NATHAN GARDNER


(Charlie Bartlett)

What’s the Matter with Him?
Other than being the principal of a high school, Nathan’s dilemma is a pretty common one: He drinks too much (Alcohol, not coffee). An ex-wife that doesn’t get along with him and a daughter who attends said high school do not seem to make his life any easier.

Alcohol Use Disorder
The DSM-V has taken the “drinking problem” of the average Joe (In this case, Nathan) and classified it according to dependence. Since we don’t see the principal go through withdrawal or his first foray into drinking (A fraternity of some sort was probably involved),  this diagnosis makes the most sense.

*Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use
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Upon arriving at Charlie’s house to punish him (Totally not weird for teachers to show up at your house, right?), Nathan admits that he had a drinking problem and just decided he didn’t need to drink anymore. Of course, this is after we know he stashes alcohol in his study. (No one who actually has a study uses it to study, everyone knows that.)

*Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at home

Susan confesses to Charlie that her dad’s drinking has caused a rift (That boats couldn’t fix) between the two of them. It appears that she and her father have not had a heart-to-heart on the matter. Naturally, that makes her a good candidate for stall-to-stall therapy in the school bathroom instead (Apparently high-schoolers don’t have great health insurance).

*Continued alcohol use despite having persistent social or interpersonal problems

It’s clear that the principal’s principles need some adjusting. He keeps up the drinking even though things with him and his daughter don’t appear to be going well.

*Alcohol use is continued despite knowing he has a persistent recurrent problem
Hiding alcohol is a dead giveaway (Not dead, just drunk) that someone knows they have a problem. This is usually their way of telling themselves they know it’s bad, but not letting the rest of the world know yet.

Is There Hope for Nathan?
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Yes! Between falling into a pool and seeing his daughter sing out, Nathan will probably stick to getting help more seriously this time around. He could always try bathroom therapy with Charlie, if all else fails.

What About…Literally Everyone Else?

In a film about a kid writing prescriptions to be popular, there are a lot of interesting characters to be found. Other disorders are highlighted briefly, but Nathan gets the most screen time so he makes for a more thorough case study than say Kip, Charlie’s mother, Whitney, or Murphy. Considering it is high school (And almost everyone attended Degrassi before showing up in this movie), there’s bound to be a lot of insanity floating around. In fact, there’s a lot of insanity floating around after high school too (And before, really always).

What Do You Think?
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SARA GOLDFARB


(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.

Substance Abuse
Harry and Marion

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
Marion
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).

What Do You Think?
Sara Goldfarb

After you stage an intervention, share your thoughts with us!

JENNY CURRAN


(Forrest Gump)

What’s the Matter with Her?
The easy answer is that Jenny has a problem dating a guy like Forrest (even though he’s sweeter and let’s face it, cooler than pretty much every other guy she’s ever dated). While her point of view is understandable, especially in a small, Southern society like hers, Jenny continuously shirks Forrest’s advances in favor of men that are abusive and impatient.
In addition, Jenny experiments with a lot of hard drugs throughout the movie, and believe it or not, her experimentation constitutes a mental disorder.

Substance Abuse Disorder
Jenny and Forrest
Not specifying any particular drug for diagnosis, Substance Abuse Disorder is marked by a few symptoms. Since we spend most of our time with Forrest (hanging out with the good kids), it is hard to decipher whether Jenny exhibits most of them. Her behavior overall argues for the diagnosis, since she shows no positive improvement for a long time. There is one symptom for this illness, however, that Jenny demonstrates loud and clear.

*Continued substance use despite recurrent interpersonal problems
Jenny gravitates toward abusive boyfriends. While it is unclear what the role of substance abuse plays in these relationships, it is clear that once Jenny cleans herself up, she finally realizes that she’s been dating the wrong guys. Perhaps Jenny dated bad boys so they could introduce her to new substances, or perhaps she used substances to quell the effects of their repeated physical abuse (It might have been a little of both).

Child Abuse and Substance Abuse

While little Forrest is definitely in good hands, Jenny was definitely not in good hands as a child. The most recent statistics reveal that as high as 60 percent of people in treatment for drug and alcohol abuse were neglected or abused as children. While Jenny suffers from a mental disorder because of her childhood, she is unfortunately not alone, and as far as children of abuse are concerned, Jenny is not that unusual. The only thing that really makes her unusual (Not to mention, lucky) is her friendship with Forrest, and his unyielding capacity for love and forgiveness.

What About Forrest?
Forrest Gump

The DSM-V highlights mental illnesses as anything that impairs social or occupational functioning; learning disorders of any nature are no exception. Mental Retardation is probably the closest mental disorder that would explain Forrest’s low IQ, but to be considered mentally retarded, a person must have an IQ of 70 or lower. Forrest’s IQ is just too high for him to qualify for that kind of diagnosis.
And as he demonstrates again and again, a low IQ doesn’t at all mean that someone can’t make great opportunities for themselves. (Stupid is as stupid does, right?).
While Forrest’s infatuation with Jenny makes him look a little stupid, he is certainly not the first or last person to be the victim of unrequited love. In fact, his tolerant nature probably makes him smarter than anyone who’s ever held a grudge about it.

What Do You Think?
Jenny and Her Flowers
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