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The Depiction of Schizophrenia in Films

Clean, Shaven (1993): The Depiction of Schizophrenia on the Gold Screen

  • Juwairiya Hussain
  • Ibrahim Fatheen Abdul Sameeu

Due to the level of eccentricity involved with it among the general public, mental disorders have long since been a topic of popular culture. They have got found their way into books, classical and modern artworks, music, Television, and movies. Schizophrenia is one particular disorder; classical tales such as Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Center (1843), and Oscar nominated videos such as A Beautiful Brain (2001) famously identified and depicted the lives of character types living with schizophrenia, but the authenticity of the depictions are debatable. The movie to be examined in this newspaper isn't as well-known as these works, but it has been lauded for the objectivity in its depiction of the disorder; this newspaper will review Clean, Shaven (1993).

Directed Lodge Kerrigan, Clean, Shaven depicts the life of Peter Winter (portrayed by Peter Greene) as he struggles to find his daughter after he is released from a mental establishment. Abstract and brilliant images and looks are shown throughout the movie, wanting to signify the delusions and hallucinations of someone suffering from schizophrenia. As well as the primary plot that involves Peter looking for his daughter, the movie also offers a secondary story involving the circumstance of the murdered child. This sub-plot performs the role of your red herring by looking to convince the viewers believe that Peter is the killer, adding to the amount of mistrust the audience already has towards the type. The secondary plot also introduces Jack McNally, the detective looking into the murder, as he convinces himself that Peter is indeed the killer and pursues him throughout the movie. After an extended search, Peter finally detects his daughter in the attention of a female who has used her as her own. They finally meet and he takes her to the beach where, thinking that he is killing another litttle lady, Peter is shot to fatality by Det. McNally.

Throughout the movie Peter was been shown to be socially inept with a peculiar concern with mirrors, or any reflective surface, which he hides. The interpersonal withdrawal and the loneliness believed by individuals suffering from schizophrenia are depicted by the little use of dialogue in the movie.

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder where individuals' working becomes worse scheduled to abnormal motor unit functions, disturbed emotions and odd thinking. Schizophrenic individuals lose their touch with certainty and typically experience hallucinations and delusions. It is very likely that based on the DSM-IV conditions, Peter would've been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. DSM V categorizes five symptoms that happen to be required in order to diagnose a person for schizophrenia. (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013) They are really:

  1. Delusions
  2. Hallucinations
  3. Disorganized speech
  4. Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
  5. Negative symptoms

Two or more of the aforementioned must be there for a substantial timeframe during a one month period. From the two symptoms, at least one of them must be delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech. These symptoms must be there for at least six months. (APA, 2013)

In the movie, Peter is shown to have extreme delusions of persecution. He is convinced that he had been considered and managed on by someone, and that he has been implanted with some kind of a receiver under the skin on the back of his neck and a transmitter in his left middle-finger. Throughout the movie, Peter rubs the back of his neck of the guitar repeatedly and will go so far as eliminating his own fingernail in order to take out the supposed transmitter under it, after an especially serious case of hallucinations. He's also shown trimming into his own head using a couple of scissors, presumably to eliminate the receiver someplace in his mind or neck of the guitar. The depictions of his delusions are in a way that even the newspapers used to repay the house windows of his car all contain articles about conspiracy ideas and pseudoscience. In another of the last scenes of the movie where he was taking his daughter to the beach, Peter told Nicole that she must be very careful since there are people out there who wish to damage her. He also educated her about the receiver and transmitter implanted in him; the previous field of the movie shows Nicole calling out to a dead Peter by using a radio collection. He also displays delusions of reference point in some of the moments, especially in a single picture where he came across an enraged specific shouting at and mocking an undiscovered person or pet animal; for another few views he kept remembering the man shouting, as if he previously been shouting at Peter all along.

As discussed earlier, Peter also is suffering from auditory hallucinations. He stored reading voices in his brain which he presumed was due to the implants in his body. As such, his hallucinations are depicted in the kinds of disembodied voices seemingly coming from a radio and static white noise. Initially, these sounds could be baffled for him hearing the stereo in his car, but the sheer agony in his face when he helps to keep on reading them swiftly solved that one misperception. The voices didn't treat him directly and he didn't have discussions with the voices in his brain; these were just there to cause him extreme discomfort.

Peter also exhibited some degrees of deteriorated motor working. Despite it not being severe enough to be devastating or even to make him catatonic, it performed hinder a few of the daily functions which required fine motor skills. For example, he seemed to be able to drive around in his car, which he also resided in, without event, but in a picture where he was shaving all his body scalp clean (aside from his mind; hence the name of the movie), he do manage to trim himself many times rather badly. He didn't screen any indication of motor dysfunction.

Peter portrays heightened perception and social withdrawal throughout the movie. He was shown to be very hypersensitive to voices and noises (whistle of the kettle and folks discussing) and consequently remains restless most of the time. When he was offered food by his mother, he handled the meals with extreme attention directing his full focus on the process of fixing a sandwich. He was informed by his mother to venture out and not stay inside all day long, indicating he was socially very withdrawn. The only times Peter spoke in the movie was when he was in his mother's kitchen with her so when he was with Nicole; even then he barely spoke and possessed difficultly adding his thoughts into words, also indicative of poverty of conversation. It was quite fascinating to observe similar varieties of public isolation in his daughter's habit, who always played alone, put in a whole lot of her time in isolation, and was portrayed as a woman with few words and feelings.

Speaking of Peter's family, the partnership between him and his mother showed indicators of double-blind communication. (Comer, 2009) Though it was brought up that Peter got a happy child years, she made an appearance quite unaffected by the actual fact that her child is suffering from a significant mental disorder and didn't screen any sort of maternal affection towards him. In fact, the realization that she was Peter's mother, rather than some distant comparative or his landlady, came up when he called her "mom" when he was departing her house after the visit. Alternatively, she do order him around several times during his simple stay at her house as stated in a previous example. While her body gestures and behavior felt quite apathetic, she did ask him to take action that would actually be helpful to him. This is enough to cause dissonance. Furthermore, she was portrayed as the sort of schizophrenogenic mom that Frieda Fromm-Reichmann explained in her description of schizophrenia. (Comer, 2009)

The relative simplicity in which everyone involved with the murder case was persuaded that Peter was the killer will probably occur in a similar fashion if a similar thing were to happen in this culture. Regardless of the culture, there are high degrees of prejudice displayed towards individuals suffering from mental disorders. Peter was appeared upon as an oddball by the few people he was seen to maintain the same picture with. One fine example is when he put in an entire day combing through literature in a library, looking for his girl. His haphazard appearance and bizarre attitude left virtually everyone in the library staring at him. When the detective came up to the library pursuing Peter's path the librarian provided an exaggerated account of her encounter with him, making him out to be always a degenerate and pervert, that your detective ate up. The family dynamic would, however, would be different. In most cases, whole households have obtained together to care for a member of family who's mentally disabled by giving financial and living help. There are instances of family members being isolated from all of those other family because of their mental disorders nonetheless they would hardly ever be entirely cut off.

For all intents and purposes, this movie does indeed hold up to its case to be objective in its depiction of schizophrenia. It really is a lovely movie which exhibited the struggles of a schizophrenic in his lifestyle, both inner and external. This movie conveyed a lot of emotion through its setting up, cinematography and credit score; consequently, the thoughts conveyed are very ineffable and need to be experienced personally to appreciate. As the late Roger Ebert (1995) said, this film will be "valued by anyone with a serious involvement in schizophrenia or, for example, in film".


American Psychiatric Connection. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D. C: North american Psychiatric Connection.

Comer, R. J. (2009). Unnatural mindset (7th ed. ). New York, NY: Well worth Publishers

Ebert, R. (1995, March 31). Clean, Shaven. [Review of the movie Clean, shaven]. RogerEbert. com. Retrieved November 27, 2014, from http://www. rogerebert. com/reviews/clean-shaven-1995

Kerrigan, L. (Designer), & Kerrigan, L. (Director). (1993). Clean, shaven [Action picture]. United States: Strand Releasing

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