Finding Nemo: Diagnosis For Dory

In Finding Nemo, a clownfish by the name of Marlin is an overprotective father who is aided by his new friend, an amnestic blue tang fish named Dory as he goes on an ocean wide journey to find his abducted son. On his journey to retrieve his son, Dory volunteers to help him find Nemo. Dory’s provisional diagnosis of dissociative amnesia leads the two into unexpected and dangerous situations. Through their quest to find Nemo, Marlin becomes impatient with Dory’s deficits, which leads to challenges between the dynamic duo at times. Through her bond with Marlin, Dory is able to remember the most fundamental information that will help guide the way to the finding of Nemo.

This is a well-crafted and enjoyable film made for children to introduce a deeper layer of neuropsychology through the majority of its characters. The events of the journey are the prevalence and revelation of Dory’s memory impairments. Using a small amount of her background information presented in the film, present behaviors throughout the movie, and as per the DSM-5, Dory’s inability to recall important autobiographical information that 1) should be successfully stored in memory and 2) ordinarily would be remembered, are defining characteristics of dissociative amnesia. There is not enough information in the film to declare the diagnosis with dissociative fugue.

Dory is unable to recall important autobiographical information such as where her parents are and, she continuously forgets that she is looking for them. Even though this information connects to the first diagnostic criteria, there is not enough evidence to determine if this is due to a traumatic or stressful nature. Nonetheless, her inability to recall important autobiographical information of origin, home, family, etc., is inconsistent with ordinary forgetting. Additionally, Dory is consistently challenged with recollecting specific navigational directions and often doesn’t know what she is doing and why she is doing it. 

Dory’s symptoms of forgetting a new event as it occurs within seconds are symptoms that cause clinically significant distress or impairment in her social and important areas of functioning. She has trouble remembering names (Nemo’s name), learning and retaining new information (directions and purpose), and even remembering the notion that she was present in a conversation just seconds ago or within minutes. These observations are supported by continuous amnesia. Her friendship with Marlin is nearly terminated in the middle of their journey because Marlin feels like she is holding him back from finding his son due to the challenges that arise as a cause of her inability to recall information from the present moments as compared to usual forgetting. 

Even though Dory does not present the disturbance attributable to the physiological effects of a substance, there is not enough evidence to determine a neurological or other medical condition either. It is possible to conclude that Dory suffers from a neurological condition that impedes the retention of her memory. Dissociative amnesia is mostly associated with anterior temporal damage, particularly to a structure called the hippocampus. Dory describes her short-term memory loss condition to run in her family, which could be the explanation for a possible neurological condition as this is genetic or caused by brain trauma as a result of a head injury. 

Based on the information presented in the film and not considering other assumptions of the blue fish’s background, it is adequate to address that the disturbance is not better explained by dissociative identity disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, somatic symptom disorder, or major or mild neurocognitive disorder.

“Just keep swimming” is the message used to guide the portrayal of the diagnosis in the film and might be inspired by a possible scientific explanation for accepting dissociative amnesia with a positive outlook and mindset through the assistance of a dedicated and supportive system of family and friends. This impression comes from Dory’s positive outlook, optimism, persistence, and her strength to resist her amnesia to hinder her ability to rise above. Despite her awareness and then lack of awareness of her condition of “short-term memory loss”, Dory is aware that she feels a sense of home when she is around Marlin and she declares to remember more when she is with him. The probable strategic outcomes that family, social support, and an optimistic setting can have on stimulating and nurturing memory retention of individuals whom are diagnosed with dissociative amnesia is the basis of the neuropsychology plot of this movie.

16 December 2021
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