Rain Man and Qualitative Impairment Essay

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Ronald Farah
Abnormal Psychology
Professor Kennedy April 5, 2013
Case study of Raymond Babbitt (Rain Man)
All people with savant syndrome have an amazing memory that is very focused in one area. The most common behaviors demonstrated by people with the syndrome are obsessive preoccupations with trivia, license plate numbers, maps, or obscure items. Some people have startling artistic or musical abilities. For example, one man can hear a piano concerto only once, and then play it perfectly. Other people with the syndrome have outstanding mathematical skills, such as being able to perform complex calculations within a few seconds. Some can also perform calendar calculations, meaning given any date past or future the person can tell what day of the week it is. As per defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2000), for Autism, an individual should meet the following Diagnostic Criteria (Criterion B & C - not in the movie).The first Qualitative impairment in social interaction (Criterion A1), the second Qualitative impairment in communication (Criterion A2),and the third Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities (Criterion A3).It has been observed from the movie that the qualitative impairment in social interaction exhibited by Raymond included: disability in sensing input, marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behavior (such as he could not develop and maintain eye contact with anyone; his facial expressions were flat most of the time; he made no use of relative body postures as well.)
He had no friend nor had any other relation rest of his life. He did have his second interests such as keeping cards, reading, writing and so on but he never enjoyed to be interrupted by anyone. For example, in the first encounter in Wall Brook when Susanna picked up Raymond’s cards, he did not like it and pulled away her hand when she approached him. Moreover, he became anxious when Charlie picked up his book. He also lacked emotional and social reciprocity, for example, he did not respond when he was told about his father’s death; he did not often respond when called as during his first meeting with Charlie, he did not turn back when Charlie called him for introduction and then for a walk. Raymond was unable to initiate and sustain communication in a formal way, for example, his responses like “I don’t know”, “yeah”, “I am an excellent driver” , irrespective of the conversation showed that he did not want to continue the conversation or was unable to understand