Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shutter Island: Separating Fact from Fiction

***Warning: This blog entry is one big spoiler alert, so if you haven't seen "Shutter Island" but want to then please refrain from reading this until you've paid your ten+ dollars and fifty cents.

This past weekend I went to the movies to see Shutter Island. As I was watching it, I couldn't help but think of the Obedience video that we watched in class a couple weeks ago. Shutter Island was somewhat predictable but also a bit of a brain tease. In 1954, US Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner, Chuck Aule , go to the Ashecliff Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island. They are investigating the disappearance of Rachel Solando, a patient who vanished from a locked room. Dr. John Cawley, the head psychiatrist, explains that Rachel was institutionalized after drowning her three children. She believes, however, that she is still home and that her children are still alive. The movie goes on with Teddy trying to unravel the case of Rachel Solando, but he also had a bigger goal in mind. The closer Teddy and his partner come to the truth, the more elusive it becomes, and they begin to believe that they will never leave Shutter Island. While watching the movie, I began to think that this was not at all an investigation, but a test, much like the one in the Obedience video.

"Teddy is a strange case. In retrospect he presents as an intelligent, high functioning individual, so much so that his traumatic experiences during WW II merely dent, rather than overwhelm, his coping resources. However, the mild and (then) socially acceptable alcoholism and workaholism he exhibits as a family man provide just enough detachment to blind him from the murderous insanity bubbling up in his bipolar wife. One Saturday, an unsuspecting Teddy arrives home from a work trip to his three drowned children and a creepily sucidal wife (whom he promptly puts out of misery). Although such an experience would seem to virtually garuntee the development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder", somewhere along the way his symptoms tip into the very real but much less common psychiatric condition known as Delusional Disorder."

As it turns out, there was no real investigation. The whole thing was a test to recover Teddy from a traumatic trauma, which disturbed his psyche making him mentally insane. Even though his symptoms resembled Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder, he instead develops into Delusional Disorder where he suffers from serious delusions. The mental illness sneaks up on Teddy's mentally healthy mind causing incredible damage.

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