Power Of The Unknown Essay

2308 words - 10 pages

The film, K-Pax, depicts a man who is not your typical delusional. He claims that he is an extra-terrestrial named Prot from a planet called K-Pax. He exerts such power of conviction through his extraordinary knowledge in astrophysics that it almost has his own psychiatrist second-guessing. On top of that, he is imbued with wisdom and shows great compassion towards others. While Prot’s case may be unlike any other, a variety of diagnoses can be made. He could possibly suffer from schizophrenia, severe posttraumatic stress disorder, or dissociative identity disorder. The method of treatment used in the film is through anti-psychotic drugs, therapy sessions, and hypnosis. In the end, ...view middle of the document...

). At the conclusion of the film, it seems that Prot is hit with catatonia. Catatonic immobility is a symptom of schizophrenia that can be described as people maintaining unusual postures for long periods of time. When it is time for Prot to “leave,” he is found motionless underneath his bed and then is wheeled out.
It is highly likely that Prot suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder because he witnesses a very traumatic event 5 years prior. Dr. Powell manages to identify Prot as Robert Porter and finds out that he came home one day to find both his wife and daughter killed. Porter kills the perpetrator and eventually attempts suicide. This traumatic event is considered the one criterion that really separates PTSD from other disorders. Along with this criterion, the event causes extreme fear or helplessness, it can be reexperienced, stimuli associated with the trauma is avoided, there is increased arousal, and the symptoms last more than a month (Kring, et al.). Prot displays a lot of these symptoms in the film. By taking on another identity, he is repressing his fears and helplessness about the incident. This is later brought up through hypnosis. His alternative identity is also a way to avoid anything associated with the trauma. There is a scene where Prot is exposed to the sprinklers at one point and he reacts adversely. His actions illustrate intense reactivity to a reminder in that particular scene. The duration of the symptoms also fit the DSM-IV-TR criteria for PTSD.
Another disorder that could plague Prot is dissociative identity disorder. The DSM-IV-TR criteria for this disorder is the presence of two or more personalities, at least two of the alters recurrently taking control of behavior, and the inability of at least one of the alters to recall information (Kring, et al.). The alter can be an extremely complex character and is usually the polar opposite of the other. It commonly begins in childhood and because it is more severe than other dissociative disorders, recovery can be difficult. DID can be paired with amnesia, depersonalization, suicide attempts…etc. Other diagnoses can be present with this disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder (Kring, et al.). The hypnosis sessions reveals all of the traumatic and stressful events from his past. He explains that his father used to work at a slaughter-house and one day died from an accident. Eventually he ends up working at the slaughter-house too and impregnates his girlfriend at seventeen. After some time passes, he witnesses the murder of his wife and daughter. During these recollections, Prot still refers to himself as an alien from K-Pax that is called upon by his human friend whenever he is in trouble. His friend is of course, himself and Prot is the alter that was created when his father died at a young age. Since then, whenever he experiences a stressful or traumatic event, he assumes his alter, Prot. Forming a new identity is a way to cope...

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