Speaking of movies I have a vested interest since my two older sons, Aaron and Matt, are movie makers. Their company, Tarantula Entertainment, recently produced a script they co-wrote entitled, The Pact. Matt directed and Aaron played the lead role, Ancel Fox, and composed much of the music for the movie. The Pact won Best of Festival and Best Narrative Feature Film at the South Dakota Film Festival and received awards in other film festivals as well. You can check it out at: watchthepact.com. They are also working on a number of new film projects at this time.
I am very proud of their efforts in part because I believe that movies are an important part of our culture. They capture well the spirit of an age and both reflect and inform its norms and mores.
As a mental health professional I am also very interested in the ways in which psychological health and psychological interventions are portrayed in movies. That’s why I was so excited about InsideOut. It validated the complexity of the human mind and made it accessible to all of us.
That is not typically the case in movies! Deep psychological change is portrayed as either totally impossible in the deeply flawed characters or amazingly easy to achieve on the way to a perfect ending. Psychological interventions in the form of, say, psychotherapy, are often viewed in a humorous light. My son, Aaron, acted in a very funny short video called, Psychotherapy, in that vein. You tube link: https://youtu.be/vKBbCblTOZo He also has a master’s in counseling so he knows whereof he speaks. Not too many patients are as savvy as Aaron and fortunately, most therapists don’t try to sell them Amway products!
I won’t attempt to catalog all the films about psychotherapy. Suffice it to say that far too often patient and therapist have a romance—strictly forbidden by licensing boards in all mental health disciplines. The other stereotype is that the therapist is as all-knowing and awesome as Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting. But that isn’t the reality of therapy either. It isn’t a logical and efficient process because human emotion and will are neither logical nor efficient. Deep and lasting change depends upon a relationship with a therapist whom one can trust with the deepest parts of the self. Then ultimately the client learns to trust himself or herself as well. That can be a long-term but very rewarding proposition.
Ellen Toronto is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Spring, Texas and has been practicing since 1980. In 2017, she was elected a Fellow in Psychoanalysis by the American Psychological Association. In 2016, Dr. Toronto's practice was recognized as one of the top Ann Arbor Psychology practices. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Toronto is married to Robert Toronto, Ph.D., and together they have four sons and eleven grandchildren.