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Schizophrenia in the Shining

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Erin Antonienko

on 31 May 2013

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Transcript of Schizophrenia in the Shining

Schizophrenia Schizophrenia is an often debilitating brain disorder which prevents many people from leading normal lives. In The Shining, Jack Torrance displays several symptoms of schizophrenia as he transforms from a seemingly normal husband and father into a homicidal maniac. These symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, as well as social and occupational dysfunction, all of which are indicators of the mental breakdown characteristic to the disease. Hallucinations Hallucinations are things seen, heard, smelled, or felt by one person which are not experienced by others. Jack hallucinates several times throughout the movie, most notably in the hotel bar where he carries on conversations with a nonexistent bartender and butler. He also interacts with a woman in one of the hotel bathrooms who becomes old and rotten before his eyes. Delusions Delusions are defined as false beliefs that are not a part of a person's culture and do not change, despite the input of others. Jack's belief that the Outlook Hotel has control over his thoughts and actions is clearly delusional; he also exhibits delusions of persecution in his conviction that his wife and son are attempting to ruin his career. Disorganized Thinking Disorganized thinking is a form of thought disorder which prevents people from from logically connecting or organizing his or her thoughts. Jack displays this disorganization on several occasions, especially when talking with Wendy and Danny; he says things that do not make sense in context, most famously while bashing in the bathroom door of his family's apartment. This behavior is also evident in Jack's work, the words "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" nonsensically repeated again and again. Social and Occupational
Dysfunction People with schizophrenia may have difficulties forming meaningful relationships and interacting with others, as well as problems with work performance. Jack exhibits antisocial behavior throughout the movie; his lack of communication with his son and obviously affectionate marriage are symptomatic of schizophrenic social dysfunction. Jack is also largely unsuccessful in his professional life; fired from a previous job, he finds employment at the hotel but is largely unsuccessful in his writing pursuits. Treatment Antipsychotic medications are the most common method of treatment, and are used to reduce or eliminate many of the most obvious symptoms of schizophrenia. These medications include Chlorpromazine, Haloperidol, and Aripiprazole; the majority of symptoms are eliminated in a matter of days or weeks, and can result in a variety of side effects, including dizziness, muscle spasms, and metabolic changes. Psychosocial and Cognative Behavioral Therapy is also important in treating schizophrenia. These treatments help patients to deal with the everyday challenges of their illness, including coping strategies for symptoms that may not go away with medication. Had Jack recieved these treatments, it may have been possible for him to manage the disease, avoiding his murderous rampage and eventual death. Is The Shining an Accurate Depiction of Schizophrenia? Many of Jack's behaviors accurately reflect the symptoms of schizophrenia in real life; his social dysfunction and delusional thinking are typical of many schizophrenic patients. His hallucinations and disorganized behavior, however, were most likely exaggerated for cinematic effect. The majority of schizophrenic patients generally do not experience hallucinations of such magnitude, and do not commonly have such dramatic episodes of disorganized thinking, although the depictions are accurate to a certain extent. Other Indications A variety of other facts also lend credence to the believability of schizophrenia as a diagnosis. Isolation can contribute to the onset of the disease, explaining the "cabin fever" to which the psychotic behaviors of Jack and his predecessor were attributed. Heredity also plays a large role in the development of schizophrenic symptoms; although we know nothing of Jack's parents, Danny's behavior throughout much of the movie, especially his catatonic episodes and hallucinations, also indicates schizophrenia. Schizophrenia in Stanley Kubrik's The Shining Symptoms of Schizophrenia
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