Psychological learnings of movie “Reign Over me”

The types of psychological illnesses that the characters have in the movie “ Reign O’er Me”. Summary of the movie. Over view of Charlie Fineman and his symptoms that he displays. The symptoms that Alan Johnson shows, and the symptoms and characteristics that Donna Remar shows during this movie. What is PTSD, depression, bipolar, co-dependency, narcissistic disorders? What are the symptoms and treatments for these disorders? How does the actual song “Love, Reign O’er Me” link into this movie? Information about the song.

My conclusion of the characters disorders and my thoughts of the movie.

Keywords: PTSD, Post traumatic stress disorder, Depression, Co-dependency, Narcissistic disorder.

Reign O’er Me is a movie that shows Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) going through the challenges of what seems to be PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), due to him losing his family in September 11, 2001 attack. Charlie is re-united with his former college roommate Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) who tries to help Charlie with his problems all the while having marital problems himself.

Which at first he fails, but in the end helps himself and Charlie. Alan is not the only one helping Charlie. The psychologist Angela (Liv Tyler) has sessions with Charlie to try to get him to open up, but does not have much success. She does however convince Charlie to tell his story to someone. Angela also helps Charlie when he gets committed to a hospital for a 3 day evaluation and then again in court. Donna who is seen struggling with her own problems is also helped by Angela through sessions.

It also seems that she helps Charlie by supporting him in court and then again when she comes by his new apartment.

During the first night of Alan being reunited with his former college roommate Charlie, he notices that Charlie does not act normal. Charlie doesn’t remember Alan at first, but does take a liking to him soon. It’s mentioned that Charlie likes Alan because he did not know Charlie’s family. Charlie takes Alan to a bar where he plays drums, after his drum playing scene Alan asks Charlie about his family; which infuriates Charlie. He becomes aggressive and throws root beer on Alan all the while accusing Alan that someone sent him there to talk to him. Alan feels that he and his wife are on top of each other, that he has no man hobbies. So when Charlie comes to his home the next night wanting him to go out, he jumps at the idea. Charlie repeadely tells Alan he has to take his shoes off when Alan comes to his house and he is repeatedly remodeling the kitchen. Charlie is always listening to music and especially on particular song called “Reign O’er Me”. While watching the movie I concluded that Charlie did have PTSD and possibly depression. Alan would have what I think is a Co-dependency disorder.

Donna Remar was in a 10 year marriage and 5 out of the 10 year marriage her husband cheated on her. She is now trying to pursue Alan for sexual relations at his dentist office. She is denied by Alan and turn she writes a letter stating that Alan tried to make sexual intentions to her and that she was going to file a law suit against the practice and him. She later apologizes for her behavior and tells Alan why she must have been acting the way she was due to her past relationship. Later she runs into Alan and Charlie at Angela’s office. This is where I am guessing she takes an interest in Charlie. I would think that Donna is suffering from a Narcissistic disorder.

What does the song Reign O’ver Me mean and who is it by? The song sounds like the writer wrote it after losing a loved one, sad and depressing. The song lyrics “Love, Reign o’er Me” concerns the main character of Quadrophenia, Jimmy, having a personal crisis. With nothing left to live for, he finds a spiritual redemption in pouring rain. As Townshend described the song: [It] refers to Meher Baba’s one time comment that rain was a blessing from God; that thunder was God’s Voice. It’s another plea to drown, only this time in the rain. Jimmy goes through a suicide crisis. He surrenders to the inevitable, and you know, you know, when it’s over and he goes back to town he’ll be going through the same shit, being in the same terrible family situation and so on, but he’s moved up a level.

He’s weak still, but there’s a strength in that weakness. He’s in danger of maturing (Townshend, 1972). I can see why Charlie sings this song over and over again in the court room. I can also see why the producer picked this particular song for the movie. This song has pain like the pain Charlie is feeling from losing his family. It also has the back history of the going hand in hand with the mental disorders in the movie. You can also see that Charlie singing and replaying the song over and over again, somewhere subconsciously he does remember his family.

PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) to my knowledge is something that can happen to someone after a traumatic event such as war for soldiers and then again with mothers who have just given birth and I would say that would be due to the chemical changes in the body. The “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger. PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers.

PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes. (NIH, n.d.) Is there treatment for PTSD? The answer is yes there is. There are two types of ways for treatment psychotherapy and/or medication. Various forms of psychotherapy are helpful in PTSD. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps a person learn behavioral techniques for relaxation and restructure patterns of thinking that foster anxiety. Exposure therapy involves systematically exposing someone to the memories and events associated with a trauma and reducing the fear response to these events, under the guidance of a trained therapist.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) involves presenting the patient with various visual and tactile stimuli meant to release emotional experiences and free the mind of blockages. In addition, support groups help people with PTSD work through their feelings with others who have had similar experiences. The goal of therapy is to encourage the patient to recall all details of the event, express grief, complete the mourning process, and get on with life. For children, this may involve play therapy. Benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Xanax, and Ativan, are often useful for short-term, immediate relief of anxiety symptoms associated with PTSD. Long-term use of these medications is strongly discouraged. A class of antidepressants known as selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Celexa, Paxil, Prozac, Lexapro, and Zoloft, help modify levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals) that foster appropriate communication between nerve cells, and can improve PTSD.

Research also suggests that other medications, such as beta-blockers and corticosteroids, may help diminish the likelihood for forming strong negative emotional memories when given soon after experiencing a highly traumatic event. The blood pressure medicine prazosin has also been shown in preliminary research studies to help alleviate nightmares associated with PTSD Anti-epileptic drugs with mood stabilizing properties, such as Depakote or Tegretol, may lessen mood swings and explosive anger. Anti-psychotic drugs may help people with PTSD who have persistent paranoia. (Goldberg, 2014) This disorder is to be said what Charlie is suffering from.

Clinical Depression seems to be a common diagnoses in today’s society. It seems like anytime you talk with someone about medical history or problems it always comes up that they have depression. Now there are many types of depression and it all depends on which one you have been diagnosed with to determine on how your behavior works with this diagnoses. I am classified as having depression and I am classified as to have bipolar. To me I feel that these are the same exact thing. My understanding behind bipolar is you have very wide mood swings from sad, happy, deeply depressed, angry, and aggravated. The depressive phase of bipolar disorder shares many similarities to regular depression, including prolonged sadness, inability to concentrate, loss of energy, difficulty sleeping, and thoughts of suicide. People with bipolar depression, however, tend to have more unpredictable mood swings, more irritability and guilt, and more feelings of restlessness.

They also tend to move and speak slowly, sleep a lot and gain weight. According to, your depression might be bipolar disorder if: You’ve experienced repeated episodes of major depression. You had your first episode of major depression before age 25. You have a first-degree relative with bipolar disorder. When you’re not depressed, your mood and energy levels are higher than most people’s. When you’re depressed, you oversleep and overeat. Your episodes of major depression are short (less than 3 months). You’ve lost contact with reality while depressed. You’ve had postpartum depression before. You’ve developed mania or hypomania while taking an antidepressant. Your antidepressant stopped working after several months.

You’ve tried 3 or more antidepressants without success. (Staff, 2012) To my knowledge there are at least 2 ways of treatment for depression or bipolar and that is psychotherapy and medication. With myself being classified as both I have done both types of treatments. I have done both treatments with no involvement from the other and with both hand in hand; and I feel that doing both treatments together at the same time is the way to go. You have less episodes of both conditions. I would feel that Charlie is also clinically depressed as well is Alan possibly.

What is a Co-dependency disorder? The term codependency has been around for almost four decades. Although it originally applied to spouses of alcoholics, first called co-alcoholics, researchers revealed that the characteristics of codependents were much more prevalent in the general population than had been imagined. In fact, they found that if you were raised in a dysfunctional family or had an ill parent, you’re likely codependent. Don’t feel bad if that includes you. Most American families are dysfunctional. You’re in the majority! Researchers also found that codependent symptoms got worse if left untreated. The good news is that they’re reversible. Following is a list of symptoms of codependents. You needn’t have them all to qualify as codependent (Lancer, 2012). Symptoms of codependency are low self-esteem, people pleasing, poor boundaries, reactivity, caretaking, control, dysfunctional communication, obsessions, dependency, denial, problems with intimacy, and painful emotions (Lancer, 2012).

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism. Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school. Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered on psychotherapy.

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by dramatic, emotional behavior, which is in the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders. Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, 2011).

After researching these disorders I see that Charlie does indeed suffer from PTSD and in my opinion is clinically depressed as well. I am doubting my earlier statement that Alan is co-dependent due to the research on the topic there. Still there is a part of me that wants to say he is co-dependent. His father and mother are seen in the beginning of the movie in separate rooms and seem to not get along with each other. Is this classified as a dysfunctional family? Alan can’t tell his wife that he wants space for himself and feels suffocated by their relationship, he uses Charlie’s freedom and condition to get him out of the house and away from his wife. To me he does have a Co-dependency disorder. My research on narcissistic personality disorder has really made me think that this is what is wrong with Donna. She has a high confidence when asking Alan if he wants a sexual favor from her.

When she is denied and is told that she will not be seen by him or any other dentist there you can then see the fragile self-esteem rising in her. Although I looks like Angela helped Donna out by talking to her in there sessions as well as helping Alan on the sidewalk and Charlie in their brief short sessions. In my opinion Alan did not just help Charlie with his problems and by being a friend but he helped Donna out by rejecting her then allowing her to come back which gave her the opportunity to admit she had a problem and to apologize. In retrospect I think Donna helped Charlie by supporting him and not trying to judging him. Yes I think it also has to do that she would remind him of his wife as well. Charlie helped her in the same fashion as just letting her be there and not asking for nothing. Charlie also helped Alan without even knowing he did. He got Alan out of his house and gave him some freedom, time away from his wife. In the end Alan admits to his wife he hasn’t been open with her and apologizes and Charlie admits to his in-laws that he does remember his family but it’s hard for him. There is hope at the end of this movie for all.

I enjoyed getting to watch this movie in class. I think it is a great insight on how people’s behaviors are they have suffered a great loss and when they have a psychological disorder. I would absolutely recommend this movie to a friend/ family member to not just watch due to it being a great movie but for a little knowledge when dealing with a loved one in these situations.


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