Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for July 17th, 2013

Oedipal Pain

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 17, 2013


Liam James, as Duncan, in this movie “The Way, Way Back” illustrates the oedipal pain of a fourteen year old boy, wanting to see his mother happy, wanting to see himself happy, yet feeling helpless and alone while his divorced mother pursues a relationship that hurts both of them. The title suggests the place in those old station wagons from the 70’s, but at the same time, hints at going back to an earlier time where a boy could love his mother, without the awareness that his mother has her own psychological and sexual needs which he, the child, cannot fulfill. The separation from his mother, that an adolescent boy goes through, was brought to light by Sigmund Freud. The boy loves his mother, but has to suffer the rejection that his mother loves a grown-up man. This separation spurs the pursuit for another relationship, and so Duncan, unconsciously, it seems like, goes hunting for a new family. This pursuit helps Duncan emerge as a unique being, which,  then gives one hope that his mother will also find a loving environment. It is a “sweet” movie in that the pain is quiet. We understand Duncan through what he does not say, more than what he does. At first, I wondered if he was socially impaired, but as the movie unfolded, he was inhibited by his negative feelings about his life, and not about a misunderstanding of people. In fact, as so often happens, while he was appearing to be awkward, he was actually being quite perceptive. There is pain and there is love, and neither one is very tidy. I liked that.

Posted in Adolescence, Movie Review | 4 Comments »

Quote Of The Day

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 17, 2013

“Griefs, at the moment they change into ideas, lose some of their power to injure the heart.” Marcel Proust

Posted in Quotes | Leave a Comment »

Mentally Ill Are Locked Up: Where Are The Psychiatrists?

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 17, 2013,0,1637257.column

Today’s LA Times sheds light on the tragic situation in LA County, where the mentally ill are warehoused in the county jail. “3,200 people with a mental illness are behind bars (17% of the jail population),” Steve Lopez reports. Where are the psychiatrists in this discussion? We could ban together to talk about the need to rebuild our mental hospitals; the ones closed when Ronald Reagan was Governor of California. It is not clear to me why psychiatrists are not more involved in advocating for the mentally ill. The resources, in California, are so limited, and yet, what seems like a few years ago (30 or so), we had decent long-term psychiatric hospitals, such as Camarillo State Hospital, which gave the mentally ill a therapeutic community. We need to chime into this conversation so that we can remind the public that the brain influences behavior, and as such, treating brain disease, not just with medication, is a critical component to a civilized society. We need good systems of care which help people who cannot help themselves. Steve Lopez does a huge public service by bringing this to the media. Now, psychiatrists need to join him, by letting the public know that we care too.

Posted in Chronic Mental Illness, Media Coverage | 4 Comments »

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