Analysis of Ethical Issues in the Film "The Rain Man"

Topics: Doctor, Autonomy Pages: 3 (918 words) Published: March 19, 2014
The central ethical dilemma of the 1988 film The Rain Man concerns the proper treatment to be afforded to Raymond, an autistic man who is capable of performing immense feats of mathematical calculation but is psychologically attached to predetermined habits and routines, thus being unable to adapt to changing situations around him. Should Raymond be given a chance to live in an open setting, where he can freely interact with the world around him, or should he be confined to an institution? Raymond's brother, Charlie, discovers Raymond's existence only after the death of their father, who had willed the vast majority of his inheritance to Raymond. Charlie is at first immensely spiteful at his father's decision and removes Raymond from the mental institution, attempting to blackmail the doctor in charge to transfer $1.5 million to Charlie. Charlie is easily frustrated by Raymond's habits and oddities, as well as his need to always receive precisely the treatment to which he had become accustomed. However, Charlie later discovers Raymond's intelligent side during a trip to Las Vegas, where Raymond employs his astoundingly swift processing skills to win $86,000 while gambling. The two brothers subsequently forge an emotional bond, and Charlie is reluctant to return Raymond to the institution. He demonstrates the wish to take care of his brother and points out that Raymond has learned numerous new skills and information during the trip. However, the doctors in charge of Raymond show Charlie that Raymond's autonomy is greatly impaired; they ask Raymond a series of mutually exclusive questions, to which Raymond merely answers, "Yes." Suzanne, Charlie's girlfriend, thinks that Charlie's initial treatment of Raymond is too harsh and intolerant. She would like to see Raymond afforded a more flexible and less dominating treatment by Charlie, and is upset that Charlie is using Raymond in order to blackmail the doctor into giving Charlie money. Eventually, however, she...
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