Shutter Island

Topics: Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Delusion Pages: 9 (1622 words) Published: October 10, 2013
Which would be worse, to live as a monster? Or to die as a good man? (Shutter Island)

Shutter Island takes place in and around Ashecliffe Hospital in 1954. Ashecliffe is an

institution for the criminally insane. The film opens on a ferry transporting U.S Federal Marshal

Teddy Daniels played by Leonardo DiCaprio and his new partner Chuck Aule played by Mark

Ruffalo. They are sent to Shutter Island to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Rachel

Solando played by Patricia Clarkson who has somehow escaped from her cell. While on the

Island. Teddy Daniels starts being haunted by hallucinations of his wife, Dolores played by

Michelle Williams who is in his dreams, giving him directions. Once the missing patient

reappears halfway through the film it becomes apparent that Daniel is there to uncover a bigger

plot. Daniels at that point tries to uncover secret, experimental surgeries forced on the patients in

an old lighthouse near Ashecliffe. By the end of the movie it is learned that Daniels is the one

being treated. (Shutter Island) It was not until the last minutes of the movie that it becomes

clear what are the psychotic delusions, hallucinations, disorganization and cognitive impairment

Denials is facing.(Beckmann 4 67)

Daniels exhibits symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) throughout the

film. PTSD is an anxiety disorder characterized by haunting memories, nightmares, social

withdrawal, jumpy anxiety, and insomnia that lingers for four weeks or more after a traumatic

experience. (Myers, 573) This was evident from his flash back memories from when he was in

the WWll and the concentration camp, where he participated in a massacre of guards. There was

one scene that he actually watch a Nazis slowly die. (Shutter Island) Daniels has a dislike for

Germans also. This can be seen when Dr. Jeremiah Nearing, played by Max Von Sydow was

talking to Daniels and recognized his accent, Daniels becomes nasty toward him, sparking Dr.

Naehring to comment that Denial has “excellent defense mechanisms.” (Shutter Island)

According to the DSM-lV-TR a person can be high functioning cognitively, socially and

emotionally and not only suffer from delusions (fixed, adamant beliefs that run contrary to clear,

consensual evidence) but experience such a state without mental problem. As the DSM-IV

further classifies Delusional Disorder via content of the delusion. (178) Daniels delusion is that

he is U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, investigating a disappearance on the Island. He also meets

people on Shutter Island who are not real, like Dr. Rachel Solando. He exspernces grandiose

delusions because he believes he is a U.S. Marshal with a special mission. First to find a missing

woman and second to uncover a secret government operation.(Shutter Island) According to

DSM-IV-TR, in order for someone to be diagnosed with Delusional Disorder, they must have no

bizarre delusions, or not have schizophrenia, be able to function normally with relatively normal

behaviors, have short, if any, mood episodes, and not be taking any substance which causes a

direct physiological effects of a delusion.(178) Delusions are false beliefs often of persecution

or grandeur that may accompany psychotic disorders. (Myers, 590) Delusional Disorder includes

delusions that the person or someone to whom the person is close is being malevolently treated

in some way. (DSM-IV-TR, 329) Daniels experiences persecutory delusions when he believes

that the doctors at Ashecliffe are lying to him and experimenting on patients and when he

believes that the doctors have taken Chuck away to the lighthouse to operate on him at the end.

(Shutter Island)

It also comes out in the movie that Daniels has a drinking problem and is a work-aholic.

At the end of the movies we learn that Daniels wife Dolores was,...

Cited: Shutter Island. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2010. DVD.
Beckmann, Klaus Martin. "Shutter Island." Australasian Psychiatry 18.5 (2010): 467. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2012.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000. Print.
Manschreck, Theo C., and Nealia L. Khan. "Recent Advances In The Treatment Of Delusional Disorder." Canadian Journal Of Psychiatry 51.2 (2006): 114-119. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2012.
Myers, David G. Myers’ Psychology for AP. New York, NY: Worth, 2011. Print.
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