And the Music Calmed Them

by Kimberly on August 11, 2009 · 0 comments

This is a post about mental illness. I know a little about mental illness and children, given that I work primarily with trauma-influenced kids. I know less about adult mental illness. But my husband and I just watched the movie The Soloist last night, which got me thinking.

(The Soloist, by the way, is a fantastic movie. As is Frost/Nixon. Absolutely riveting. Our local movie store had a 3 movies for 5 nights for $10 deal. Yeah, I know…3 movies in 1 week. We’re rebels.)

SadnessAnyway, I was struck most by the movie’s portrayal (and I thought rather accurate portrayal) of how difficult it is to form and maintain a meaningful relationship with a person who has a mental illness. There can be a continual push and pull. They need you desperately (the movie points out that the biggest gift you can give is friendship), but then push you away. A constant tug-of-war.

With the children I work with, they label this “Reactive Attachment Disorder” or say the child grew up having a disorganized attachment relationship with their primary caregiver. I personally have been told “I hate you” and “Can I have a hug?” in the span of 5 minutes. Literally.

So for you out there who have a family member, friend, or loved one with a mental illness, I commend you. You have one of the emotionally-hardest jobs out there. It’s sometimes hard to “see” past the mental illness, to see the person for who they are and not what the disease makes them out to be. Again, I was touched in the movie when Robert Downey, Jr.’s character described “the soloist” as a kind and caring person…and not as a “crazy” one.

And in case you were wondering about the title, as this post is decidedly not about music specifically, it references a scene in The Soloist. Do you know which one?

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