LIH: Must See Cinema Therapy!

30 Sep

Cinema Therapy is a term used by psychotherapist and is defined by Segen’s Medical Dictionary as;

“Cinema therapy allows one to use the effect of imagery, plot, music, etc. in films on the psyche for insight, inspiration, emotional release or relief and natural change. Used as part of psychotherapy, cinema therapy is an innovative method based on traditional therapeutic principles.[1] “  

Here on LIH our writers selected four films that we think give the most accurate and informative portrayals of Disillusionment Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder or (NPD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or (OCD). Please enjoy!

Best Portrayal of Disillusionment Disorder

Lars & The Real Girl-By Littlebells

The film I picked was Lars & The Real Girl, starring Ryan Gosling. Gosling plays Lars, a socially inept young man, brings home a girlfriend, Bianca to meet his brother and sister-in-law. Bianca, however, happens to be a “real life” blow up doll. Lars acts and behaves like she is real and for the sake of trying to get Lars the help he needs (i.e., connecting to another human on an emotional level), the town treats her as though she truly is a living person. Come to find out, Lars’s mom died during his birth. His father is left devastated and withdraws emotionally. Once Lars’s older brother can leave home, he does and Lars is left with a shell of a father. This is a great film, and incredibly acted and portrayed, about disillusionment and how people cope with tragedies in their life.

Best Portrayal of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Young Adult by Open Book

Charlize Theron gives an incredible performance in this dark comedy of a woman suffering with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Theron’s character shows all five traits commonly associated with this disorder. The first being lack of empathy in how she’s unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings or needs of others for example, her character marginalizes a hate crime against a high school classmate which left them physically handicapped. Second trait, shares arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes for example the scene where she looks down on the people and retail stores in her home town, yet they are in the same economic class. Third trait, is often envious of others and believes others are envious of them, this can be seen when she meets her ex-boyfriends wife and puts down her job as a special needs teacher.  Fourth, trait how interpersonally exploitative she is, meaning she takes advantage of others to achieve her own ends. This can be seen when she tries to seduce her ex-boyfriend at his house celebrating  his newborn child. The Fifth trait is entitlement. Theron demonstrates a sense of entitlement by having unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with her expectations. Well this final trait is well demonstrated all throughout the film you don’t if to laugh or cry. Anyway, I highly recommend this film. Please watch trailer below.

Best Portrayal of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

As Good As it Gets-By Parisienne

The disorder that I chose to write about is obsessive compulsive disorder or (OCD). I feel that this disorder is expertly portrayed by Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall.

Matchstick Men-By Comic Relief

Sometimes we hear the word “caricature” applied to writing, acting, and directing character appraisals we do not like.  This word is frequently used to define a crassness, crudeness, or lack of sophistication inherent in the writing, acting, and directing decisions chosen.  When audiences approve we tend to hear those performances referred to as having subtly refined characteristics indicative of realistic and well-chosen decisions.  Though it might appear that research alone makes a difference, typically other kinds of comparative information makes an even greater difference.  An example in this difference in evaluation in regard to mental health disorders can be witnessed in the way the trio “Broadcast Thought” has described comic portrayals of villain’s in Batman comics [1].  Making up one third of the trio, “Broadcast Thought”; Vasilis K. Pozios, M.D. claimed “he and his colleagues aim to destigmatize mental health treatment and clear the connection — or lack thereof — between mental disorders and serial murder.” [2] With this mind, I would have to say Ridley Scott and 2003’s “Matchstick Men” makes as many mistakes as any unsympathetic portrayal of mental illness ever has. … SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT… In fact after building an entire narrative around encyclopedic defining Roy Waller’s (played by Nicholas Cage) illness; in the end the movie even blames the illness for the character’s downfall.  A more sympathetic presentation might have been Jack Nicholson’s portrayal in “As Good as it Gets.” There he at least gets the girl when the movie ends.

4 Responses to “LIH: Must See Cinema Therapy!”

  1. Open Book October 1, 2013 at 2:01 PM #

    “Lars & The Real Girl” looks really good. I’ve not seen this film but really want to check it out now.

    I noticed all the films we selected here all have a bit of humor to them. Do u think this helps relieves some of the discomfort in discussing serious topics like the ones listed above? Would u find it difficult to watch a film about these subject matters if it did not have some humor to it?

    • littlebells October 1, 2013 at 5:38 PM #

      Those are great questions. I have given this some thought and I think that in real life situations with those who have or know someone who has mental illness, there are moments that are humorous. In our own regular lives we have moments humor and seriousness. I think the comic relief provided, particularly in LatRG didn’t seem forced. They were natural and genuine.

      I would still watch a film on these subject matters even if they didn’t have humor, because I find them informative. Humor just gives you a mental and emotional break.

      I really think you would enjoy this film OB. It got me thinking about how I might deal with tragedies in my own life and how can I make life better for those that suffer from these problems.

  2. Open Book October 1, 2013 at 2:14 PM #

    “As Good As It Gets”- Is such a great selection I mean its all around good from performance, story etc…

    “Matchstick Men” – I think performance is very good. CR, u mentioned in your commentary that this film sends the wrong message about working & living with OCD in ways “As Good As It Gets” did very well in showing how someone manages and lives with it. Can u elaborate more?

  3. Open Book October 1, 2013 at 2:33 PM #


    U Said: “In fact after building an entire narrative around encyclopedic defining Roy Waller’s (played by Nicholas Cage) illness; in the end the movie even blames the illness for the character’s downfall. A more sympathetic presentation might have been Jack Nicholson’s portrayal in “As Good as it Gets.” There he at least gets the girl when the movie ends.”

    Me: Cough! Let me clear my throat! Um!!! Am I wrong but didn’t Nicholas Cage get the girl at the end and a baby too? Ridley did give audiences a little hope. Remember NC gets with the cashier at the end? Anyway, I will agree with the first half of your argument about blaming his downfall on his illness but given his line of work was it really so bad? 🙂

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