A recent weekend section in the local paper talks about a new kind of psychotherapy: “movie therapy.”
The idea is that by talking about favourite movies, one can “unlock all the feelings you have repressed.”
God forbid. While I bet movie therapy can work in practice, psychotherapy has its theory completely wrong, completely backwards. This is no doubt why psychotherapy has such an appallingly bad success rate. Almost any significant “mental illness” you can mention—chronic depression, schizophrenia, personality disorders, manic depression—is, according to psychotherapy, “incurable.” Which is to say, psychotherapy cannot cure it—though most such “mental illnesses” used to be considered transitory before psychotherapy.
If one simply wallows in one’s negative emotions, one trains oneself to feel them more and more. They harden into definite vices: anger, greed, hatred, envy, bitterness, covetousness, lust. (Look at that poster boy for psychoanalysis, Woody Allen, and his record on lust.)
The goal should be to get rid of them. Art—such as a movie—can do this, by sublimation. Unless you are yourself rather shallow, it has to be a pretty good movie—but most movies will at least be deeper than most psychiatrists.
It scares me to read, though, one patient saying “It took a long time for me to open up… The romance between Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman’s characters made me realize that I had never really loved my husband.”
Heaven help us. Here it sounds to me as though psychotherapy has broken up what may have been a perfectly good marriage because real life cannot equal a fictional romance. And real husbands are not as dashing as Ewan McGregor.