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Pseudobulbar Affect in “Joker”

Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix in Joker version of 2019, has several psychological disorders. They include psychotic illness, bipolarity, hallucinations, depression, and pseudobulbar affect. The last one is relatively rare and is characterized by uncontrollable laughter or crying (Hakimi & Maurer, 2019). Arthur tends to experience fits when feeling under psychological pressure, which frequently happens throughout the film. One of the famous scenes is him scaring a child with inappropriate laughter while riding a bus. The character carries a paper describing his condition since he is not capable of explaining his behavior during the episodes. Pseudobulbar affect does not reflect an individual’s emotional state and can be a sign of other neurological disorders, such as sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, or traumatic brain injury (Hakimi & Maurer, 2019). Arthur’s behavior reflects the medical description of this disorder rather accurately. The character eventually accepts it as a part of his personality and refuses to control it. Joker is a psychological thriller and could be the right choice for those trying to understand the people who do not fit into modern society’s norms.

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Hakimi, M., & Maurer, C. W. (2019). Pseudobulbar affect in Parkinsonian disorders: A review. Journal of Movement Disorders, 12(1), 14−21. Web.

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