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Anxiety & Mood Disorders "Movie Poster"

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a film, but orignally a novel, analyzed on a pyschological level.
by

Shania Chand

on 13 June 2013

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Transcript of Anxiety & Mood Disorders "Movie Poster"

Anxiety & Mood Disorders

A psychological review of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"
By Shania Chand
Block G
Basic Synopsis
Set in the 90s, a boy named Charlie begins his freshmen year of high school, and is taken under the wing of two senior students who show him the real world, exposing him to drugs, emotions, and friendship.
The Beginning
At the start of the movie (also a novel) we meet Charlie, who is a shy, intelligent, and introverted freshmen. He's a wallflower.
Analysis: Charlie's Background
when he was younger he was molested by his aunt
his best friend shot himself
he is the youngest of three children
introvert
Psychologically, Charlie...
...displays generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. He constantly has unexplained feelings of apprehension, and sudden bouts of intense anxiety. Also, Charlie has major depressive disorder. At the start of the film, he has little interest in activities, is agitated, and has feelings of worthlessness
Getting Into The Movie
After going out to a football game, Charlie meets two seniors: Patrick, and his step-sister Sam
Analysis: Patrick's Background
doesn't take many things seriously, and is a jokester
acts like an extrovert
is interested in the same sex, but no ones knows except for close friends, Charlie, and his step-sister
Psychologically, Patrick...
...is living in a state of mania, or a period of abnormally high emotion and activity, which is a magnified state of our normal reactions. At the start of the movie, Patrick is constantly being the funny guy at parties, being loud, and spontaneous.
Analysis: Sam's Background
is struggling to get into a good school (Penn State)
usually dates older men who do nothing for her
was raped when she was younger
open-minded, and welcoming
low self-esteem
has experienced a variety of drugs
Psychologically, Sam...
sees herself with extremely low self-esteem. She finds herself to be worthless, and has no confidence whatsoever when it comes to the SATs and college, which happen to be a few of the common symptoms of anxiety. When it comes to school, she has difficulty concentrating, however, when she is with her friends, her fun personality comes out. She rarely talks about her promiscuous past, and the rape incident.
This film easily explores topics based around anxiety and mood disorders, especially through certain characters and it's plot
Getting into the movie
Starting something new can be terrifying, especially for Charlie, however, he does end up becoming good friends with Sam and Patrick. The feeling of acceptance is gratifying and Charlie has found comfort. However, he is so comfortable that he even begins to experiment with drugs like LSD. After taking a hit, he collapsed in the snow, and woke up in a hospital.
As the story goes on Charlies seems to be have a great time. However, he ends up dating Mary Elizabeth who is part of Sam and Patrick's circle of friends.
Mary Elizabeth
Charlie never asked Mary Elizabeth out. Essentially, she came on to him after performing "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and forced him into a relationship. She is a very controlling, independent, and opinionated person. She criticizes Charlie for the books he reads, finds most of what he says to be adolescent, and is arrogant when it comes to her intelligence (one must also keep in mind that Charlie doesn't actually like Mary Elizabeth, but instead adores Sam).

Psychologically...

...this causes Charlie to deal with the reinforcement learning factor when it comes to anxiety. This means he'll keep repeating responses with good results, instead of repeating those with bad ones. Essentially, he'll do what he can to make sure that Mary Elizabeth doesn't get angry at him, disagree with him, or break up with him. This adds to Charlie's anxiety by contributing a factor of feeling "on the edge".
As the movie continues, the circle of friends play truth or dare. In this scene, Charlie is dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room (everyone is already sure that he'll kiss his girlfriend, Mary Elizabeth). However, he turns and kisses Sam instead. Charlie gets in trouble evidently. Mary Elizabeth breaks up with him, Sam stops talking to him in utter shock, and Patrick tells Charlie that it's "best to stay away from now"
This turn of events leaves Charlie in the same place he was at the start. He is constantly blaming himself for every little detail. His anxiety builds into the hopelessness state of depression because he has lost all of his friends, and he suffers in isolated sadness.
It's been two weeks since Charlie has even spoken to his friends. However, one day, as he sits alone in the school cafeteria, Patrick walks by the boy that he is in love with. This boy, Brad, is the popular jock of the school. To reveal that he is gay would ruin his reputation. Brad's religious father caught the two of them the night before, and he beat Brad, leaving him scars all over his face. Brad told everyone he just fell down. When Patrick walks by, the other jocks at Brad's table start to yell out rude slurs in relation to Patrick's sexuality. Brad joins in to cover up his little secret. A fight breaks out, and Patrick is getting violently attacked. That is when Charlie steps in with his fist, knocking the bullies to the ground. Sam evidently rekindles her friendship with Charlie after he saved her brother. Later at the principal's office, Brad tells Charlie: "Thanks for stopping them".
It's easy to say the Charlie's anxiety got a hold of him aggressively. He was so frightened of permanently losing his group of friends, something that made him happy, that he resorted to violence as a method of protection. We can also see through this incident the insecurities that Brad faces, and the pressure that reaches him through his father, and the schools expectation of him to be a straight, and athletic jock.
Mostly everyone is friends again. One night, Patrick asks Charlie if he wants to go out to hang out. Charlie discovers the truth about who Patrick really is. Under quotes, he says that "Patrick began every night really excited. He always said he felt free. And tonight was his destiny. And things like that...But after a while, the whole thing just wasn't interesting to him anymore, and he ran out of things to keep himself numb".
With A Psychological Perspective...
...we can now see that Patrick also suffers from bipolar disorder. This is a disorder in which people alternate between depression and an unreasonably optimistic state of mania. Like Charlie says, Patrick starts off each day with incredible energy, but later on he gets tired--not so much physically, but instead emotionally. This leads to Patrick's lack of sleep, racing thoughts, and explains why he is easily distracted. After his high mania is over, he transforms into the state of mind of depression and worthlessness
Moving right along in the story, everything seems to be getting better. Charlie and Patrick have become better friends, with a new understanding for each other. Sam got into Penn State, and Mary Elizabeth forgave Charlie. Now however, all of Charlie's friends are graduating and soon they'll be leaving for college. The night before everyone parts, Sam kisses Charlie, however he ends up getting frightening flashbacks of his Aunt Helen.
Charlie's Secret: The Aunt Helen Story
Throughout the film, Charlie has random flashbacks of his aunt, and himself when he was just a little boy. Aunt Helen was abused when she was married, and never had any good partners in her lifetime. When Charlie was young, she molested him, and he never told anyone because it was their "little secret". A few years went by, and it was Charlie's birthday. Aunt Helen said that she had to drive to buy his present for him, but she never made it back. She was in a car accident when a semi-truck slammed into the side of her car. Charlie, because it was his birthday and his present, believes that he killed Aunt Helen, and still loved her even though she raped him.
After Charlie says goodbye to his friends, his anxiety takes control of him. He starts to have a panic attack, continuously saying to himself "stop crying, stop crying". He phones his sister Candace only to tell her: "Candace, it was my fault. I killed Aunt Helen". His sister has witnessed Charlie like this before and calls the police right away. As he walks around his house with little breath and no patience, he sees a knife and attempts a suicide, and the police knock down the door.
Psychologically...
...we witness many more elements to Charlie's character. For example, we see that he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, or recurring dreams/memories of a traumatic event. Charlie can't stop thinking about his Aunt Helen, the good and the bad. Along with that, it is evident that Charlie is suicidal and has a phobia to the idea of his anxiety becoming too much to handle and extremely overwhelming. Along with that, we can see that Charlie uses internal attributions as a factor for his anxiety; this means that he resorts to problems being his fault completely.
Fortunately, at the end of the film, Charlie does not kill himself. Instead, he goes to a hospital and gets the help that he needs for this serious condition of his. Sam and Patrick come to visit from time to time, and it seems that Charlie is slowly getting better. Sam and Charlie are also forming a loving relationship. His family is more supportive, and his teacher is always making him feel more and more comfortable. People at school even respect him more, instead of bullying him for his condition. One of the most famous speeches by Charlie comes at the end, where he realizes there will always be problems, but it is all about living in the now. The film comes to end with Charlie, Patrick and Sam riding away in their truck to the song "Heroes" by David Bowie, making Charlie feel infinite.
"Movie Poster"
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