Harry Potter, in the times of uncertainty

Do you remember binge watching Harry Potter movies or having Potter marathon night? Or even reading and rereading those set of books over and over again? Well then I’m one of them too. 

While watching these movies during the lockdown brought in a different meaning altogether. With a frustrated mind I sat there watching “Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone” and by the end I understood that there’s uncertainty in everyone’s life and our future definitely holds something very different and it might not go as planned, but it’s fine to imagine how your future is going to look like.

Also it speaks about importance of resilience: the beauty of community support, or holding onto the happy moments and memories in the hardest of times, the feeling of belongingness and of course faith – power that’s greater than self.

Let’s embrace the feeling of belongingness in this time of uncertainty, a feeling that brings in fear but also grows the seed of hope and faith – a magical feeling altogether. 

Go on, give it a try. Not that bad is it?

Psychological Analysis: A Beautiful Mind

“A beautiful mind” beautifully written and directed by Ron Howard, which characterizes the story of a genius mathematician John Nash (Russell Crowe) and a Nobel Prize winner who struggles through the adult life, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The movie creates a timeline of John’s life from the time he enters Princeton University to study mathematics and that is when his early symptoms of schizophrenia began to appear and continues with the later parts of life where he receives his Nobel Prize, while still dealing with the disability.  Nash is an arrogant, socially awkward mathematics student, who spends most of his time solving mathematical equations. As the timeline progress, so does his schizophrenia. We discover that half of the events in the movie are illusions created within his “beautiful” mind. This is where we are made aware of his severe illness of schizophrenia. His very first imaginary character developed is his roommate Charles in the University. 

Although the movie doesn’t precisely describe Nash’s disability, it pretty much paints an accurate portrayal of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia also described as “split-mind” (the split from reality experienced during psychosis) experiences disorganized behavior, thoughts and emotions and very different from a multiple-personality disorder. Nash experiences delusions, hallucinations, reduced speaking and cognitive symptoms, such as poor executive functioning a few valid symptoms of schizophrenia. He doesn’t speak a lot but when he does it isn’t with a lot of emotion, which quite well attributes with the disability. 

Many researches demonstrate that schizophrenics have different brains than those without the illness and is caused by mixture of problems such as genetic and environmental factors. Also a recent research study states that specific genes increase the risk of this disability.  

Nash lands into the world of mysteries when he meets Parcher who asks his help for code deciphering for the pentagon. Parcher is the second person he creates in his mind. He assumes that he works as an agent for the defense sector and this is the second situation he creates, where he’s unaware of it’s nonexistence. Nash’s imaginary friend/roommate, Charles introduces him to his niece, the third person in his imaginary world. His delusions appear to peak when he’s giving a speech about his mathematical research, where he sees men in the suit of the room, who he reckon as spies sent to capture him. As a result of his delusion he runs to escape. They capture him and apparently they are men from psychiatric hospital sent to get him to the hospital. He is ordered to undergo insulin shock therapy and take medication to help cure his enfeebling schizophrenia. 

The film also highlights another important component of mental health treatment: the adverse effect of the medication. As Nash begins his treatment with antipsychotic drugs, he experiences sedation and also sexual dysfunction. He complains of his inability to develop areas of his research and hence causing him to discontinue his medication. But after sometime off the antipsychotic medication his delusions return and he decompensates. However with the help of his wife he slowly starts to reintegrate into the academic community without any medication. 

While the movie has done a great job in communicating the common aspects of schizophrenia, there are a number of inaccuracies or dramatizations. For instance, the portrayal of john’s hallucination as visual hallucinations, mostly uncommon and is often reported as auditory hallucination.   

Diagnosis

Though treatments for schizophrenia are mostly a mixture of different therapies. There are different approaches to reduce the symptoms and a few chosen approaches are: Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, antipsychotic medication (biological approach), rehabilitation, self-help, social and community support. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) also known to be one of the most efficient psychotherapy. It is a combination of Cognitive and behavioral approach. It teaches people new adaptive ways of thinking, challenging and changing the unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, based on thoughts that might intervene between an individual’s reactions to emotions. Also with behavioral therapy combined, it might help the patient reduce symptoms and prioritize the important aspects of life.  Specific CBT approaches used in treating schizophrenia are: cognitive restructuring, behavioral experiments / reality testing, self-monitoring and coping skills training. 

The film as whole has done a good demonstration of schizophrenia, and well covered in aspects of illness but with the recent introduction of new theories, it might seem as of great academic help.

Display of mental health onscreen: Barfi

Barfi, a Bollywood movie staring Priyanka Chopra, Ranbir Kapoor and Ileana D’cruz shows a complicated relationship between a deaf man, an autistic girl and a normal being.  For a country that’s consumed with  love stories in all different shapes, this is a refreshing tale which draws us to the world of disabled without any weight of pity. With a least portrayal of mental disorders on screen this is an amazing piece directed by Anurag Bhasu. 


Movies being the escapist exaggerations of the real world, this movie is no different from the others with the protagonists of the movie being the people with disabilities doing things the disabled person don’t get to do in real life.  As this bittersweet fable unfolds with Barfi’s (deaf man) love story with a normal girl, the experts argue that a deaf person has no inner language and it’s not really possible for them to be as imaginative or outgoing as Barfi portrays in the movie. As they are basically reserved and lack basic confidence owing to their inferiority complex.  


While reviewing on Jhilmil’s character as a person with autism spectrum disorder(ASD) who later gauges Barfi’s interest in the movie, there were a few gaping holes in the portrayal of the disability. Though a few basic symptoms like difficulty in communication and social interactions, difficulties in non-verbal communication such as eye contact, difficulties in developing or maintaining a relationship, impulsivity etc are well rendered, there are a few behavioral patterns that mismatch that of an autistic person in real life such as communicating a phone number to a stranger is in no way possible for a person with ASD, the feeling of jealousy or desire to want him/her back is so unreal as they have difficulty in expressing one’s own emotion or even identifying them. 


Even after watching a full length movie with main lead depicting symptoms the disorder we as audience are still unknow to what the disorder means as a whole or the causes of it, though there are lakhs of people suffering from this disorder the movie fails to inform  many facts about the disease including information like it’s a neural disorder caused due to the developmental impairment.