Mental Illness in Misery

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Mental illness involves a broad range of psychological conditions that affect an individual’s behavior, thinking, and mood. Bipolar disorder is an example of mental illness characterized by extreme mood shifts from low to high or from high to low. The disease is relatively common and can occur to both children and adults primarily in their late teens or early adulthood. Women have been observed to be more likely diagnosed with the condition compared to men although the reason is not apparent. The mental illness can last for several weeks or more in some people while others may not experience a normal mood for most of the time. The movie Misery by Stephen King depicts the characteristics and struggles of a person who has a mental illness (King 10). The film involves Paul Sheldon who is a novelist who is rescued by Annie Wilkes after he breaks both of his legs in a car accident. Annie professes to be his number one fan of the writer. The lady does no show signs of taking Paul to a hospital which make him uneasy. The writer has studied psychological disorder during research for the Misery series and suspects signs of the illness in Wilkes. The film impacts public perception of mental disease by providing information related to common characteristics associated with the condition.

Paranoia is a characteristic of bipolar disorder and a symptom of mental illness. The feature is common to persons suffering from the condition where they feel nervous about an individual or situation. The movie picture Annie as an enormously paranoid person giving suggestions that she may have bipolar disorder. The character has an unhealthy obsession with romantic books specifically Misery series as well as the writer (King 15). Annie confesses to Paul their meeting was not a coincidence since she follows him and there are some nights she has been watching him. Wilkes takes a manuscript for Sheldon’s latest book along the way, and after reading it, she becomes furious after realizing that Misery Chastaine died at the end of the novel. Annie forces the writer to destroy the manuscript for Fast Cars and orders him to write another series that bring Misery Chastaine back to life in the story. Annie also confines the writer in her house and does not want him to live. The paranoia is dangerous which result in conclusions that the character could be suffering from bipolar disease.

Individuals with mental illness experience a permanent communication disadvantage which profoundly affects their social life. Even though people are inherently social beings with emotional expressions of the way they interact. It is possible that different sensory channels persons suffering from the condition have challenges expressing themselves to others. The individuals may not appreciate the meaning behind other people’s words or even relate to the facial expression of the body language (Sahithya, and Reddy 10). The information that is present to the diseased may have a different meaning from the intended one after their senses interpret it. For instance, bipolar condition compromises the interpersonal functioning resulting in difficulties in integrating various social information and lifestyle. The disease impairs an individual understanding of others.

In the film, Annie shows some characteristics of bipolar disorder in her social life. The character lives alone in an isolated area outside city missing any close friends or family members. The feature reflects the universal pattern of societal deficits that Wilkes lack. Annie enjoys the company of a pig than humans, and she does not find the need to live with others. The character also has the unexpected behavior even though she is close to fifty years of a person of age where she jumps up and down when she is thrilled. She uses an overelaborated word when she wants to express strong feelings which shows some shortfall in communication with other people (Mercer 595). Annie experiences issues associated with the social environment without the support system present. She was fired from the healthcare unit, and she is not permitted to work as a nurse following the deaths of babies who died under her care.

Annie is dangerously delusional with actions that expose Sheldon to life risk. Wilkes takes the writer in her private home where she slowly nurses him to health using novril capsule which eases the pain. The drug not only helps in reducing the pain but also becomes addictive making it easier to control him. The medication is used to nourish and stimulate Sheldon’s mind so that to continue his writing.  Annie uses needles and later forces the writer to take soapy water before she can attend to his injured thumb and feet. The punishments grow more each day as Wilke learns that the writer's behavior and slow progress (King 22). Annie planned to kill the writer after he completes writing the new series. Her actions show a severe break with reality regarding logical thinking and relationship to emotion. The character has thoughts and beliefs that are distorted without bases on what is happening. 

The delusions that accompany bipolar symptoms involves keeping an individual’s state of mind where in most cases the person does not match with mood. An individual with such conditions is prone to make quick judgments and decisions based on little evidence. The victims are suspicious and can observe people talking only to conclude that they are plotting to kill them. Wilkes has strict moral code which she follows and expects others to conform. Annie regards herself as a devoted Christian and believes that God speaks and instructs her. The character feels obligated to correct those who violate her beliefs. Delusion highly depends on the degree to which an individual is convinced that the idea is right. For example, in the movie, it is delusional for Annie to consider the Misery novel to have the ability to control her thoughts, actions, impulse, and feelings. The belief makes her move in particular ways that affect her reasoning and body movements. Annie lives in denial through believing that Paul will ultimately enjoy her company although it is clear that he hates her (King 25). The obsession that she has for Sheldon makes her torture him which raises confusion on how one can hurt the person they love. The explanation for such behavior and actions are only known and make sense to Annie since she views whatever she does as reasonable.

Annie shows signs of depression and appears to be struggling with low self-esteem which is a characteristic of most people who have bipolar disorder. During her depressive episodes where she self-harms, and binge eats. In the movie, Annie portrays an intense need for positive feelings related to risky actions. The character holds the writer in her house against his will and provides medical assistance rather than taking him to a hospital due to her fixation. She does not give Paul a chance to choose if to be with her or not since she is afraid he may not pick her thus she forces herself into him (King 30). The actions demonstrate her weakness where she does not think she is good enough for the writer to willing fully love her.

Bipolar disorder can interfere with an individual’s ability to make good choices especially in the period of manic. The persons do not realize how sick they are but rather blame their issues on other people or outside factors (Sahithya, and Reddy 11). Annie has shown problems in decision making and exercising control where has a strong desire to power and uses it as a means to torture Sheldon for disobeying her as well as the alleged murder of infants during her occupation as a nurse. The logic of the decisions made to perform such actions is questionable. Decisions made are clearly out of control resulting to legal implications. The character is not limited to choices, and most of them depend on her mood.

Regression can be observed among patients with bipolar disorder with immature behavior. Individuals with the condition may reach adulthood without mastering the core elements of adult emotional functioning. For instance, in the movie Annie acts very childlike and immaturely when she is happy or not in control. She expresses anger through silly words and phrases such as dirty bird, rooty-patooties, oogie, and mister man. Wilkes has violent outbursts over insignificant issues and slips on occasion which is a more common profanity. She has a poor self-image and even puts wounds on herself. The behavior shows that the lady is struggling with self-realization just like most developing persons the only difference is that she is old enough to have passed the stage (Mercer 598). Annie has no compulsion since she becomes angry and irritable easily. She even shows childish behavior when she goes from sitting to skipping from her chair and screams to the topmost of her voice to express disappointment. Annie reads a few pages of the unpublished manuscript while sitting by the side of the writer where she becomes angry and spills the soup on the bed. The behavior portrays strong characteristics of a person living with bipolar disorder.   

In conclusion, the film teaches individuals about persons whom they do not routinely interact giving viewers social cues about the nature of another group of people. The media shapes people’s understanding of others that surround them either for better or worse. Mental illness can result in disability if it has a long-term outcome on an individual’s day to day action. People with the condition can experience challenges working and interacting with people. In the Misery film, Annie has difficulty performing her duties well while working as a nurse. Many children have died under her care which shows that she could be unfit for the job. She is prohibited from practicing nursing due to her work reports. Mental illness can result in a person’s inability to practice their profession and other activities due to the illogical thinking that is characterized by the disease. The victims cannot examine the consequences of their actions resulting in dangerous operations. Therefore, media in the film is depicted as a channel that provides people with information on real life and struggles of people with mental illness.

Works Cited

King, Stephen. Misery. Viking Press, 2015.

Mercer, Jean. "Deliverance, Demonic Possession, And Mental Illness: Some Considerations for Mental Health Professionals". Mental Health, Religion & Culture, vol 16, no. 6, 2013, pp. 595-611. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/13674676.2012.706272.

Sahithya, B. R., and R. P. Reddy. "Burden of Mental Illness: A Review in An American Context". International Journal of Culture and Mental Health, 2018, pp. 1-11. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/17542863.2018.1442869.

September 25, 2023



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