Abnormal Psychology

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Black Swan is a psychological thriller, and it depicts the life of ballerina Nina. In fact, Nina faces competitiveness and various difficulties that ballerinas undergo through their short-term career. Moreover, she is exposed to psychological stress, and it results in an emotional outbreak (Marquez, n. d.).

Throughout the movie, Nina gets a role in the theatrical production of Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake”. She has to play the roles of both white and black swans, which are quite different in character. The role of White Swan comes naturally for Nina because it is peculiar for her to be fearful, controlled, and innocent. On the other hand, it is rather difficult for Nina to become Black Swan, mysterious, dark, and seductive creature. Hence, this challenge of two opposite characters results in many hallucinatory episodes, and it indicates on Nina’s psychological instability. Besides, Nina is eclipsed and controlled by her mother Erica, who has given up her ballerina career because of parenthood.

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However, Nina is an interesting case for analysis because it includes several syndromes, which assume a muddle of diagnoses. From the psychological point of view, many factors influenced Nina’s abnormal behavior, and it takes a while to estimate her condition and assign proper treatment. Therefore, this paper dedicated to diagnosing Nina’s case, the analysis of the case from the psychological paradigms, and possible treatment of the person.


According to the hypothesis, all symptoms indicate that Nina suffers from schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that influences the brain’s functionality. A range of emotional derogations and special symptoms characterize this illness; moreover, schizophrenia has positive and negative syndromes. Thus, such diagnosis becomes possible only after finding one positive or two negative symptoms. It is very important for a doctor to look for some background factors that could influence the behavior of the patient.

In the movie, Nina undergoes hard emotional stress, which negatively influences her life. Moreover, this process provokes a shift in her behavior. Another evidence of her illness is that hallucinations and abnormal behavior appeared in her adulthood. Therefore, all these symptoms may provide the wrong assumption that a hero suffers from multiple personality disorder or disambiguation. The term “split personality” is usually used to refer to such mental illness as dissociative identity disorder, which induces an individual to acquire several personalities that function independently. Moreover, Nina has hallucinations that include her doppelganger and Lily, who also can be considered as an imagined person. Lily is a direct opposition of Nina and represents Nina’s secret desires, for instance, Lily offers to go to the party. There is no doubt that Nina would never make such a step because her innocent behavior shows the contrary evidence. However, Nina is in the state of illness progress, and her transformation from “white swan” to “black swan” is direct evidence of it. Her dark unconscious opposes to her innocent everyday behavior.

Considering all the above-mentioned statements, it may be concluded that Nina has schizophrenia because she has three symptoms that are typical for this kind of mental disorder. Hallucination, abnormal behavior and appearing of illness in adulthood confirm the stated diagnosis. However, these symptoms can be viewed from concepts of cognitive and behavioral paradigms.

Nina’s case and psychological paradigms

Nina’s case can be considered from the viewpoint of cognitive and behavioral paradigms. Therefore, pieces of evidence demand a detailed examination of Nina’s life. In fact, the roots of the problem are deeper than just three pieces of evidence. The issue is that this illness can be inherited or acquired during some life period. There are many factors that can facilitate the further development of the illness. On one hand, schizophrenia is influenced by genetics only, but not determined by it. On the other hand, several environmental factors can influence the development of illness state; lack of parental care, low oxygen during the birth, sexual or physical abuse in childhood, etc. are among them.

In Nina’s case, a certain scenario is necessary to analyze the problem. Therefore, it is clear from the movie that Nina is eclipsed and controlled by her mother Erica. Erica has given up her career because of parenthood, and that is why she abuses the power over her daughter. In this case, such an attitude can cause further development of the illness. Moreover, from the story, it may be concluded that Erica had a pregnancy in her early adulthood, and it can result in childbirth with complications. Besides, there is nothing known about Nina’s family. However, it may be assumed that someone from her ancestors was exposed to schizophrenia, and this fact increases the possibility of illness’s appearance in Nina’s case (“Schizophrenia Diagnosis”, n. d.). In terms of the behavior concept, this case is rather pragmatic because the circumstances, childhood experience, and the environment are working against the hero. Emotional stress caused by competitiveness motivates the state of the illness and provokes further development of the disorder. From the aspect of the cognitive approach, it is clear that problem-solving can also negatively influence Nina’s health. It is difficult for Nina to become a person that she has never been to. Such desolation of her personality imprints on her emotional condition. However, the only weakness of the behavior paradigm is that some conclusions are made based on assumptions only. On the other hand, the cognitive paradigm fully covers the results of the emotional outbreak of Nina. Another character is Nina’s mother, and in some perspectives, her mental health is also unstable. Throughout the film, some scenes depict her mental instability, and according to the story, it may be concluded that her condition is a result of early pregnancy and rejection of her dream. Erica’s relations with her daughter are totally dysfunctional and inappropriate for bringing up a child; such an attitude would have a negative impact on the development of the child as an individual (Weru, 2005). Therefore, observation results show that such relationships caused Nina’s social isolation. This is the evidence for consideration of this case on several levels that include developmental and cognitive. These factors negatively influence Nina’s state and damage her life.

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The possible treatment of Nina

Schizophrenia is considered a life-long condition, which rarely cured, though it can be treated. However, successful treatment of schizophrenia depends on the regime of medications, proper psychosocial support, and required therapies. Though medications can help to control psychosis, they cannot provide social adaptation for the individual.

Nina’s case could be successfully treated; therefore, she would have a rather normal life. In all perspective, Nina requires psychotherapy and medications that would stabilize her mental state. Psychotherapy would help to maintain Nina in parallel with medication. Moreover, it is a good adjunct to the medication plan, which can help to form Nina’s social skills and support her life goals and life activities. This would include advice, reassurance, and reality testing made by therapists. In fact, this therapy would help Nina to regain confidence and live a fuller life (Kim, 2005).


The problem of schizophrenia is that it appears to be a combination of mood disorder, anxiety disorder, and thought disorder. Medical treatment of this illness often needs a combination of antidepressants and antianxiety and antipsychotic medication. However, the biggest problem of the treatment is that most of the patients stop to take prescribed medications. Nevertheless, some kinds of therapy can remove both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Such traditional medications like Zyprexa, Seroquel, and Risperdal would help Nina. However, some newer atypical antipsychotics can help to remove Nina’s symptoms. Therefore, the next goal of Nina’s treatment is to establish a daily routine for her, which could help her to stay on medications, and to keep the communication with her. However, such treatment would help Nina to stay stable and live a full life (Smith, 2013).


This movie is an illustrative example of various psychological cases; it is clear that this film is schizophrenia’s portrayal and is a good material for study. In terms of the study, it has become clear that the movie depicts several mental illnesses. The examination of the film’s details helps to estimate that the main character, Nina, suffers from schizophrenia caused by many factors such as childhood experience of mother’s abuse, age and environmental factors. However, proper therapy and medications would help Nina to cope with the problem. Today many mental illnesses can be simply treated, and it is not a verdict if a person has some disorder. However, a person could live a full life with proper therapy and medications. Besides, the support of the family is vitally important for such cases.

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