A blog explaining science and technology through the movies ... or explaining the movies through science and technology, depending on the point of view. English is not my first language, so I apologize for the mistakes you are likely to find in the posts

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Lost highway: David Lynch's psychogenic fugue

Up to the present, we haven’t dealt with a science as thrilling as psychiatry in the blog, so it is about time. In 1997 David Lynch released a movie that got little attention then, but that reached a cult status years later, when its author was fashionable again with Mulholland drive. We are talking about Lost highway, the story of someone going through a personality change named a psychogenic fugue by Lynch.

Well, this psychogenic fugue isn’t a filmmaker’s invention, it exists actually and is considered as a dissociative disorder. Nevertheless, it is better known as fugue state or dissociative fugue. A dissociative fugue is a getaway, which means those who go through it run from their home and their environment, including a total or partial amnesia about their previous life. The patient may end up building a new identity. It usually happens after a dramatic event, as a war or an accident. Running away from their own personality to avoid difficulties or feelings of guilt is actually a way of defending themselves.

Lost highway is told from the main character’s, Fred’s, point of view. Fred has killed his wife, or at least wants to do it. To avoid accepting the harsh truth, he escapes his real personality and creates a new one, becoming an innocent, much younger man. The viewers share Fred’s fantasies and see him living a new life in a new environment with another face. It is nevertheless difficult to get away from our own nightmares, so the guy’s happiness will soon be shattered again by the same ghosts he was trying to escape from. Therefore, one of the possible interpretations of this masterpiece from one of the most cryptic directors of this time is to take it as a clinical documentary, the screenplay of which is written by the patient himself. A walk on the wild side, as Lou Reed would call it.


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