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Eye on Psi Chi: Summer 2015

Let's Watch a Movie!
Discussion Topics for
Your Chapter

Allison Franco, Slippery Rock University (PA);
Sofia Illomin Johnson, MA in MFT,
Alliant International University, Sacramento (CA) alumni;
Paula Lovell, Kaplan University; and
Terrell J. Oliver, Delaware State University

Consider hosting a movie night at your local institution to attract new Psi Chi members and establish stronger relationships with current members as well. Friendly and relaxed events such as the occasional movie night can make everyone more comfortable communicating with each other; the discussions that follow can be quite stimulating too! Entertaining films relevant to the field of psychology may make your members more eager to participate in future chapter activities and may also provide your members with ideas about psychology-related issues that they would like to learn more about as a group. To get you started, the authors of this article have collaborated to write a variety of discussion topics for the following four psychology-related films.

The Loving Story

discussion by Allison Franco
Mildred and Robert Loving were married barely a month when they were taken from their home and arrested for their interracial marriage. Neither of them had been aware that such a law existed and felt that love was love with race not being a determining factor. After many years in exile from their home state, the couple decided to take their case to court, eventually winning in 1967.
Discussion Topics

Set in Virginia during the late 1950s and early 1960s, The Loving Story is a tale of true love and a deeper conflict between the ethical treatment of humans and the laws that disregard human rights. Discuss how laws often violate human rights.

Although no longer against the law, interracial marriage is still often looked poorly upon even today. Discuss how and why discrimination and prejudice due to race remains an issue.

The fight for sexual equality is often parallel to the fight for racial equality. Discuss how these two causes’ histories are similar.

Many people take for granted the ability to openly display affection for their significant other in public without worrying about judgments from others. Discuss how emotionally difficult it would be to not be able to be with the person you love in your home state. How you might handle the situation?

Rabbit Hole (2010)
discussion by Sofia Ilomin Johnson, MA in MFT
Rabbit Hole depicts a couple’s life after the death of their 4-year-old son. Throughout the film, the directors portray how each main character experiences grief. Due to the vast differences between the characters’ experiences with grief and loss, the title Rabbit Hole is quite fitting.
Discussion Topics

Considering Death and Dying (Kübler-Ross, 1969), how would systemic perspective affect the stage(s) that each of main character experiences?

Becca’s grieving appeared normal in the film. If she were a client or patient, would one still consider this bereavement?

What are some underlying emotional cut-offs portrayed in the film?

If Jason were to exist in real life, what behaviors and/or emotions might he experience?

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
discussion by Paula Lovell
Jean-Do, a highly successful narcissist at the height of his career with a prestigious modeling magazine, suffers a stroke. The stroke renders him paralyzed except for the ability to blink an eye. Incredibly, despite his infirmity, Jean-Do perseveres with the help of his speech therapist and discovers a way to conquer stagnation by composing a book as his legacy.
Discussion Topics
Hypnopompic sleep paralysis occurs when a person awakes and is temporarily paralyzed. A feeling of panic rushes over; the ability to move or speak is impaired, although thought patterns are completely cognizant. The “fight or flight” syndrome begins as the person’s body protects itself. A feeling of confinement settles over, and the feeling is imperative. However, through respondent behavior, the person eventually wakes up and takes control of life. The hopelessness dissipates, and communication becomes reestablished.

Cognizant, but Unheard. The film opens as Jean-Dominique “Jean-Do” Bauby realizes his presence in a sterile clinical setting and discovers that no one can hear him. A specialist in neurology eventually diagnoses Jean-Do with “locked-in” syndrome, which includes physical and vocal paralysis while the individual retains eye movement and cognizance without the ability to communicate. Now in the face of great despair, how or why do you think Jean begins to relentlessly reassure himself that his voice will return?

Confinement. The “diving bell” in the film is of an enclosed nature similar to those used for archaic underwater exploration. The bell becomes a metaphor for how Jean-Do feels trapped under pressure without the ability to communicate as he undergoes physical therapy to prevent atrophy and speech assisted therapy. Then, Jean-Do’s right eye fails to lubricate correctly, so occultation (sewing the eye closed) is administered to reduce the chance of infection. Jean-Do suffers the invasive procedure with silent protest to no avail. During a wheelchair ride, he catches a glimpse of his deformed body. Describe how these events make him feel. How would they make you feel?

Hopeless. Time progresses, and medically Jean-Do becomes enveloped in the clinical routine. He desperately tries to tell everyone that a woman named Celine is the mother of his children and not his wife, but to no avail. Later, his speech therapist, Henriette, details a slow tedious new method of communicating. The film gives a glimpse of intensive paralysis care when Jean-Do is bathed like a baby. The diving bell starts sinking again as Jean-Do thinks, “It is all quite laughable, but as the poet states, ‘Only a fool laughs when it’s not funny.’ ” What does this mean?

Communication. Henriette keeps returning and delivers instructions on how to practice blowing a kiss and sliding his tongue to the back of his palate. As she models the practice, he marvels at the sexual overtones the motions convey. Jean-Do’s environment expands to walks on a patio with a beautiful view. Pierre Roussin, an old friend of Jean’s, visits to reflect on four years that he spent as a hostage, trapped in a cellar. Roussin encourages Jean-Do with an anecdotal account of how he maintained his sanity in solitude. Trapped by circumstances, only by embracing one’s humanity does one survive a tragedy of this magnitude. What would you do or say to help encourage Jean-Do to make the best of his situation?
Living. Sometime after Henriette confides to Jean-Do that she prays for him daily and wants to chastise his wish for death over life, Jean-Do realizes all the precious moments in life that he allowed to slip flippantly by. The gloom passes, and he remembers he still has an imagination and memories. A reminder to practice carpé diem from Jean-Dominique Bauby when death is impending is to take the time to say goodbye. Describe the meaning of the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to a butterfly.

American Psycho (2000)
discussion by Terrell J. Oliver
American Psycho is about a man named Patrick Bateman on Wall Street who slowly slips into his psychotic mind; while he tries to keep his composure, his psychosis does not waste any time making his mind a victim in this thriller.
Discussion Topics

People with psychosis have a tendency to have an extreme case of OCD. How can OCD make people’s psychosis worse?

Diagnosis of psychosis—Does Bateman have emotional distress, impairment to living, and risk and harm to others?

There are many psychotic disorders including delusions. Bateman exhibits a grandiose (belief that he is too great) and persecutory delusional disorder. Discuss.

Bateman exhibits the dark triad personalities: narcissism, psychopathy, and manipulation. Identify examples of each of these personalities.

Based on Bateman’s psychosis, in neuropsychology, how do you think his neurotransmitters are firing off?
It is the hope of the authors of this article that the variety of films and discussion questions above has helped to inspire you to host an upcoming movie night on your campus. Please feel free to take some popcorn and use any of the movie discussion topics provided here to encourage your members to share their thoughts with each other. The discussion topics above may also be implemented to help you think about engaging questions for other movies that you may want to watch with your fellow psychology enthusiasts.
Enjoyed this article? Consider submitting your own movie discussion for future potential publication. E-mail for complete instructions.
Kübler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company.

Allison Franco is a senior psychology major and international affairs minor at Slippery Rock University (PA). Wanting to experience college to the fullest degree, she quickly got involved on campus as a first-year student. She is president of her university’s Psychology Club, treasurer of Psi Chi, a member of Reflections Body Image Program and the Honors Program, a research assistant, and a student worker.

Sofia Ilomin Johnson, MA in MFT, is currently a mental health provider working with children and families. She absolutely loves her job because she is able to work with individuals and systems. She embraces her achievements and acknowledges that she can healthfully challenge herself if she so chooses. Johnson is married, and has two children and a dog. She loves hanging out with her family, and there’s never a dull moment!

Paula Lovell is a nontraditional student who decided to obtain a bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral analysis. She has more than 35 years’ experience in working with the mentally ill due to being a co-owner of three residential care facilities. Lovell is interested in the use of behaviorism in geriatrics. She is the mother of a premature baby diagnosed with Asperger’s and the sibling of a traumatic brain injury survivor.

Terrell J. Oliver is a senior at Delaware State University. He is finishing his last semester in the fall as a psychology major, and is he also a Psi Chi member and former chapter Psi Chi president. Oliver currently works for Human Resources and will attend graduate school for international communications and TESOL.

Copyright 2015 (Volume 19, Issue 4) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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