Psychology Paper on Reign Over Me explaining symptoms to prove that Charlie was depressed/suicidal

    Reign Over Me is a classic example of a character going through symptoms of depression and suicide. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by intense feelings of sadness that last longer than a few weeks, affecting social behaviors and the sense of physical well-being. Two neurotransmitters are involved in depression: serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotin monitors the nerve impulses which helps maintain a feeling of happiness and keeps in check your other moods. Norepinephrine acts to give the body sudden energy in times of stress, a process known as the “fight or flight” response.
    Some symptoms of depression are feelings of helplessness, loss of interest in daily activities, appetite or weight changes, sleep changes, psychomotor agitation or retardation, loss of energy, self-loathing, and concentration problems. Unfortunately, these symptoms are not always recognized as signs of depression. There are also many stereotypes that go along with depression, such as: depressed people are seen as weak or lazy, social stigma causes people to avoid treatment, and the symptoms are so disabling that the people affected won’t, and can’t, reach out for help. While this may be true for a few cases, every case has a cause different than the last.
    Some causes that link to depression is that it is genetically passed down, there is chemical imbalance in the brain, occur in people with a low self-esteem, with people who have gone through a serious loss, and with people dealing with any other unwelcome life change. These causes lead to four classified depressions: major depression, dysthymic depression, adjustment disorder depression, and bipolar depression. Major depression is the most severe, containing a majority of the symptoms. Dysthymic disorder is a low to moderate level of depression that persists for at least two years, and often longer. While the symptoms of dysthymia are not as severe, they are more enduring and resistant to treatment and can sometimes lead to a major depression. An adjustment disorder, also known as a reactive depression, describes depression that occurs in response to a major life stressor or crisis and is used to categorize mild to moderate depression. Last is the bipolar depression including both high and low mood swings, as well as a variety of other significant symptoms not present in other depressions.
    There are two ways to treat these different depressions. One is to turn to medications, such as antidepressants. These allow you to gain relatively quick symptom relief, but does not cure the depression. The second is psychotherapy, which helps you to learn more effective ways to deal with life’s problems and to change the negative thoughts and attitudes that have caused you to develop depression. In many cases, patients turn to both. When depression is not treated, it can lead to suicide. Suicide is not always planned and most of the time it happens impulsively, in a moment of feeling desperately upset. There are many warning signs that can determine whether or not a person is suicidal, for example: talking about suicide or death in general, talking about going away, referring to things they won’t be needing and giving away possessions, pulling away from friends or family and losing the desire to go out, having trouble concentrating or thinking clearly, experiencing changes in eating or sleeping habits, and engaging in self-destructive behavior.
    In the movie, Adam Sandler plays a character named Charlie Fineman, a normal middle aged man with three daughters and a perfect wife until one day a traumatic life experience changed his life: his wife and kids died in the September 11 plane crash. Often when a traumatic event occurs, a person would go through the five stages of mourning, however with Charlie, he was stuck in the first stage (denial and isolation) even after a year, he still enclosed himself in his own world and chose to forget everything about his past. He was to the point where he could not function in normal, every day life, such as working as a dentist and socializing with his former friends. A sign of reactive depression.
    While wheeling around on his scooter, Charlie’s former college roommate, Alan Johnson, repeatedly called out his name. After finally catching his attention, Alan mentioned that he was once Charlie’s old college roommate. With a puzzled look on his face, Charlie admitted that he did not remember Alan. This behavior is one of the symptoms for depression. Charlie has trouble concentrating on remembering things because he had forced himself to forget about his past.
    When old memories are brought up, Charlie got very defensive. He would be in a state of relaxation one minute and in the next, he would burst into a sudden act of bitter rage. He would then result to violence; knocking things over, pushing people against the walls, and threatening them, asking “who sent you?” in pure hatred. When he would finally calm down, he would act as if nothing ever happened. Charlie acted without justifying his actions showing a symptom of bipolar depression. In one instance, he acted irrationally when he offered one million dollars as a peace offering to Alan after bursting in rage. If Charlie could help it, he would instead put his headphones over his ears and turn his music up all the way to block out everyone’s voices, as a substitute to his uncontrolled rage.
    One night, around nine o’ clock, Alan and his family were getting ready for bed, and hear a knock on the front door and find that Charlie is outside. He asks if Alan is able to come with him to “hang out.” Alan explains that he must sleep early and wake up for work the next morning. As Alan keeps turning Charlie down, Charlie gets more persistent until finally Alan decides to join him. Following that day, they both begin to hang out during the nighttime. Since Charlie likes music so much, he took Alan to a local bar where Charlie had a gig as a drummer. Another night, they went to an old movie theater and stayed until five in the morning. This type of behavior is another symptom of depression. Charlie has a sleep disorder.
    Another example is when Alan finds out over the phone that his father had just died. Instead of sympathizing with Alan, Charlie is obsessed only with where to get some Chinese food. He does not comprehend anymore that a death of a family member is really serious.
    Lastly, Charlie almost tried to commit suicide. He dug out his gun and went for a walk. After choosing a good spot where two policemen were dining and could see out the window to where Charlie was standing, he decided to cross the cross-walk. He timed it perfectly, because right then, a taxi nearly ran him over. Knowing he did something very daring, Charlie started accusing the taxi driver of almost hitting him. After a few angry words, the taxi driver told Charlie to move, but instead of doing as he was told, he pulled out a gun and demanded that the taxi driver watch where he was going next time. As he did this, the two policemen darted out the restaurant and yelled for Charlie to put the gun down. Once again, instead of doing what he was told, he kept the gun aimed at the driver. While the policeman had his gun aimed on Charlie, Charlie kept repeating “do it,” wanting the police officer to shoot him making this a suicide attempt.     
    In conclusion, I do not think that the movie ,Reign Over Me, makes Charlie fit any of Hyler’s stereotypes because he was only depressed and suicidal and nothing more. Which shows that not everything can be labeled. Reign Over Me was a very inspirational story and has taught me that when true friends stick together, things can start turning for the better.

One response to “Psychology Paper on Reign Over Me explaining symptoms to prove that Charlie was depressed/suicidal

  1. @Ruby,
    I wrote this paper my junior year in high school with very limited knowledge on the different disorders back then. Our assignment was not to go that in depth. Since then, I haven’t looked back on any of these blog posts and now in college, I understand disorders on a totally different scope then I had 3 years ago. Sorry that this assignment did not fit your ideal of what the movie portrayed.

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