Barlow, Claire goes through, from isolating herself from all

 

Barlow,
D., Durand, V., & Hofmann, S. (2017). Abnormal
psychology: An integrative approach. Boston, MA: Cengage
Learning.

References

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To
sum it up, Cake is a film of the
aftermath of an accident that left Claire’s son dead and left her physically and
emotionally wounded.  It narrates the journey
that Claire goes through, from isolating herself from all her well-meaning
family and friends, including her husband, to eliciting a negative stigma from her
support group by her selfish behaviour, to drug and substance abuse, and finally,
to regaining stability and ‘sanity’.  In
the end, she can sit upright, a metaphor for the overall shift towards a
positive, functional life.

Her encounter with Roy plays a major role
in both of their healing.  Roy realizes
he does not need to be in his support group anymore and he is able to resume
work the following week.

.           Her
condition is dynamic in the movie, as Roy and his son’s company seem to have a
great impact on Claire for the better.  She
is finally able to move away from only being able to see her own pain to showing
compassion for others, as seen when she invites Silvana to share her bed
instead of sleeping on the chair.  They
later hold hands together again emphasizing her movement from separating
herself to connecting with others.  Silvana’s
unconditional care and availability contribute significantly towards Claire’s
recovery.  She is consistently willing to
drive Claire around to seek her medicine, and even for fun.

Claire meets Nina’s husband, Roy
under false pretences.  After they meet a
few more times, they have a good time and later spend the night together
although they are not physically intimate.  They discuss their various experiences with
their respective support groups and console each other.  After spending more time together, their
emotional wounds and distress seem to start healing. Claire is getting better.  Nina’s husband feels secure enough to withdraw
from his support group and to return to work.  Claire too appears to be getting better every day.
 Her anger is reducing as seen when the
runaway girl steals her purse, but she does not press any charges.  Finally, Claire appears to be finding a
little bit of balance in life once again. 
As the film ends, she can return to her normal sitting position,
symbolising healing of both physical and emotional wounds.  A happy ending and a big relief for her and
Silvana.

Accompanied by Silvana, they drive to
Tijuana in Mexico to seek pain pills.  They
are warned by the pharmacist that they will not make it through the border
controls if they don’t have a proper prescription.  They buy a religious statue to help them
smuggle the pills in.  On the way back,
they run into trouble after they look suspicious to the patrolman at the
border.  They are asked to pull over to
have their car searched, and luckily, it is only the detergent they had bought which
is kept by the guards.  Claire’s estranged
husband helps and then shows up to their house after this incident and they
have a tender moment where she requests that he stay the night until she falls
asleep, which he does.

Silvana, despite rude and impatient
treatment from Claire, always remains available to support her, loyal in all
causes.  Even when Claire behaves badly
towards her, or makes strange and difficult requests, Silvana does her best to
protect and help her, like a mother figure. 
When asked, she drives Claire to the spot where Nina committed suicide.  Clare engages Annette, the head of the support
group, in an argument regarding the disclosure of Nina’s widower’s address and
threatens to sue the support group under discrimination allegations. Claire wavers
between insisting that she will take Annette to court and then confessing that
she is joking, which she seems to do often in this movie, then threatening
litigation again if she fails to disclose the address. 

The following day Claire visits her
aquatic therapy, and six months down the line without any improvement, the
therapist tells Claire that she does not seem to want to get better and asks
her to find another therapist.  Later,
Claire tries to commit suicide by drowning herself in the pool, but her attempt
fails. Throughout the movie it shows that she is experiencing hallucinations by
seeing Nina and having conversations with her. In another attempt to take her
own life, she is seen lying next to her on the tracks. This incident set in
motion a better path to healing. She was reminded even though her child died because
of their car accident, she was still a good mother.  

The following morning, she is woken
up by Silvana, her housekeeper, who drives her to the doctor and later back to
her house.  Despite Silvana trying to
help her, Claire stubbornly refuses to apply gel to her scars, looking as if
she has no interest in healing by any means.  Once her helper has left for the day, leaving
early at her request, she has sex with Arturo, the pool maintenance man. Silvana,
waiting outside the house, sees him leaving with a box full of toys given to him
by Claire.  Silvana, who is watching from
her car outside the house, stops him and confiscates them. She also seems to have
a diagnosis of depression that goes beyond the normal time of grieving and shows
this by acting recklessly in her behaviour such as sleeping with the
maintenance man.  She also appears to take
little care of herself as is seen by her attitude about oiling her scars, her
messy hair, her lack of hygiene, which are signs of depression.

Later, as Claire is driven home in a
taxi, she is lying on the back seat as she can’t sit upright due to the extreme
discomfort from her injuries.  Her difficulties
are exacerbated by the receipt of her voice mail messages, the first one
suggesting that she could consider joining another support group to help manage
her anger.  The second recording is from
her former husband who wants to take the remainder of his belongings from their
home, but preferably when she is not there

At first, the film presents Claire as
a woman with a harsh and unpleasant personality who has become very bitter
after surviving a traumatic ordeal.  The story
begins by introducing a group of women in a support group who are asked to express
their questions of a former member, Nina, who committed suicide. They are
emotional about her failure to communicate her problems and wished she had
reached out for help. The therapist asks Claire to share her feelings about
Nina’s death to the rest of the group.  It is evident that Claire has experienced a
tragedy as she has scars all over her face.  In complete opposition to the rest of the
groups’ reaction, she describes Nina’s death in detail, from how she jumped off
an overpass to how her body lay undiscovered for hours, and it is evident that
her distress is caused by her perception of how Nina’s suicide made things much
simpler. Barlow, Durand, & Hofmann (2017) successfully analyse the
interactions of the several forces that contribute to psychopathology, described
as a disorder that is characterized by lack of conscience and empathy.  This is first evidenced by Claire when she
narrates Nina’s death to the support group in a very insensitive manner.

In the movie Cake, it shows the issues surrounding the main character Claire and
her chronic physical and emotional pain. It shows the audience through Claire’s
pain and actions that she may be displaying some narcissistic behaviours, though
that may be more temporary than long term. Her obvious inability to cope shows
through in her group session with her cold statement regarding Nina’s suicide.
Throughout the movie it brings you along her journey that shows her path
towards healing.

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