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Abnormal Psychology In The Media Essay

1818 words - 8 pages

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is an abnormal biological response that is a consequence of direct or indirect exposure to a severely traumatizing event, which can further induce a maladaptive psychological state. This threatening life experience generally triggers a reaction of anxiety, vulnerability, or horror in the victim. In the film Copycat (1995), the protagonist, Dr. Hudson, suffers from this disorder, as well as agoraphobia and panic attacks due to a terrorizing experience she had in the past. Agoraphobia is defined as a paralyzing fear of being in spaces or settings where the sufferer feels there is neither escape nor available assistance in the event of a panic attack. In extreme cases, individuals with agoraphobia imprison themselves to places in which they feel “safe” and avoid facing unfamiliar places altogether, as these may yield heightened anxiety. The reason I chose this particular movie for this assignment is that the main character perfectly exhibits how one abnormal disorder can produce others, and how these disorders pose a significant hindrance to one’s everyday life. Almost everyone has undergone a minor form of an abnormal condition such as a panic attack or PTSD, but this movie depicts how the most severe form of the disease affects an individual. In this movie, Dr. Hudson’s acute panic attacks are characterized by an intensified feeling of distress, and at times incapacitate her to the brink of a nervous breakdown and unconsciousness. These abnormal conditions are a profound feature of the story, which revolves around Dr. Hudson (who is an expert author and lecturer on serial killers) working with other detectives to track down a serial killer after a series of peculiar homicides in the San Francisco area. During their investigation, they learn that this murderer is actually meticulously recreating killings by the deranged murderers described in Dr. Hudson’s previous works. The dramatic and thrilling conclusion in this film is when Dr. Hudson encounters the serial killer and is forced to overcome her own fear and anxiety of unfamiliarity in order to survive. In actuality, exposure/behavioral therapies work in a related manner and are often an efficient way of treating agoraphobia or mild forms of PTSD.
A couple of instances in the movie where Dr. Hudson’s agoraphobia is highlighted is when she attempts to escape an intruder in her home, or when she struggles to grab her newspaper from the corridor. Despite fighting her anxiety desperately in both situations, she fails to proceed out of her house. In these scenes, optical distortions are proposed to generate a believable notion of de-realization, which is an abnormal occurrence of detachment or unreality. Throughout the film, Dr. Hudson’s anxiety and hesitancy are made very evident and her panic attacks are realistically portrayed, in the sense that they either seem to occur spontaneously, or are subsequently triggered by being compelled to relive her...

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