“A History of Violence,” released in 2005, is an American crime thriller which demonstrates and relates to numerous topics discussed in Psychology: An Exploration. Different psychological disorders and theories can be seen throughout the film. Tom Stall, the main character, kills two robbers in self defense and becomes a hero. However, his over night popularity thrusts him into the spotlight and causes members of an organized crime family to begin harassing Tom and his family. The mobsters claim Tom is not who he portrays himself to be.
In the beginning of the film, two sought after criminals nonchalantly murder motel workers and a young girl. They exhibit no regret or emotions after the killings and continue on their crime spree. Next they are shown casually plotting a robbery to obtain cash and a free meal. The two men walk into the restaurant, demand service, and attempt to assault and murder the workers and patrons within. However, their scheme is abruptly ended when Tom Stall, the restaurant owner, kills both robbers.
Both of these criminals displayed antisocial characteristics. In chapter 12, Psychological Disorders, an antisocial person or sociopath is defined as “lacking in conscience or morals; users and con artists who experience no regret or strong emotions. ” This definition defines the robbers psyche faultlessly. Intermediately in the film, Tom Stall’s son, Jack stall is shown being bullied. Bobby has continually harassed and bullied Jack for no apparent reason. Usually Jack tells jokes and ignores Bobby’s constant harassment.
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However, in this particular scene, Jack has had enough and retaliates. Bobby is an adolescent and may be dealing with a psychosocial crisis discussed in chapter 7, Development Across the Life Span. Erikson’s identity versus role confusion is defined as the “fifth stage of personality development in which the adolescent must find a consistent sense of self. ” Bobby may have come into this stage without successfully completing the earlier four stages. The aftereffect of such an occurrence may be a juvenile delinquent like Bobby.
His acts of bullying may be his way of “fitting in” or being “cool. ” Tom also has a daughter, Sarah Stall. In one particular scene Sarah is awakened in the middle of the night by a bad dream. She wakes up screaming and expressing her concern of monsters being in her room. Tom rushes to his daughter’s aid and the rest of the family soon follows suit. Tom and others comfort the little girl and emphasize that she is safe and has nothing to be afraid of and should go back to sleep.
Sarah eventually calms down and is able to go back to sleep. Chapter 7 discusses numerous parenting styles. One of those styles is authoritative parenting which is defined as a “style of parenting in which parents combine warmth and affection with firm limits on a child’s behavior. ” Although Tom’s first instinct was to comfort Sarah and ease her mind he also made it clear that it was bedtime and time for her to quiet down and rest. Tom displayed a perfect example of authoritative parenting.
After repeatedly denying accusations and claims of being an ex-gangster named Joey, Tom finally admits to his wife Edie that he was indeed involved in organized crime. Edie is disgusted by Tom’s confession and becomes ill. She lashes out and says, “What are you? Like some multiple personality schizoid! ” Tom is stunned by her anger but replies by saying “I went out to the dessert and I killed him (Joey). I spent three years becoming Tom Stall! Schizophrenia is defined chapter 12 as a “severe disorder in which the person suffers from disordered thinking, bizarre behavior, hallucinations, and inability to distinguish fantasy and reality. ” Although Tom’s life as a small town restaurant owner was completely false, he knew this and could distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality. Tom may have somewhat displayed symptoms of Schizophrenia but a different delusional disorder may be a better diagnosis.
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