The Cinema Therapy Newsletter #10
Jan. 23, 2004
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starCinema Therapy Online:
Susan Nicosia, Associate Professor, Social Sciences and Humanities Division, Daniel Webster College has launched a Web-based film index: Movies and Mental Illness Psychology, Psychiatry and the Movies. It has 53 pages of film titles categorized by mental disorder.

Gioia Gabellieri at the Italian and English-language Web site is now offering cinema therapy sessions online. The impressive flash "studio" is attractive. Clicking the client chair leads you through a well-conceived, registration and scheduling process that culminates in getting Gioia's MSN Messenger chat handle. The first chat is free.

Bye-Bye Zoloft, Hello Cold Mountain: Cinema therapy can have real benefits on mental health is the title of a new feature article on WebMD Health. This must-read piece by writer Denise Mann is very thorough, treating the field of cinema therapy in its full variety of hues and shades, perhaps better than any article about cinema therapy to date. It features myself and colleagues Gary Solomon, CIMI executive director Joshua Flanders, and Bruce Skalarew, MD, a Chevy Chase, MD-based psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and the co-chairman for the Forum for Psychoanalytic Study of Film. The only draw-back to the article is that Denise erroneously credits me with a book, which in reality is only a manuscript currently seeking publication (several have expressed interest but no deals have been made). Further, she gets the title wrong. Oh well. It's still a great article.

A brief version of the new paper Visually Enhanced Psychosexual Therapy (VEST) in a Multicultural Community has appeared in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry (Vol. 48, No. 11) (Dec. 2003) authored by Frank G Sommers, MD, FRCPC Toronto, Ontario.

In order to create a flow of funding for scientific research of cinema therapy-related subjects, several cinema therapy colleagues have begun approaching movie industry sources with a win-win pitch that appeals to their self-interest — in short, saying that by promoting cinema therapy research, the movie companies will be creating new markets for their movies. I support that effort and wish these intrepid souls (primarily Fuat Ulus, MD, Medical Director of Behavioral Health Care at Millcreek Community Hospital) all the best luck.

These two posts on the GATEM listserv during a discussion of heroes and myths in movies are particularly worth reading:

Dear Colleagues,

....Of course, there are the obvious action and war heroes, and in that category, I have four favorites. Runners up are Meg Ryan in "Courage Under Fire," Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan" and Matthew Broderick and the entire black regiment in "Glory." What I like about these three in particular are heroic actions in spite of great fear, actions that are performed from a sense of duty and a larger purpose. My all time favorite is John Clements as Harry Faversham in the 1939 "Four Feathers." (WHEN will it be on DVD???) Harry not only faces ultimate fear with the most heroic physical actions, he continues his heroism by challenging the fable of his fiancee's father. Now that's heroism our patients can learn from!

Beyond the action and war genre, I value heroes and heroines from everyday life. Favorites include 1) Leslie Howard (a hero in real life) in "49th Parallel," playing the civilized man who takes on the Nazis. 2) Robert Redford in "Three Days of the Condor," whose heroics are made possible because "HE READS!" - great message for adolescent patients. 3) Djimon Hounsou and Anthony Hopkins in "Amistad," their heroism fortified by the perceived presence of their ancestors. 4 and 5) Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "No Highway in the Sky," both roles showing a man beaten down to the point of despair, rising up and fighting, refusing to give in. 6) Jack Lemmon in "The Apartment," becoming a mensch in the last reel and 7) Clark Gable, Joan Crawford and Otto Kruger in "Chained," all three prepared to make huge sacrifices to protect each other.

Heroes and Heroines are behind as well as in front of the camera. George Stevens was confronted by Jack Warner during the filming of "Giant." Apparently, word had gotten out about a scene depicting Elizabeth Taylor deriding the Oil Depreciation allowance. The banks wanted the scene taken out, and warned Warner that he'd lose funding for any future pictures if they weren't obeyed. "My back's against the wall, George," said Warner. Stevens looked at him and said, "Jack... Go back and tell them... There's nothing you can do." And the scene stayed in. My all time favorite is Tahmineh Milani, the brilliant Iranian director of "The Hidden Half," and "Two Women." This feisty, fearless woman puts her life on the line every time she makes a picture. She's at the top of my list.


Michael A. Kalm, M.D. is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Utah and in full time private practice. He is the author of the as yet unpublished, The Healing Movie Book: Precious Images: The Healing Use of Cinema in Psychotherapy.

I think you make some great points here, thank you! I believe that the movies are the myths and living legends of today, just as the stories told around the tribal fires were in earlier times. Even though most movies are geared towards making money in order to succeed, they do need to orient themselves towards what emerges from the mass mind. The movies are one way our culture and collective psyche make sense out of our lives, relationships and purpose - some of the movies do that better than others, of course.


Karin H. Leonard is a professional certified coach, seminar leader and writer. She has been in private and corporate practice in Santa Cruz for 14 years, integrating coaching with hypnotherapy and NLP. With her husband Daniel she has been publishing film reviews and using movie references in her work.


Dear Ms. Wolz,

...I have been deliberately and consciously choosing Indian cinema (I am from India) over the last year to resolve my emotional problems and it has been working very well. I also have followed John Bradshaw's techniques. I would like to talk to you about the possibility of including Indian movies in your Web site, for an audience that prefers Indian movies (which is a big population). I have been struggling to select movies for my own personal growth - so I know how useful such a site can be. As you may or may not know, freely expressing emotional hurt is a big part of Indian culture, and it is manifest in Indian cinema also. Of course, this is a separate project in itself and I would like to talk to you about this.

--Jay Jayakumar

starThanks for reading. I encourage and welcome feedback.

-Birgit Wolz, Ph.D., MFT.,
Canyon, CA, USA


-Franklin Seal
freelance writer
Moab, UT, USA