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Defense Mechanisms and the Movie Shutter Island

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By lulito93
Words 363
Pages 2
What types of defense mechanisms do we use on a regular basis to avoid reality?

How positive are they?

Andrew Laeddis is the main character in the movie Shutter Island. He suffers from

schizophrenia and many other mental problems. The trigger happened after one day

he came back home from work and discovered that his wife had killed his three

children. She was mentally ill and felt no remorse for what she just did so Andrew

killed her.

As a result of such traumatic experience, he unconsciously invented another self,

created another story in which someone else had committed his wife’s and his own

crime. He even denied having any children.

At the end he drives himself crazy, and ends up in a mental institution.

It’s also important to mention that he went to war and he had lived traumatic

experiences prior to his family’s murder.

This is a great example for what is called “’defense mechanisms” and how they affect

our lives.

Everyday people are faced with problems, traumas, difficulties and emotional (and

even physical) pain. The mind, in order to protect itself from pain, usually creates

these defense mechanisms such as denial, habit, behavioral changes, isolation of

affect, etc.

Even though defense mechanisms can be positive for protecting the individual

against trauma, they can be extremely destructive in using them without awareness

and control.

Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud researched defense mechanisms and post

traumatic stress disorder, stating that our unconscious often helps us cope with

unbearable feelings with different behaviours that we may or may not be aware of.

Andrew Laeddis went through severe trauma that caused him nightmares or

“visions”, that would make him relive it and creating severe conflict in his life

since he had been suppressing his memories for so long.

In this case. He was not aware of his defense mechanisms and that led him to

lose his mind.

On an everyday basis we use these kinds of defense mechanisms to avoid

reality, commonly on a smaller scale like escaping our problems by abusing

substances (commonly alcohol or weed among young people), having an attitude

of not caring (denial), or isolating ourselves from our loved ones.

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