Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

‘A Dangerous Method’ Indeed!

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on December 2, 2011


The wounded healers are illustrated beautifully in this movie ‘A Dangerous Method’ which was also a play at the Taper entitled ‘The Talking Cure’. This is the well-known story of the birth of psychoanalysis, along with the associated merging and severing of Freud’s relationship to Jung. The ‘danger’ is one of intimacy and betrayal. The ‘method’ is attention and concern to the inner workings of the mind. Viggo Mortenson is an excellent Freud. He portrays the quiet intelligence, along with the overt competitiveness and pettiness of this famous man’s personality. Keira Knightley is also an excellent Sabina. Her character arc is remarkable in that she needs to emotionally travel from despair to triumph and she does this quite well. Michael Fassbender is a weaker Jung. His journey of anguish is displayed, but with less depth than both Freud and Sabina. The scenery is stunning. Mental illness in Zurich almost seemed like a vacation destination. The message of the movie, that talking helps and wounds,  displays the narrow path of my work. It was innovative for the time to devote time listening and thinking about the patient in order to  cure their mental illness. This was a major move forward in the field. Even with the inherent danger in the method, the listening and thinking tools are still deeply valuable. Sabina was the living proof of that. It is a true story, told in a moving and well-done way. All healers are wounded, but they can still do deep healing. It is nice to see the depth of that message on the screen.

For another point of view, check out…..

2 Responses to “‘A Dangerous Method’ Indeed!”

  1. Jon said

    I agree that David Cronenberg has made another wonderful film with Viggo Mortenson. (A History of Violence was an unexpected treat.) The visuals were perfect, the scenery was magnificent, the story very well told. However, I will take exception to your (Shirah) comment of the acting. I felt that all the three main actors (as well as the supporting cast) gave excellent performances. My guess is that you found Fassbender a weaker Jung since you find more intellectual resonance with Freud then Jung.

    As for Dr. Sederer review, he knows much more about the business of psychoanalysis and it founders than do I. However, I take exception to some of his criticisms. While the film necessary focuses on some of the sexual aspects of the relationship between Jung and Sabina Spielrein, I find it fundamental to the telling of the tale, not gratuitous or titillating and not as Sederer fears “left the theatre without indelible images of abuse in the forefront of their experience.” I indeed left the theater well engaged and entertained as well as “illuminated by the mental and spiritual human wellsprings revealed by these great men, despite all their limitations.”

  2. Shirah said

    Thanks, Jon. I agree with your comments about Dr. Sederer’s review. I did not find the sexual scenes masking the complicated relationships between all involved. I left the theatre as you did, but with the added pride and embarassment with regards to my professional forefathers and foremother.

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