Psychoanalytic Concepts as Depicted in the Contemporary Film Adam and Paul.
This essay aims to provide a clear understanding of psychoanalytic concepts such as; desire, neurosis, and defence mechanisms, regression and repression through the application of these concepts to the main characters of the contemporary film Adam and Paul. The essay will provide a brief overview of the film storyline, followed by application and understanding of psychoanalytic concepts and will finish with overall conclusion.
Storyline of Adam & Paul
Adam and Paul is a movie based on the day to day life of two friends whom are homeless and long term heroin users. The film highlights the struggles these two characters experience as they exist on the fringes of society trying to maintain their drug addiction. Adam and Paul present as childlike and vulnerable with no clear understanding as to how to fit into the modern world. The film captures their day to day interactions and exchanges with friends, family and fellow addicts in a bid to obtain their fix. The film is based around these exchanges and how people respond upon meeting them. Both characters are seen as one by those whom they meet and are addressed as Adam and Paul. It is apparent in the movie that people close to Adam and Paul have given up hope for them. This is particularly evident when Adam and Paul miss the months mind of their close friend Matthews passing when friends and family expresses their disappointment with same. As the film progresses, viewers are granted insight into several moments where addiction takes precedence over moral compass and ethical values. Such moments include when Adam and Paul attempt to steal a tv from their close friend Janine in order to obtain drugs. Adam and Paul are involved in a foiled robbery at a shop with two other men. Following this event they obtain a large sum of heroin which was left behind in the car of the criminals involved in the foiled robbery. This amount of drugs coupled with their intense desire for another hit, results in one part of the duo, Adam, overdosing in the final scenes of the movie. With a final nod to the moral conflict of addiction, Paul is observed taking the heroin from deceased Adams pocket prior to walking away leaving Adam by himself on the beach.
Carl Jung, renowned psychologist described neurosis as a condition that occurs when we try to escape pain. Symptoms of neurosis identified by Jung include; impulsive behaviour, obsessive thinking, compulsive behaviours, chronic anxiety, avoidance, compulsive behaviours, phobias , and over-dependence on other people (McLeod, 2018).
Addiction is a complex condition involving many factors, but it was the opportunity of escape that made drugs such a tempting proposition for many. For those of us struggling to feel comfortable in otheir own skin, or who were dealing with emotional trauma, it provides a way out- something to numb the pain so we could at least temporarily forget problems. Drug abuse is the most radical thing we can do in our attempts to escape the ups and downs of life. In the beginning, it seems to offer the perfect solution if reality wont play ball, we can create our own reality through altering our brain chemistry. What could possibly go wrong? We dont understand that there is only one reality, and anything that prevents us from fitting in with this reality eventually becomes a source of suffering. In the case of Adam and Paul, several of these symptoms are observed throughout the film. With regards, avoidance and escaping pain; both of these symptoms are prevalent through the behaviours of Adam and Paul particularly in their failure to attend their best friends months mind. Both men appear to use substances as a form of avoidance and escapism from reality and disengage in any conversation friends have with them surrounding their drug use. With regards impulsive and compulsive behaviour, this is prevalent through the efforts made by the men to obtain their drugs. Both men engage in impulsive behaviours to obtain drugs, in an unplanned event both men engaged in intimidating manner while attempting to steal from a vulnerable man with disabilities. With regards overly dependent on others, both men rely heavily on their friends to support their addiction. Both men willingly accept handouts from others and are not self-sufficient, opting to steal in order to eat or purchase drugs.
Neurotic behaviours become a substitute for the yucky emotions and mental states we dont want to deal with. It can be a long time before we notice the negative effects of this remedy are far worse than the thing we are trying to avoid. Reality does not like to be ignored, and the more we do it, the more painful our life becomes.
An influential view held by the psychoanalytic tradition is that neuroses arise from intrapsychic conflict (conflict between different drives, impulses, and motives held within various components of the mind). Central to psychoanalytic theory, which was founded by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, is the postulated existence of an unconscious part of the mind which, among other functions, acts as a repository for repressed thoughts, feelings, and memories that are disturbing or otherwise unacceptable to the conscious mind. These repressed mental contents are typically sexual or aggressive urges or painful memories of an emotional loss or an unsatisfied longing dating from childhood. Anxiety arises when these unacceptable and repressed drives threaten to enter consciousness; prompted by anxiety, the conscious part of the mind (the ego) tries to deflect the emergence into consciousness of the repressed mental contents through the use of defense mechanisms such as repression, denial, or reaction formation. Neurotic symptoms often begin when a previously impermeable defense mechanism breaks down and a forbidden drive or impulse threatens to enter consciousness. See also psychoanalysis.
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While the psychoanalytic theory has continued to be influential, another prominent view, associated with behavioral psychology, represents neurosis as a learned, inappropriate response to stress that can be unlearned. A third view, stemming from cognitive theory, emphasizes the way in which maladaptive thinkingsuch as the fear of possible punishmentpromotes an inaccurate perception of the self and surrounding events.
Obsessive-compulsive disorders are characterized by the irresistible entry of unwanted ideas, thoughts, or feelings into consciousness or by the need to repeatedly perform ritualistic actions that the sufferer perceives as unnecessary or unwarranted. Obsessive ideas may include recurrent violent or obscene thoughts; compulsive behaviour includes rituals such as repetitive hand washing or door locking (Neurosis Psychology, 2018)
McLeod, S. (2018). Carl Jung. Retrieved from simplypsychology.org/carl-jung.html