Black Swan is About Destructive Nature of Ballet

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Nina Portman is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica who exerts a suffocating control over her life. When artistic director Thomas Leroy decides to replace prima ballerina Beth for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina was not his first choice. Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily Kunis, who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. 

Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly, but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side - a recklessness that threatens to destroy her. Black Swan is not only about the destructive nature of ballet, both physical and mental, or the danger of self-harm, but of all sorts of external factors erupting in the face of dynamic incompatibility. As the movie progresses, Nina displays some frightening characteristics in her life. 

According to the DSM-V (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders), schizophrenia can be defined by the abnormalities in one or more of the five domains: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and speech, abnormal motor behavior, and negative symptoms. The movie portrays the excellent job of psychosis disorder but there are still psychological issues that Nina usually encountered including the symptoms of an anxiety disorder and obsessive behaviors. Nina also manifests eating disorder and a self-grievance behavior. 

The movie is considered as one of the fantastic jobs in portraying the severe struggle of a person with psychological illness, and I do agree. Nina show a lot of schizophrenic symptoms and becomes very paranoid. Her abnormal behaviors become more consistent as the show day approaches which makes her anxiety worsen with her paranoia. Overall Nina is becoming a person that has schizophrenia and is becoming a danger to herself and others.

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If you carefully examine Nina, you can notice her erratic symptoms. In the DSM-5, it talks of all the different types of delusions. By the definitions you can blankly tell that she is the persecutory type. This is a “central theme of the delusion involves the individual’s belief that he or she is being conspired against, cheated, spied on, followed, poisoned or drugged, maliciously maligned, harassed, or obstructed in the pursuit of long-term goals” (DSM-5). Nina shows this when she struggles with her enemy, Lily, who she beliefs is out to get her spot as the “Swan Queen.” This symptom is often very common with schizophrenia and was portrayed exactly as the DSM-5 said it would be. Another example would be Nina’s hallucinations. People with schizophrenia often have these in full force and vivid occurrences. 

According to our psychology book the least common type of hallucinations are visual which is what Nina has the most. They result from the absentee of external stimuli and aren’t under voluntary control either. Nina suffered from horrible and painful hallucinations that related to bodily injuries and metamorphosis of her own and other people’s figure. The line between reality and fantasy quickly fades in the movie as she begins seeing herself in other people. In the end she stabs her enemy Lily, but then realized that she stabbed herself thinking it was her white swan being stabbed so the black swan can take over. This contributes the paranoia that schizophrenics must deal with in their struggle and relates a lot to what they must live day to day with. 

Another example of her hallucinations is her consistent scratching. She always had painful scratches on her shoulder blades, so she thought, but sometimes it wasn’t always there. turns out she thought she was growing swings like a swan, becoming her role. She would look in a mirror after a bath or shower and see these marks. She sometimes even seen her face looking oddly at herself as if possessed which may have been a bit overdramatic, like a horror movie. Overall, Nina showed these two symptoms of schizophrenia more than anything.

In schizophrenia, symptoms come is two ways: positive and negative. Nina continuously showed negative symptoms including to the lack of pleasure in her life. On a webpage about schizophrenia (National Institute of Mental Health) it talks specifically about these effects listing the lack of pleasure in the list. Nina goes everyday dancing, same clothes and routine, making her sort of depressed. She has an incident where she imagines one of the girls asking her out to a club and they go have fun, meet a few guys, and she gets high. 

But that didn’t happen, she just wanted it to. Nina did not have friends and she lived with her mom, making her life kind of boring. This lack of excitement in her life lead to other negative symptoms including her lack of appetite. In the movie it does not actually show her eat a single thing. It also leads to her reduced speaking which comes off as shyness. She has difficulty speaking up and talking to most people. She keeps to herself and only starts getting aggressive towards the end when the dark Nina comes out to play. Nina loses control of her “perfect self” and starts to become overcome by these symptoms in her everyday life.

In conclusion, Nina struggles with schizophrenia badly. Before seeking the help, she needs she dies due to self-harm because of her severe paranoid delusions. She became a danger to herself and others as her symptoms progressed and the movie displayed these symptoms correctly without making it too overdramatic. Even though some parts did seem like it would be a little much for an undiagnosed schizophrenic, the author did an excellent job of making Nina the image of what they go through in a normal day and how this contributes to their life.

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