Psychopathology in the Film A Clockwork Orange  Term Paper

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Psychopathology in Popular Film; "A Clockwork Orange"

Psychology -- Abnormal

Psychopathology symptoms have been analyzed through various movies but the movie "A Clockwork Orange" has raised several deep philosophical questions that are still unanswered. This movie reflected the dilemma that an increase in moral leads to a decrease in freedom. The dualistic society is beautifully portrayed in this movie only consists of victims and perpetrators. The purpose of this term paper is to provide a comprehensive description of psychopathology symptoms depicted in this movie and also a DSM-IV diagnosis of the protagonist (Alex). This movie is a rich source of the portrayal of all the symptoms of DSM-IV.

Analysis of Psychopathology in Popular Film; "A Clockwork Orange"


"A Clockwork Orange" is a masterpiece of Stanley Kubrick produced in the year 1971. This movie is an adaption of the novel "A Clockwork Orange" written by Anthony Burgess in 1962. This movie featured violent, disturbing images, facilitated social commentary on youth gangs, psychiatry, and other political and social subjects in a dualistic society. The fixed roles of this movie are interchanged among various people. In this way the observer cannot make any one person the responsible of decreasing freedom through power. This movie portrays a clear picture of deviant personalities and violation of law. A surreal environment is created in this movie and the disorders of DSM-IV are contrasted with the normal behavior in western society. The symptoms of psychopathology are shown by the point personality traits of Alex, who plays a main role in this movie, and he is the leader of a gang.

Psychopathology Symptoms depicted in "A Clockwork Orange"

"A Clockwork Orange" portrays psychopathology symptoms in the personality of a fifteen-year-old boy named as Alex. In general, the psychopathology symptoms include the failure of conformation to the social norms with due respect to the lawful behaviors and this is indicated by some repeatedly performing acts. Deceitfulness is another symptom, which is about repeated lying and use of aliases for personal pleasure. Also aggressiveness indicated by some repeated physical assaults, Impulsivity, reckless disregard for self safety, consistent irresponsibility and lack of remorse are the major symptoms of psychopathology. These symptoms can be observed throughout the movie and the observer enjoys discovering various expected and unexpected behaviors of the protagonist due to the presence of the disorder DSM-IV.

DSM-IV diagnosis of the protagonist (Alex)

Alex, the protagonist in the movie, portrayed the diagnostic criteria and all the symptoms of DSM-IV. His actions follow persuasive pattern of violations and disregard of others rights. His persistent accounts of an unlawful behavior, for example violence, brutality, murder, rape and stealing, all depicted the diagnosis of DSM-IV. He has displayed radical deceitfulness. Take examples of those two scenes where he says: "Excuse me, Mrs. Can you please help? There's been a terrible accident! My friend's in the middle of the road bleeding to death! Can I please use your telephone for an ambulance? Missus! It's a matter of life and death!" In both the scenes, he wanted to get in to the house and to make the victim open the door, he could easily lie. He has been shown fooling his parents and every one, through his charming personality. He has been shown as a superficial person, who can use any one for his pleasure. The movie portrays a very broad personality of Alex as he loves and enjoys torturing others. Just like he said: "It had been a wonderful evening and what I needed now, to give it the perfect ending, was a little of the Ludwig Van." This was due to a contrasting love of the Beethoven.

He could easily cheat and deceive someone to attain whatever he wants and he firmly believes that no one can stand against him. Throughout the movie, he has been shown making irrational decisions and his highly impulsive behavior makes him bold to face all the consequences. He is shown very aggressive especially to his victims.

He frequently raped, assaulted and stole from various people; he also damaged their belongings and property in a weird laughing manner. The peak of DSM-IV is shown in a specific rape scene, when he sings a song and rapes the woman. This shows that he enjoyed torturing and humiliating others. He could lie for any purpose, just like he did when he got arrested. At that moment he blamed his gang to be responsible of all the bad deeds.

The Positive and Negative messages portrayed through the movie

The movie "A Clockwork Orange" is wonderfully produced. This movie gave a rise to several questions that are deeply rooted with the DSM-IV disorder. After the release of this movie, a lot of controversies were faced by Stanley Kubrick. The reasons of controversies include the portrayal of extreme scenes of sex and violence. The extreme sexual violence shown in the movie was opposed by the British authorities. The negative and positive messages portrayed by the movie are reflected below.

Positive messages portrayed by "A Clockwork Orange"

"A Clockwork Orange" is based on the portrayal of a psychopathological disorder DSM-IV. The movie shows that the symptoms of this disorder are present in a fifteen-year-old boy and how this disorder makes him a reason of hatred in the society. The aggressive and deceitful behavior of the young boy affects the lives of several people, including men, women and children. In actual life this disorder exists in many psycho people and they do behave just like Alex. This movie provided a detailed study and analysis of this psychopathological disorder. After the release of this movie, much work was done on this disorder and this mental health profession was indirectly improved.

Negative Messages portrayed by "A Clockwork Orange"

This movie has some rape scenes and one of them was replaced by the American censorship. According to several people, this movie is entirely negative and it shows a very horrifying extreme of the tendencies of several young people. According to Stanley Kubrick and his wife, they received threats and were blamed for portraying extremism to the society. Stanley Kubrick wanted to withdraw, the movie from British distribution due to several controversies. He quoted: "To try and fasten any responsibility on art as the cause of life seems to me to put the case the wrong way round. Art consists of reshaping life but it does not create life, nor cause life." According to him he just portrayed the hidden truth of those personalities that have this particular disorder. He did not mean to portray that such people exist in actual but some do behave like Alex at some point in life. This is because they are going through this psychopathological disorder.

This movie portrayed the negative messages of rape, violence and extremism. The actions of all the gang members and especially Alex; show that the psychological development of them is in the infancy stage. The movie shows that young people are so much oversexed. They oversexed with young girls, who are shown wearing padded bras. The rape scenes are shot at commonplace, which was unacceptable. Also the isolation of the undesirable behavior of Alex through technology was so unreal. According to the viewers, how is it possible to eradicate such a brutal and aggressive nature completely in such a short time period?

In this way the movie portrayed some scenes that are unacceptable by common people. The rape scene of the writer's wife and singing during such a violent behavior is nothing but an extreme case of psychopathology. This might be true to some extent but an open portrayal where there are viewers of every age, led to a controversy. According to many families, the teenagers, who are unaware of this psychopathological behavior, might do the same action without understanding the limits of sex and violence of the society.

Characterization of forms of Psychopathology in the movie

It is very difficult to give an actual diagnosis of DSM-IV; in this movie the disorders of this particular diagnostic system are clearly contrasted with the normal behavior in western society. Alex, who is the leader of a gang, has all the forms of psychopathology in his personality. He cannot bear any or anything that can stop him from what he wants. He is shown as a person who wants all the pleasures without paying heed to people and things around him. He is the leader of a brutal gang but when it comes to his pleasures, he hurts a member of his gang, because he was disturbed Alex during his enjoyment of a Beethoven interpretation. This happened in Alex's favorite Korova-Milkbar. This bar is shown as the place of Alex's pleasures, where he takes drugs along with his gang members.

One of the best things about this movie is the striking jumpsuit of Alex. He wears a fake eye lash on one of his eyes and that makes him look more mischief. Alex uses slang language throughout the movie which is at first very difficult to understand…

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