Depression and Grief in the “Ordinary People” Film

Subject: Psychiatry
Pages: 4
Words: 864
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: College

I agree with the idea that the portrait of the family presents how a “perfect” household can appear as dysfunctional. However, I believe that the theme at the end of the film is not that psychotherapy exclusively helps to treat mental illnesses. It was not the only factor influencing Conrad’s life and leading to the improvement of his mental state. In my opinion, the young man started to gain an optimistic mood after his relationships with Jeannine had begun.

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Even in the scene where they talk for the first time, we can see how cheerful he becomes instantly. However, I agree that “there is hope for improvement if you try to seek help” can be a major theme of the end of the movie.

To me, the fact that Beth moved out of the house also seems like a sad ending. Nevertheless, I believe that a viewer is supposed to think that she “deserves” to be out of the family in some way. During the film, the woman is unaffectionate and cold towards Conrad; she seems to blame him for his brother’s death and is not interested in helping her son to recover. From this point of view, the movie finishes with the family separation for the sake of classical happy-ending, where the “evil” usually leaves the scene. However, if Beth tried to seek treatment at the end of the film, it would be a more realistic scenario.

I agree that Dr. Berger is a skilled therapist that made a significant contribution to Conrad’s wellbeing. However, in my opinion, the doctor and the young man did not become friends. They were close but within the terms of therapist-patient relationships; there were boundaries set between them. A viewer does not know the details of Dr. Berger’s life; his role in the film is to assist Conrad, not to become one of his friends.

I think that it is crucial that the post addresses the importance of stigma representation in the film. The movie features the aspects of mental health problems, and they are a part of its central idea. However, many of these issues are not evident at first sight. For example, I believe that it might be hard for some viewers to see the stigma in Beth’s attitude towards her son. She is concerned about her neighbors’ opinions and is irritated when her husband talks about their son with other people. It might seem normal in the current world where many individuals are worried about others’ perspectives of them. Nevertheless, it is an example of stigma related to mental health issues.

The post features a detailed review of DSM-5 criteria; I think that the author has made a significant effort to analyze Conrad’s and his mother’s behavior and personality. I agree that the young man shows the symptoms of the post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder, adding a diminished ability to concentrate as one of the signs of illness. As for Beth’s diagnosis, I would insist that she shows signs of the obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

She is preoccupied with order, which is evident when she rearranges the vase, and has high and inflexible standards of behavior that she cannot adapt to the situation. However, the author’s ideas are reasonable and proven by the details of the movie; they provide insight into the aspects that may not be immediately obvious.

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I admit that the strong point of the movie is that we can see how the characters evolve during the story. However, I would not agree that Beth’s character is an unnecessary element of the film. The reason for it is that Conrad’s mother has a catalytic role in the story. I believe that her behavior allows a viewer to empathize with the young man and provides contrast to the plot. In my opinion, if she were a supportive mother that genuinely loved her son and supported him, the movie would lack drama. As for the lack of cohesion in the family, I think that the contrast between Beth’s and Calvin’s attitude create a realistic picture of how people with mental illnesses are perceived. It also allows a viewer to see that “perfect” families can have problems as well and makes the story more true-to-life.

I would not agree that the primary diagnosis of Conrad’s mother is the narcissistic personality disorder. Its presence is evident as she shows protective reactions, need for attention, arrogant behavior, and generally acts the way she prefers to, not considering the needs of others. However, I believe that the primary diagnosis could be persistent complex bereavement disorder combined with the obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The presence of these illnesses is supported by the fact that she is unable to accept her son’s death and becomes emotionally disconnected from people.

The author mentions Calvin’s overprotectiveness over his son as an example of mental health stigma. I fully agree with it, although this fact is not as evident as Conrad’s mother attitude and his friends’ behaviors. His father sees the young man as a sick child, which reveals that he is unable to understand the depth of his conditions. It is possible to trace the change in Calvin’s attitude during Conrad’s recovery.