Ordinary People

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I decided to base my clinical assessment of a movie character on Conrad Jarrett, the lead character of the film Ordinary People. Conrad is seventeen years old and is the only child of Beth and Calvin Jarrett. The Jarrett’s live in the affluent suburb of Lake Forest, Illinois, where Calvin works as a successful tax attorney. The Jarrett’s have just recently experienced a family tragedy, where their eldest son, Buck, drown in a boating accident, while Conrad witnessed the entire event. Six month after the accident, Conrad has become severely depressed, and slit his wrists with a razor blade in a failed suicide attempt. His parents discovered him unconscious in the bathroom, and immediately committed him to a psychiatric hospital. He spent eight months in treatment and has recently returned home, as well as resumed his classes at Lake Forest High School. He is struggling socially, academically, and has a strained relationship with his mother, Beth. Immediately following his discharge, Conrad continues to experience nightmares, and flashbacks to the boating accident in which he watched his older brother die from drowning. He is also experiencing chronic agitation, appetite loss, poor concentration, and avoidance of his former friends and extracurricular activities. When Conrad was receiving treatment, he was initially diagnosed with major depression with agitation, without active suicidal ideation. He attends psychotherapy twice weekly with Dr. Tyrone Berger.

I have based the Axis I diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on the analysis of Conrad’s symptoms, which support my clinical decision. Conrad witnessing his brother drowning is the exposure to a traumatic event, which is the basis of this disorder. This event has involved both a loss of a loved one, as well as his response to the event which has involved intense fear, horror and hopelessness. In Conrad’s case he has also responded with disorganized and agitated behavior. Conrad is also...
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