Dr. Malcolm Sayer is the main character (played by Robin Williams) in the film “Awakenings.” I did a case study on him for my Psychology class which gives some insight into his character. This case study is presented as if I was a psychologist hired by Dr. Sayer to help him out with his problems.
My client, Dr. Malcolm Sayer, began visiting me in January of 1970. He is in his late 30's. He is experiencing stress relating to his social problems.

Dr. Sayer is very isolated; he lives alone and has no family. He does not fully understand how to interact with other people. He has spent all of his career, prior to working in Baimbridge Hospital, working with non-human subjects. His introvert nature has led to him having trouble identifying what other people are thinking and feeling. He will approach people regardless of what they are doing, oblivious to their situation.

He focuses mainly on what he thinks, disregarding other people's viewpoints. He is out of tune with the real world, living in a world of books and research and science. He feels difficulty when expressing his feelings, though when I visited Mr. Leonard Lowe with him during a three day period in March of 1970 when Mr. Lowe was fully functional, Dr. Sayer openly expressed genuine affection for his friend. Mr. Lowe told me of the transformation that Dr. Sayer went through during the lengthy "awakening" that the patients at Baimbridge experienced during the summer of 1969. Dr. Sayer first objectively looked at the "unresponsive" patients just as case files (so Nurse Costello tells me). But Mr. Lowe observed a dramatic change in his Dr. Sayer's disposition from the time of his "awakening" to the time his health deteriorated. Dr. Sayer was very uncomfortable with human contact, but as his friendship with both Mr. Lowe and Nurse Costello grew, he was increasingly less detached from their attempts at physical contact. I even observed Dr. Sayer and Mr. Lowe hug each other while I was visiting Baimbridge. He is continuously working to feel at ease with casual human contact.

Dr. Sayer becomes very over confident when he thinks he is in the right. His slightly obsessive personality leads him on very specific quests, like extracting one decagram of miolyn from four tons of earthworms; everyone said it could not be done, but he did not think that. He proved them right after five years. His driven behavior also lends to his anti-social behavior.

Prior to 1969, Dr. Sayer did not have friends, did not go out into the world to associate with people socially, and did not welcome interacting with people. He views people as an unwelcome variable in his world. He clings to things that are fixed; the absolute, the tangible. This is why he is consumed with books and science literature; a book's text does not change, it remains the same for all time.

He is becoming more adept at reacting to people's behavior and feelings. He has an ongoing relationship with Nurse Costello and no longer hesitates when choosing his words on the telephone and in person. He feels more comfortable in social situations, and as part of his therapy, he visits one new place every two weeks. Last week, he went to the Brooklyn Street Theatre and watched "The Fall of the House of Usher." Next week, he plans to join in a painting workshop with Nurse Costello.

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