A client recently commented on how she felt ‘down’ after watching Avatar. There have been reports that Avatar can cause depressive thoughts. It does not surprise me that people can have a reaction when they view certain movies. People pay money to ‘feel’. Amusement and theme parks, Boat rides, Gambling, Gaming and more. A movie allows us to live in another character, another world for a few hours. A movie brings up emotions, a wide range of emotions which can be accessed through the characters and narrative in the movie.
The fantasy world of movies is very removed from the hundreds of millions who live in India. Movies that sell there have people living in a world of luxury where most live in poverty. For a few rupees a person can disappear into another world. They can enjoy living another life.
With clients who suffer a lot of anxiety I often advise they stop seeing Horror movies and anything which brings up feelings of fear. Some advertisements are really good at this and bring up fear to sell their products. Some clients have to cut down on TV or even give it up. It is not surprising that people can feel depressed after a movie. They can feel happy too. Feel good movies feel good for a reason. Examples of feel good movies are ‘Forest Gump, Slumdog Millionaire, it’s a wonderful life, Ground Hog Day, Chariots of fire and more. A feel good movie will help you feel hope and full of future.
We cannot all predict with any accuracy as to how a movie will make us feel. It is important to talk about it with someone and then to reflect and remind yourself it is another world. Chat with friends about it. Discuss the narrative and its development. Do an activity. Go outside and experience the trees, breathe in the air. Look at the sky. Watch people and animals.
No matter how auto-biographical a movie is, it still uses actors and can never truly accurately predict and represent the reality of it all. It is important to realistically appraise the world presented and bring yourself back to your own world. We are at our most vulnerable when watching a movie. A portal opens up within us when we watch. A portal which suspends judgement. It is important to be able to close it once the movie is over. Instead of seeing your own life as a negative, use the movie as an opportunity to find new meaning and direction. Something to add to your own life.
9 responses to “Avatar, Movies and Depression.”
1- I consider going to the movies similar to that of going to a church. Humans are in a space where they will all feel/see/hear similar things. There is connection if not to each other than to the screen.
2- As a Coach/Therapist I am a member of a cinema-therapy group. We meet once a month to discuss a specific film and how we can use it with our clients.
3- Favorite feel good movies of mine are ‘Field of Dreams’ and ‘Moonstruck’.
4- I found Avatar to be pro-war in that I could see how young boys would want to join the Marines after seeing it.
Thanks for your comments. I appreciate other forms of worship and had not thought about it like that before…..
Theres a group that meets regularly in London. Its more from a Psychoanalytic approach. Its at; http://www.psychoanalysis.org.uk/cinema.htm
A book has recently come out on ‘Positive Psychology at the Movies. Using Films to Build Virtues and Character Strengths’ by Niemiec, R.M. / Wedding, D.
I don’t usually reply to posts but I will in this case, great info…I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!
I really like your blog. I think your introductions are very interesting, and they make me want to read to see where you are going…how it connects with therapy you do.
Sometimes, I found myself wanting a few more links in your entries so that I could find the sources or read more about some of the studies or phenomena you mention. Otherwise, I found this really interesting
I enjoyed reading your blog. I felt fabulous after seeing Avatar. The theme of deeply connecting with nature was powerful and inspiring. It got me doing my nature awareness exercises again. I saw it twice.
Good luck with your continued blog writing.
Hi Y. I really enjoy the tone and content of your blog.
Interesting. I’ve never thought of being vulnerable while watching a movie before.
I love the Avatar 3D film, particularly the story line, not only it brings a very new sensation however inspiring thoughts of humanity. I heard the New Avatar 2 is comming soon, cannot wait to watch it again…!
I loved Avatar. I didn’t feel any negative nor positive reaction. It was just entertainment. What you write is quite interesting!