The Metamorphosis of Alex in Stanley Kubrick's 'Clockwork Orange' from a Viewpoint of Abnormal Psychology

Essay 2006 4 Pages

Psychology - Clinic and Health Psychology, Abnormal Psychology



Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece from 1971 dealt with deep philosophical questions without giving any answers. The observer has no easy way to identify himself with any characters or the pictured society as a full load. The movie is reflecting the dilemma that the only way to increase moral is to decrease freedom. In Kubrick’s movie the dualistic society consists only of perpetrators and victims. The roles are fixed but the persons are interchangable. Therefore there is nobody who could be able to be responsible to handle the power to decrease freedom. On the other hand there are deviant personalities that abuse their freedom to violate the law. Psychologic methods introduced in the movie cannot improve the moral of the society because they can only change a former perpetrator to a victim if the world is dichotom between “anvil and hammer”. Who then should condition the conditioners? The movie reflects the zeitgeist of the early seventies when people began to doubt that the utopia of B.F. Skinners “Walden Two” could be realized or should be wished. The ortodox behaviouristic paradigm that a human being is only a reflection of his/her learning history tottered dramatically in this time. Behaviouristic methods used by mighty officials of a sick society cannot heal criminal indiviuals and are no panacea. All they can do is take their freedom of choice. Kubrick was no psychologist and in his oeuvre he borrowed the stylistic tool of disassociation and threrfore he probably used no behavioural textbook showing the methods and he gives more a general idea about it. For example the cable system around Alex’ forehead is more a metaphor of Jesus’ crown of thorns than a necessary device in the treatment.

1. The diagnosis of the protagonists defiant behaviour

In the context of the surreal environment created in this movie it is difficult to give a DSM IV- diagnosis because the disorders described in this diagnostic system are contrasted with normal behaviour in the western society. Whereas the symptoms shown by Alex point personality traits that qualify him as leader of his gang. Alex takes drugs in the “Korova-Milkbar” but that is more an expression of his lifestyle and does not infect his daily life. It is a recreational use without any symptoms of abuse or dependence. The “Milk Plus” with the haluzigen “Velocet” energized him but in contrast to his mother he takes no drugs to stay in function.



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Institution / College
San Diego State University
Metamorphosis Alex Stanley Kubrick Clockwork Orange Viewpoint Abnormal Psychology



Title: The Metamorphosis of Alex in Stanley Kubrick's 'Clockwork Orange' from a Viewpoint of Abnormal Psychology