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Intellectual Disability Over the YearsMovie Review

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The author of this report has been asked to view, review and analyze the implications of the movie The Other Sister. Points of analysis that will occur in this movie include an introduction to the paper and this would include the disability that is in play in the movie as well as how this disability fails the person who has it. As for the other sections, there will be a history of the given disability, an assessment of the disability, an analysis of society today as it relates to the disability and experience of the author when it comes to this movie. While mental retardation is not treated in the punitive and barbaric fashion it has been in the past, anyone who has it or is charged with caring for someone that does will face some obvious and ongoing challenges and this would include from the patient him/herself.


Movie Summary

As indirectly identified in the introduction, the movie centers on a person that has a slight case of intellectual disability, sometimes more crassly referred to as mental retardation. The character in question is Carla Tate, as portrayed by Juliette Lewis. She is in her early 20's. She has gone to a school that is tailored towards her mental status for a long time but has just obtained a certificate and has returned home. She later meets a love interest by the name of Daniel, as portrayed by Giovanni Ribisi, who has much the same affliction.


It should be pointed out that "mental retardation" as a term has generally been expunged from the medical and clinical vernacular in favor of intellectual disability. There are two primary mental issues that present themselves when it comes to someone with an intellectual disability. The first of those two is a general defect in intellectual functioning. As stated by WebMD, this refers to a person's intelligence quotient (IQ) and this number is usually on the low side when it comes to patients with intellectual disability. IQ is the trait and ability of someone's mind to reason, make decisions, solve problems and learn. The other part of the mind and how it works that is affected by intellectual disability is adaptive behaviors. As stated by WebMD, "these are the skills necessary for day-to-day live, such as being able to communicate effectively, interact with others and take care of oneself. When intellectual disability manifests in children, it can be noticed by the children who roll over/sit up/crawl/walk later than they should, have a delay in talking (or trouble in general with talking), a slow mastering of even simple tasks, bad memory, inability to connect actions with consequences, behavioral problems and issues with problem solving or logical thinking (WebMD, 2015).


Mental retardation/intellectual disability as a diagnosed disorder actually goes back to at least 1522 BC in ancient Egypt. The Greeks and the Romans seem to catch on to developmental issues relating to intelligence as well. However, treatment and handling of such children in a psychological sense remain in its infancy until France starting in 1799. Jean-Marc Itard developed a skills program for a child he came across named Victor. There was later the work of Eduouard Seguin and his systemic program of treating the "feeble-minded" at a hospital in Paris. This work extended to the United States in the early to mid-1800's. There were many that were very optimistic about the ability to serve and assist these people with ID. People that were on the forefront of doing this well were Dorthea Dix and Samuel Howe Perkins. However, things got a little nasty for ID patients starting in the late 1800's as the United States become more industrialized. There was a noted shift where ID patients were segregated from the rest of the public, institutionalized or worse. There even came the subject of eugenics where who was born and who was not was a choice made in large part on how mentally and physically well and "desirable" a child was. The way this was enforced was through mass sterilization of people that were deemed to be lost causes in terms of their behavior and/or mental acuity. In short, it was thought that the "damage" that could be rendered by such people could be limited if they were unable to reproduce. As the early 1900's came to pass, there was the creation of what is now known as psychological testing. There were also many more studies into the heritability of ID (Harbour & Maulik, 2015).

As the 20th Century dragged on, there were more legal protections and services that sprung up for people with ID and their families. There was also a marked shift away from forced or other institutionalization and so forth. Rather than simply warehousing and limiting people with ID, there was more of a focus on improving their quality of life and making them as self-sufficient and enjoying of life as possible. As noted above, the original term was "mental retardation" but due to the term being used as a pejorative, "intellectual disability" is now the accepted term. Much the same thing happened with post-traumatic stress disorder as the original name for that disorder was shell shock. Treatments have varied over the years. More barbaric activities such as electro-shock and forced commitment were commonplace in the past but the former is gone and the latter is used only when harm could come to the patient or someone else near them, much like suicidal people and the like (Harbour & Maulik, 2015). Overall, about one to three percent of all people in the world have some sort of intellectual disability (Special Olympics, 2015). As far as whether the media is aware of the problem, the answer to this is an undoubted "yes" becomes it does come up quite often. However, one of the more common reasons it comes up is that many people still use the word "retard" as a pejorative and the depth and breadth of the people that use the word in an improper or infantile way is quite expansive. This would include comedians, people just talking about everyday things and so forth. The word "gay" is used in much the same way (R-Word, 2015).


The above is a nice segue into what happens in the movie. The characters that are present are a wide range and this would include incidental/brief characters in the movie. Carla's mother is loving but extremely over-protective. Her father is a little more even-headed. Many people around Carla (and Daniel) express concern in one way or another but they really never say the wrong words or otherwise engage in name-calling. However, Daniel and Carla encounter someone who refers to Daniel as a "retard" and Carla is there to soothe and help him. Carla has been receiving schooling to help her adapt to "normal life." Even with that, there is not really a "cure" for intellectual disability so both her and Daniel must end up adapting to a world around them that functions a little differently than they are often able to handle. However, the incident just mentioned with the "r word" is but one example of them adapting quite well given the idiocy and ignorance of some people (IMDB, 2015).

The way in which Carla and Daniel are treated in the movie obviously runs the gamut. Some people in the movie (like Carla's mother) are very over-protected and extremely worried about what will happen Carla as she tries to become more independent and separated from being dependent on her parents or anyone else. Carla's dad (Skerritt) realizes the gravity of the situation but tries to be more empathetic and helpful. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those that simply view them as a burden and "retards." Of course, the proverbial salt in the wound for anyone with empathy for Carla and Daniel (or anyone else like them) is that they will always be a bit different and more disadvantaged than the public around them because of the cognitive and mental issues that have due to ID. It would be very comparable to someone with Down's Syndrome. People with Down's are often able to get and keep jobs and can even have a good amount of self-sufficiency, at least in some regards. However, true independence for such people is often a pipe dream and can be chaotic at best even when it is remotely achieved and realized. Even so, Carla and Daniel make their best effort to forge their own path as the movie comes to a close. In many ways, people like Carla and Daniel are oppressed in that people often do not think they have the ability nor should they have the option to live out on their own. To use a better example, many people assert that people with Down Syndrome should absolutely not have children under any circumstances due to the ostensible inability of them to care for the child and the fact that the gene defect… [END OF PREVIEW]

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