medical procedure which “[cuts] the nerves connecting the frontal lobes to the emotion- controlling centers of the inner brain” in attempts to “calm uncontrollably emotional or violent patients” (Myers, 635). Dr. Cawley condemns this practice, saying that although it sometimes works, it turns some patients into zombies. (Shutter Island) After two years of treating Andrew with drug Thorazine Dr. Cawley has Daniels role-play to snap him out of his delusion.(Shutter Island) I do believe that the role playing did have a breakthrough for Daniels. Dr Cawley stated at the end of the movie that he had break through before, but always regress back in to his delusion. (Shutter Island) I think it would be safe to say that the pain of killing his wife and children being dead is too much for him. That is when his coping mechanism kicks back in and he goes back to his delusions.

There are a lot of new advancements in Delusional Disorder. Polypharmacy regimens have emerged in the treatment of delusional disorder. Patients commonly receive more than one antipsychotic medication over the course of their illness. Treatment regimens often mention cognitive behavioral therapy or even electroconvulsive therapy with concomitant antipsychotic medication. Most reports emphasize medication treatment, primarily with antipsychotic agents.

Treatment actually encompasses various approaches, including medication, although evidence of such mixed strategies are meager.( Manschreck 116) As I stated before I think the treatment . Dr. Cawley did in the movie was successful. (Shutter Island) I would have recommended some more therapy after the break through Andrew had in the light house. Dr. Cawley snapped him out of his delusion and did so times before. But he needs to help Daniel cope with his children’s death and the killing of his wife.

I enjoyed Shutter Island very much. I think the movie showed a excellent view of Distortional Disorder , Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder. The movie did leave me asking more questions, that could not be answered. In beginning of the moving Teddy says, “My wife was killed in a fire. Four people died altogether.” (Shutter Island) This is obviously his wife and three kids. Teddy also made a point to say it was the smoke that got them not the flames. Why did he say this? This made me think that he was the arsons. He never even addresses his kids. In the movie he was portrayed as an alcoholic in his dreams. But when he was in the Doctor’s house he asked for water. In a dream when he was offered a drink from the arsonist suppose to have burn down his apartment the man said, “You know you want some.” (Shutter Island) Was he portraying himself as drunk and workaholic? There was a part he was yelling at the director of Shutter Island and he told the director he was done and he was going to turn in his report and he forgot who he was turning the report in to. Teddy’s partner had to step in and say Hoover’s boys. Plus him not knowing the difference between a real gun and a fake gun in the light house made me wonder if he was even a real Marshal. Plus Teddy giving his real name to the arsonist’s also made me think he was the arsonist. There is not enough evidence to support the idea that Daniels aka Laeddis was the arsonist that burn down the apartment and kill his wife and three kids. But there was enough unanswered question in this movie that it was worth mentioning.

Works Cited
Shutter Island. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2010.
DVD. Beckmann, Klaus Martin. “Shutter Island.” Australasian Psychiatry 18.5 (2010): 467. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000. Print. Manschreck, Theo C., and Nealia L. Khan. “Recent Advances In The Treatment Of Delusional Disorder.” Canadian Journal Of Psychiatry 51.2 (2006): 114-119. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. Myers, David G. Myers’ Psychology for AP. New York, NY: Worth, 2011. Print.

Cite this Review of the Film “Shutter Island”

Review of the Film “Shutter Island”. (2016, Jul 22). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/shutter-island/

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