Psychological Disorders: Essay Examples
Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook
Within the movie Silver Linings Playbook (2012) it is hard to know where to look in order to gain true perspective on which mental disorder is being presented in the most bold fashion. The main character, Pat Solatano Jr., played by Bradley Cooper, is diagnosed with bipolar disorder shortly after he finds his wife cheating with another man and then beats the man severely. His father character, Pat Solatano Sr., portrayed by Robert DeNiro, suffers from a moderate case of OCD, and the love interest within the movie, Tiffany Maxwell, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is a noted sex addict. All in all this is a movie that seems based upon psychological disorders, and not only showcases them, but shows how a family can eventually come to terms with said disabilities.
The psychological disorder known as bipolar disorder is a very commonly misdiagnosed condition that can be confused with ADHD, personality disorder, and even schizophrenia. The conditions of the illness are that an individual will thrust an individual into mood swings that range anywhere from a manic sort of elation to lows that sink them into a deep, anxiety-laden depression that can cause irritability, frustration, and anger.(Federman, 2014) In Silver Linings Playbook Pat Jr. is the perfect example of a man with severe bipolar disorder in that he not only feels the elation and high, overconfident mania while seeking out his goals, but the anxiety and depression that come after certain triggers are set show a very troubled mind seeking both balance and calm. Pat Jr. shows the classic signs of the disorder as he goes about the task of reintegrating himself into society after his mother releases him from a mental ward.
A rather funny example of his highs and overconfidence comes when one of his friends manages to hitch a ride with him and his mother, claiming to have been released. While Pat Jr. vouches for his friend, his mother knows very well that he will do and say anything to keep her convinced that all is well and that he knows what is best. Eventually the friend is found out and re-admitted, more than once in fact, though Pat Jr. continues to defend him. After his friend is taken back to the mental facility the first trigger hits, and Pat’s bipolar disorder kicks into its lowest gears, spiraling him down into depression, anxiety, and eventually anger, which seems to be the end result of his low episodes. (Quick, 2010)
Throughout the movie he relies a great deal on the past and how his reactions to what has happened in his life took him down the wrong path. Without thinking about how his current behaviors are affecting those around him Pat Jr. goes on an emotional rampage that swiftly catches up his parents, his friends, and the love interest that comes so unknowingly into his life. Tiffany Maxwell, a noted sex addict and recent widow, is set on a collision course with the volatile Pat Jr., who still desires to reconnect with his old life, including his wife, who at this point has a restraining order in place against him. This is yet another bundle of stress that he cannot simply cope with, and given that the character refuses to take his medications, mood elevators and suppressants for the most part, it is another part of the story that displays just how out of control he can be.
Added to that a father that suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, Pat’s life is more than a little hectic for anyone without a psychological disorder to manage. In the beginning of the film Pat goes about trying to regain the pieces of his life that were shattered when he was committed to the mental hospital, only to find that the damage he left was far too great for anyone to trust or even stomach his presence any longer.
This shows very well the effects that bipolar disorder can have not only upon the individual but those who are affected by their behaviors. So focused is Pat upon his goals that he doesn’t realize much of what he is saying before it passes his lips, nor does he truly stop and think about what he is saying before it even enters his mind. Like many of those who are bipolar he is impulsive, anxious, and driven by a goal that seems possible only because of his unwavering confidence that what he is doing is right and his course is the only path. His cognitive abilities in this film are not so horribly skewed that they are beyond reality, but the mere fact that he carries such unfounded idealism in the face of what most would consider a hopeless situation is interesting.
Then of course there is the trigger that sets off his depression, one that differentiates only given the situation. He finds that he cannot have his old life back. His wife wants nothing to do with him despite his professions of love and what is “meant to be”. The woman whom he comes to care about keeps him at a distance yet desires him, yet for all that he is focused on the past, allowing his behavior to run wild as he attempts to in effect recreate a life that has already been lost.
The support he receives in the beginning comes largely from his mother, who is seen to be tired, worn down, and yet still stands firm for her son. His friend from the mental institution is supportive as well, but with his own issues to handle is not an entirely viable source of strength. His friends are there for him as much as they can be, as is his older brother, who is for the most part still close with the family but living his own life. His father supports him as well, though for all this, for all the love and understanding that is shown, Pat still denies that anything is so wrong that it cannot be fixed. While bipolar disorder on its own is exhausting and prone to bouts of overconfidence, it is a wonder that anyone can withstand such an existence day to day.
As the movie progresses Pat continues to struggle with letting go, with the realization that his wife might not want him back, and with the ever-growing feelings that begin to exist between himself and Tiffany. While he still denies that anything is really happening between them, Tiffany is seen to begin to feel something for Pat from the manner in which she talks, moves, and even looks at him. Body language in this film is a key component to how the characters feel about one another, from the stiffness and straightforward manner of Pat Sr. when he addresses his son to Pat’s mother, who is kind, calm, and caring. Tiffany is seductive, coy, even playful at most times, but can turn and be cold, distant, and bitingly sarcastic in the next instant.
Of Pat’s friends, only one seems completely free and calm in his own skin, and that is the man who is taken back to the mental hospital twice in the film and is then subsequently released near the end. His other friend suffers from nothing more than a domineering wife, a lackluster life, and the simple fact that he still cares greatly for Pat, but cannot find a sure way to help him. Bipolar disorder is not among the worst of ills, but is likely one of the most exhausting for the simple fact that it takes the individual from high to low gear in the span of seconds at times, giving them great bouts of energetic, euphoric mania only to drop them into the deepest pits of anxiety-ridden depression a short time later. It is a disorder that affects not only the individual but can resonate amongst that individual’s social circle, thereby creating an instability in the social structure that is very difficult to right without medication.
Added to that the presence of other, conflicting psychological disorders that are shown by others around him, Pat is without a doubt forced to undergo great pressure not only by his own condition but by others as well. Exercise proves to be a great outlet for him, as he runs around and throughout his neighborhood, seeking answers in his own mind that never seem to come. This is where he and Tiffany eventually begin their real dialogue, as she begins to run the same course as he does, vexing Pat as he refuses, at first, to recognize anything that might lie between them.
Nearing the end of the movie even more stress is placed upon Pat Jr. as his father makes a profound bet with an old friend, one that might very well bankrupt Pat Sr. and force him and his wife to lose their home. Tiffany strikes upon a deal with the old friend, which involves entering her and Pat Jr. into a dance competition as part of the arrangement. Having already promised to help Tiffany with her dancing, Pat Jr. is drawn into the agreement, not only to honor the agreement but to save his parents’ home. This is a major turning point in the movie as it can be seen that he finally comes to the realization that Tiffany may very well care about him.
As the dance approaches and Pat continues the course to reunite with his wife, he puts into motion events that eventually culminate in the night of the dance competition, when his parents need him most. As he and Tiffany dance there is a general feeling that there is something there, some spark that others can see but is still indistinct enough to be a question. At the end however, and following a particularly fitting dance routine, Pat Jr. seems to reunite with his wife, only to then walk away from her to seek out Tiffany. At this point he’s found his balance, his center, and despite still having bipolar disorder, he has found the means by which to balance his life. While this is not a story meant to indicate that bipolar disorder can be so easily solved, it is an inspirational tale that shows how support and understanding can work miracles.
Cohen, Bruce (Producer), & Russell, David O. (Director). (2012). Silver Linings Playbook
(Motion Picture). USA: The Weinstein Company.
Federman, Russ, PhD. (2014) Cognitive Deficit in Bipolar Disorder. Psychology Today. Retrieved from
Quick, Matthew. (2010). The Silver Linings Playbook. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux