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Review Essay on Ordinary People Film Reflection

Ordinary People Film Reflection


Ordinary people film was released in 1980. It is an American drama film starring Donald Sutherland, Mary T. Moore, Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton. The film is primarily focused on the upper middle class family disintegration in the American society. It is also focused on a family that lives in the Lake Forest as well as their experiences following the death of their son in and a boating accident.

He film was critical and a commercial success. Its pilot themes are based on mental health issues in the US society. Conrad, one of the characters played by Timothy Hutton is seen as an individual suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. He suffers survivor guilt following the death of his brother in the accident which he witnessed. This mental condition has left him being suicidal.

Additionally, there is also the issue that Conrad is suffering from lack of motherly affiliation and warm sensitivity. Warm sensitivity and familial affiliation is needed for a person to balance his or her social life and personal life. It is also critical for a person to lead a meaningful person and a positive.

Factors that Led to Conrad’s Trauma

Recently, Conrad tried to commit suicide and has been confined for four months in a psychiatric institution. After his return, he also feels alienated from his friends and family. He also seeks psychiatric help. He latter learns that Conrad witnessed as his brother Buck, who was idolized by all family members perished in the sailing incident. This brought him mental conditions that have been worsened by the fact that he is suffering from survivor’s guilt.

Conrad’s Crisis

Mental issues of Conrad can be traced back to the fact that he was involved in the accident that became fatal for his elder brother. The mental issues are enhanced by avoidance attitude from his mother towards him. The mother has non-expensive emotions directed towards the surviving son. This leads to creation of isolation feeling by Conrad and he perceives that he is being rejected.

Such perceptions make him feel angered and he feels a lot of resentment towards his mum and it has proved to be highly frustrating for Conrad. The film also depicts dysfunctional interactions between mother and son as well as how devastating this situation is in life for Conrad. It makes him lead a life characterized with psychological pain and tragedy.

The post-traumatic stress disorder of Conrad originates from the tragic incident that killed his brother. It has the effect that shattered him emotionally and it has worsened because of his mum’s condemnation and subjection to psychological isolation from his family. It is also essential to note that Conrad needed support from his family and parents if he was to fully recover from his condition.

Conrad develops severe depressive disorder with lack of support from his parents. Even so, it is still crucial to note that Conrad is very committed to utilizing his interest and positive energy to build great and meaningful affiliations outside his family. Nevertheless, his self-redemption efforts take a negative turn when he finds out that one of his friends committed suicide.

Following the news of suicide by one of his friend, one of the most crucial psychological elements is brought to light. This is the fact that people see their own world and a significant individual difference influences their view of the world. Karen, Conrad’s friend who committed suicide had been very encouraging to him. Even so, she fails to build the same positivity in her own life and this leads to her committing suicide.

The move has the effect of making Conrad lose positivity in life based on the fact that he cannot come to terms with how such a strong individual could have taken away her life. While one important member of the family doesn’t want anything to do with assisting Conrad, it is essential to note that his dad had a positive effect on him. Even though we were made to believe that he is inactive towards the life of his son in the first place, he changes his stance as time goes by.

He also portrays an incredible father figure who understands that pain of his family. He also understands the behavior of his wife towards Conrad and is trying everything to create a bridge between the son and the mother. We are additionally made to assume that the dad is trying to create good relations between the two because of paternal instincts and his great desire to keep his family together. Even so, his efforts to rebuild his family are prevented by the fact that the wife wants to forget the past and doesn’t want to focus on past incidences that created the current family situation.

This leads to emotional pressure to the dad and throughout the film; he is seen trying to persuade Conrad to open up and speak about the past so that can deal with the issue once and for all. Such factors have affected Conrad negatively more specifically, his mental health (Brewin & Holmes, 2003).

Crisis Intervention

`The best crisis strategy that can be used on Conrad is cognitive model. This is best suited for a case that is deeply rooted in distorted thinking following a tragic life event even though it is not the event itself. Conrad, following the boat incident that took away the life of his brother suffered psychological problems.

Even though it is crucial to note that the death of his brother is not the root cause of his problems. His psychological issues are connected with his perception on how the family feels about him. It is however also true that the mother has decided distance herself from the son because of the incident and the father realizes the situation that led to the death of his son. This is very significant in giving Conrad a feeling of being understood by a very important member of his family.

Cognitive model has the main purpose of ensuring that patients change their views of a crisis and settle for new reflections on the events. In this way, the model would be applied to enable Conrad understand that it wasn’t his fault that nothing could have been done to change the situation. This could also be highly influential in ensuring that he did not see his family to be blaming him for the death of his brother.

The model would also be very crucial in ascertaining that the family understood that he also lost a brother, someone he loved and cared for. The model is best applicable after the patient has stabilized. This attests to the reality that it is essential for the right interventions to be applied in a crisis because Conrad has been confined in a mental hospital for four months, which should have made him stable (Brewin & Holmes, 2003).

Intervention Skills

One of the most ideal intervention skills is resistance and transference method. Through the method, the therapist would have the chance to interview in the thought process and to understand the patient. This would also be very critical in moderating the process of thought of Conrad and it would be very effective in getting rid of all roadblocks that would lead to unfolding of necessary conflicts that are affecting the victim from within.

Neutrality and the real object is the other skill. This means that the therapist should employ a neutral approach to the crisis as this would help the patient to explore his innermost conflicts and re-channel his desire into directions that can be realized.

General system strategy is the other skill that can be applied. The strategy helps in evaluating the interdependence among those have undergone trauma. The family in this case has also been affected by the loss and they need each other. The therapist should therefore highlight the fact that all the family members are dependent on Conrad for them to be strong (Brewin & Holmes, 2003).

Post Crisis Aftercare

The most ideal post crisis aftercare for Conrad is community based. This will be crucial in ensuring that Conrad settles well in the community setting as it reduces his chances of going back for his therapy in a mental institution. Social and health services providers therefore have a duty to ensure that Conrad receives the right aftercare in the community setting.

These services are referrals and are essential in ensuring thorough Conrad rehabilitation and inclusion in the community. The referrals will also be critical in offering counselling services to immediate members of the family to boost their attitudes towards Conrad. There is no cultural factor where those perceived to have been confined in a mental institution are discriminated against in the society.

Social and health workers will therefore be very important in ensuring that the immediate community around Conrad is well informed of the advantages of accepting such people (Brewin & Holmes). His personal needs are to be relieved of the blame following the death of his brother. Even though it is a perceived claim, it is imperative for him to get support from members of the family.

Additionally, it is essential for immediate family members to enhance their relationship. The fact that Conrad’s mum distanced herself from his son depicts the fact that some significant family members are drifting their attachment from one of their own. This also means that the intervention plan should focus on immediate members of the family. Dr. Berger’s intervention plan is highly successful in ensuring Conrad stops blaming himself for demise of his brother and accept the weaknesses of his mother.




Brewin, C. R., & Holmes, E. A. (2003). Psychological theories of posttraumatic stress disorder. Clinical psychology review, 23(3), 339-376.

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