Reign over Me: an Analysis

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Iryka Smeke
Psych P. 1
Prompt: 1

"Can I leave?'
'If you want it to be over.'
'It's over."

Charlie in “Reign Over Me” seemed to be a mainstream introduction to an area of the human psyche few will receive personal contact or interaction with in their lifetimes. Tragedy as a concept is a loosely defined term, one that varies greatly depending on exactly who is getting affected, how and why. Yet the writer of the screenplay chose to slab with this nearing-middle-age man, Charlie, as a victim of what universally most can say does warrant personal effect and disaster. Death of a family. In but a situation he could not control (this theme of him constantly struggling to be the only outside influence that affects his life and decisions one that will be recurring), Charlie is in an instant shattered. His mind and all subsequent areas thrown to the curb and the realm of lost thought and cognition to be his home for the four years that have passed since the fated accident; what we see as 9-11. Yet through a purely psychological standpoint, the question remains to be asked. Has Charlie not as a fictional character, but embodiment of PTSD to be shown to many as the first impression of the disorder, been written off as an accurate and understandable portrayal of a reaction one would expect? (PTSD, also known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is an anxiety disorder characterized by insomnia, social withdrawal, haunting memories, and/or hypersensitivity to select situations or objects after a traumatic experience; Charlie has had experience with all.) Due to personal bias with this disorder latter sections of this analysis may or may not directly oppose with the message of what Charlie has to bring as sufferer of PTSD, but overall Charlie's cognitive, physical, and emotional damage due to his hardships are very different from my sense of "pain" through the disorder (in a sense you can say we together encompass both of the extremes of manifestation {A manifestation being something that pertains to a conscious feeling, idea, or impulse.}), yet of course since reactions are different it does not make Sandler's portrayal of PTSD any less understandable. I. To a psychology student who comes into this realm of mental disorder 'tabula rasa', or "blank slate", Charlie's actions and thought processes will be labeled as only understandable to one who went through personal tragedy. It is here that we must try to comprehend and see exactly where he as a subject is coming from, internally. The first scene of Charlie is of a man zipping along in his motor scooter, headphones securely fastened and music his welcomed escape. Oblivious of the calls of one Alan Johnston, college roommate and practicing dentist, it's not until he directly confronts the man that some attention is given his way. And even then, we immediately see the first effects of Charlie's PTSD in play. Repression, in the form of all past memories he had kept prior to 9-11. (Repression being one of the most basic defense mechanisms in PTSD which simply has one pushing back and away all anxious-arousing thoughts in the conscious.) By not recognizing right away and keeping a dazed demeanor well into their conversation Charlie displays to Alan and us how it was merely easier to lock himself in the moment and now, while giving no consequence to bother keeping at hand such hurtful memories of the past. Of his life "before". It seems childish, which only becomes but another hallmark of Charlie's character. He chose to regress, as the endless trivia questions to evade serious issues, religious video-gaming and selfish placement of his role in the world serve to be but a few of his traits represented in the movie. And these are but cognitive problems. Emotionally his psyche is also affected by regression; his direct reaction when feeling "threatened" or "counseled" the main example throughout. (Regression is another defense mechanism where an individual, when...
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