Name: Thanh Ngo
Professor Sefferino Ramos
December 13, 2018
There are many books, TV shows, and movies that talk about different kinds of monster. They can be a vampire, alien, or giant ridiculous creatures. Some people believe in their existence while the others consider them as the mythology stories. Put the existence of monsters aside, people are usually interested in monster topics in cultural stories, books as well as movies which carry their hearers with dramatics and imaginations. However, have you ever thought that monster do not have to be in physical appearance, but in abstract form? Have you ever believed that monsters do not live far away from human but right in people’s brain? It controls the victims’ emotions, thoughts and actions. Eventually, the victims lose their mind and may become its “puppet”. That’s how Amelia- a character in “The Babadook” movie, must suffer. After the death of husband, Amelia is put under pressure of many things. She needs to accept the truth that now she is alone and must learn how to take care the family by herself. By the time, she suffers imbalance of mental health, and depression becomes a monster when it starts destroying herself, her son, and their life. Depression is normally considered as mental illness, but it is a dangerous abstract monster which affects to victims’ emotions, brain performance, and their personal relationships.
Firstly, the victims of the abstract monster-depression may suffer imbalance in their feelings. At the beginning, the victims may find themselves difficult in control their emotions. Negative thoughts cover their mind most of the time. Victims can laugh and feel very happy now but suddenly start crying and feel hopeless in next minutes. They become being sensitive to many things around them; for example, after the death of her husband, Amelia suffers a serious case of depression which gradually effects to her son. She is unable to control her negative thoughts. Babadook which is considered as a monster coming from an evil book, in its true form: as a spirit possessing Amelia (Sonny Bunch). Besides that, in the movie, her son- Samuel also start suffering depression when he overreacts to everything around him. He usually screams and yells to other people. To Amelia and her son, the monster looks like her husband- Oskar. Whenever the “Oskar monster” appears, it is the time depression affects to her brain, controls her thoughts, emotions and bring back to her fears that she is trying to ignore. Depression is like a black monster living in her head and slowly damages her consciousness. As one of seven theses that Jeffrey Cohen states in his book “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)”, the thesis III is titled “The Monster Is the Harbinger of Category Crisis” (Cohen 6). It defines how depression can be called “a monster”. After suffering negative thoughts for period, the victims’ mental problem become worse which mean the monster in their head becomes stronger.
Besides inability to control emotions, depression affects to victims’ brain performance. Amelia starts losing control her life. She is unable to drive, to take care her son, and she get trouble with cleaning her house. There are few scenes showing that Samuel has no food, or just junk food like ice cream. The house was in bad mess when there are cockroaches which come out of the wall behind an empty fridge. It means depression reduces its victims’ concentration which prevents them from focusing on things long enough to remember. To demonstrate the effect that depression caused on brain performance, there is an experiment on 3999 veterans who completed the California Verbal Learning Test. As a result, people who suffers depression have an adverse effect on immediate recall of new information and the amount of acquisition (Ali H. Kizilbash, Rodney D. Vanderploeg, Glenn Curtiss). Depression reduces victims’ concentration which prevents them from focusing on things long enough to remember. Additionally, researchers from Brigham Young University believe depression damages a process called ‘pattern separation’, which is your ability to differentiate things that are similar (Kate Corr). This abstract monster has tendency trap its victims in the negative thoughts which interrupts the process of remember other facts or information.
The victims of the depression monster also have trouble with their relationships. First, depression affects to relationships with her son. Being single mother, Amelia is put under stressful. She holds resentment toward her son- Samuel. She tries to ignore him and even feels uncomfortable when Samuel wants to touch or to hug her. She told to Samuel “Go and it shit!” when he said he was hungry. She wants Samuel to stay away from her because he reminds about her husband. Feeling guilty keeps her away from showing her love to Samuel. The relationship between them becomes worse. Besides that, Amelia is also in trouble with her love life. She cannot accept a new man to become her late husband. Amelia cannot have any sexual gratification, she rebuffs the advances of her colleague and is even interrupted by Sam when trying to masturbate. Amelia is sometimes not herself because the depression monster in her head did not allow her. Amelia refuses love from her son, helps from other people, she does not really have friends. Although the neighbors next to her house understand “this time of the year is hard for her”, they cannot help. However, with love from her son, Amelia’s mental illness is healing by the time. At the end of movie, the monster lives in the basement and being fed on bowl of worms by Amelia. It means depression does not completely go away. It is related to the thesis II in The Monster Theory of Cohen: The Monster Always Escapes, “We see the damage that the monster wreaks, the material remains…but the monsters itself turns vanishes, to reappear somewhere else” (Cohen, 4). Depression is a monster in victim’s head. The Babadook monster that Amelia saw in her house is just an illusion. She, in fact, created it by herself and did not know the real monster is in her head- her mental problems. Therefore, no matter how hard she and her son tried to kill it, it still reappears in different shape.
Overall, depression is a monster, even it doesn’t exist in physical. Depression causes bad effects on victim’s emotions, brain performance as well as their relationships. The longer the victims ignore it, the worse their situation can be. Therefore, if we know one of our friends, or our family member, we need to talk to them, take care them more and let them believe that they are not alone. Surrounding by love will help the victims feel better earlier.
The Babadook. Directed by Jennifer Kent, performances by Essie David, Noah Wiseman, 2014.
Ali H. Kizilbash, Rodney D. Vanderploeg, Glenn Curtiss; The effects of depression and anxiety on memory performance, Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, Volume 17, Issue 1, 1 January 2002, Pages 57–67, https://doi.org/10.1093/arclin/17.1.57
The authors of this academic journal discuss about how depression affect to victims’ memory. The authors point out methods that they used and the gained results. I think this article is helpful because the content is related to what I will discuss in my essay.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
I will use the discussions from this book to identify my monster. The theories II, IV from the book will be utilizing. It helps me understand more clearly about how we defy something or someone as a monster. The book is one of my scholarly sources.
Corr, Kate. “How does depression affect memory?”, Unforgettable, https://www.unforgettable.org/blog/how-does-depression-affect-memory/. Accessed 6 December 2018.
The author gives the opinions about how depression can affect to victim’s memory performance. The information is useful for me because I am discussing the same thing.
Sonny Bunch. “‘The Babadook’: The Best Film About Depression Ever Made”, The Washington Free Beacon, https://freebeacon.com/blog/the-babadook-the-best-film-about-depression-ever-made/. Accessed 30 November 2018.
The author discusses and analyzes the movie on his own blog. I found it’s helpful because the author’s opinions give me the general idea of how depression can affect to human life. This is the personal blog where the author shares his own opinions; therefore, I think the source is high creditability.