Psychological Themed Films- The Ah-Ha Moment


Over the years it has become commonplace for films that depict psychological or psychiatric themes to feature a dynamic “Aha!” moment of emotional clarity for their heros. In films like Ordinary People, Good Will Hunting, and even the broad Analyze This, the suffering protagonist finally discovers the secret of their inner turmoil during an intense role-play with their shrink.

In Ordinary People, Conrad (Timothy Hutton) begins to relive the horrible boating accident and his shrink (Judd Hirsch) is there there to act the part of his stubbornly drowning brother. the epiphany is dramatic and neat, he blamed himself for his brother’s drowning”. Thanks doc, all better now. Therefore In the minutes after his cathartic session, Conrad is able to hug his cold-fish mom (btw so convincingly portrayed by Mary Tyler Moore In the film, I had a hard time believing that she wasn’t just acting”) and plan a healthy date- redo with his new girlfriend.


Good Will Hunting’s shrink (robin Williams) similarly takes on the role of Will’s (Matt Damon) father in the dramatic role play which shows that Will blamed himself for his father’s beatings and culminates in the cathartic phrase, “It’s not your fault”. Soon, with a clean bill of psychological Health, Will is able to finally re-connect with his estranged girlfriend.


So, In both of these situations, the hero quickly realizes that they have been doing a
number on themselves psychologically and, finally after some soul-cleansing gasps/tears, they end up in the warm healing arms of their psychiatrists.


The role play device is definitely compelling film device but a hollow/ineffective strategy for anyone to follow in real life. Its not like a situation will suddenly present itself wherein We can spontaneously start role playing with our alcoholic dad or that woman that cut in front of us in the Starbucks line; have a real thrashing out of a list our grievances both real and imagined and end up by hugging it out at the end. for, even if your parents/enemies actually made themselves available for these kind of “hashings out” or “emotional exorcisms”, I doubt whether most of the results would be that revealing or satisfying. Ultimately you (the offended party) and the other person (the asswhole) would probably just end up blasting eachother. No, in reality, despite how others in life mistreat or disappoint, your daily perceptions are really the most powerful factors in keeping these negative feelings alive.  Furthermore, despite what movies would have us believe most of our real emotional breakthroughs take place when we are alone and most real psychological change only takes place through concerted/sustained effort and practice.

Also, where are all these kindly/caring shrinks we keep see in the movies? Do they
advertise online? Does my health insurance cover their services? psychologists, by profession have to keep a professional detached distance from their clients in order to be effective and not get sucked into their drama. simply put, they insulate themselves from all the shit they have to hear all day. The last thing they do is go around hugging their clients. You are more likely to get a sloppy kiss from your emotionally withholding protestant mother. Forget about the notion that your kindly neighborhood shrink will be available for that suicidal phone call at 2:15 in the morning too. You better get ready to spill your guts to their service or their less than empathetic answering machine. Plus, with the modern-day limitation of a psychiatrists hour-long appt (actually only 50 minutes), you have to pity the poor fool who will get their aha moment of emotional clarity at minute 51!



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