English 010 5:00
04 December 18
Can You Hear The Voice’s
It’s likely you’ve encountered someone with a mental illness at least once in your life, but it’s unlikely that they were violent, hopefully. In the movie “The Voices” it shows just that, Ryan Reynolds plays Jerry, a homicidal schizophrenic man who regularly spoke to his dog and cat. The animals represented both sides of his conscious as everything they said was entirely something of his making, the cat being evil and the dog being good. One scene in particular that rose many questions was after he claimed his first victim, he had unintentionally killed her and was conflicted about what to do so he consulted his animals. First the kinder side of his conscious, the dog, suggested that he goes to the authorities and they might understand while the cat had called both of them stupid and told Jerry to hide the body. Keep in mind that this was all in Jerry’s head, this was a great representation of how some schizophrenic individuals may associate their delusions with the the thoughts and feelings they have. This film brought up many questions for me. What is schizophrenia, how does someone get the disease, and do schizophrenic people have violent tendencies?
What is schizophrenia? According to The Mayo Clinic, schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which people experience reality in an abnormal way. The disease may bring along delusions, hallucinations, problems with speech such as putting words together properly in a sentence. A person with the disease may show signs physically of the disease such as poor personal hygiene, a lack of showing emotion, and not changing facial expression often. These symptoms are displayed very well in film, for example. After Jerry had claimed his first victim he had decided to finally start taking his medication. Of course he consulted his pets prior, and the response he received from his cat was, “Take those drugs, and you will enter a bleak and lonely world Jerry”(Marjane). He knew that he would be alone without his delusions and hallucinations or might even count on them as a support system. Once the effects of his pill set in, tons of his symptoms had disappeared, he was seeing the world for what it actually was and it was torture for him. He sat in his blood covered apartment and cried out for his animals to respond to him and begged with no response. Eventually the pill wore off and his animals could speak to him once more and his apartment was spotless in his eyes once again. His hallucinations and delusions acted as some kind of scapegoat from reality. This demonstrates very well the effect medication could have on patients with mental disorders may not always be seen as positive from the patient’s perspective.
What can cause schizophrenia? It’s believed to have plenty of possible causes such as substance abuse, a certain brain chemistry, complications at birth or early infancy and simply just passed on genetically. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “While schizophrenia occurs in 1% of the general population, having a history of family psychosis greatly increases the risk. Schizophrenia occurs at roughly 10% of people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder” (NAMI). People with close family diagnosed with disease automatically puts them in the bracket for developing the disease throughout their life at some point. This is displayed very well in the film as Jerry’s mother is shown to have schizophrenia in a flashback to his younger years. In this scene Jerry’s father is seen abusing Jerry and calling both Jerry and his mother crazy. During the whole episode he kept seeing his childhood sock puppet talking to him which solidifies that he was schizophrenic as a child. His mother even saying “I can hear the secret conversations of the world”(Marjane). In this case it’s very likely it was passed on genetically.
Not all schizophrenic patients are homicidal, or even violent at all. While most tend to lead peaceful lives out of the frame with no intent of harm towards others. However it is not unlikely that there may be a link between schizophrenia and homicidal tendencies. A study in Australia done on 435 inmates convicted of homicide found that 38 of them were diagnosed with schizophrenia. That was roughly about 8.7 percent of the inmates in the sample while about only 1 percent of the general population is diagnosed with the disease. Why was this population more than 8 times larger than what it is for the general population? The only key difference in these populations is homicide, bring in homicide and suddenly the rates of those diagnosed rises. It can’t be a coincidence and according to James Ogloff, J.D., Ph.D, it’s not. James is quoted as saying ‘Patients with schizophrenia are significantly more likely than those in the general community to commit homicide offenses,” (Sinclair) This is not to say that all people diagnosed with the disease are homicidal and violent, but simply highlighting the fact that with their symptoms, physicians opinions, and the increase of schizophrenia amongst criminals who committed homicide, it’s impossible not to associate a link between the two.
The film “The Voices” truly emphasizes the negative effects of schizophrenia.The movie properly displayed what the effects of schizophrenia have on a person with Ryan Reynolds playing a very convincing schizophrenic. He showed the hallucinations, delusions and lack of personal hygiene very well with Jerry’s pets speaking to him on such a frequent basis and the apartment being covered in blood and human remains when he’s on his medication. Sadly this film also sheds light on how difficult it is treat schizophrenia efficiently as Jerry avoids his medication for practically the whole film It also has a comedic undertone which gave this movie some very funny dialogue. Overall I’d give this movie a 80%, the plotline developed very quickly and definitely grabs the viewer’s attention but also fails to deliver some background and brings up some unanswered questions. It had a 11 million dollar budget and it didn’t even make $500,00 so the movie technically failed on paper, but if you choose to ignore that I think you’ll catch yourself watching this movie more than once!
“NAMI.” NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia.
“Schizophrenia.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 10 Apr. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354443.
Sinclair, Leslie. “Evidence Supports Link Between Schizophrenia, Violent Crime.” Psychiatrics News, https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/pn.46.17.psychnews_46_17_20_2
Satrapi Marjane,”The Voices”, Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick, Gemma Atrerton, Jacki Weaver, October 3rd, 2015
“The Voices.” Safe Haven (2013) – Rotten Tomatoes, www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_voices/.