Medical Issues in the Films Dallas Buyers Club, Temple Grandin, Concussion and Contagion (Essay Sample)
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Medical Issues in the Films Dallas Buyers Club, Temple Grandin, Concussion and Contagion
Health and access to healthcare exists as a human need and in advanced societies as a human right. In essence the presence of health conditions be they mental, neurological, lifestyle diseases or even unknown condition is an important public and personal condition for the existence of a healthy productive society. However the extreme diversity of such conditions mostly means that some health conditions would either lack sufficient political, medical or therapeutic support to allow their victims to either access or know about their conditions. Because of this some victims can go untreated or undiagnosed for years due to such factors as political and public policy decisions, market forces, societal stigma or even the gravity of the conditions danger to society.
This paper analyses the succinctly the matters of health as revealed in four films that feature unique and diverse medical issues and conditions. The films Dallas Buyers Club, Temple Grandin, Concussion and Contagion all offer distinct perspectives on how individuals, organisations, government and society in general are affected by medical/ health matters and more fundamentally how they react. This paper will analyse how the films depict these issues and offers contextual arguments based on the evets depicted in the individual films.
Dallas Buyers Club
The Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 film directed by Jean Marc Vallee featuring the biographical story of one Ron Woodroof who was an AIDS patient diagnosed in the early years of the disease (1980s) and his struggle to find efficient treatments for his and his condition. This struggle led to the formation of the eponymous Dallas Buyers Clubs which was one of the few buyers clubs formed by HIV/AIDS patients to look for alternative treatments for their condition. In the film Ron Woodroof played by Mathew Machonahey is depicted as a typical Rodeo loving Dallas man who unfortunately contracts the HIV virus from an undefined source and is given a 30 days to live prognosis. Although deeply apprehensive about the condition and its origin and stigma as the disease of homosexual persons, Ron accepts his condition and tries to seek help form the medical system. Meanwhile the only available treatment for the condition at the point was a drug referred to as AZT which is shown to be highly toxic and still in the process of human trials which he acquires illegally from a hospital worker but the drug does not seem to work efficiently. During his stay he befriends fellow AIDS patient and transgender woman Rayon(Jared Leto). After going to Mexico to seek alternative treatment he meets a Dr Vass who exposes him to other unapproved treatment including peptide T with remarkable results. Because of the unapproved status Ron smuggles the drugs into the United States. He further partners with Rayon to form a buyers club that allows other patients access to the unapproved treatments. This attracts the wrath of the Food and Drug administration who consider his actions contrary to public policy and the law. Deeply opposed to the now approved AZT he sues the FDA and acquires certification for the use of peptide T as an alternative treatment. He eventually lives for more than 2000 days beyond his prognosis.
Individual Medical Rights in the Dallas Buyers Club
The Film Dallas Buyers Club typically reveals the difficulties expected by HIV/AIDS patients and activists alike in accessing efficient healthcare for the disease in its early days. Discovered in the early 80s, HIV/AIDs was deeply mysterious due to the limited medical research and societal stigma it was associated with mostly due to its prevalence among homosexuals and the sexually deviant. This created a deeply resentful attitude against HIV/ AIDS patients and the lack of public policy limited their access to medical facilities and healthcare (Utay). The film explores different aspects of this eventualities.
Dallas Buyers Club tackles the question of individual rights when it comes to healthcare and access to medical care. Individual rights typically flow from the constitutional provisions that allow people to enjoy security of life and freedom of choice. According to (Boaz) the burden of explanation should lie with those who would take rights away and is beyond reproach by the forces of government. In the film Ron Woodroof is subjected to an experimental treatment of AZT simply because it is the only available and approved treatment of his condition. Despite his protestations and the obvious detrimental effects of the drug, the lack of regulation for other treatments such as peptide T is fundamentally limited. His actions are further curtailed by the actions of the Food and Drug Administration. This scenario presented the most fundamental question of the freedom to choose a drug treatment vis a vis the actions of government bureaucracy. According to (O’Connor) Government inaction, or lack of enough action, lead to the mistrust of the government, the FDA, and pharmaceutical companies by American citizens. Thus, infected citizens needed to look elsewhere for treatment. It exposes the weaknesses of the bureaucratic systems in limiting the freedoms and constitutional rights and how it can have actual impact on individuals. This politico-legal problem operated as on of the greatest problems that HIV/AIDS patients and activists faced in alleviating the conditions of the patients.
Temple Grandin is a biographical film that tells the story of the title character Temple Grandin who is diagnosed with autism at an early age the film follows Temples life in her struggles through college and beyond and how she became a successful authority in creating acquiring a degree in psychology, animal science and the development of systems that allowed humane treatment of cattle in ranches and farms. The films focus is evidently on how temples condition constructed a view of the world that is unique to persons with autism and manifestly mysterious to “normal people. It also tackles the misconceptions and difficulties that autistic people expertise especially with regards to verbal and non-verbal communication and stigma that is associated with it. This is coupled with the fact that Temple given her condition, is also a woman who delved into a male dominated field and faced the perils of patriarchy and gender discrimination.
Misconceptions about Autism in Temple Grandin
Autism or autism spectrum disorder is defined as a behaviourally determined neurodevelopmental disorder associated with the presence of socio- communicative deficits and restricted repetitive behaviours. First defined by the pioneering writings of Kanner and Asperger, it is defined by certain characteristics such as a child’s inability to relate themselves in a manner that is considered ordinary, language consisting of objects rather than people or things, literariness, delayed speech, excellent rote memories early concern for hearing impairment and repetition of noises and sounds. The most fundamental misconception about autism especially in its early years of description was its diagnosis as childhood schizophrenia. In the film we are introduced to this medical misconception when Temple Grandin is first taken to a doctor at the age of four and diagnosed with what the doctor refers to as ‘infantile schizophrenia’. This diagnosis is also accompanied by widespread theoretical ignorance that connects her condition to the lack of motherly affection and/or care. In tackling this medical misconception Grandin is able to overcome the varied predictions that sufficed with this diagnosis. She develops speech and is finally able to complete high school and college and have a successful career in animal science. In distinguishing childhood schizophrenia and autism provided a concrete differential mechanism based on his observations and provided a diagnosis mechanism that remains relevant to this day(Kanner).
A misconception that is exposed in Temple Grandin is the fact that autistic people have limited ability to achieve their goals in the future. While there exists a social belief that autism is a disability that renders one either unable or unwilling to achieve professional or cognitive improvements and that it is a disability, some scientific theories also consider this true. The Weak Executive Function Explanation (Happé, 1994), provides that persons with autism have weak executive function. According to (Happe 1994) executive function is ‘the ability to maintain an appropriate problem solving set for attainment of a future goal’. This conception is fundamentally exploded in the film since Temple Grandin is shown to have possessed the ability and drive to achieve certain goals and attain them quite successfully. The fact that she graduated from high school, college, became a master of science and made fundamental contributions to the field of animal science is proof enough that autistic people can possess cognitive abilities far beyond societal belief.
The film Concussion focuses on the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu a forensic pathologist in Pittsburgh whose findings from an autopsy on former professional football player Mike Webster starts a chain of events that pits him against the National Football League and the medical community. In the film Dr Omalu played by Will Smith is a doctor of Nigerian origin who discovers a neurological abnormality in the brain tissues of former football player Mike Webster and subsequently other professional football players which causes them to develop a mental disorder characterised by degeneration of mental cognition, suic...
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