Ben Sanderson (Cage) is a screenwriter with the Hollywood, a US Movie industry. He is overly dependent on the consumption of alcohol to an extent that it has adversely affected his social and work-related functions and his family life.
Without anything left to hold onto, he leaves for Las Vegas, his new found haven for drinking and the pursuance of his own fantasies unperturbed. Lackadaisically, Sanderson drunkenly drives down a strip in Las Vegas where he almost runs into a woman one of the women who were walking along the crosswalk. The woman is known as Shue and she chastises Sanderson for almost knocking her down. (Byar, 1996).
Soon after that incident, Ben Sanderson rolls his way up to The Whole Year Inn, a sleazy resort found in the heart of Las Vegas City. Because he was already drunk, he gets the wrong impression in the name of the resort and instead takes it to mean The Hole You're In. (Byar, 1996).
While within Las Vegas city, Ben meets Sera, who is a commercial sex worker with Butso Yuri, an immigrant from Latvia and who is a pimp and runs a brothel within the city. Butso is abusive to Sera and an organized criminal grouping is after him and he therefore lets Sera off the hook, his dealings with Sera for fear of his life and shortly after, he is snatched of his life. (Byar, 1996).
For the second time, Sera meet Ben in Las Vegas at a similar point they met the previous day. After a brief introduction, Ben offers Sera $500 so that Sera can accompany him to his hotel room for some time. Sera consents to this and so they go to Ben’s room. Contrary to expectations, Ben does not want any engagement in sex but instead, they engage themselves in a long chit chat which ends with the creation of an unusual relationship between the duo. It eventually emerges that their relationship is destined for doom as Sera has to vow that she will never request Ben to stop this habit of drinking. Ben on the other hand was not to cast aspersions on Sera’s type of occupation.
For the first few days, the two are very much stable and committed and Ben has no qualms with what Sera do for living. However, the behavior of each one of them begins to frustrate and irritate one another to the extent that at one point, Sera attempts, albeit unsuccessfully to get Ben to munch some food but he sprawls for more liquor.
Sera then pleads with Ben to visit a doctor. Ben, who got infuriated and irked by Sera’s pleas, brings in another commercial sex worker to Sera’s residence. Sera upon arriving home, ejects Ben out of her house. Soon afterwards, Sera is beaten and forced into sex (raped) by a trio of teenagers and she sustains injuries that make it evident that she commercially peddles the flesh.
After having been evicted, Sera gets a call from her accomplice, Ben, who apparently is lying on his deathbed. She immediately pays Ben a visitation and they play sex. They two, locked in a fierce embrace, get engrossed in sleep, and by the time Ben is awaken, he stares at Sera, who is lying atop him, and unfortunately, he passes away while grasping Sera who was fast asleep. Ben then breathed his last accompanied by the word "wow".
Ben’s habituation problems, emotional states that are constantly in conflicts are a manifestation that he appears to be having Axis I (291.89) Alcohol-Induced Mood Disorder, Criterion E (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders- IV-TR). The status of his mental health is indicative of the fact that significantly he has impairment especially in his social dealings with people, his family included.
It is manifestly clear that he has impairments and disturbances are of occupational nature especially in his idealizations of suicide, some of the factors that come into view as a result of symptoms that are induced by alcoholism. Ben therefore fully ventures into drinking.
The history of Ben also points to the probability that he might be suffering from Axis II (301.6) Dependent Personality Disorder, Criterion 2 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV-TR). Ben’s tribulation from the onset of the movie brings to the fore the fact his problems with alcohol and eventually his habituation with the liquor began even before his marriage days or career. His overdependence on alcohol and related drugs seem to have bottled up his consistent lack of self-assurance and possession as pertains to what he does in his life.
His feelings of shame and guilt seem to be projected in the way he relates with people, the kind of people he relates with (his social class) and the kind of life he leads. He has failed his family and his boss. His decision to move out to Las Vegas is spectacular of the fact that he is a helpless man who cannot take charge of his own decisions but is driven by the benefits of his own hedonistic pursuits.
Based on Axis I, Ben can be said to be depressed. This is true because his mental illness is a reflection of deep, entrenched and a diminished interest in all that is happening around him. This perfectly validates the reason why he lost his job and also got a divorce from his wife after having absconded his conjugal duties. Therefore as a result of depression, Ben constantly feels lonely and sad, dramatically impairing his ability to function in social situations and at his working environment. (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
His depression level must have been a major one as it was “accompanied with feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness with life and together with suicidal thoughts”. (Silverman, 2002).
According to appropriate treatment plans, the client should see the psychiatrist at least once in a day and mutually work on an assessment of improvement so as to ascertain the effectiveness of the therapy.
Based on axis II of the DSM, Ben also has disorders that impinge negatively on his personality. These symptoms certainly have lasted for long since they began even before or during his marriage days, influencing his manner of interacting and relating with what is in his immediate world. As such, “that kind of person will exhibit behaviors which are antisocial” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
The ghastly events Ben has undergone in his life, for instance abandonment by his wife and being sacked from his job and therefore unemployment has impacted the disorders that have been discussed in Axis I and II of the DSM. (Cooper, 2008).
This eventually and to a great extent has affected Ben’s level of function.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) model refers to a psychotherapeutic line of approach which is also referred to as talking therapy. (Wild, 2006).
CBT therefore will be engaged in solving problems that are related to dysfunctional feelings and reactions, cognitions and behaviors through generation of a goal which the psychiatrist should strive to achieve to achieve in a systematic and procedural manner. (Butler, Chapman, Forman & Beck, 2006).
This method of intervention is based on a conglomeration of basic cognitive and behavioral research. The cognitive behavioral model of therapy would therefore would therefore prove to be an effective method of treating a wide array of problems relating to anxiety, mood, personality, abuse of drugs and other substances. (Neale, Davison & Gerald, 2001).
It would also suffice in the case of Ben as this form of treatment can be manualized and the treatment can also be individualized for specific disorders. For Ben’s case, this mode of therapy can easily be tailored or applied so that it fits individual demands in therapy.
This approach is both cognitive and behavioral oriented and Ben’s situation would dictate whether to be more of cognitive or behavioral or give the two equal treatments. (Kendall, 2005).
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Silverman, H.M. (2002). The Pill Book 10th Edition: New and Revised (Pill Book (Mass Market
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Byar, J. (1996). ‘It is worth watching Leaving Las Vegas’. The Freelance Star Newspaper
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Cooper, M. (2008). Essential Research Findings in Counseling and Psychotherapy: London:
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randomized controlled trial". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 74 (3): 568–
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Kendall, PC. (2005). Carrying out Therapy: Cognitive-Behavioral Procedures (3rd ed.). Guilford