The film Phobia is an Indian psychological thriller that capitalizes on the irrational fears of people. It was produced by Viki Rajani and directed by Pavan Kirpalani. The movie stars Radhika Apte (Mehak) in the leading role (Kripalani, 2016). Mehak is an artist who has severe agoraphobia. This condition resulted from the traumatic experience she had after being sexually abused by a taxi driver. Agoraphobia is a condition that makes an individual paranoid about places and situations that may cause them to feel embarrassed, helpless, and trapped. It as well makes one anticipate situations such as using transportation, being in open places, being in a crowd, and standing in line, among others. Mehak had fear and anxiety about public places. She also disliked socializing with unknown people. Various situational factors surround Mehak’s condition. For instance, her sister Anusha always supported her after her experience. However, becomes she stopped helping Mehak due to her continuous acentric behavior (Kripalani, 2016). Anusha believes that Mehak’s situation is starting to impact her son, who is five years old. Therefore, Mehak faces various uprising events that are all associated with her being agoraphobic.
Mehak’s close friend Shaan takes her to an empty house, assuming that leaving her alone for some time might better her situation. Mehak gets to know Nikki, a neighbor and they end up being friends. Manu is the other neighbor of Mehak (Kripalani, 2016). He is as well having a psychological condition related to anger management. Manu is emotionally unstable because of his girlfriend, Jiah broke up with him. Jiah uses to stay at Mehak’s new place and suddenly left without requesting for her deposit and paying the rent. Mehak imagines having Jiah’s diary in the house. Such imagination makes her think that there is a malicious spirit in her space. Her image as she experiences such imagination in the film is shown below.
The image shows Mehak experiencing strange imaginations. After some time, Mehak begins to build a strong accusation regarding Jiah’s departure to Manu. She as well claims that there are devastating events occurring around her apartment.
In the film, Mehak portrays a sign of a psychological disorder. She is believed to be suffering from agoraphobia because of the conditions she presents (Kripalani, 2016). For instance, she develops a love for the four walls of her home. The image below shows the fear she had to leave her apartment.
The image shows how Mehak feared leaving the house to any place. She also has an overblown reaction to a new environment. This effect is evident when she begins to imagine having Jiah’s diary. Mehak has terrified eyes as she fears most of the things in her surrounding, including the sounds she hears. Every door in her apartment seems to be causing her a different kind of fear. Lastly, she is convinced that there is a malevolent spirit in her apartment. Mehak seems tormented in the house, but she is too terrified to leave the house. Her psychologist tries therapy, but she still experiences repeated panic attacks forcing her friend Shaan to take her to a new apartment.
At the beginning of the movie Phobia, Mehak is shown as a talented young artist who has survived a Traumatic attack. Mehak was not a traumatized girl consumed by the ghost in the living room. She was an intelligent and curious woman who presses on with her musical quest. However, her life changes after being sexually abused. She begins to experience an escalating terror out of a sense of moral duty. She becomes more terrified by her surroundings.
The condition of Mehak can be subjected to personality functioning aspects. For instance, Abraham Maslow’s self-actualization concept can be related to the situation. The theory asserts that people tend to prioritize their safety once all their physiological needs are accomplished. Besides, emotional occurrences are connected to self-esteem (Myers & Dewall, 2018). In the case of trauma, people tend to seek self-actualization (fulfilling their potential). After being traumatized, Mehak felt as if she lost the meaning and purpose of leaving. She felt helpless, as her emotions became more active but misdirected. Such a state is referred to as self-transcendence, which refers to the act of seeking identity and purpose beyond self (Myers & Dewall, 2018). For instance, after Mehak moved to a new apartment, she begins to find Jiah’s whereabouts (Kripalani, 2016). Therefore, Mehak’s reactions are geared towards obtaining self-actualization after encountering trauma. A self-actualized person. Achieving such a state makes one self-accepting, spontaneous, self-aware, caring, loving, and not affected by other people’s opinions (Myers & Dewall, 2018). Mehak was in such a state before she got traumatized.
In the film, Mehak is shown to be suffering from a mental disorder. According to DSM-5 diagnostic criteria, it is ascertained that she is experiencing agoraphobia (Silk, 2013). The criterion indicates that an individual must possess more than five symptoms associated with mental illness. Throughout the film, Mehak portrays various signs of agoraphobia. First, she seems to be in a depressed mood all the time. Second, her interest and pleasure in various activities as diminished; for instance, she no longer wants to leave the house and go out with friends. The other sign is diminishing ability to concentrate, and recurrent experience of fear (Silk, 2013). Mehak also experiences a reduction in physical movement. In the house, she fears to move to other rooms in her apartment.
Finally, she experiences feelings of worthlessness every day, making her fear being around unknown people. Such symptoms can cause impairment in occupational, social, and other mental aspects. For instance, Mehak becomes delusional as she encounters strange imaginations. Such a state can be seen in the image below.
The image shows the delusional state of Mehak. During this scene, she experiences imagination. As a result, she get more fearful in her house. DSM-5 criteria state that mental disorder is associated with high mortality through suicide(Myers & Dewall, 2018). Therefore, people with a similar condition as Mehak must seek treatment. The close friend of Mehak, Shaan, notices the depression issues Mehak is facing and decides to help her by taking her to a new apartment. The DSM-5 criteria as well highlight some characteristics that must be associated with the victim before being affirmed to be mentally ill (Silk, 2013). For instance, the individual must show signs of brooding, obsessive, and irritable rumination. There has to be signs of excessive worry, anxiety, and complaints of pain. Mehak experienced most of these symptoms.
In the film, the character, Mehak, is found to be suffering from agoraphobia, a psychological disorder. She had started treatment through a psychologist, but then she stopped due to continuous panic attacks. However, her condition can be treated through psychotherapy and biomedical therapy (Myers & Dewall, 2018). In psychotherapy, the therapist is required to help the patient overcome anxiety and trauma. There are various forms of this psychotherapy. In treating agoraphobia, cognitive behavioral therapy can be used. This therapy will focus on teaching the patient skills to tolerate emotional fears and anxiety. It also involves reminding the victim of their initial success (Myers & Dewall, 2018). The therapist will consider factors that may cause a panic attack and how to tolerate symptoms of anxiety.
Most of the agoraphobia patients have trouble leaving their homes, as in the case of Mehak. Therapists are always aware of this challenge, and so in the early stages, they often prefer going to the victims in their houses. Some doctors may as well conduct services through email, phone, and other computer programs. Further, severe cases like the one of Mehak require various efforts to be made regarding patient treatment. For instance, the patient can sort to be accompanied by a trusted friend or relative to the appointments. Biomedical treatment relies on biological operations. The health professional can administer electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT), deep-brain stimulation, and antidepressants to the patient. Antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (Myers & Dewall, 2018). Anti-anxiety medications can as well be used in biomedical treatment. They include sedatives such as benzodiazepines that can help reduce anxiety effects.
Prognosis of Treatment
It may take some time (weeks) for the medication agoraphobia to take effect. Therefore, it is crucial to try different medications to find the one that works. The two methods, psychotherapy, and medications can both be used but courteously to find the most effective one. Nonetheless, the combination of the two can cause side effects such as uncomfortable physical sensations (Shedler et al., 2010). Therefore, doctors should administer every process gradually. However, agoraphobia can be managed and treated effectively through professional care. Additionally, there are steps that patients need to observe to cope with the condition during and after treatment. For instance, they have to stick to the treatment plan, learn calming skills, avoid feared situations, and avoid recreational drugs such as alcohol.
Kripalani, P. (Director). (2016). Phobia (Film). Eros International and Next Gen Films. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5743656/
Myers, D. G., & Dewall, C. N. (2018). Psychology. https://store.macmillanlearning.com/ca/product/Psychology/p/131905062X
Shedler, J., Beck, A., Fonagy, P., Gabbard, G. O., Gunderson, J., Kernberg, O., & Westen, D. (2010). Personality disorders in DSM-5. American Journal of Psychiatry, 167(9), 1026-1028.
Silk, K. R. (2013). Caught in an unconscious split: Commentary on “The ironic fate of the personality disorders in DSM-5”. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/per0000047
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