The film entitled Back from Madness: The Struggle for Sanity is a full-length documentary that primarily provides the viewers an in-depth view with regard to the world of insanity that few people have ever seen. This documentary focuses on depicting and exploring the personal and/or actual experiences of the four psychiatric patients, namely Todd, Naomi, Glen and Eric, for a couple of years that p from the time they are admitted at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital.
The documentary serves as a good piece in assessing the experiences of psychologically-ill individuals and the responses of science in addressing the difficulties faced by the patients. More specifically, it has a great impact on the study and practice of psychology. From an observation of the patients, the four specific criteria of psychological disorders are apparent. The four criteria of psychological disorders are distress, risk, impairment, and socially/culturally unacceptable behavior (Halgin & Whitbourne, 2007).
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Distress and impairment is seen from the experience of Glen, who consistently washes his hands and other tasks that require much of his energy in repeated cycles. This makes him feel distressed as it interferes in his daily normal activities. Risk is very obvious for Eric who has fallen into a state of depression that leads him to become suicidal. With his inability to play his instrument, as a part of a major orchestra, he developed fears of failure.
Conduct of socially unacceptable behavior is seen in the experience of Naomi who is disturbed by her hallucinations as she claims to hear voices that came from the sky. The voice she hears overpowers her, too. Lastly, Todd engages in socially unacceptable behavior and resists to taking his medicines regularly that consequently leads to him being sent to the hospital and in jail. Two patients that are of worthy attention are Naomi and Glen, who are 23 years old and 53 years old, respectively.
Naomi is diagnosed with schizophrenia and shows to be a patient who has hallucinations and delusions. She reports that she sometimes hears people talking even if it does not occur in reality. However, contrary to the usual symptoms of people with schizophrenia, Naomi has normal speech and behavior patterns. She behaves like most of the people and she is not having problems with speaking. Likewise, the way she expresses her emotions is still within the normal range and is in no way different from that of the other people.
She desires to be given the right medication in order for her to continue with her studies and live a normal life without suffering from the symptoms of her disease. The other patient, Glen, is diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and shows the typical symptoms of people who are suffering from this illness. He has shown the inability to prevent himself from repeatedly doing things and this behavior has led to distress and leads to disruptions in the daily routine, tasks, and relationships with other people.
His condition is classified as among those which are severe in nature and requires treatment in order for him to be able to live a normal life and be able to undertake the tasks and responsibilities he has. As for schizophrenia, the common treatments involve psychotherapy and medications, which is both reinforced through the family and the self (Grohol, 2006). As for OCD, it is presently treated through therapy that involves exposure and response prevention and cognitive therapy (“Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,” 2009).
These are among the modern ways of providing health care solutions for the psychologically-ill patients and are in sharp contrast with the approaches that are employed in the past. Historically, people with psychological illnesses are subjected to inhumane procedures such as imprisonment without proper care, activities that are considered as torture today, and drillings in skull with the belief that demons are trapped within the brain of the patients. The approaches today is seen to be based on scientific approaches that warrants empirical evidence through proper diagnosis before treatment is provided.
Moreover, the treatments used presently are seen as those which stem from the desires of the early reformers in providing a moral means for addressing the needs of the patient considering that the past treatments are seen to be ineffective. Indeed, continuous research and development in treating psychological problems is a trend that is consistent within the history of abnormal psychology. The documentary is in line with the history of abnormal psychology such that it shows the different approaches in the past in terms of treating the patients and also shows the present-day methods.
It is made clear that there are variations in terms of explaining what the illness could be and what the causes are. The transition and the comparison from before to the present day served as the theme of both the history of abnormal psychology and the documentary. In watching the experiences of the three patients, the hardest to watch is that of Todd as he has the different experience compared to the other three patients. Where the three others are able to have the persistence in seeking for medical help, Todd projected himself as the patient who would rather be free and went through refusals in drinking medicines regularly.
Among the four patients, he has the least chance of getting better and is less successful in counteracting the symptoms and difficulties felt. Likewise, his experience is more traumatic as his refusal led him to being jailed and hospitalized. It is depressing to know that it is the patient himself who refuses to seek medical help despite the availability and access to such. The documentary, Back from Madness: Struggle into sanity, serves as an important tool in understanding different psychological disorders and the approaches to such.
Likewise, the differences highlighted in the before and after is also an interesting lesson in the field of abnormal psychology. Reference Grohol, J. (2006). Schizophrenia treatment. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://psychcentral. com/disorders/sx31t. htm. Obsessive compulsive disorder: symptoms, thoughts and behaviors, and treatment. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://www. helpguide. org/mental/obsessive_compulsive_disorder_ocd. htm. R. P. & Whitbourne, S. K. (2007). Abnormal Psychology: Clinical perspectives on psychological disorders (5th Ed. ). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
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