Saturday, January 1, 2011

"The King's Speech"

I recently watched this movie ("The King's Speech"), which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I found it to be a nice story about the potential benefits of therapeutic change, and about the ingredients required to achieve this.

The literal facts of the story were interesting, but like a plot of a play, are not important in themselves to appreciate the theme or message.  

The story has to do with the relationship between Prince Albert--who would become King George VI--and a seemingly unconventional speech therapist he met to deal with his stuttering problem.

I see the stuttering/speech therapy angle of the story (and its implied psychodynamic underpinnings) to be more of a metaphor for psychological symptoms.   The facts about the causation of stuttering do not include a prominent role for psychodynamic factors or childhood trauma, etc.   But the therapy for any problem, irrespective of its cause, is often helped greatly through psychodynamic insights and focus, particularly if the context of the problem has affected relationships and sense of self. 

The compelling message I found about therapy in general, was that symptoms in the mind can obstruct the attainment of greatness or satisfaction in achievement or character.    I see this often -- that there is tremendous potential in an individual, almost a sense that there is a special place or purpose for the person in the world, but this potential is obstructed and trapped because of symptoms, psychological injury, or illness.    For a therapeutic endeavour to be helpful, it requires trust, a safe and balanced therapeutic frame, and a good rapport.  I like the idea that playfulness, spontaneity,   physical activity,  and humour are essential elements of therapeutic benefit in this story.  The other ingredient for therapeutic change--often under-emphasized in many stories--is that the work required needs to be very intense and disciplined.  A good therapist can have the role of trusted confidante, listener, teacher, or advisor, but also of a behavioural coach, to help and encourage the long and difficult daily work involved to effect behavioural and psychological change.

Another great thing about this movie is the soundtrack, which includes some of my very favourite, wonderful and thematically relevant pieces by Mozart and Beethoven.

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