Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

‘Short Term 12″-Long-Term Pain

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on September 9, 2013


The healer needs to be healed. That is what I took away from this sweet, touching, and yet painfully unrealistic film in which abused teenagers are housed until a more permanent, sometimes less desirable placement is found. We, the audience, feel the pain of both the staff and the “inmates,” so to speak, feel as they try to heal each other. There is a deep sense of humanity in this film, as the victimization of childhood is shown in full color. As the audience, I imagine the collective group, wants to scream out and remind these unseen parents that no child asks to be born. The responsibility on these parents is clear, and yet, the helplessness to make people take good care of their children is also clear. As the movie unfolds, as with life, the victim becomes the victimizer, as the pain is shared in so many directions. The line between self-harm and aggression towards other is blurred. In a way, it does not matter. There is just a lot of pain. There is the agony of abandonment, physical and sexual abuse, and most of all, the absence of a nurturing figure. How can these abused teenagers break out of their past and not live in a world guided by emotional vulnerability? What kind of people are drawn to work in these residential care settings? Is the answer to the former, the latter? The movie makes us think that. I felt sad, really sad, experiencing this movie as the hours and days have gone by. Emotional pain begets more emotional pain. It is so hard to break out of that universe.

2 Responses to “‘Short Term 12″-Long-Term Pain”

  1. Shelly said

    I, of course, haven’t seen the movie, but to answer one of your questions, “What kind of people are drawn to work in these residential care settings?” I’d like to expand it a little and ask, “What kinds of people work in children’s mental institutions and hostels in Third World Countries?” Since I can’t generalize in the US, I need to answer only for what I know for where I live, from personal experience: the lowest of the low, people who can’t get jobs anywhere else, medical staff from foreign countries who couldn’t get national accreditation to work in regular hospitals, people who don’t care, people who want to control and use physical power to physically manipulate the mentally ill and young adults who need for various reasons to be removed from their homes. I will assume that in the US, there are people like you who genuinely want to enrich, cure and help. But not where I live!

    • Yes, Shelly, you bring up the excellent point that the staff at these residential treatment centers are paid poorly, and as such, it is rare that the caring staff, portrayed in the movie, is so consistent. Thanks.

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