The Movie Insomnia, When Your Inner Demons Won’t Let You Sleep

In 2002 Christopher Nolan directed the movie Insomnia. This thriller is about a rather strange murder in Alaska. The main character is Will Dormer (Al Pacino), an influential Los Angeles police officer. He travels to the town with his colleague Donovan to investigate a brutal crime involving a teenager.

Just as they are about to catch the killer, Donovan is shot. The killer (Robin Williams) escapes in the fog. Will can’t accept what happened. He also changes his description of the events and even uses crime scene evidence.

The killer contacts Will and begins extorting him. The great detective is haunted by the death of his friend and feels guilty. In addition, he begins to suffer from insomnia due to the constant calls from the killer.

The movie Insomnia shows how guilt turns into insomnia

Al Pacino, who plays Will Dormer, cannot accept the accident in which he played a part. When he is with other people, he rejects what has happened. He can’t admit it to himself either. This stops him from integrating it into his life. He doesn’t want to identify with the event. Moreover, he also does not want to accept any blame for the incident. But his conscience has recorded everything that has happened.

When someone goes through something traumatic like this, they have to process carefully what happened. This is the only way people can try to understand everything. In Will’s case, his rejection and denial caused the gradual breakdown of his basic mental and physical abilities.

Insomnia does not allow you to live

After the accident, Will begins to convince himself it wasn’t his fault. This mental denial of what really happened causes him to realize some unpleasant things about himself, about other people, and about the world he lives in.

In the film Insomnia, Al Pacino clearly shows how post-traumatic stress disorder can occur and how people experience it. Will has experienced an extremely traumatic event. He reacted with fear, helplessness and horror. After the tragedy, he also relived it in his dreams, in disturbing memories and flashbacks.

Will knew that telling the truth was the only way to solve the case. By doing so, he would free himself from the guilt. But he chose to avoid thinking about what had happened. He tried to change these events through lies.

He built up a new story about how the accident happened. The way he did this was by creating distorted memories about the cause and effects of the traumatic event. He even tried to put the blame on another person.

In order to maintain the lie and hide his guilt, he began to distance himself from other people. His ability to experience any kind of positive emotions was also slowly disappearing. But a colleague of his noticed. It was not difficult to see how the scope of his attention and his concentration was considerable. The title of the film Insomnia succinctly summarizes the cause: insomnia.

Personality and trauma

When we experience some form of trauma, the personality splits into two or more psychobiological subsystems. Their features are very rigid and make it difficult for the person to adapt. These parts can develop in different ways. They then become an emotional part of the personality (EP) and an apparently normal part of the personality (APN).

  • Emotional part of the personality: This part contains very heavily charged emotions that come from traumatic experiences. These are relived on a motor sensory level. Subconsciously, this will focus attention on potential threats. These threats may appear greater than they really are due to past trauma.
  • Seemingly Normal Part of the Personality: This part avoids the memories of the trauma and focuses on the functions of everyday life. The person thus gives the impression of behaving “in a normal way”. But the truth is that they show negative symptoms. Possible symptoms that may occur include aloofness, apathy, and partial or total amnesia related to the traumatic experience.

Posttraumatic stress disorder

When these two elements of the personality split up, it can lead to things like PTSD. This prevents the traumatic memories from being integrated. It also stops events from transforming into autobiographical narrative memories. But the traumatized person must be able to talk about the incident and understand it for themselves.

Our life is the stage on which we perform our lives. The script is constantly changing the main character in one way or another. The film Insomnia reflects how an experience can leave a mark of a before and an after. This depends on how a person integrates the experience into their life story.

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