I will be looking at the behavior patterns of Gregor and relating them the actions and mentality of John Forbes Nash Jr. the main character in the American biographical drama film, A Beautiful Mind, who suffers from the brain disorder schizophrenia. Schizophrenia can be defined as a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that has affected people for thousands of years. The disorder was first only classified as a form of dementia, specifically known as “dementia praecox”.
The Swiss psychiatrist, Eugen Bleuler, was the first to originate the term “schizophrenia” in the year 191 1, ironically one year before Franz Kafka’s breakthrough in writing the ovel The Metamorphosis that has been said to be one of Kafka’s best works of literature, depicting the difficulty in searching for acceptance from others when in a time of need (“Schizophrenia”). The novel is also said to be a resemblance of Kafka’s own personal life depicted through “dream-like fantasies” or in other words, delusions.
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Kafka directly exposes both the positive and negative aspects of his own personal life in the novel, not only physically but also mentally. The cause of schizophrenia ranges from genetics”studies show that although it does have a strong hereditary omponent, about 60% of diagnosed schizophrenics have no family members with this disorder”to abnormal brain structure, to lastly, an environmental factor that may cause the disorder (Corcoran). The reasoning for Gregor Samsa’s schizophrenic diagnosis could be a result of the stress he had been undergoing.
Gregor feels a sense of entrapment in his job as a salesman, solely because if he does not go to work, how he and the rest of his family will continue to lead normal lives. This is a prime indication of the high levels of stress that Gregor has been facing. As more and more research is being conducted on the environmental impacts of schizophrenia, high levels of stress are being reported as a main component to these environmental factors. A study found that 46% of the 50 patients with schizophrenia tested had been exposed to stressful life events in the recent months leading up to their diagnosis of schizophrenia (Corcoran).
The constant worry and stress over financial situations can put a large enough burden on people’s lives that it affects their emotional stability and in Gregors case, can lead to serious mental illnesses. Making sure that his family always has food on the table and a roof over their heads, while not even holding the patriarchal position of the Samsa family, eventually broke down Gregor so much that he went into a state of psychosis. The majority of symptoms associated with schizophrenia can be classified as psychotic.
People diagnosed with this brain disorder may hear voices that other people do not hear. They may believe that other people are controlling their mind, reading their every thought, or plotting to cause harm to them. These tendencies may terrify people diagnosed with the isorder, causing them to keep themselves in isolation with constant paranoia. The symptoms that are noticed with the disorder involve delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, disorganized speech, and catatonic behavior.
These negative behaviors can be represented as losses relative to normal experiences. This makes it difficult for people diagnosed with schizophrenia to interact normally on a daily basis (“Schizophrenia”). The symptoms of schizophrenia that I will closely analyze are hallucinations and delusions. I chose these because delusions are what Gregor Samsa seems to suffer from n the novel The Metamorphosis. Many schizophrenic patients experience different central features of delusions involving a combination of egocentricity and external locus of control (Beck 62).
As defined in the article titled “Schizophrenia”, delusions are significant characteristics of schizophrenia and delusional disorder, also referred to as paranoia (Beck 25). A patient experiencing delusion may relate irrelevant events to his or her internal experiences and thoughts. Although similar characteristics of delusional disorders are observed in multiple other mental illnesses, such as epression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and body dysmorphic disorder, the delusional beliefs experienced in schizophrenics differ greatly.
These delusional beliefs are characterized by six different dimensions, which include pervasiveness, how much of a patient’s consciousness is controlled by the belief; conviction, how strongly the patient believes; significance, how important the belief is in patient’s meaning assignment system; intensity, to what degree it displaces more realistic beliefs; inflexibility and self-certainty, how impervious the belief is to contradictory evidence, logic, or reason; reoccupation; and impact on behavior and emotions.
All of these dimensions can be reflected in the behavior of Gregor. For Gregor, who believed entirely (conviction) that he had transformed overnight and awoke as an insect (pervasiveness) could not be convinced of the possibility that his belief may be wrong (inflexibility and self-certainty), and, as a result, hid in his bedroom underneath a sofa (behavioral impact). The high levels of these dimensions distinguish patients with schizophrenia, such as Gregor, from those individuals who do not suffer from the disorder (Beck 64).
A allucination can be defined as a sensory experience of something that does not exist outside the mind and is caused by various physical and mental health disorders without an external stimulus and with a compelling sense of their reality (Beck 25). Hallucinations in schizophrenia can involve a change to multiple areas of a patient’s personal and environmental experience, which include each patient’s personal, social, and cultural influences.
The most common form of a hallucination comes in the form of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs). These are often described as one or more ‘Voices” that alk to or about the patient. The hallucinations experienced by patients with schizophrenia are often associated with profound transformations of self- awareness that can seemingly be indescribable to the patient and can lead to feelings of separation from the common human experience and interaction (Chaudhury).
Scholarly research illustrates that both delusion and hallucinations are often a cause of distress, preoccupation, and significant interference in daily functioning (Chaudhury). This study is reflected in GregoMs life, as he had to take on the role of the breadwinner of the family. The stresses taken on by Gregor to not only pay off the debt that his parents have accumulated but be the main provider of the family at such a young age could have a strong influence on the state of mentality that Gregor expressed in the book.
His discontent with his job as a salesman, lack of healthy relationships with not only his family but also with friends, or lack there Of, could directly impact the state of psychosis he finds himself in when he wakes up at the beginning of the book. One scene in particular that reflect the behavior patterns and symptoms similar to the delusions and hallucinations n people that suffer from schizophrenia is on pages 25-26 in The Metamorphosis. The scene begins with Gregor’s sister, Grete and his mother moving the furniture out of his bedroom while he hides underneath the sofa.
The following excerpt about Gregor shows the delusional state of mind he is in: “Although Gregor told himself over and over again that nothing special was happening, only a few pieces of furniture were being moved, he soon had to admit that this coming and going of the women, their little calls to each other, the scraping of the furniture along the floor had the effect on him of a great urmoil swelling on all sides, and as much as he tucked in his legs and shrank until his belly touched the floor, he was forced to admit that he would not be able to stand it much longer… ow he really had no more time to examine the good intentions of the two women, whose existence, besides, he had almost forgotten, for they were so exhausted that they were working in silence, and one could hear only the heavy shuffling of their feet. ” This passage of The Metamorphosis is evidence of the auditory verbal hallucinations and visual hallucinations that Gregor is experiencing with his brain disorder. Research has shown that visual hallucinations in those diagnosed with schizophrenia tend to involve vivid scenes with family members, religious figures, and animals (Dantzer 127).
This explains what Gregor was seeing when the book talks about his family moving all of the furniture out of his bedroom, to leave him only with a sofa for him to hide under. Gregor illustrates many other common warning signs of schizophrenia other than the delusions and hallucinations detailed throughout the book. Dr. Corcoran examines the most common early warning signs of schizophrenia in the article “Could Stress Cause Psychosis in Individuals Vulnerable to Schizophrenia? which include social withdrawal, depression, oversleeping or insomnia, extreme reaction to criticism, inability to cry or express joy, and flat, expressionless gaze. She states that in some people, schizophrenia appears suddenly and without any warning signs. In the early phase of the disorder, patients often seem unmotivated, eccentric, emotionless, and withdrawn. They also may abandon their hobbies and activities, and their performance at work or at school gradually deteriorates (Corcoran). This evidence holds true throughout The
Metamorphosis, in particular when Gregor’s office manager appears at the Samsa household when Gregor does not show up for work the first morning that he wakes up to find himself transformed into an insect. His boss demands an explanation for his absence and makes it clear to Gregor that his recent work has been less than satisfactory. He also explains that his current behavior he is displaying looks very bad on his part, especially in light of the rumors circulating the office that Gregor may have stolen money from the company.
This behavior that Gregor has been displaying at work is a clear ndication of the disorder as it reflects many of the common symptoms that are reported in schizophrenics. Stealing and partaking in unethical behavior that would be considered out of character can also be signs of schizophrenia. Many schizophrenics engage in criminal and often violent behavior as a result of the disorder. Though violence has never been proven to be a symptom of schizophrenia, studies have shown a direct correlation between people diagnosed with the disorder and their engagement in violent or criminal action.
The root of this relationship can be a result of the failure of ommunity, family, or asylum care for those with such serious mental illnesses (Boyle 251 One can see various similarities in the behavior patterns Of Gregor Samsa in the book The Metamorphosis and John Forbes Nash Jr. in the movie A Beautiful Mind. A Beautiful Mind is an American biographical drama film that is based on the life of John Nash, a mathematical genius who suffers from the brain disorder schizophrenia.
Nash enters Princeton, an League university, as a bright student with an unbounded future ahead of him. He strives for that “perfect, original idea” in competition with other tudents in Princeton’s brutally competitive mathematical department, who are all in search for that same original idea to set them apart from the rest of their peers. The film does not begin outlining Nash as someone who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, yet the audience can observe the oddities he acquires that coincide with the common symptoms of schizophrenia.
Nash appears to be hostile and withdrawn right from the beginning of the film when he first meets his new roommate, Charles. Nash later makes a comment to Charles that he does not like people much and they don’t seem o like him much either. This is one of the qualities of a schizophrenic, the horrific idea of social interaction. The next delusional behavior exhibited by Nash is when he believes that he is invited to the Pentagon in order to crack encrypted enemy telecommunication. In his mind, Nash is able to crack the code and believes that his duties at Princeton are beneath his talents.
To his satisfaction, Nash is then given an assignment by his make-believe supervisor of the United States Department of Defense to search for patterns hidden in newspapers in magazines that will impede the plot by the Soviet Union. He becomes overly obsessive with finding these hidden patterns and believes that he is being followed when delivering his results to a secret mailbox. The delusions and hallucinations that Nash is experiencing is a clear indication of schizophrenia and are relative to the behaviors of Gregor Samsa in The Metamorphosis.
The bizarre imagination caused by schizophrenia in Nash that leads him to believe he has been assigned to perform these top secret duties for the US Department of Defense is similar to Gregor imagining he has transformed into a giant insect overnight. The alienation by family, riends, and even strangers is illustrated in both The Metamorphosis and A Beautiful Mind by the characters Gregor Samsa and John Nash. Gregor feels that he does not have many friends that he can Say he has a close relationship with.
The friendships that he was able to build at work, though, were solely work related and never intimate. The alienation is also shown with Gregor and his father, as he feels he does not have the typical father-son relationship that most normal young men seem to have. Nash also feels the same lack of personal relationships that Gregor does. Although Nash does ave a spouse, Alicia, their relationship is quickly ruined when she tries to prove to him that he has been having delusions and hallucinations and wants him to take his prescribed medication for the schizophrenia.
The disbelief that Nash shows toward Alicia becomes evident when his frustration builds up to the point of attempting to kill her. He tells Alicia that his friend Parcher told him to do it, but this is all a hallucination Nash is undergoing. Schizophrenics tend to ruin relationships with people they are close with because the mind of a patient suffering from this disorder sees this absurd ehavior as being what people without the disorder see as “normal”.