(Requiem for a Dream)
What’s the Matter with Her?
There really isn’t anything wrong with Sara at first; she just wants to lose a few pounds, misses her husband and wishes she saw more of her son, Harry (And she has bad taste in television). Sara falls prey to a doctor who prescribes pills quicker than he listens to his patient, and it is ironically a medical professional that initiates a serious mental illness.
Ampehtamine-Induced Psychotic Disorder with Onset During Intoxication
(Say that five times fast.) An Amphetamine is a stimulant that often works as an appetite suppressant. Though we don’t know exactly what Sara is taking, she is probably taking some sort of Amphetamine (Sometimes called Speed, but not affiliated with Keanu Reeves or Sandra Bullock). The primary symptom of her wordy illness is:
*Prominent hallucinations as a result of substance intoxication
Sara keeps hearing disturbing noises from her refrigerator as it moves toward her (It’s coming to get you, Sara…). Finally, her favorite television star and members of his guest audience appear in Sara’s own living room – only to make fun of her living situation (Because everyone on TV is a jerk).
Sara’s hallucinations clearly develop within the time frame that she starts taking the colorful pills, and though she visits the doctor a second time when she worries about the pills’ side effects, her insight into their pitfalls is not enough to keep her from using, then abusing, the drugs. (She tasted the rainbow; it was gross.)
What About Everyone Else?
Harry and Marion as well as Tyrone partake in their fair share of substance ingestion during the film. While Tyrone is a dealer, and gets into a slew of trouble related to that, Harry and Marion find their relationship in tatters over substance use.
It’s interesting to note that substance abuse itself is classified as a mental disorder (Peer Pressure = Crazy Talk). Since Harry, Tyrone and Marion use a variety of substances throughout the film, their disorder, collectively (Sharing is caring), can be identified by it simplest classification, which still has a few key symptoms:
*Recurrent Substance Use Resulting in a Failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home
Harry consistently forgets to see his mother or to make her a big priority in his life; he holds no full-time employment and does not actively seek to find any. Marion, on the other hand, has no contact with her parents other than to ask them for quick cash.
*Recurrent Substance-Related Legal Problems
Tyrone is nearly killed and arrested for his drug use; Harry, meanwhile, is denied for employment when a potential employer spots his gangrene-infected arm.
*Continued Substance Use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance
While Marion’s behavior crosses into the realm of prostitution to gain money for fixes, Tyrone’s brush with the law and Harry’s heartfelt conversation with his mother have no effect on their substance abuse issues.
Dependence vs. Tolerance
There is a lot of confusing drug lingo out there (It’s even more confusing if you’re high). Dependence is the name for the pattern of use; as in, someone drinks a lot of coffee in the morning and then gets cranky right around noon after their last cup has long been sipped. Tolerance and withdrawal are the symptoms used to gauge dependence.
Tolerance is one of the symptoms of dependence that means someone has more of something to achieve its desired effect. For example, instead of having two cups of coffee in the morning, someone now drinks three to feel like they’re really awake. Tolerance means requiring more of something to feel a certain way; dependence means tolerance has developed and there is a noticeable change in mood or demeanor when someone is not using the substance at all.
The Drug Problem
What the film clearly illustrates is that drugs are bad (Mmkay). Sara’s concerns are met by another prescription that only makes her worse. All the behaviors of the key players spiral negatively due to substance abuse. It’s an interesting take on a constant challenge: How do you make people feel better without medications?
The truth is that some problems require certain medicines to cure, but the other truth is that many, if not most, medications cause new problems in the wake of solving one major problem. While it never hurts to get a doctor’s perspective, it also never hurts to evaluate whether a diet or exercise or stress-related problem could be the real source of discontent. The fact is that most problems are not all physical or all mental: They’re a little bit of both, so you have to tackle both pieces to solve the whole puzzle.
Drugs can, in fact, be good! But they can’t solve everything (Like Rubik’s cubes, nobody can solve those).