Ordinary People Review

By | April 28, 2011

.  Major Depressive disorder is a limb of clinical depression generally more prevalent than other types of depressive disorders such as Psychotic Depression, Dysthymic disorder, etc. Aside from the regular symptoms of depression such as stress, anxiety, restlessness, self-pessimism, insomnia, fatigue, among others, Major Depressive disorder is “characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities.”

(National Institute of Mental Health, 2008, p.1). Included in the list of visible signs of major depression are an overall low key, an obvious gloom that exhibits itself as a trait and manifests itself in daily activities such as school and work with induced feelings of self-hatred, guilt and helplessness.

Conrad exhibited all those symptoms over time. However, he was not particularly concerned about depression alone. As may be remembered, during his first visit to Dr. Berger, Conrad was quick to answer No when asked whether he was depressed. He did show a keen interest in the opposite sex, and a willingness to engage in conversation with his mother (in scenes such as when he gives her a scare coming in after swimming practice unannounced), who generally comes off cold and sometimes outright obnoxious when it comes to dealing with him. As he progressed though, the symptoms resurfaced, with his self-criticism on the rise, he gradually lost interest in his only sport swimming and eventually quit the team.

Ofcourse, Conrad is recovering from a suicide attempt and such symptoms may very well be ancillary to his stress. We are not aware of the circumstances that led up to the suicide attempt but judging from the facts of the case, witnessing his own brother drowning in front of his eyes being the major trigger, it is easy to infer that it was brought about by self-imposed guilt. However, he showed signs of manifesting his guilt into other emotions such as anger, thanks to the session with Dr. Berger who instigated him to consider letting it out instead of keeping it in, to which he quickly adhered. Dr. Berger has it figured out in the following session and encourages Conrad to give himself a break, “let yourself off the hook” (Ordinary People, 1980), pointing out that perhaps he is blaming himself too much for the death of his brother. However, given how Conrad is constantly bombarded by flashbacks in his sleep of the event, and his conscious decision makings (even quitting the swimming team was a conscious decision that he undertook after some deliberation with his coach), followed by another traumatic event (Karen’s suicide), it may very easily warrant a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) instead of Major Depressive disorder.

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