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Mischief, Mayhem, in Tyler We Trust: A Textual Analysis of Personality Disorders as Depicted in the Film Fight Club

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Psychological disorders are widely represented in films, as well as in other media texts such as novels, television shows, etc. One film that portrays more than one example of a psychological disorder is Fight Club, a Twentieth Century Fox movie released with an R rating in 1999. Directed by David Fincher; and produced by Art Linson, Cean Chaffin, and Ross Grayson Bell, the movie mainly introduces Dissociative Identity Disorders (also known as Multiple Personality Disorders), but also hints at insomnia and depression. The movie is adapted from the book Fight Club written by Chuck Palahniuk. Fox marketed the movie using a "myriad of merchandise, including posters, the soundtrack, and even email addresses (" (CNN). The movie's production budget was set at $63,000,000 with the movie grossing $37,030,102 (Daily Box Office). The characters of the movie refer to themselves as the "middle children of history" with the feelings of having no purpose or place in life. They convey that they have no history-making events or real set goals and/or destiny to look forward to. They were brought up by society to believe that one-day they would be rich, famous and loved just as those depicted on television. This is symbolic of society during the surrounding time of the movie's release. It is prevalent in modern society to strive to become someone/something that one sees in the media. The movie is directed towards Generation-X, but the "...hope was that the film would demonstrate the themes of the story to a larger audience. It would offer more people the idea that they could create their own lives outside the existing blueprint for happiness offered by society" (Palahniuk). This message was one that demanded that its viewers put all that drives them aside, and rethink what they had been taught from childhood. After the film's release, instead of delivering the message that was intended, it was met with criticism and misunderstanding. This was due partly to the fact that it was scheduled for release shortly after the Columbine shootings. The movie became an easy target for those upset by the blatant violence which surrounded the Columbine incident. Although Fight Club is a film full of violence it is in reality one that promotes anti-violence, and points out to the audience the human impulses that cause violent behavior. Ironically, despite all of the media scrutiny of the movie, in the entirety of Fight Club only one person dies. From the opening credits, which take you through a journey of the construction of the brain, one can see that the movie will take them on a roller coaster ride of confusion. To get a full understanding of the movie you have to watch it more than once because the way that it presents itself is like a mental puzzle for the viewer. The main character remains nameless until near the end, going by simply narrator, according to the ending credits. Edward Norton was perfectly cast in this role. About halfway through the movie, narrator finds books referring to the anatomy of a man named Jack, at which time he starts referring to himself as Jack in the third person (e.g. " I am Jacks broken heart..."). My intent is to analyze the depiction of psychological disorders portrayed in the movie Fight Club.

"People are always asking me if I know Tyler Durden..." narrator (Edward Norton) begins the movie with a narration mentioning a theater of mass destruction and some group called project mayhem that has set bombs around the city to detonate and destroy. Narrator makes a foreshadowing remark stating "I know this because Tyler knows this" which leads the audience to believe that maybe they are connected in a way that we don't yet understand. Narrator/Jack then leads us into the movie by stating that he realizes all of what is happening has something to do with a girl named Marla Singer. We see Narrator/Jack at a support group for men with testicular cancer; he starts attending support group meetings after seeing his doctor in order to get some medication for his insomnia. Narrator/Jack then takes us back and explains that he hasn't slept for six months, and that nothing seems real, everything is far away and a "copy of a copy". He states that with insomnia you are never really asleep but you are never really awake either. Most adults need roughly eight hours of sleep at night to function properly, although the exact amount of time needed depends on the person, if a person wakes feeling rested then they are probably getting enough sleep (Hamilton). Psychological disorders can lead to insomnia and that seems to be the case in Fight Club (PsychNet-UK).

Going on the advice of his doctor, Narrator/Jack starts frequenting the support groups where he meets Bob, and with Bob learns that he can cry which gives him the emotional release he needs to be able to sleep. Bob could be seen as a father figure whom Narrator/Jack has been lacking since the age of six, who by consoling Narrator/Jack lets him know that it is "ok to cry". Narrator/Jack becomes addicted to the feeling of freedom that emotional release gives him. He believes that he needs the groups to cry and therefore find his peace of mind. Marla is introduced as another "faker" touring the groups, causing conflict when Narrator/Jack finds he cannot cry with another "faker" present. He tries to compromise with her and split up the groups, so as to be able to find his freedom and emotional release again. They agree on different nights, and the movie progresses to him sitting on an airplane, where he is starting to have violent thoughts and he begins to daydream hoping for a mid-air collision. We see him wake up with Brad Pitt's character Tyler Durden sitting next to him going over the exit procedures for the plane. Tyler gives the impression that he lives life to the fullest, and appears to be the complete opposite of Narrator/Jack. When Narrator/Jack returns home after his business trip, he stands below his condo, which he "loved" and watches as it and all of his beloved material possessions, which made him feel complete burns away. Narrator/Jack thought that he needed all of his expensive material objects to feel complete; because where others obtained these objects for necessity he used them to measure his self-worth. "Sociologists call the process of actively creating meaning in this way the 'social construction of reality'. This means that, while reality exists, we must negotiate the meaning of that reality" (Croteau & Hoynes 7).

Left with no place to go, Narrator/Jack first calls Marla but quickly changes his mind at the last moment and contacts Tyler instead. They go out and have some drinks after which Tyler tells Jack that he can stay with him. After agreeing to move



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