Movie and Mental Illness Analysis
“ I believe in the notion that people are innocent until proven guilty. I believe in that notion because I choose to believe in the basic goodness of people.” The film Primal Fear depicts a defense attorney who takes up the case of an altar boy, Aaron, accused of murdering the Archbishop. As the film progresses, the defendant exhibits Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) which causes serious challenges to the case for the defense. In this paper we attempt to provide a synopsis of the movie including key scenes where the specific disorder in question is being shown. Additionally, we discuss key diagnostic as well as psychotherapy steps for this disorder and analyze the movie 's accuracy in depicting Aaron as an individual suffering from DID.
Primal Fear is an American thriller released in 1996. It was directed by Gregory Hoblit and featured
Richard Gere, Edward Norton and Laura Linney as the main actors. The film 's main character is a
Chicago defense attorney, Martin Vail, played by Richard Gere. The film starts by depicting Martin
Vail as a reviled Chicago defense attorney who takes up cases of alleged criminals and successfully defends them. He is an arrogant, brilliant and successful criminal defense attorney who loves a good fight and the media spotlight, both of which he knowingly invites when he volunteers to represent a penniless, bewildered young man accused of murder, Aaron Stampler, played by Edward Norton.
Aaron is charged with the murder of Catholic Archbishop Richard Rushman. In the beginning of the film, Rushman is shown being butchered with fingers being cut off and eyes gouged out while Aaron is shown fleeing from cops, with blood staining his clothes, face, and hands. The alleged murderer had carved a set of letters and numbers – B32.156 - into Archbishop Rushman’s chest. While Martin 's defene team fails to determine the source or relevance of this particular set of letters and
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