Primal Fear - Psychology Connections

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Psychology 101 Spring 2010 Midterm
Please answer the following questions based on the information contained in the movie and place in the drop box no later than 11:59 p.m. on FRIDAY 03/12/10;
The film, Primal Fear is a psychological courtroom crime drama based on William Diehl’s novel of the same name. Steve Shagan and Ann Biderman wrote the movie’s adapted screenplay, which was brought to life by director Gregory Hoblit and released in 1996.

Richard Gere stars as Martin Vail, a famed defense attorney who volunteers to represent a young boy accused of murder. Edward Norton plays the character of Aaron Stampler, a teenage alter boy charged with the gruesome murder of Archbishop Richard Rushman; who is portrayed by Stanley Anderson. Assistant District Attorney (and ex-girlfriend of Martin Vail) Janet Venable; played by Laura Linney, is assigned to prosecute Aaron’s murder case. Frances McDormand is cast as Doctor Molly Arrington, the Psychologist who discovers that Aaron suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder and has an alternate personality; a violent sociopath who calls himself Roy. Supporting performances: Alfre Woodard portrays Miriam Shoat, the Judge who presides over Aaron’s trial proceedings. John Mahoney is cast as John Shaughnessy, Chicago’s District Attorney.

The beloved Archbishop of Chicago is brutally murdered in a gruesome manor; viciously stabbed multiple times, with letters and numbers carved into his chest, his fingers chopped off and eyes gouged out. Aaron Stampler is found fleeing the scene of the crime, covered in the Archbishop’s blood. After an extensive chase, the police eventually catch and apprehend Stampler. Criminal defense attorney Martin Vail watched the live man hunt on television; seeing an opportunity for publicity, Vail instantaneous met with Aaron and volunteered to represent his case. Vail questioned Aaron about the events that occurred before he was charged with The Archbishop’s murder. Aaron claims that he discovered the mutilated body of the deceased Bishop Rushman while attempting to return a book to Rushman’s library. Aaron also saw saw someone standing over The Archbishop’s body, who then attacked him; the last event he recalls before his memory blacked out. Nicknamed “The Butcher Boy” by the media, it appears that Aaron is already presumed guilty by the public.

Martin Vail immediately starts the preparation of Aaron’s defense by gathering information about Aaron Stampler and Archbishop Rushman; Vail also orders a full psychiatric evaluation of Aaron. Assistant District Attorney Janet Venable is appointed to the prosecution Aaron’s case; on behalf of the state, she charges Stampler with first degree murder and seeks the death penalty as punishment. Janet Venable is not only the prosecuting attorney in Aaron’s trail, but also Martin Vail’s ex-girlfriend. Upon Vail’s investigation of The Archbishop, he discovers that Rushman invested money on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church which resulted in large losses of money to the city’s most powerful people; Vail also learned of the numerous death threats that were made to The Archbishop. In an attempt to find the exact cause of his black out and memory loss, Psychologist Molly Arrington performs a thorough psychological evaluation of Aaron. She discovers that years of abuse have caused Aaron to develop multiple personality disorder; Roy, Aaron’s alter ego is introduced to the audience.

Martin encounters another of Rushman’s Altar boys, who accuses The Archbishop of sexual abuse and claims that such events can be proved by video recording; this uncovers the sinister truth of Rushman’s demonic secrets. Vail discovers the video in The Archbishop’s home; the tape displays Rushman forcing Aaron, his girlfriend Linda and the other Altar boy to participate in repulsive sexual acts. Vail rushes to the jail cell, confronts Aaron with his discovery, and...
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