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Book: MOVIES ON OUR INNER SCREEN, Conversations between Maggie Roux, Bernie Wooder and Peter Malone

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MOVIES ON OUR INNER SCREENS

Movies, meaning, education and therapy: a conversation between Bernie Wooder, Maggie Roux and Peter Malone.

The aim of this book:

1. NEED.

Increasingly, popular movies are being used as a resource for training people in the healing professions. Trainers and students want to use the movies but often lack the skills to use the resource.

2. PURPOSE.

This book introduces readers to ways of using movies. Because of its structure and conversational style between the authors, the book is demonstrating for its readers some of the ways in which movies can be therapeutic, raise issues and awareness about facing and tackling the issues.

3.. AUTHORS

Bernie Wooder, Psychotherapist, London. Bernie has a website for "The Movie Therapist"
and has contributed to a number of magazines, newspaper interviews and
has appeared in radio and television programs responding to questions about
particular films and therapy.
Maggie Roux, Lecturer in Media, Trinity and All Saints College, University of Leeds, contributor to
Explorations in Theology and Film, 'The Terminator Movies: Hi- Tech holiness
and the human condition', regular contributor to Thought for the Day, Radio 4, and
other BBC religious programs.
Peter Malone, President of the International Catholic Cinema Organisation,
Australia, based in London. Film Reviewer and lecturer since 1968. Use of film and
counselling, especially using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Author and writer.


2. INTENTION AND USES

Movies on the Inner Screen is a book
for moviegoers,
for students of cinema
for those who work in caring professions,
for those who are educators and trainers in human resource skills,
for those who enter therapy as clients.

The format and style of the book is a three-way conversation amongst the
authors. The value of this style, in preference to a straight text, is that
the authors can use their more personal voices, that readers can more
easily and quickly identify with the authors and their positions and that it
provides a more comfortable way for readers to dip into the book and read
it, for example, while travelling.

CONTENTS

An introduction explains the meetings and discussions that led to the
writing of this book.

The first section is principally autobiographical where the authors discuss
their movie experiences in terms of their own lives - which enables the
others to illustrate how they can work in counselling, training and therapy by
commenting on and drawing out the speaker to explore the meaning of their
movie experiences.

The second section focuses on the authors and the way that they use movies
in their work. Bernie Wooder, as a psychotherapist, works mainly with
individual clients but has a background of radio, television and print media
efforts to help people via the movies. Maggie Roux lectures to young
media students on film, students who are interested in the meanings of
movies; as well, she works with professional groups who are working in
social and pastoral care and in training people in these professions. Peter
Malone has taught media and religion and has used the Myers Briggs
application of the Personality Type theory of Carl Jung with individuals in
counselling as well as in in-services, especially for teachers and nursing carers.

The third section has the authors discuss several movies and how they
might be used.

In the appendices, Bernie Wooder outlines his process for movies and
therapy. Maggie Roux gives the outline for the contents of her myths and
meaning course. Peter Malone outlines the basic approach and applications
of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.


- moviegoers will find new insights into the movies they see,
- students of cinema will have deeper meanings of movies opened up,
- professional educators, trainers, counsellors and therapists will find
information, methods and some techniques for introducing the seeing and
discussing of movies into their work,
- clients will be encouraged to use movies as ways of expressing their
experiences to their counsellor or therapist and participate more
imaginatively in their therapy.


A distinctive feature of the book is the background of the authors and their
opening up of therapy, counselling and professional in-servicing to the world of
values, especially 'spirituality' (as distinct from organised religion or church)
which has become a major interest today. Bernie Wooder is a practising
Buddhist, Maggie Roux is a Catholic as is Peter Malone.




_

MOVIES ON OUR INNER SCREEN

Movies, Myths, Personality and Therapy

A conversation between Maggie Roux, Bernie Wooder and Peter Malone.


CONTENTS


One: Introducing a movie therapy conversation

Two: Cinema autobiographies – with a touch of therapy
1. Peter: from Sydney to…
2. Bernie: from London to…
3. Maggie: from Glasgow to…

Three: Movie Therapy – with a touch of Autobiography
1. Bernie: Movie Therapy
2. Maggie: Movies, Myths and Meanings
3. Peter: Movies and Psychological Type

Four: Some Particular Movies

Appendix 1: Movies and You/ Bernie Wooder
Appendix 2: Movies, Myths and Meanings, a Course/Maggie Roux
Appendix 3: The Myers Briggs Type Indicator/ Peter Malone










ONE: INTRODUCING A MOVIE THERAPY CONVERSATION


Peter

How can we best introduce this book?

Maggie

At least by saying that the idea of using movies in counselling, education, theology and so on, as opposed to film analysis and film study, has now come of age. It's got to the stage where it can take off in different directions. And therapy and counselling have become firmly established now in companies, for instance.

Again this use of movies in healing has become something that isn't just the prerogative of a very few rich people going into therapy. And it's not just American any more. Psychology has very much become its own master, has it not? It's not just something derived from the medical model.

Bernie

I talk as a psychotherapist as opposed to being a psychologist.

Maggie

You don't prescribe drugs?

Bernie

No, that's a psychiatrist.

Maggie

I should say a psychiatric model, then. Psychology was the tiny cousin, for a long time, of psychiatry. But now it's actually established itself as grown-up in its own field.

So I'm wondering if we could play around with those ideas because these ideas have come many different aspects of looking at who we are as human beings and how we interact with each other.

Peter

At the beginning of this introduction, perhaps, we should simply recount how this book came about. You might tell us how you heard Bernie on the radio or read something about his work with movies and therapy.

Maggie

I read about Bernie in the press and contacted him, because I was already doing what I do with movies in education and in training carers and was not aware that there were others out there doing something similar.

Peter

What exactly were you doing?

Maggie

I don't quite know how to word it. I can't do it without my screen! But from my career in teaching and my writing and reflecting on film, I began to realise that these two were impinging on each other more and more; they were coming together more and more in terms of training and teaching and people discovering insights.

Peter

Bernie, when Maggie contacted you, you were becoming more involved in media?

Bernie

Yes, and it was very difficult to catch up with the absolute groundswell of media. I was on a deep learning curve in appearing so many times on so many different media to be interviewed and talk in depth about what I was doing. But I suppose what I was saying to everyone - if I can bullet-point it - is that films really enable us to contact our deeper feelings, feelings we may not normally be aware of. They help us to suspend belief, and this is of great help to therapists because it helps to get round a client's denial and repression. It indicates what parts of our emotional lives may need attention. It can provide healthy role models for healing, and for management, for organisations and for ministry.

Movies can show us what's going on inside us by manifesting on the screen what we may not be aware of. They can help access to and heal negative emotions that may have been affecting the quality of our emotional life, purge repressed unhappy negative feelings, touch and spark off the unconscious memories that negative feelings can originate from. It can also give an overall sense of motivation, created more powerfully than in any other way by a combination of music, acting and director's talents. It speeds up the process of therapy. So that's my introduction, really.

Maggie

A year ago we put together a training day and brought together professionals from the health service, from ministry, prison chaplains, teachers, retreat directors, counsellors, therapists and trainers. It was an experimental day, bringing the therapy work that Bernie does and the education/training work that I do together. The feedback was such that we realised there really was a tremendous interest in this kind of work. Then, you and I knew each other, Peter, and I knew that you were really interested in and had worked and written a great deal on psychological type. I felt that this fitted in - it offered a very useful schema: the Myers Briggs Type Indicator which has now built a worldwide reputation, a very respectable place in psychology, counselling and training.

Peter

Yes. I responded to the kinds of things that Bernie was just saying, because of my experience in counselling, teaching and working with teachers and other groups, using psychological type. And, for many years, reviewing movies. So, reflecting on those kinds of things, applying Type theory to the movies and how therapy meets with the movies, I was fascinated. Looking at movies from my particular angle meant that there was a connection between the three of us. The other thing is that Maggie and I work within a Catholic context of university and theological college, and then meeting you, Bernie, with your Buddhist background and affiliation, meant an interesting interreligious reflection on what we have in common.

Bernie

What was really great when Maggie came along and asked me to do the training was that it enabled me not to feel so isolated. I have felt I'm pioneering this in a very professional world. And to meet someone else who is pioneering something very similar and that could we could work together as therapist and educator was brilliant for me.

Maggie

I think Bernie and I met twice in London and did what we do well, which is talk, and the days were not long enough. It was extremely helpful for me to be able to share some of the stuff that I'd got from the students, some of the movie journeys that we'd gone on together over the years, students and I, with the work that you did as a therapist, which was one-to-one, compared with my working with big numbers. Although, obviously, I interact with the students on a one-to-one basis as well, I'm not a therapist and I'm not a counsellor.

But the other thing you brought to the discussion that I found very helpful - because I do recognise that a huge majority of us out there doing counselling work are not going to be trained - was that you fed back a great deal of helpful information about how that could be all right within the limits of acknowledging that you were not a professional counsellor. It can be very scary. I've heard lecturers say, 'We don't deal with that. That isn't our stuff. We're not trained to do that.' And I see somebody sitting outside their door who's got nobody if we don't grasp that nettle. But we have to do it recognising that we are coming from an untrained perspective. And it can also be very dangerous if we get only a little training you then get the situation where a doctor, a priest or a minister has done three or four days worth of communications training, counselling training, and they think that's it. That's very dangerous.

Bernie

I think what was very important about what you did, Maggie, because of your concern and because of your awareness of what you knew and what you didn't know, was to highlight this. The student doesn't always realise that boundaries exist. This is often blurred for them. They just know how they feel and what power a movie is bringing up in them. You did a very responsible thing because what you actually did, in professional terms, was sought me for supervision. If a person searches for supervision rather than imparting advice and saying, 'Well, I'm not sure if I know what I'm doing', but acting the role of counsellor, that moves to avoid damage.

Peter

So that led to a three days summer school led by the three of us. We had quite a range of people and professions attending. Each of us was able to focus on movies within the context of our particular areas. We could see how they were complementary.

Maggie

It was very important to remember that we were being taught. I certainly know that every year when I finish doing the Myths, Meaning and Movies course, I know a lot more than I did because I've had 180 kids telling me stuff, pointing out movies and taking me down their movie journeys.

Bernie

And there's a saying in Buddhist terms that's quite popular - that there's a moment when the pupil teaches the teacher.

Peter

I've always been helped in teaching by ideas from the writings of Henri Nouwen. He highlights two mindsets about education: the violent ('yes, but...) and the redemptive ('tell me more...'). Unfortunately, most of the traditional methods of education are violent, that they are unilateral, imposed (the competent instructing the incompetent), and for the student this can be alienating. The redemptive model is bilateral, interactive and enables self-actuation in both student and teacher, so that both are learning.

Maggie

I tell the students every year that if I haven't learned by the time we finish, they've failed. And that if they haven't learned, I've failed.

Peter

So, given all that and our experience and our talking with one another, it seemed worthwhile to have this kind of conversation for a book, to share it a little more with people who are interested in how movies and therapy are interacting, movies and education and training, and get a sense of the direction in which we might be going.


Maggie

I think what I would be happy to do is put my name behind an encouragement for this particular type of discussion to be interdisciplinary, that it's not about film and theology or film and psychology. It's a way of relating to each other as human beings on the personal and on the organisational levels and that this kind of conversation using movie text is one of the tools that can be used very helpfully.






TWO: CINEMA AUTOBIOGRAPHIES - WITH A TOUCH OF THERAPY

1. Peter - from Sydney to...

Maggie

How did you get into movies, Peter? Was it as a small child?

Peter

We lived in a Sydney suburb called Maroubra Junction and there were two cinemas amongst the shops in Anzac Parade, one called the Amusu and the other the Vocalist. And I've never heard of those names for theatres ever since. As far as I can remember my parents took me to the Amusu. I have vague memories of Bambi. My mother became very ill when I was about six and my brother was about four. We had a lady looking after us, Mrs Adams, and, as I look back, I realise she had a passion for what we called then 'going to the pictures'. I have a memory of going to what were probably most unsuitable films, a memory of Merle Oberon in Temptation. I can still picture Merle there in black and white up on the big screen.

A couple of years later - it was after my mother died in February 1947 - I remember going to see Anna Karenina, the Vivien Leigh version. I don't know who gave us permission to go to see it or why we were there when we usually went to see comedies like Paleface with Bob Hope. Some of the kids, my brother, Philip, and some cousins wanted to go to the toilet and I remember refusing to go because Vivien Leigh was actually just about to be run over by the train. I had a sense that I really wanted to see this part of the movie.

Maggie

Did you know that that was going to happen?

Peter

No - but I have always hated missing any part of a movie I'm watching and I have to watch right from the beginning.

Maggie

But you sensed that there was a real power. The film had already got to you and caught you up in the story. It's a complicated and emotional story for a small child.

Peter

It certainly is. I remember when I read Tolstoy's novel eleven years later, I got to that scene of Anna's suicide and I felt I had to stand up and walk around because it was so powerful and knowing what was about to happen to Anna. When I was reading Tolstoy, and later we studied it on the curriculum for English I at University, I had absorbed the power from the movie and obviously from Vivien Leigh. I can still see her now standing in front of that train. Even though I saw the Greta Garbo, Jacqueline Bissett and Sophie Marceau versions later, Anna Karenina is still, for me, Vivien Leigh.

Maggie

It has become one of the great movie icon moments, the train and the steam and the noise. Did you see it, Bernie?

Bernie

A long time ago.

Peter

The strange things we remember. But I must have seen quite a few movies and remembered them because when Philip and I had to go to boarding school at Bowral in the southern highlands of New South Wales in 1948, I know that the nun walking up from the station to the school with us said that we would have films every week. I quickly said, 'I hope we're going to have Pinocchio and Bush Christmas as I haven't seen them yet'. Now why I was so absorbed in the movies at that stage, aged eight? I don't know.

But when we got to boarding school, I found that there was a theatre-like hall with two 35mm projectors for screenings on weekends. But there was also one of the classrooms equipped with a 16mm projector and we used to have some films, I remember even some silent films (because sound was only twenty years or so old at that time). We were very lucky to have had so much experience and exposure to movies.

Maggie, I'm sure you're going to talk about one of your favourite films, Cinema Paradiso, so I would like to get in early and declare that I had a really hard time watching Cinema Paradiso; and I dislike a lot of it because it reminds me of some negative aspects of the school experience. The sisters did, in fact, literally put their hands over the lens to stop us seeing particular scenes. Of course, we were wondering what on earth was being hidden!

Attached to the school was a home for elderly and retired sisters. The ritual was that, if the film was judged no good, it stopped. I didn't see the rest of Two Sisters from Boston with Kathryn Grayson and June Allyson for another thirty five years. When Kathryn Grayson went to sing opera in New York and it didn't work out, she sang in a Vaudeville Hall or a beer hall, I forget which. When June went to find her, she saw her singing sweetly but then Kathryn turned round and there was no back to her dress! Poor June fainted but then, to help out, she had to do the routine later as well. This is this the Hollywood having its cake and eating it kind of thing - a touch of the salacious and then the 'tut, tut'! But that's all we saw of the two sisters from Boston.

But with nice movies like Margaret O'Brien and Dean Stockwell in The Secret Garden, we would stop after the first reel, the sisters would rewind and the message went over for the old sisters to come across and see it. Cinema Paradiso is set at the same time, so I have mixed reactions because of my experience of censoring.

They were strict times. When we went home for holidays, our grandmother and an aunt looked after us. They knew we liked going to the pictures and they would go with us until I was eleven and was allowed to buy the tickets - I can see my grandmother lining up at the St James for Annie Get Your Gun for us but not going in herself - but we were never allowed to go more than twice a week. That may seem a lot to some people but it was strictly never more than twice a week.

Maggie

That was common. Lots of my friends would say they'd never been to the cinema at all, let alone 'never more than twice a week'.

Peter

But we're in Sydney in the inner suburbs in the late forties and early fifties and you would normally go on a Saturday and, perhaps, at midweek. We also saw plenty of movies at secondary school. It was a small school in the country with only a hundred and twenty boarders or so and some day students. There was some unexplained rule that we missed out on one Saturday a month in seeing a film. Perhaps it was Catholic penance!

In 1952 I kept a scrapbook of film ads. One of the newly ordained priests enjoyed looking at it, but the priest in charge of our dormitory found it, called me out at night into his room, asked me what these terrible things were and told me, 'the Devil himself drew those'. One I remember was Rancho Notorious, with Marlene Dietrich, showing only her legs from the waist down. (Memory tells me that this was the ad which evoked the comment about the devil's artistry. There was another for an anti-alcohol movie called She Should Have Said No with a glamorous women in evening dress, leaning right back and dropping her glass. Well, the priest burnt them all.

So, it's interesting to see the effect of liking the movies but, while we were encouraged by the nuns and the priests to see them, there was the hand over the lens, the cutting them off without seeing the end, the burning of the film ads. Anyway, I was then asked to project them for the next four years and to select the movie program for each year. I actually had fairly free rein as to what we could see, always trying to get the best possible movies - and then you'd find the print hadn't been returned on time to the distributors; we were to have de Mille, the circus and The Greatest Show on Earth and we'd get The Student Prince instead which wasn't quite what we wanted.

It wasn't always plain sailing. We had a poster for Quo Vadis. There was the empress, Poppaea, Patricia Laffan in a green dress, I remember, with a split up the side. I had to get a crayon, a green crayon, and...

Maggie

And colour in her dress?

Peter

...and colour in her dress so that the poster could go up in public on the notice board. And there was some literal cutting of movies. We had to see every Greer Garson film because the headmaster loved seeing her. When we had Julia Misbehaves (not one of her most typical or best-known movies) we looked at it in the projection room before screening it. It was decided that we would cut the scene where Greer is having a bath and her creditors arrive. Reginald Owen knocks on the bathroom door and says, 'They're here for their money' and she says, 'I can't come out, I'm in the nude'. It's hard to imagine Greer Garson actually saying that in her ladylike round-vowelled way, but she did. And he says, 'Well, get out of the nude'. We cut that scene and spliced it back in the next day. We also cut a song and dance act that she did, showing a bit of leg. We had to cut that.

By 1955 when we had Esther Williams in The Million Dollar Mermaid, the movie about Annette Kellerman, the Australian swimmer at the turn of the century, instead of cutting the film, (it was a parents' night too and we had to give the right impression), when she walked along a Boston beach in the one piece bathing suit, I had my left hand on the sound and the light switches on the projector and turned them off, my right hand on the switch to turn the hall light on. She did the walk along the beach for about a minute with a close up on her from the waist down, then light and sound on again, hall light off and nobody knew what they had missed. At least we didn't hack the film.

Maggie

Deceptions, the deceptions are amazing.

Peter

Yes, it creates a dilemma about the effect of movies. On the one hand you are meant to enjoy them but you are getting all these messages on the other that there is something not quite right.

Maggie

But there was the question of books as well. I can remember the same thing with books. It was good to read but you were constantly looking over your shoulder in case you were reading something that you shouldn't. Then, of course, as soon as you found the page you kept going back to that page.

Bernie

It certainly shows a central ambivalence with your receiving mixed messages. On the one hand the nuns said OK and they were women. On the other hand the men, the priests, said no and, ostensibly, it was about seeing the female figure.

Maggie

Would they have had the same attitude, do you think, towards violence? I recognise that there wasn't the same problem then as there is now, but nevertheless there were violent movies.

Peter

I don't remember any particular problem, although there were questions in Australia as to whether The Wild One should be released. I wanted to get On the Waterfront and The Wild One for the school. And we did screen them without any worries. I think that's Catholic thing, perhaps a Christian thing. I find that Catholics can be very puritanical about sexuality and quite libertarian or permissive about violence. Whereas 'liberals' and libertarians want to be absolutely free about sexuality but react quite puritanically and restrictively about violence.

Maggie

With all those films you saw and which you've chosen, this wasn't a normal film- going childhood. It was very...

Bernie

... structured

Maggie

... a structured way of seeing movies. You actually came into the choosing of movies, thinking about them in a way your classmates weren't doing. They were receiving the work that you put in. So, are there any particular movies or scenes or themes that you return to again and again or that you remember particularly vividly. Like your watching Anna Karenina and, later, when you started to read the section on her suicide on the written page, you had to put the book down and walk around. The physicality of that is enormous. Is there anything else that you remember?

Peter

I remember those lavish historical epics, which according to Leonard Maltin and the TV movie guides today are not very good. But I tended to choose that kind of film then. I remember, for example, enjoying The Egyptian very much. Somehow being taken back into history imaginatively and the exotic aspects, the Cinemascope widescreen and the star cast. Actually, we saw every Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis movie, which surprises me now. I have very happy memories of laughing at Danny Kaye in The Inspector General and, especially, Knock on Wood and The Court Jester. There were a lot of Bob Hope comedies like Casanova's Big Night.

I think what I was trying to do at school was to have the best possible quality list - at least in the way that I judged quality. These were the award winners and the box office successes. Despite enjoying the comedies, I think I tended to choose the more serious movies, the dramas and the spectacles. I think I still do.

Bernie

Can I ask you if you remember what the feeling was like pre- watching the film, the build up to going to the cinema? How did that feel?

Peter

Now that you ask me, I think I was very focussed. I'll give you an example and I hope this conveys something of the feeling. Because we were limited to going twice a week during holidays and we didn't have very much money, I would pick and choose the program that offered the best value for our sixpences. The main theatre for this was called the Boomerang (and I've never heard of one of those since) on the beachfront at Coogee. You would see Rear Window plus Daddy Longlegs and be there half the night. I remember going to the Boomerang to see the first movies after I got glasses - I didn't know you were supposed to see so clearly! - it was a double of Vera Cruz and A Town Like Alice. (And when I got glasses I realised why I wasn't very good at taking catches at cricket!)

There was an excitement about the planning and really looking forward to seeing these imaginative, sometimes spectacular, film stories. The anticipation would have been fairly heightened. As it still is. Even when I go off now to a press preview I like to be there on time, in the mood, in the atmosphere.

Bernie

Sure, because, as you talk, I get a sense of anticipation and excitement of the possibility, of the unknown.

Peter

Yes, what's it going to be like? I tend to like everything - so I'm told - so it's almost always fulfilled.

Bernie

A rich world really.

Peter

When I decided to join the religious order that I belong to, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, and to become a priest, we were told that you didn't see films during the seminary years. And the training was for eight years. So I always think I must have a vocation if I was prepared not to see a movie for eight years - and to give away my library which I was building up through book clubs and second hand books. The last movie I saw before going to the novitiate, before what I thought was going to be the eight year absence, was Judy Holliday in The Solid Gold Cadillac.

But, in the novitiate, the priest who was the novice master had taught me at secondary school and knew how I liked the movies. At one stage I was upset about something and went to him to talk it over. As a pleasant remark at the end, he told me to go and dream about On the Waterfront! But he also communicated to us that we should really never go and see a film again. So we made a resolution, the group of eight of us, that when we took our first vows we would follow his advice. We wouldn't go and see another film. It's a very 'religious', Catholic Jansenistic, Protestant Puritanical approach.

However, it was not to be. In the meantime, a doctor cousin of one of the students started to bring out 16mm prints to the seminary in Melbourne at the very moment that we were saying that we wouldn't see any again. So when I got to the seminary for studies, with our resolution, we were confronted by the superior who had a terrific voice and boomed at us, 'What's this I hear about you not going? You will go!'. He's supposed to have said about twenty five years later, 'I told Peter Malone that he had to go and see films and now he sees five hundred a year. What have I done?'

In fact, at school I had seen one of these films were had been commanded to see, Prince of Foxes, and knew that it was all right. Then I started listening to the students and the way they were talking about the films. Some of them were particularly tut-tutting and more than a touch righteous. They had seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers the year before we arrived and some thought it was a disgusting film.
Philip and I had seen it with our father during the school holidays and had enjoyed it. We also had A Kid for Two Farthings which I had also seen before and liked very much. So it made me rethink our decision not to see a film again.

Another thing was that some of the students became very pious in their interpretations, reading spiritual messages into the films - although we did have Battle Hymn with Rock Hudson as a Korean war chaplain! A lot of the comments seemed just hooey.
I was lucky then that, as I went into the seminary, not only did we see movies but many that were brought out for us to see were or have become classics. I remember we had Double Indemnity, several recent Hitchcock's including Vertigo. We started to see very good films and were encouraged to discuss them.

Maggie

That seems an incredibly modern attitude for the seminary. I mean it sounds wonderful that that happened so long ago.

Peter

I've never thought of that. The films started coming to our seminary in 1957.

Maggie

And some of the other seminarians were reading a lot of the films from a very negative point of view - or, a higher term than that?

Peter

Yes, pious

Maggie

... a pious attitude. But it was an eminently sensible idea to bring the common currency into the seminary. Could we talk about this? What you were saying about Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I've heard and read about Shirley Valentine from different Christian groups over the last few years: that Shirley Valentine is a dreadful story because it is about a woman who leaves her husband and commits adultery. It's so hard to get past that. If you're reading a film from that sort of attitude and understanding, you are already so narrowly limiting what the Gospel message might be about. I think it was a very enlightened director that you had.

Peter

We were sent to study at the ANU, the Australian National University in Canberra in 1960, a rather unusual thing for a religious order to do in those days, send their students during the seminary years study years to do secular subjects at the university. I was there for two years and studied English Literature and Australian Literature, History and Latin.

The second year was full-time study and one of the best years of my life. We had no television so we read, and read, and read. That year we specialised in English drama from Marlowe and Shakespeare through the Jacobeans to Restoration comedy. We read them all. That was quite mind-broadening in those days. Then returned to the seminary, back to Melbourne. I am not sure what came over us, perhaps the rather narrow attitudes of those who had not gone to the university and thought we had studied material that was far too worldly. But one of the movies we had in 1962 was Pillow Talk. I must have gone puritanical for the moment because we all walked out. Do you use the phrase 'off-colour jokes'? We walked out because we thought Pillow Talk was off-colour. I didn't see it for another twenty-five years.

But our Student Director, who wasn't a great movie appreciator, more a Saturday matinee type, he knew that there was something that was worth exploring with us. He went round the whole class asking to say why we'd walked out. He told me a couple of years ago that he didn't remember ever saying then something which has stayed with me and profoundly influenced my approach to the arts and to reviewing. He told us that everything human can be the subject of humour, even sexuality. Otherwise we put it on a pedestal, make it an unreality, and it becomes an idol and needs to be toppled. And he said that Rabelaisian humour is a significant part of human humour. That was April 1962. And I still remember it vividly. I could blame him, of course, for some of the later censorious reactions to my reviews! But we were lucky to have that advice.

Four months later I found myself on a five weeks voyage to go to study in Rome - where, apart from the Second Vatican Council which opened a week after I arrived there, the seminary had television available, which we didn't have in Australia in the seminary at that stage. And we were able to go out to see movies.

There were screenings of movies for clerical audiences in those days in a theatre next to what was then called The Holy Office, the successor to the old Inquisition. The first movie I saw was Ben Hur, standing for three hours pinned against the wall. It was packed. You couldn't even fall down! In those days, clergy were not allowed to go to the 'real' cinemas. But we could, and did, see many of the well-known movies of the 60s at that clerical hall.

So I built up a great deal of experience in seeing all these films. I should add that a Jesuit, Enrico Baragli, offered a short film appreciation course which I did. There was also a special seminar at the Gregorian University on 'Theology and Recreation' and I did that. I was lucky to get opportunities to read and think about film and meanings from philosophical, theological and spiritual points of view.

Bernie

As a non-catholic listening to you, what's apparent is that there is still an ambivalence, a subterranean judgement running all through what you say. I can see that, apparently, you had a lot of freedom and met some good people who were quite liberal for their time. But there still seems to be the question, 'is this quite right?' running underneath all of this.

Peter

I had begun to read a lot of writing on movies and meanings. A very good book was written by Jesuit, William Lynch, called The Image Industry. I read when it came out in 1960. He was articulating meanings in movies and that made a lot of sense to me. It consolidated reading I had forgotten I did at school, from a British Catholic review called Focus and some pamphlets, 'Films and You', 'You and the Movies' by Australian Fr Fred Chamberlin who had a great influence on my life later. They were authorities who gave credibility to what I was thinking.

However, you are right about the undertones - and often overtones - of disapproval. My aunt at home, Aunty Sheila, who looked after Philip and myself with our grandmother, didn't quite approve of my liking of films so that was a message even at home.

Bernie

Yes that's the sort of thing I'm picking up.

Peter

When I got back to Australia from Rome in the latter part of 1966, it was a controversial time for film reviewing, especially in the United States and for us, because Fred Chamberlin used the American classifications as the basis for his. The Legion of Decency and its more negatively critical approach to movies was coming to an end and there were a lot of discussions about expressing Catholic moral standards and advice. In fact, at that time Aunty Sheila suggested I actually go to see some films that were causing some concern in Sydney, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf and Doctor Zhivago. She said I ought to see them. That was amazing. But, in retrospect I think it foreshadowed changes in the disapproval, although there was still quite a deal to go through - and, of course, in many areas it still persists.

Bernie

So she changed.

Peter

In attitude to me, yes. But ultimately she didn't, perhaps couldn't, in herself. I did take her to see The Little Prince, which was G rated, about eight years later but, when she came out, the first thing she said was, 'The rose wasn't wearing much was she?'.

Maggie

Well she was quite a sexy rose!

Peter

So, I never took her to another film.

I then started to teach in secondary school in Canberra. A lot of my contemporaries in the novitiate were there on the staff and we started to go and see movies like Alfie and Georgie Girl. But the disapproval took on a louder tone. There was a priest on the staff who disapproved, a big man who roared. The kids called him 'Thunderguts'. Thunderball had just come out and he was Thunderguts! He accused us of being ecclesiastical peeping toms for seeing Georgie Girl. He would report me to superiors if I wore a clerical collar to the cinema. And if I didn't wear it, he'd report me for that.

This was negative and hurtful but, at this stage, I was ordained, teaching on a school staff with responsible positions. And there was a climate for discussing these things. In fact, I'd started writing articles about why I watched movies. In 1969 I wrote my first book, 'The Film' which I described as 'a reasonable Christian approach to movie watching'.

At the beginning of 1968 I began reviewing movies in a school and family oriented magazine which our religious order publishes (and continued reviewing there continually for 31 years). The Editor gave me a forum. That was the year of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Graduate. So we were a bit daring, seeing how the situation was in the Church. The reviews increased in number and, despite the odd letter complaining about the swearing in The Sting and Andie Mac Dowell's permissiveness in Four Weddings and a Funeral, they became acceptable and accepted.

It seems strange in retrospect, but this was the period when nuns did not go to cinemas so there were special sessions with discussion for sisters that I used to participate in with movies like Midnight Cowboy. That was an interesting time.

By the way, John Northey, Thunderguts, died at Christmas 1970, the same month as Austin Sheridan, the priest who burnt my film ads. They both died of cancer. But John, who had reported me so many times, changed a year before he died. In 1969 the Editor of our magazine, 'Annals', rang me in Canberra. I thought he said, 'I'm going to the preview of The Killing of Sister George and I'm taking John Northey with me'. More than a bit alarmed, I said 'No, don't!' (It was a movie with Lesbian themes.) But what he'd said was, 'We've been to the preview'. 'What happened?' He said, 'it was so long I had to leave early. But John wouldn't leave. He wanted to see the whole film through.' So, after that, I asked John whether I should review movies like The Killing of Sister George in Annals - and he said, 'Yes, I think you should review all controversial films.'

So I'm interested, Bernie, in what you say about the subterranean messages. They became explicit. But all through my life and even now that I'm the official Catholic film person, I've had no, yes, no, yes... If you live long enough and you're credible it means that you have become credible to yourself as well as to others. So that's what's happened to me.

Bernie

What's interesting about what's happened to you is that the people that were judgmental changed and gave you permission afterwards. Not that you needed it.

Another thing that comes up for me is that John Northey died of cancer. Just out of curiosity, cancer of what?

Peter

I think it was the stomach area. I'm not sure.

Bernie

Why I ask that question is how very astute common unconscious wisdom is. Thunderguts, the guts, the anger.

Peter

Yes, I think you might be right. I hadn't made the connection.

Bernie

It seems to me to be valid here. Something happened to him that he could watch Sister George and he could watch it alone. He didn't have to have an excuse to be there. Something quite big must have happened within him. He had the excuse to go. I find that very interesting.

Maggie

But what's interesting in that story for me is that it wasn't just the movie-going. He was getting at you for other things, wearing your collar or not.

Peter

The clerical thing.

Maggie

It sounds to me as if this was somebody who was trying to do his best to straddle two worlds and finding it very difficult to come to terms with and to let go of an authoritarian attitude which was very common. The Catholic world was in struggle at that time, the Second Vatican Council and all the upheaval in the church. How do we move forward without giving credibility to things that we don't approve of? In hindsight we can say that the critics of change were right in many, many ways. But how do we retain what is right and what is structurally good and how do we go at the same time into the future and not become completely desiccated? Wasn't it just about this time that the Index of Forbidden Book was falling into disrepute?

Peter

And the US Legion of Decency was finishing.

Maggie

It sounds like he was caught in all of this and maybe in his final illness he began to see things differently.

Peter

I'll tell you what this is confirming. John Northey actually was a man of the arts. He died at fifty-three, a huge big man. He had been chaplain to the Catholic drama society in Adelaide and loved going to plays. In fact, during that same year he was reporting me, he took me to see the Feydeau farce, A Flea in her Ear because Dennis Olsen, one of the world's best Gilbert and Sullivan interpreters was in the play and he had been a member of that drama society in Adelaide. John also reported me for not walking out of the play because it was a sexy farce. And I said to the superior, 'But he was there himself and didn't walk out!'.

I did take him to see War and Peace, the Russian version, about eighteen months before he died. He was standing, looking immensely clerical, in the foyer just above a five steps staircase. Suddenly he must have lost consciousness. He just plunged headlong down the steps and fell flat on his face. But he quickly he came to, got up and we proceeded into the theatre as if nothing had happened.

Bernie

He is an external personification of the negative inner critic, that I find in my work. It wasn't just the movies as Maggie pointed out. It was much more than that.

Peter

And his life ending. He never made it public that he a terminal illness.

Maggie

And fifty-three. I'm speaking from that age group. Fifty-three is a time of changing - and, for him, it stopped.

Bernie

He must have transcended his ego, as I said earlier, and his rigidity to go and see that film because he had to live
with that punitive judge. I'm not surprised he got cancer.

Peter

What helped him, I think, in his last two years, was that the Provincial Superior of the time - whom he had reported
to the previous Provincial - invited him to come to Sydney and act as a kind of secretary. He must have known that
he had only a short time to live. John was also somebody who went from community to community. He was
moved often. He never settled, perhaps, until these last two years. But I do remember that he was still a bit
tentative about Midnight Cowboy! You've made me realise that, at least with Aunty Sheila and with John Northey
and a couple of others, including that Provincial who was also a bit wary about my doing this kind of work, they
changed.

The Novice Master, the man who led to our resolution not to see any more films, was a very, very proper man, walked with a pious stoop but stammered - and made us do a lot of speech training, perhaps to compensate. He was Novice Master for eleven years and his approach was very ascetical with a belief in our mortifying ourselves, often the negative rather than the positive approach to training. On the twenty fifth anniversary of my making my first vows, I went to review An Officer and a Gentleman and hated it. Now there's deep feeling! I hated it because there was Louis Gossett Jnr, Oscar and all, doing to Richard Gere what our Novice Master had done to us, a seemingly relentless discipline in the name of training and, even, regard. And everyone in the theatre was loving it. It was the same later with Private Benjamin.

But the Novice Master went to work in Papua New Guinea, which must have almost killed him because he was a very fastidious man and the heat would have been too much. But they had an outdoor movie house in the parish in Port Moresby which he eventually ran. At this stage he was in his sixties. In 1976, two years before he died, I'd been reviewing for movies for eight years. He took me aside after dinner when I was visiting Sydney. He talked about what I was doing and at the end he awkwardly but simply said, 'Well go and write your review of Machine Gun McCain'. Where he'd heard that name, I'll never know. But I realise I took it in that same way that you've noted about the others who changed their minds.

Bernie

He was communicating to you unconsciously.

Peter

They have changed their attitude so that I've actually had permission from those people who previously said no.

Maggie

And made an impact.

Bernie

I think that's the point, really, that you've stayed with it. And whatever their worse-founded fears were, they didn't happen.

Peter

Now, with my job as the president of the International Catholic Cinema Organization, I am officially respectable. That came through the intervention of the Melbourne priest I referred to earlier, Fr Fred Chamberlin who was the director of the Australian Catholic Film Office. He tended to be personally fairly strict. In fact, we asked him to read that first book, The Film, so that we'd have an official Church approbation in case anybody attacked it, because I had sections in it about violence, sexuality and nudity - 'Privacy in Public' was the title of one chapter, which I still rather like as a title. After six and a half years in Canberra, teaching at first in secondary school and then in our seminary, I had been transferred to work in our other seminary in Melbourne and I became good friends with Fred. He didn't agree with many of my reviews but he never told me I should review otherwise. In all those years with Fred, twenty-five years, we had different ideas on movies. One of his frequent comments was 'bloody nonsense'. And his solution for some of the psychological problems in the movies was 'a good kick up the backside'! But then it was he who nominated me to be president of the Catholic Film Offices of the Pacific and to be a member of the International Board of OCIC. And so I became respectable within the Church. One joke we had was that he said that I saw Christ-figures everywhere in the movies - and I always replied, 'Fred, if only you'd see one!'

Maggie

I thought there was an incredible bond of affection there because I did talk a lot to him. I mean he was a wee bit of a flirt in his old age, wasn't he? I liked him a lot. But he obviously held you in incredible affection. It wasn't just a professional priestly relationship. There was a huge affection there, so there was also trust.

Peter

He had his own similar problems in his movie work in the Church. He didn't relate particularly well to the priests in the archdiocese of Melbourne, even though he was Dean of the cathedral for twenty years, but he related well to people in the film world. But, again, he'd been frustrated. Many clergy referred to his movie work as 'Fred Chamberlin's hobby’ and they joked because he was rather fat and also diabetic but always ate ice-cream and chocolates at each screening. 'Fat Fred going to the films.' That's the awful thing about putting down people and their work and their passion. And, yet, for twenty years he paid his own way to OCIC meetings overseas and for twenty years argued with the Australian bishops to establish a Catholic Film Office.

Bernie

Because he was dealing with uncomfortable feelings, he had his chocolate and his food. But there's something in all this that somehow you've given something to all these people but not realised it. It's a fascinating story. What did strike me, being a therapist, was the title of the film where your John Northey collapsed...

Peter

... it was War and Peace

Bernie

That's exactly what was going on in him.

Peter

War and Peace.

Bernie

It was that powerful.

Maggie

It was a civil war and peace as well that was going on.

Bernie

I wondered whether it was a mirror of his internal life, his inner critic, and he was about to transcend it.

Peter

When he died, I went to see him laid out and he didn't look dead in his face. But his hands looked dead. They were sallower. I do remember that. I've mentioned before that Austin Sheridan, the priest who burned the film ads, died at the same time, although, by contrast, he was always as skinny as a rake and looked like a little boy. In some ways I would guess he didn't grow up. They both died of cancer. The editor of Annals and I went to visit Austin at his mother's place. He was in absolute agony, skin and bone, lying on the floor. I don't know where the cancer was but I suspect there was something wrong with his back.

Bernie

There's something very Tin Man about them, isn't there? The Wizard of Oz. The Tin Man was very rigid, looking to be oiled to be able to dance and to let off steam. He wanted to have a heart which he found when the straw man had the fire thrown at him by the witch. He found his heart at once and threw himself on the Straw Man to put the fire out. The story just reminded me of him.

Peter

I'll leave it at that for now and take up the rest when we talk about movies and therapy.








2. Bernie - from London to...

Peter

Bernie, what are your early memories of going to the movies?

Bernie

I can never remember not being in a warm dark cinema watching film. So it's the actual going into a cinema, smelling a cinema - the old tickets you had in your hand that would, if you perspired a bit, almost melt, and the whole atmosphere of sitting down, the anticipation and excitement, just like you spoke of.

There was a world opening up to me that was going to take me absolutely beyond anything I knew. To me it was a great imaginative and educational experience which I couldn't get enough of.

In terms of movies and remembering, I remember only one film from when I was very, very young, a film called Sentimental Journey.

Peter

Oh yes, Maureen O' Hara.

Bernie

Now what year was that was made? I don't know.

Peter

About 1946, I think.

Bernie

I was six then. But there was a scene with a bridge and the title music comes up. There's something about that moment that, as I hum it now, I feel the incredible sadness, absolutely, as if I was there. That is very powerful for me, just that little scene. Of course, there have been lots of other movies over the years.

Peter

Can I do something of what you were doing to me?

Bernie

Please do.

Peter

Symbolic names - Sentimental Journey? Would you see yourself as a sentimental kind of person?

Bernie

Yes, yes I would. But with a very strong, realistic, hardnosed down-to-earthiness as well. Maybe there's a bit of New Age, but there's the other side as well. So, both.

Peter

But it's just nicely symbolic that a sentimental journey is the start of your story. 'Journey' as a title.

Maggie

And a bridge from one state to another.

Bernie

I'd not noticed that.

Peter

And the music.

Bernie

But I think what it's saying to me already is that small moments can be incredibly powerful and I realise that I remember small moments of movies. So that means that it seems very important to say that it doesn't have to be the whole movie. Small moments.

Maggie

Tiny pieces of time.

Bernie

I think that I experienced attitudes and mind states by going to different movies in those formative years. I would never have been exposed to all of that variety as a six year old child in London. But to gradually imbibe that through different characters in different movies as time went on gave me terrific insight, especially when I was a trade union leader, to deal with very powerful business men. I knew their mind set. But that wasn't coming from any particular movie. It's just that I'd been exposed to those kinds of dynamics. So that was very powerful in my life.

As I look back, I see movies have been an emotional educator as well as an intellectual educator. That's the point that I often come back to, the emotional education. We're living in the days of the head, there's a lot of analysis. It isn't that I want to devalue analysis. I think it's absolutely terrific but I don't want the emotional undervalued.

In Buddhist terms, it's about the path of the heart. I don't know what you call it in Catholic terms.

Peter

In my religious order we use the language of a 'heart spirituality'.

Bernie

As maybe different from a Jesuit spirituality. In Yoga terms it would be Raja Yoga, the half with the heart being Karma Yoga. The central reality and aim in Buddhism is to experience compassion for all beings. In Sanskrit it is called Karuna.

Peter

One of our phrases is 'to be on earth the heart of God'. Another phrase that derives from St Teresa of Avila is God saying, 'I have no other hands but yours'. We adapt it, 'I have no other heart but yours'.

Did you experience any of that puritanical attitude towards the movies? Was your family supportive?

Bernie

I didn't have the hurdles that I felt you had to face. It was just a young cockney boy watching these movies with his mum. And I loved Cinema Paradiso because the projectionist was my mum. The relationship, the bond there, was how we went together with our love of film.

After the movie there would be the talk and there were my misunderstandings about the movie or my questions of my mother and she would tell me about complex emotional things that were so sophisticated and beyond my years in such a simple way. There were also her sisters and friends.

So I was brought up predominantly with quite a lot of women around talking about these movies. That was as fascinating as seeing the movies because these women's personalities were such, especially my mum, that they were able to do all the parts when telling you a film plot. They didn't do the parts as an act but, such was their immersion and concentration in remembering and retelling the movie that they became, unconscientiously, the voice or the movement. And this was an enrichment done by different personalities and by people talking: 'well I thought she meant that...', 'but what about that?'

So when I was very young, I was learning that put twenty people together to see the same film and they'll all come out having seen a different film.

Maggie

That's very interesting in terms of what Peter was talking about. I think the Catholic Church, in the sense of those people who were constantly trying to measure what was happening when you saw something in a movie and so tried to protect you from things that they thought, perhaps, you oughtn't see. They thought we wouldn't understand or we might copy something we ought not or what have you. Perhaps they didn't recognise that this is what they were doing. Perhaps they saw the movie as a kind of monolithic text, that it told you stuff and you soaked in what it told you. Whereas, in fact, what was going on was that there were so many different interpretations of what was there on the screen, what was going on in the story, people really didn't really take such understandings to heart.

Bernie, you seem to have recognised very quickly as a small child that film wasn't just one thing. This story wasn't just one story.

Bernie

As I look back on it now, I'm quite surprised to hear myself say that there wasn't one truth. There were people's different truths according to their history.

Maggie

Presumably, too, if you had that kind of film discussion with so many different people taking on the different parts, you also discovered characters you hadn't noticed on the screen
because your mother and the others had picked up on characters which would not particularly have struck you.

Bernie

It's a very good question because what happened was that people would pick out bit part characters that really spoke to them. My initial reaction, or as I got older, I remember, was, 'I wouldn't have looked at it that way' or, 'I'm not interested in them'. But they were made to come alive in a way that could only enrich you because you were seeing a character now through that person's eyes. They made them come alive because of their love and interest in that character they picked out. So, again, it isn't always the main characters that are of importance. It's as if we have a wide angle lens that we're looking at film with, we're taking in all the characters, but one may speak to us. The character doesn't have to be the focal point. Yes, I think it is very, very important in what I do now. But I hadn't realised until this conversation how much I've learnt so early in that kitchen. It was Rosemary Square in Finsbury.

Maggie

Can you remember any movies or characters or scenes that were spoken about but that you don't remember actually seeing but you remember the conversation about them?

Bernie

Its interesting that you ask me this because what I remember is the feelings and I don't always remember the movies. I remember the gravity with which Johnny Belinda was talked about. And the whole mood of that kitchen was changed into a mood of what you could call sacred. There was a sense that here was a person struggling with deafness and being loved. This was not the film star image of the day. It was anti- glamour. On reflection, I suppose, here were these very ordinary working class women identifying with the character and realising that this kind of love was possible for them. It was possible for this deaf woman who was not Greta Garbo. The exact opposite. But I do remember the temperature, the emotional atmosphere, how it changed. So I come back again to developing incredibly sensitive antennae for changing emotional atmosphere.

Peter

Johnny Belinda was released in 1948. So you're still not ten. Was it the same in your adolescent years, when you were at school? Any change, a deepening?

Maggie

And when you started to go on your own? There came a stage when you didn't go with your mum all the time.

Bernie

There was also the intervention of television - which was a different experience. So, there was the magic at the cinema, of going to cinema, queuing up and buying the ticket and the excitement that was different from television. It wasn't as big. Television was shared with your family who wouldn't have been with you if it was just my mum and I. I would go to cinema with friends when I was older or on my own. But television was shared with everybody whether they wanted to watch the film on it or not. And people moving in and out and all of that was happening in the background.

Maggie

But when you went to the cinema as a teenager what kind of movies did you see?

Bernie

I'm really having trouble remembering, which is funny isn't it? They come back in the moment when I talk about feelings.

Maggie

What about movies like The Wild One and Rock Around the Clock and the anti-establishment movies?

Bernie

I liked Rock Around the Clock for its anti-establishment anarchy of the time but I couldn't take Bill Haley as any kind of role model - he seemed a complete wuss to me.

I remember getting much more excited at Eddie Cochrane in The Girl Can't Help It. He was a much more attractive person for me. I loved all the musical movies which had Chuck Berry in, things like that.

Maggie

What about the early Elvis movies?

Bernie

I loved them. I didn't like the later ones. It brings back a dilemma for me actually. I thought Presley was great when he was raw from the south, when he was known as the Memphis Flash. But when he moved to Hollywood, I think King Creole and Loving You were his best films. Loving You was about Elvis as he was and almost a life story. I think he was very good in King Creole. But the rest became money-spinners. He recorded some good songs but I didn't think made many good movies whatsoever. I think his career could have been much better. It's interesting when I reflect back that I hadn't realised before that both the films I liked were black and white.

Maggie

Did you get to a stage where you didn't go to see movies anymore because life got in the way? Did you see movies like Easy Rider?

Bernie

Yes, but many years after it was in vogue. There was a long period were life got in the way. I used to watch them on television so I did see them. But I was able to capture the mood once I got into the movie. I have to have the doors shut. I have to have the light set right. I can't watch a movie with the door open and people walking in and out. Everyone has either got to sit down and watch it with me or not be in there.

Maggie

So you're trying to recreate the cinema experience?

Bernie

Without realising it, yes. Because it is a really serious matter, going to watch a movie. But I find the only way I can answer your question is I to say I have a love of film and because so many different movies have appealed to me, it's given me a multiple interest. So I love intelligence films, I love films about the CIA. I like movies when people use intelligence. That fascinates me and still does. So I like movies such as Patriot Games or Crimson Tide. In Crimson Tide, the interaction between the two different captains, Denzel Washington, the young fellow on the submarine, and Gene Hackman, the veteran, is absolutely brilliant. I think the speech that Jack Nicholson makes as the wayward officer in A Few Good Men is terrific because it rings true. I think that there are decisions like that. And we want to know what people do to us, people like that.

Maggie

Because you went to the cinema with your Mum and you had all of those aunts, it was a very female environment you were in which, I think, is extremely healthy. Do you think that part of you was also getting from the movies male role models you wouldn't have otherwise have had exposure to.

Bernie

Yes, absolutely. Predominantly in my early years, because of the war, my father was an absent father - and, in some sense, when he was back, he was an absent father. He wasn't a bad father. I don't want to paint the wrong picture. But he was a man who was always in the West End. He worked hard. He was a good provider but he liked to get dressed up. He liked to go and meet all his friends in the West End. He was always out. And my Mum played the traditional role of being at home.

Maggie

Were there any father roles in the movies that you remember that either you yearned for or which struck you as being what you already had or that made you feel safe? That the father was absent but would be back, that he would be a returning father. This was a father who went away to war and you're a young child - it's beyond the family's control. So is this father going to come back when a lot of dads didn't? Or some dads came back and weren't really present to the kids.

Bernie

I think I was too young to realise any of this. But two years ago my mother died and what happened was that a lot of this surfaced and developed when I began to be the Movie Therapist. I realised that going to the movies became the substitute for my parents. Going to the movies was like an earth mother and father. I felt safe. I felt completely whole sitting in a cinema seat waiting for the movie to roll. I can so lose myself in a movie as if nothing else is happening. I'm in there, absolutely. It's like a concentrated, focussed meditation, going through all the feelings of the characters.

They laugh at home because they can all chat or do what they want and then ask me, 'what does it mean?' And I can tell them what's happening, and they don't understand how I can do it. I'm almost on automatic pilot at depth and they say, 'What do you think is going to happen?'

But I was quite surprised to discover that the movies were like an earth mother and father. I don't want to get too therapeutic about this but it was a very comforting, embracing thing for me watching movies. Different parts of my personality could be fed and enriched enormously. I could have adventures like Indiana Jones. Raiders of the Lost Ark was food to me. I loved it, the absolute excitement from beginning to end. I loved that film.

Maggie

So there was a little boy in you responding to it?

Bernie

Another example: Advise and Consent. Interestingly, it was a political film with Walter Pidgeon and Charles Laughton, political manoeuvrings, power with the brilliant persuasive charm of Laughton, playing a southerner, and the dignity of Walter Pidgeon. All those actors and their roles evoked perceptions of understanding qualities in men and in women that I was tabulating unconsciously all the time.

Maggie

It would be very important to your emotional education to get an understanding of the different ways men work, men see, men understand and men act. What about a movie like Shane?

Bernie

I saw Shane. I remember lots of people talking about Shane and wrote it off because I knew Alan Ladd was standing on a box and I was small - so that hurt. That was very powerful for me. You're not going to put it over on me either.

Maggie

I wonder about Shane because it's a film that's so often written about and talked about. I think of a generation of young men whose fathers went away and the powerlessness of a family in wartime, a community, a country, a nation in wartime. At least the feeling of whether or not we are empowered because 'we are going to go and fight them on the beaches...' Nevertheless, in Britain the bombs were raining down from the sky and buildings were falling apart. So I wonder how that film might have worked for a generation of men who grew up with dads who had been away.

Bernie

I think it would work very well. I don't think it did for me. What I got was an intellectual and a dynamic understanding of masculinity from those role models. I put together a composite without realising it, I think.

So, I was very surprised when I was called to go on television and called to do the first radio interviews. I didn't think about this film or that film but the composite mode of what was instilled in me from all those movies. I just went and did it from that mode, from the feelings that I could engender and I dropped the fears. And I moved into a kind of flow from that part of me. That was brilliant because I realised that I could transcend my lack of confidence and move into something which just flowed. I'm sure it's to do with those movies that educated me, like Elmer Gantry, the different masculine images. I took on the intellectual as well, and the emotional. I think they have enriched me all round.

Maggie

It's like Italo Calvino saying that cinema gave him a whole life, a whole experience. And yet it was a very fractured experience in lots of ways because he said he never saw one movie in a whole screening. He saw the movies in bits. Nevertheless, the movies reached him in all the different ways.

Bernie

I suppose the important thing about it is that it is movies. I was being interviewed about this recently and the interviewer was talking about cinema therapy. And I said, 'No, call it Movie Therapy'. The point, I keep saying to people, is that when you watch a movie, you are projecting.
They're coming from you, the feelings. It's just celluloid with figures on it. But they are touching emotional buttons in us because of our history. The emotional buttons that they touch in me may be different from the emotional buttons that they touch in you. And that's how we get a different movie that each of us perceives.

Maggie

We see the movies pushing emotional buttons in others through the different characters, emotional buttons which might not hit us but we can see them within the story hitting another character. Then we can use this if we're alert to it, aware of it, and become informed by it to understand how somebody else’s emotional buttons are pushed. While it isn't something we feel, it is nevertheless very real. And can lead to very real outcomes.

Bernie

That's a brilliant point. What it says is that at that moment you can have empathy because you are coming from quite a clear position. I think that is very important.

Peter

When you mentioned Sentimental Journey, Bernie, I was thinking of role models and stars like Maureen O'Hara and, while Maggie's been asking you about father-figures and you've spoken of movies like Elmer Gantry and Advise and Consent, I'm remembering that my mother died when I was seven and Philip was five and that in my going through my story, I didn't really mention my father who would actually have been my greatest supporter.

In some senses he was an absent father. Two and a half years after my mother died, he decided that he would change his life completely. He moved to a different state, out of advertising and media to become a wardsman in a TB sanatorium, and we then went to live with our Grandmother and Aunty Sheila during boarding school holidays. But we would go down to Melbourne in May to see him and he would come up to Sydney at Christmas to see us. We always saw him in holiday context. He was one of the most genial people that you could ever meet - and very flirtatious too. It's a pity that he never married again but he always said he had several near misses!

Bernie

You could take that in a number of ways!

Peter

Yes. He intended it that way. He really loved puns.

During school holidays he used to take us to the pictures. As regards our lives, he never objected to my brother and I being priests. He supported everything we did. I dreaded going to the suburb where he lived because he would have told everybody how great we were. I used to do radio for about fifteen years on the Catholic Hour and my name was in The Age television guide each week and he would never miss looking it up. For six weeks they put an F instead of an M on my name and he would tell me every week that they still had that error and should he ring up and tell them. In a sense he wasn't always physically there but he was...

Bernie

Psychically he was...

Peter

Yes. He never had any difficulty with and was always interested in the movies and just assumed that that was what I did. I'd give him copies of the books I wrote and he'd show them to everybody. But it occurs to me that the other aspect of the role models is that there was an absent mother, although there were grandmother, aunt and the nuns at boarding school. Though my images from the movies of those years up to the Novitiate are of Deborah Kerr, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly and Maureen O'Hara.

Maggie

These are your mother figures, do you think?

Peter

When my mother died, she had a tumour on the brain and was pregnant and died in the Royal Women's Hospital in Sydney. Philip and I didn't go to the funeral, unfortunately, we were sheltered in those days. But with the Catholic piety then, we knew she was in heaven. She was a saint. 23rd February, her anniversary, was her feast day as a saint. We grew up on that and maybe those actresses are the exalted princess type.

Bernie

Idolisation.

Peter

Bernie, you said you weren't sure, at first, about you role models and then you mentioned Walter Pidgeon and Charles Laughton. It's made me realise the difference in our upbringing and who was absent.

Bernie

Exactly. We're talking about movies and our lives and what they bring up, how rich this is and what memories come. It's like what I've said to Maggie. If you got more people doing this, like we did round the kitchen table, how rich watching movies could be, how much more people could get in terms of growth and fulfilment instead of just continually wanting to be entertained.

Peter

Of course, the bad side for me is listening to the film critics come out from the preview screening and sitting round the table discussing - but it's not the kind of discussion I'd recommend. They're mostly finding how bored they were, what flaws there were, how ridiculous the plot and the dialogue were and what an imposition on their time.

Bernie

But the film critics remind me of what you said about some of those people in the Catholic Church. They are only looking through a certain lens. They're not seeing the movie that everyone else sees. They're huddling together for reassurance.

But I was thinking how difficult it was for me to find movies like you and Peter could.

Maggie

You were remembering very much more. You were remembering an experience rather than a process. Rather than remembering the component parts of how that process was enlightening, you started to go into your memory about film.

Bernie

It's interesting about the women, the women that I remember. I did like Deborah Kerr. But I liked Rita Hayworth and Miss Sadie Thompson stands out for me.

It was a Somerset Maugham story. I liked that movie. I think it was part and parcel of the reaction by my mother to some of these movies. She liked the women who were rebellious and breaking out of the 'female' mode.

Maggie

Sassy.

Bernie

But my mother was of her time. She never did break out. So I think her shadow side was brought out and this was important for her in that atmosphere, the electricity of the atmosphere, the absolute joy.

Maggie

Do you think that might be something that we miss a lot when we talk about the importance of seeing the different aspects of ourselves on screen? That if you've got someone like your mother, who never did break out of the mould, nevertheless she will have been fed by those sassy characters so that, in a sense, her shadow side was being experienced, was being fed, was being acknowledged?

Bernie

Yes, it was being experienced and was being fed. But it wasn't being acted on.

Maggie

I don't know how far I agree with you on that. I think that there is a possibility. Obviously we can't talk to her and find out, but there's a possibility. I think I would say in my own life that I've experienced other 'me's' on screen. I don't necessarily regret not having a big enough life to act out these aspects in life itself. But not experiencing them somehow or other would, in fact, be a damaging thing.

Vivacity, for me, will always be Doris Day and the vivacity of the character that she played in Calamity Jane. That was a very, very important psychic feeding, an important experience through the screen. Such a vivacity option wasn't one that I necessarily could or would have been able to pursue. There's too many us out there to do that with. A balance in one's life doesn't always assume that we can pursue every aspect of what we would like from life.

Bernie

Sure and I'm not saying that.

Maggie

But I think that this kind of feeding from the screen might have importance for a whole generation of women, particularly those who were holding the fort; they watched the Greer Garsons, the Mrs Minivers, and the strong women characters and sometimes the sassy women, the bad women, particularly of noir movies. You didn't actually want to kill your husband, but you wanted to kill some aspect of your living and it could be done through watching these women. I think that storytelling is about that kind of psychic healing. Story telling can help us reassemble those aspects of ourselves.

Bernie

I don't disagree with any of that. But what I'm saying is that, particularly for my mother, while the movies do all that, I think it would have helped her to acknowledge that side of her because in a sense she was inhibited. She had a great personality but it was only allowed to show in certain places and that was the tragedy for her. So I think those movies were important. It would be thought nothing nowadays. They would just be liberated women, those characters. They were tainted women, really, in that period, but I liked them because they had guts.

Maggie

Character

Bernie

Yes

Maggie

And making choices.

Bernie

Sure. I also loved the Mrs Miniver characters, the Greer Garsons, Deborah Kerr in The King and I and all those characters. But the Miss Sadie Thompson characters were much closer to the world that we were living in as opposed to the Greer Garsons.

It was a working class America, yes, but it was working-class Britain watching it from a working-class consciousness. It was nice to see these people who were Greer Garsons and idealised and part of the establishment if you like. But they weren't people we were in touch with. They weren't in our world. You see that's the difference. But stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Maureen O'Hara I liked because I think my mother had particularly identified with them because they had spirit. And she had spirit but she was in the mould of the average woman then. I think her shadow wanted to be liberated.

Peter

What about the British films of the time? The actresses like Virginia McKenna?

Bernie

No. They may have done something and I can't say totally no. But I don't think there was the same identification.

Peter

Before that there were the Margaret Lockwoods and the Wicked Ladies?

Bernie

I think they would have fed the romantic side but it was like that was just a dream.

Peter

A more working-class example: what about Kathleen Harrison and the Huggetts and those late 40s British comedies? Or was that just too much like looking down the street?

Bernie

I think that was like looking down the street and Kathleen Harrison wasn't coming from a particularly romantic bent. A lot of women, including my mum, were really coming from a romantic perspective because the men were away.

We were running down the shelter every night to escape the bombs. The siren used to come and everybody used to panic. Some people didn't know whether to stay in their homes or whether to go down the shelter. In the first year of my life, the biggest tonnage of bombs that was ever dropped on any city was dropped on London. So I was born into that panic. Born into that running down the road. I remember seeing the sky black and red. I remember hearing the sheer terror of my mum running and an older lady, who lived next door to us, screaming because they were being strafed by machine gun bullets as we got to the shelter.

But when we got to the shelter there was a mass of people living down there. There were people crying, people shaking, young children shaking and crying. So, it was all humanity there underground wondering if they were going to go out to a house that would be standing, wondering whether other loved ones who hadn't gone to the shelter or couldn't make it would be alive and that was what I was born into.

Peter

My knowledge of the bombings comes from watching British movies. I was born three weeks before World War Two broke out and, while Australia sent troops and they fought in the African desert, the Desert Rats, it wasn't till 1942 that the war really hit Australia. The Japanese bombed Darwin. But most of Australia was not aware of this until much later. We had some rationing and there was a submarine in Sydney harbour but by and large there was nothing to disturb us very much at home because the closest the war came was in New Guinea and the Solomons.

Bernie

Somewhere else.

Peter

There's only three hundred and sixty four days between us, much the same age but such different worlds to be born into.

Bernie

I've realised something while you were talking. I think all that experience gave me an incredible appreciation of the 'now'. And I don't think it's an accident that I'm a Buddhist. When my father died, what I learnt from that experience of death, emotionally, was the now even more deeply. So the now has got me through my fears.

Peter

How old were you when your father died?

Bernie

About twenty-seven.

Peter

So it's an adult awareness of the now?

Bernie

Yes

Peter

Rather than a child's?

Bernie

And it's the philosophy that I've passed on to my children. In two words, 'now' and 'balance'. They've questioned me about it and laughed over the years. But it's in two words.

I'm still a little uncertain about myself. This talking at depth has surprised me, that I'm not so lucid about actual movies than I am about atmospheres.

Peter

But that's your story. We're talking our film autobiographies. This is yours, and that's mine and Maggie's will be different.

Maggie

Yes, it's very powerful that remembering the experiencing of something rather than the something itself. Bernie, you've painted an incredibly vivid picture of a little boy - almost like the little Cinema Paradiso boy looking at everyone enjoying something out in the piazza when he shoves the projector out there and not really engaging exactly with what's going on around him but noticing the poster of Gone with the Wind. Nevertheless this is what's going on around him.

It's also very vivid and it reminds me a little of the scene from Nil by Mouth where the women are dancing in the kitchen. I can remember us all dancing, it was all spontaneous in my Auntie Molly's kitchen. They turned on Radio Luxemburg and they'd all be rock and rolling to this music on Luxemburg. It was a wonderful experience and a very, very female event because the guys weren't doing it. I don't remember my father dancing or my uncles, just my aunts and my mother and the kids all joining in, dancing in the kitchen.

Peter

Just like in Distant Voices, Still Lives, even though it's set fifteen years earlier. That separation between the men and the women. The women in Terence Davies' movies are the dancers.

Maggie

What I've found in having a husband and children is what Graham brought to it - I did bring my own brand of it too - but he brought something I'd never have known to bring, a kind of physical comedy like what you get with the John Travolta character in Look Who's Talking. You certainly get it in Three Men and a Baby, a kind of physicality about fathering that I hadn't seen as an adult until I had a father in my life who was also my husband. Women's physicality is quite different.

When I saw The Mummy, I couldn't help but laugh when I thought of you, Peter. I just howled with laughter in the cinema. It's the scene where all the bookshelves fall down in the library, a domino effect and they fall in a complete circle. You had told me the story about yourself and bookshelves falling.

Peter

I don't know what kind of physical humour that was in real life!! This is the story: I was shifting office and had set up bookshelves and thought they were even and steady on the floor. I had almost stacked all of the movie books in the order I wanted when the whole thing collapsed on me, the books and the bookshelves. It was only an armchair that caught the shelves and stopped them hitting me harder. Then I couldn't do a thing. I was paralysed. I just sat looking at the mess for ten minutes and then went home. When I got over it, I asked a friend to help the next day and we fixed it all in no time. But at the time I couldn't do a thing. Well, Rachel Weisz in The Mummy is reaching across a space to return a book to its place. As she overbalances, she knocks a couple of books but it's the chain reaction on shelves around the whole library.

Maggie

The whole library, every book falls like a domino and she's on top of a stepladder. There's no way I anticipated that, the whole scene's just a gift. She's on top of the stepladder. She's adorable but you're thinking, 'you silly woman, get down from there' and you think she's going to make it. And this book doesn't belong here and she's stretching and suddenly she realises she's in midair. It's a real Buster Keaton moment. She wouldn't have fallen if she hadn't looked.

Bernie

Until she looks.

Peter

When I saw it, I didn't associate it with myself!

Maggie

I saw you. I just howled. I said, 'It's Peter, it's Peter Malone'. I just saw you sitting in the middle of it all thinking, 'oh, help'.

Bernie

That's an interesting observation that you remembered Peter in that scene. What's happening with you when Maggie prompts you with it?

Peter

It's quite a delight in the association - even though the story is a bit embarrassing about being awkward! - your excitement, Maggie, and the fact that you've listened to my story and remembered it, and seeing this version of it and being entertained by it, gives me quite a bit of a lift.

Bernie

Yes, that's the experience I'm looking right at. So there's a value in this that we can give one another.

Maggie

Yes, Peter had told me this story and it resonated with something that had happened with me because, if you're a book lover, bookshelves fall. It was the way Peter kept looking. I could see him in this room looking at it all and thinking, 'I can't cope. I can't do anything'.

It resonated with the way Peter has talked in his courses about intuitive types who unselfconsciously walk over stuff without noticing it and this was enacting a scene with of pile of stuff - and what do you do with it? When I saw it in The Mummy it was so spectacular.

It's a wonderful gift of a scene. You could say it was an act of God happening. There was nothing you could do about. It was Peter looking at the fallen books and shelves and, in The Mummy, because you literally had to look all round the room in a circle, it wrote the story large for me.

Bernie

As we've been talking I've realised something else that movies gave me. I was a trade union leader for quite a long time and I had to be very centred and very confident when I was bringing people out on strike to save their jobs or whatever was needed.

I was able to give these people confidence in saying, 'if you don't act, you'll lose your job. If you do act, we may lose something but not as much. Or we may win. But, if we do nothing...'. I had the confidence to do that so I had to take on directors who were of the establishment and talked very posh. I was this working class fella and I was very fair. I didn't let the power go to my head, which a lot of people did. So, again, somewhere, there was a balance of being able to be quite ruthless, quite masculine, very assertive and at the same time being able to be gentle, to come back and be fair about their position, their management position with money issues and difficulties. I don't quite know why I wanted to say all that but it was another important factor in the masculine part.

Peter

So you weren't like Peter Sellers in I'm Alright Jack?

Bernie

No. He was everything you shouldn't be but there were a lot like he was. Which was sad.

Peter

Was it more like the unions in The Angry Silence?

Bernie

Well, The Angry Silence was made from the point of view of seeing the Union as a bully. It was a man standing up for his principles against that bully, which was admirable. But having been on the other side of it, my experience was much more like the feelings of the people in Brassed Off. Who look bullied. So, somewhere in the middle is the truth but I haven't seen the film yet that balances it out.

Peter

On the Waterfront is more like The Angry Silence.

Maggie

What about The River? What picture do you think The River gave of union struggles?

Bernie

I don't know if I've seen it.

Maggie

It's the movie with Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek. I think it's a heartbreaking film. I think what you're saying is that the roles that you picked up on were the ethical ones, that you found an ethical way of being, an ethical way of being part of that experience for other people, on other people's behalf. In The River you get the dilemma with the Mel Gibson character because he is an ethical young man but he's also a young man in a desperate situation vis-à-vis supporting and feeding his family. And he works as a scab. He joins the crew that are going in to work while the union members are outside.

That was important for me from Glasgow, not so much with my background that I remember, but with the city. I don't remember anything except this whole family who were Clydesiders and worked on the ships. But we would certainly have been seen, historically I think, as dangerous people. We would have been the Irish incomers, often doing jobs for lower pay. I didn't experience that culture but I know enough about the history of the pre-thirties to know that the Irish went in to the Castle and they went into Glasgow and went into other cities, like Liverpool, and they took the jobs that the others were needing.

Bernie

But I had some brilliant trade union Irish friends who had courage, more than most, people from Liverpool. Then I moved into psychotherapy.





3. Maggie - from Glasgow to...

Maggie

I was interested, Bernie, in what you were saying about your childhood and the cinema because I had a very similar yet very different experience. Like you, my mother took me to the cinema at least a couple of times a week, as far as I can remember, from the time I was quite young.

My brother died when I was about four. He was a ten year old. I know that until the day that my mother died, she never really got over that death. It had been a long and drawn out affair and very upsetting. I don't know how you get over the death of a child. I don't know how you get over the slow dying of a child. And I don't know how you mother other children while you're in that situation. And she had me - I was about four years of age - and my brother Ken who is three and a half years younger than I am. So he was a small baby. And I have this memory, as you do, Bernie, of going to the cinema with my mother. But I don't have all those other memories of yours, especially of talking about the movies.

It wasn't a bleak experience for me. It must have been for her. We didn't talk about films we saw. I don't remember any of those conversations. And I certainly didn't share them with anybody back at home. None of my brothers, my two brothers and my sister had this particular experience as children. It was my experience.

So what she must have been doing was attempting to have a relationship and do some parenting with a small girl when what she really wanted to do was just go to bed and not wake up. It was a very harrowing dying, harrowing too because they didn't have enough money to bury my brother. An aunt had to come to the rescue.

So, my mother was in a very difficult place, a very dark place, and taking me to the cinema was, I think, her way of helping me be a child and have wonderful music, wonderful dance and everything else, when she didn't actually have the emotional and psychic power to easily be a parent at that stage.

I don't remember any discussion during all of my childhood about going to the cinema. But we did. My father was a film writer. He was a critic for the Catholic Herald. Again, in all of the years growing up, I was surrounded by piles of Sight and Sound magazines - which I wish like anything he hadn't thrown out. I'd love to have them now as an archive! He was a pal of John Grierson, who made so many documentaries. I can remember this man coming to our house and film being discussed. I can also remember screenings, probably of cartoons and what have you. So I can remember a kind of mini- cinema club in our home in Glasgow. But my Dad didn't talk about movies. He never did. And I don't remember talking to him about film. So it was a very private world for me going to the cinema.

I can remember listening to a program called Movie-Go-Round? on Radio 2 every week and every week I knew the answers. And I have that memory now. But I was thrilled to bits because we always used to do the quiz and I used to get the answers right. So, I must have had quite a lot of knowledge about film from when I was quite young. Although, again like you, I don't remember any particular film. I remember loving the musicals but I can't remember when Seven Brides for Seven Brothers merged into Calamity Jane and merged into whatever else I can remember like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Peter

I'll be anorakish and say 1952 for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953 for Calamity Jane and 1954 for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Maggie

So I was five, six and seven when I went to those movies. I remember that I must have been only about seven and sneaking out of school or not going somewhere I ought to have been - I was given quite a lot of freedom for a small girl - and sneaking into a matinee one afternoon. I don't know how I got through the door but I can still remember the feeling of getting past. I don't even remember if I paid but I can't imagine how I would have done. I don't see the scene but I see three very glamorous women doing a song and they wore those fishtail dresses like the one in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I've never been able to find that scene again.

Peter

Was it There's No Business Like Show business?

Maggie

It might well have been, with Marilyn Monroe but it's very difficult to remember because I've seen these movies so often since then that a lot of what I love about them is merged with memories that were superimposed after the event.

I was interested in what you were saying, Peter, about church and cinema because I never came up against any of that measurement or categories about what was right and what was wrong or what was good and what was bad. Nobody I knew went to the movies!

Peter

You mentioned your father reviewing for The Catholic Herald.

Maggie

Yes but that was nothing to do with me. That was something I knew later. At five and six and seven you don't connect reviewing for a newspaper with your Dad. I don't remember him ever coming to my level. My father would have thought a musical was just, 'puff, how silly'. I know he took a set against one movie that I loved in my teens and he was extremely distressed that I loved this movie. It was The Wind Cannot Read with Dirk Bogarde. I adored that movie. I went to see it so often. I followed it round all the cinemas in the villages. He really minded me liking that movie, which obviously made it even more attractive.

But I can remember the school putting on one or two movies. I know I saw The Song of Bernadette. But did The Song of Bernadette have an eclipse of the sun in it or was that the movie about Fatima?

Peter

The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima.

Maggie

So I must have seen two, but they've merged into one. So this is a Glasgow childhood in which there was no poverty, there was no sense of not having enough to eat but certainly there was nothing spare. And this went cheek by jowl with grandeur because the Catholic churches were immigrant churches. Therefore they were beautiful and full of interesting stuff because that was the pride of the immigrant, either the Italian or the Irish communities, that embellished the church in the most wonderful ways you can think of. So church gave me this huge sense of theatre, of smell and touch and fabric and colour.

And cinema was the other side of that where you would have, as you've said, Bernie, the feeling of going into this incredibly wonderful palatial place. You would see red wherever you went. It was always red and velvet, a total experience of going into the cinema itself.

There was a movie that my mother did talk to me about but she made it deliciously naughty to love this movie. I thought it was called Marnie but it can't have been called that because of Hitchcock. It was a film about a woman who falls in love with her school teacher and later she marries him. The romantic scene in the movie is when she drops her knickers. It's the school dance and the elastic goes in her knickers and they fall down. He picks them up very quietly and puts them in her, his pocket, I don't remember. It was Jean someone and an American movie.

Bernie

It was Jeannie Crain and I think it was at a University dance. And he does it very discreetly.

Maggie

He very discreetly picks up her knickers covers them with his hankie or something.

Peter

Margie?

Maggie

Yes, Margie. It's a rites of passage film and I can remember my mother and I giggling over the horror of your knicker elastic going and that was just delightfully different.

I knew my mother later on in life, my mother had a disgraceful sense of humour. She was a very pious Catholic woman with a disgracefully dirty sense of humour. And she adored Grand Guignol at its most horrific. Her type of movies were horror. She loved Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, all that kind of stuff, crazy about Bette Davis. And so our discussions about movies came when I was an adult - when I started to take my mum to the cinema as an earning adult many years later.

But, as a little girl, it was a completely enclosed and private experience. I don't remember sharing it with anybody. My closest friend was the daughter in a fairly strict Presbyterian family. It was very unusual to have a Catholic/Protestant friendship anyway. And they certainly didn't play on a Sunday. They would never have taken a child to the cinema, not even to see Bambi. Catholics and Scottish Presbyterians are a whole ball game away from the kind of people and issues that you have had to deal with.

The cinema and, particularly, Calamity Jane, were such a formative influence on me. And there were all the other Maggies up on that screen that I couldn't have articulated at that age.

Peter

You weren't able to talk about Calamity Jane to anyone?

Maggie

It wasn't a question of not being able to in the sense of any kind of barrier being put up. There was just nobody to talk about it to. And I don't remember the discussions with my mother. So I guess my mum got me into the cinema, got into the dark, I got entranced and she dealt with her sorrow and we walked home. We had that togetherness but there was certainly nothing else from it that I can remember until it became an extremely important and informing aspect of my adult relationship with my mother. The remembering movies and the re-watching movies were hugely important. But, the child Maggie, the child went to the cinema with somebody alone and came out alone. I didn't realise until I was in my thirties when I saw Calamity Jane on video that I had in fact internalised a great deal of that movie. I didn't know that.

Bernie

How did you realise that?

Maggie

Well there was one very obvious clue, which was that I put gingham curtains up in the kitchen. Nobody had gingham curtains and then I saw the sequence of 'A woman's touch' and the scene where Calamity Jane changes the cabin. I thought, 'Oh God, it's pathetic'. But I had bought that idea wholesale, that you can transform an austere, perhaps even unpleasant place, into something beautiful. Now, in 1947 when I was born, there wasn't a great deal of colour around. Not for the first maybe seven or eight years of my life, or even longer. It was only when I was a teenager that I remember things like orange coming into homes. We didn't have a television until I was about fifteen. I didn't get that stuff from television either.

I also realise looking back now when I watch movies like On the Town and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I internalised exactly what I think your mother might have been doing, Bernie. I internalised a great deal of the women. They were such sassy women. Not Ann Blyth, although she was in Kismet and was wonderful. The dancer that did 'Too Darn Hot'. Ann Miller.

When we talk about sexuality I find it very interesting because I know I can still physically remember the feelings that as a five year old I had - I hate to admit it - for Dirk Bogarde, definitely and what's-his-name in all the musicals? Howard Keel. And those were definitely sexual feelings. I remember them sexually. So I was quite interested in where sexuality starts, where your predilection comes from, if you're going to be same sex or opposite
sex. I find what you were saying very interesting about the way that you took male, masculine models on board because I think I was doing that as a young girl. There was certainly something about the roles that Dirk Bogarde played, particularly in movies like The Wind Cannot Read. I was already internalising the kind of relationships that I would find satisfying later on in life with boyfriends and later with somebody I would marry.


That was quite interesting and very informing for a young girl who didn't have a great deal of choice around her in a very macho Glasgow society, a very separatist society, a very bigoted society, a society where you were constantly being asked, 'Who do you think you are?' So you were never allowed any kind of, even legitimate, self-awareness or pride. 'Who do you think you are?' It was a contemptuous phrase.

Bernie

I think that's very important. It wasn't a searching phrase, 'Who do you think you are?', like you would be asked by a lecturer or anyone getting you to enquire. It was a judgement.

Maggie

Oh, it was a judgment.

Bernie

Because you already thought you were someone.

Maggie

I can still remember a ritual that was quite common. It wasn't something that only I experienced. In Glasgow there is an expression when a little girl is dressed well, you know, it's the party dress or the first communion dress, its, 'You're a wee doll'. And that's all wonderful and so you've begun to preen yourself and it's, 'Go on give us a twirl'. And you give them a twirl and it's, 'Oh, stop showing off'. You're immediately stopped in your tracks.

Bernie

That's so difficult to hear.

Maggie

Extremely, incredibly difficult to unravel. I think that the movies must have given me a sense of other ways, other strivings, other attitudes. I can still remember that taxi driver in On the Town, Betty Garrett. She was my heroine. I thought she was just wonderful. She was the character I fixed on rather than the more glamorous Miss Turnstyles. That sassy woman could drive a car, take people wherever they wanted to go and had enough sense of herself to decide that Frank Sinatra, whether he liked it or not, was going to be for her. There would be no 'permission' for that whatsoever.

And, of course, Ann Miller was in that too. And they were very sassy girls. Calamity Jane was full of excitement and wonder because she went off to different places and came back to tell everybody. She also discovered her femininity. Somewhere inside me that must have been very important.

Peter

And she finished up with Howard Keel!

Maggie

With Howard Keel. I'm not going to be sorry about that!

So, mine was a closed environment, quite a secretive environment: my brother died and it was never discussed again. One day I had a brother, the next day he didn't exist. But one of my very few childhood memories is of my mother being told that he had died. And it's vivid. I can replay the day. I can replay everything and see everybody - and I have a very poor memory for my childhood. But that's a day that stands out very, very clearly.

Bernie

You saw it like in a movie.

Maggie

There's a quality to it that I recognise as different. It certainly stands out as a hugely important day. But otherwise it was quite secretive. So I guess I must have been a little girl who did a great deal of internal talking. But there wasn't the facility to deal with it. The external stuff wasn't up for grabs at all. You got on with things in Glasgow. You got on with things. I think that the cinema screen must have been an incredible window for me, a shop window into other lives and other things. It was underpinned by my love of reading which was also very much encouraged at home, and not in any way censored, so I was reading a fairly sophisticated level when quite young.

Bernie

What's interesting me in what you are saying is that it sounds like you had a loving home but the ability to share wasn't there. So it became quite secretive and insular as you integrated it all. And yet the very job that you do now in teaching about movies and stories is that you share, on a broad scale. You travel to different countries and you come back and tell people.

Maggie

I don't think the secretiveness was imposed rather than something that I put onto myself.

Bernie

Yes, that's the impression.

Maggie

It was a cultural imposition and a family imposition. The best way for a child to get over the death of her brother would be to not talk about the brother. I think that was fairly common, as Peter says when his mum died, you didn't go to the funeral. Certainly in Glasgow you wouldn't have gone to a funeral. That wasn't anything to do with the children and often it was certainly nothing to do with the women. I knew the stories of my brother's life and his illnesses and my mother's strivings much, much later. I didn't know any of that at five or six. So it's very hard to unravel because you can put things into, you can implicate things in, a childhood that are actually coming from adulthood.

Bernie

A lot of what you're doing and what we were doing earlier is probably looking at what's unconscious there. And, yes, you can add to it from another age. But it's all you.

Maggie

I don't know if you felt this, but I had a huge sense of longing watching those films. The longing to dance was incredible, the longing to sing. And, of course, you didn't. People of my background wouldn't have gone to ballet lessons or any of that kind of thing at all. I can remember I used to articulate it by answering, 'What do you want to do when you grow up?' with, 'I want to be an actress'. And I can still remember my mother, who had worked in the Citizens' Theatre for some time, saying, 'You'll never be an actress, you're not disciplined enough'. So, crikey, I was about eight or nine years of age. How disciplined do you get at eight or nine? Maybe again it was her way of, I don't know, trying to give me some kind of sense or, perhaps it was her way of trying to encourage. I was the sort of kid you don't encourage by telling me I can't do something. I was the sort of kid that believed you.

Bernie

Was it fear?

Maggie

No, I don't think it was fear. I really don't remember that feeling ever as a child. Not even the bogeyman kind of fear. I don't remember that. But I do remember that from a very young age, say five or six - and now, obviously, I can't know how much I'm articulating it as an adult and, of course, I didn't do this to myself as a child - I had a very, very strong sense of not believing much of what I was told in church. I loved going to church and I had a very strong spiritual sense. I believed in God with no question or doubt. I didn't have any fears about the God I believed in. I just thought I was being told a load of lies when I was at school and when I was at church.

Peter

About what, for instance?

Maggie

About sin and hell. I just didn't buy it. I can't remember a time when I discarded it. I can't remember a time I had it.
I simply did not believe it. So fear was not part of my make up in that sense.

Bernie

When I said fear, I meant your mum's.

Maggie

I don't know. It's awfully difficult to answer on behalf of someone else. Maybe it would connect with something you said about your mum, an unexpressed vitality. She hadn't studied, partly because of her upbringing and her situation. She was a very clever lady, very talented but she was very much a woman of her time in that everything would be superseded for the husband. In fact she was a damn sight cleverer than my father in many ways. He was a very intellectual man. She had a much broader view. My mother didn't go to university until she was forty-nine years of age. She graduated at fifty-two.

Bernie

But she went.

Maggie

So it was all those years of wanting to and being told no. 'My wife doesn't work' and all that crap, that women of her generation very often got. I think it was less of fear. I don't think she was ever afraid for me particularly but I think there were some stages in her life when she didn't know how to express vitality on my behalf. I think grieving had had a lot to do with that. Not so much fear for me but loss.

Bernie

Yes, fear of losing you too.

Maggie

Maybe, maybe, I don't know. We were very, very close from the time I was fifteen and stayed that way for the rest of our lives together. Our sense of humour was very similar. The way we thought about things was very similar. I discovered all that as I got older.

But movies in my formative years were about possibilities and about exploring other aspects of yourself. I didn't know I would be exploring me on the cinema screen. I was watching other people. But there were so many moments in films where I just felt so at home with whatever was going on. I felt very at home in Hollywood. I felt at home in all those homes that were on our cinema screens.

I had great delight as an adult when I saw The Way We Were with Robert Redford and part of that movie's joy was taking me back to those feelings of sheer delight in the settings because they were so far away from anything I would ever have experienced. They were beautiful.

We had so many books in the house and magazines. I can remember Mum buying women's magazines, the upmarket ones, and you would see all of this lovely design and beautiful things. So I think this was all very formative in giving me ideas beyond anything one could experience. But it was different from yours, Bernie, in that there was no discussion. That I remember.

Bernie

I think there is something more. I get a sense that there is something more that you could say. If you look at your passion now for film and your sense of vocation with it and what you're doing, you are doing with your students what wasn't done with you. You are sharing. They come to you.

Maggie

It wasn't done with me as a child. It was definitely done with me as a young adult and then into my twenties, thirties, forties. My Mum died when I was forty-five.

I guess I stopped with me as a child. When I started to go to cinema in my teens, I went at least a couple of times a week myself and with some friends. It was courting as well. That's where you courted. I can remember the worst thing I ever did to a human being was to a boy who was a particularly assiduous Lothario. He went too far in the cinema as far as I was concerned. I think he put his hand on my knee and I can remember excusing myself and going to the loo, walking straight out and leaving him in the cinema. I couldn't get over my audacity that I ditched somebody, that I'd actually done it.

Bernie

Wicked

Maggie

So the cinema was very much Cinema Paradiso in my teens. I was in a small town called Abingdon. There was a tiny cinema and that's where everybody went. You went there because you couldn't court in your own home. Nobody had a car. So you knew everybody in there.

Bernie

So it was a meeting place as well.

Maggie

It was a very, very important place.

Bernie

Like the community in Cinema Paradiso when they put the movie on the wall in the piazza.

Maggie

Absolutely, yes. I experienced all of that for a while as a teenager. But, once I met Graham - we were twenty-four when we got married - I don't think I went to the cinema again regularly for about fifteen years, maybe even longer. He didn't particularly like cinema, although he loved, and still to this day will watch it every time it's on, Michael Caine in The Italian Job. We went to see it together and I thought he liked movies. But he falls asleep in them.

Bernie

It was a one off.

Maggie

It was a one off.

Maggie

I went to the Art Cinema a lot in Aberdeen. By that time I worked at Grampian television. Incidentally I ended up doing a lot of choosing movies there and that's when I started to work with Leslie Halliwell. My then boss was the Head of Program Planning and he realised that I loved movies. So he would say, 'We've got this batch, decide'. And I would just sit and watch movies. I guess that's were I saw most of the sixties films.

Bernie

But it's the time you started to share with your Mum.

Maggie

I started to share with my Mum round about then because she had started to do her degree when I left home. I lived in a flat in Aberdeen. I was about twenty.

Bernie

So you'd left home. She was doing a degree. It's different worlds.

Maggie

She was doing a degree in Aberdeen. I had gone to work in France packing peaches for a summer and, when I got back, I realised that she was very unhappy and very depressed. So I didn't move out of the house until I decided that she was OK.

You were talking about fate earlier. We had a petrol station and this particular individual kept coming in and talking to my mother. He drove in one day, he'd been chatting to my mum now for about nine months, and he said to her, 'You're filling in these forms and when you've filled them in I shall leave the station'. And these were forms for her to go college. She couldn't believe that this guy turned out to be head of a department at the local education college for teachers. She filled in the forms, got a place and started studying there. (He was killed about a year after she started at that college.) And she graduated higher than any student who had ever been there.

And I then moved out when she started going to college because I wanted to move into town. I was working at Grampian Television so I got a flat very close and that was basically when my mother 'moved in' with me because, to all intents and purposes, she was never away from my flat. When she was in town she had nowhere to go and have coffee, so I just gave her keys. That's probably when we really started to share on an intellectual level, her studies and everything else.

Bernie

It feels as if this was what was missing because your brother died. This man saw her potential and was insistent on her developing it, but he died. I almost thought you were going to say that you started taking your mum to the movies to help her with her depression.

Maggie

No, no, her depression wasn't a clinical depression. It was just that she got stuck. And this guy did it for her. I was in Television so I must have had some kind of ability to communicate. But I'd never been to university or anything. I'd never been told that I communicated well. I hadn't been told that in any kind of systematic way. But when my mother started training to be a teacher, I became completely fascinated by her studies and that became for me, I think, the beginning of any kind of intellectual striving. Not that I did anything systematic about it. But I began to read Greek mythology and I began to read Egyptian mythology because she was studying all that sort of stuff. Looking back now, all these years later, there is no question about it. The wanting to share and to teach was not born then but was possibly quickened at that stage, conceived at that stage. I think it's probably genetic when I think of how many in the family have actually been teachers.

Bernie

But what's really fascinating about what you are saying is that when, your mum opened up to her talent and it was acknowledged, you were budding as well. How did that enrich your relationship that you could now share what you couldn't share before?

Maggie

It didn't feel like that because in my growing up, in my teens, there had been other ways we accessed the relationship to each other. I just did what I suppose many children do. I was lucky enough to come to know my mother as other than a mother-figure.

Bernie

Yes, a friend.

Maggie

A very close and enriching friendship that we acknowledged we both had. I have that very much with my own daughters. But I recognise what is going on with my own daughters, in a way that I didn't recognise it with my mum.

Peter

She didn't 'move in' with your sister, Rachel, or with your brother, David?

Maggie

She 'moved in' in the sense that she was at my flat all the time. Rachel and David were ten and eleven years younger than me respectively and she had a very different relationship with those two younger children. She had a particularly close relationship with Rachel. The other aspects of my mother's life were a deep love of countryside and country living and that's what Rachel does. She's the one with the six acres and the horses. The relationships she had with her two daughters were extremely deep and very rich and very communicative relationships. But, for me, it was one that was communicative later, rather than earlier. I just don't remember as a little girl any sharing or discussion.

Bernie

I don't want to labour the point. It's as if there was a moment when you felt you could share and that she could share and it may have been around film when the breakthrough happened. I hear that you could share in other ways and it was a deep relationship but that's not what I'm talking about. It's about when you talked about, around film. You just went quiet. But it all went on, this rich internal world went on in you. You said that when Peter asked you whether you had anyone to share it with.

Maggie

Yes, but I wasn't conscious of having no one to share it with. It wasn't a shut down.

Peter

It wasn't about need.

Maggie

It was just the way it was like.

Bernie

But it wasn't a felt need?

Maggie

And it's good that it wasn't a felt need. If it had been a felt need, I don't think it would have gone very far.

Bernie

Exactly

Peter

But you're suggesting, Bernie, that it was an unconscious need which blossomed.

Bernie

Yes, which blossomed at a later date.

Peter

So it was a personal need but it wasn't a felt need.

Bernie

There was a kind of unconscious perception that it wouldn't be met at that moment in time.

Maggie

It may well be. I think that I would have internalised that as a child in the culture we lived in. Children didn't talk to parents. You came in for tea and you got your tea and then you were read a story. You certainly didn't discuss what went on in school, for example. There would be no discussion of what went on in friends' houses either. It was a very separate existence in lots of ways.

Peter

And Bernie and I are finding that a bit difficult to empathise with.

Bernie

Yes.

Peter

I'm thinking back to stories about my great-grandfather Malone who had seventeen children. He sat at the head of the Sunday dinner table with a stock whip at his place to flick it if anybody spoke. My grandmother thought that this behaviour of her father-in-law was mad. Whereas your household, Maggie, didn't have a stock whip but you're saying that in Glasgow it was the same.

Maggie

You got on with your day. A child's job was to go into the garden - it's not raining.

Again, I don't have a huge sense of many friends because it wasn't that kind of society either. You didn't go to tea in those years. Maybe got to one party in your young life. So you played with whoever was in the street, as it were. There was nothing like what our kids have, sleepovers and all that kind of thing.

It wasn't unhappy. I can remember, for example, you would spend hours sliding out in the moonlight on ice. That's the kind of thing that children would do. You would climb trees. You would go fishing in the park. The one difference between my parents and some of the other folks that I knew was that I never ever once got told off for reading. I would be in another house or my aunt's house and, if I was reading, I'd be told to put the book down and go outside if it wasn't raining. What are you wasting your time for, indoors? I never got that at home.

Bernie

So there was a different value judgment about reading?

Maggie

A very different value judgement. But it wasn't your job to be part of the adult world. That wasn't anything to do with you. It was your job to be out playing. It was your job to come in for your tea. It was your job to make sure the back of your neck was clean. It didn't feel like a contained world. It didn't feel like a constricted one. But what I saw at the cinema I never saw anywhere else. And yet my dad was so interested in film.

Bernie

But didn't talk about it.

Maggie

But I got the clue to that not long before he died when I was talking to him about Alice Walker. It suddenly occurred to me that my mother could have named about five Alice Walker books but my father had hardly grasped who she was.

Actually my father did theology for his whole life as far as I could tell. The sad thing was that, not long before he died, he tried to talk to me about belief. And I said, 'you're asking the wrong person. I'm not interested in whether God exists or not, I'm just not interested. I don't think it's any of my business. I realised that, coming from a theological life, he needed proof. He couldn't die happy without proof. He was going into the unknown. It was scary for him and it was very difficult for him to understand that I had a theology degree and that I did 'theology'. I don't think I did it terribly well. But I'm not really interested in that proof aspect of belief. It's nothing to do with me.

Bernie

Because you're interested in meaning.

Maggie

You're desperate to work on me. I can see it.

Bernie

I'm just trying to get a sense of your childhood and its richness and the social boundaries of what children did and all. It's very different from my childhood.

Maggie

My brother who died may have had a very similar relationship to the one you had with your mum because my father was in the Middle East. I think when I came on the scene, he was already very ill and back from the war. The country was trying to get itself sorted out. Maybe that was a decade that had its own peculiarities.

Bernie

They all did. I'm not judging it. I'm just trying to get a feel for it. And the feel I get, which is interesting, is that it was quite rich but that there was an area of blankness.

Maggie

It's nothing to do with movies but there are vivid memories of being at school. I can remember a child in the class who had fallen foul of a particularly unpleasant teacher and I can remember taking the strap for that child. I was so angry with that man that he could have strapped me till kingdom come and I wasn't going to cry. But he wasn't going to belt her because she couldn't hack it.

Bernie

You were protecting her.

Maggie

I can still physically feel the anger I felt then. I must have been seven years of age. He was just, and there's no other word for it, he was a bastard.

But I can remember delightful things like swinging on the swings, Christmases. So there are pleasant memories but they are not to do with my relationship with my parents or my brothers and sisters. I don't even know if I had a sense of relationship at that time.

Peter

Which is interesting because I haven't remembered to say much at all about my brother, my only brother, Philip. He's two and a half years younger and he was five when our mother died. In 1993 he participated in a personal renewal program outside Birmingham, at Herronbrook. I was able to spend a day with him in London in the middle of the course. I was wanting to know what his memories of my making all our decisions were. In fact they were very affectionate. It suited him, as he thinks back for me to have done all that.

I remember an incident to do with a film when I thought my Grandmother was unfair to him and she called him, 'You little Monkey'. I can't remember what he did. But he wasn't allowed to go to the pictures and I was - in fact, to see Kiss Me Kate in 3D, the only movie I ever saw in 3D in the 50s - and he missed it. But he had no memory of that at all and yet I'd carried it for forty years, the feeling that he'd been unjustly done by.

Bernie

But did you carry it as a punishment?

Peter

No, a kind of protective concern. I felt it was unfair and wasn't it terrible to carry that burden of being blasted by my grandmother who was always a just but strict person when he didn't deserve it. So there was I worrying and being protective and he can't remember it at all.

He and I did everything together, saw all the movies together. But we always did, I think, what I wanted and what I decided. In terms of relationships, which is why I started this train of thought, his memory of relating to my father would be quite different from mine. My father became a widower three weeks after Philip turned five. Philip had had some severe corrective surgery for his eye when he was two. My father always believed in natural health and was not keen for Philip to wear glasses and for him to keep his head down - Philip had to raise his head to focus without glasses. I ended up living twenty six years in the same city as my father whereas my brother didn't. I looked after him for his final year and a half in the hostel and was with him when he died.

That's why I was interested, Maggie, in asking about Rachel and your brother and your mother.

Maggie

No, it was very different. You see, by the time Rachel came along I was ten or eleven. My teenage years are full of the pleasures that Rachel brought. She was a gorgeous baby and I've always loved babies. She was a lovely little toddler and bright. My brother had more problems and I feel quite strongly about one of my brothers and his childhood. I think it a was pretty unpleasant childhood in lots of ways because he really didn't have time to be a baby before she came along and she kind of took over because she was such a vivacious child. So little tot David would be being ignored for Rachel.

Bernie

How old was he?

He's fourteen months older than she is and he was only really a little tiny baby himself.

Bernie

He didn't have that attention he needed.

Maggie

He didn't. So Rachel and Mum had a very different relationship from the one I had with Mum because I left home when Rachel was seven and that left Mum and Rachel together in a particular way. It's almost as if there were two different families. There was myself and Kenny after Tony died and then years and years later there was Rachel and David.

And I'm the only member of the family that covers everybody. I'm the only one that's close to all of them.




























THREE: MOVIE THERAPY - WITH A TOUCH OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY

1. Bernie: Movie Therapy


Peter

This is our key chapter for whatever we want to say about movies and therapy: how important it is to us; how we use them; movie examples; what we hope for... Bernie?

Bernie

Well, I want to pioneer the deeper use of film, of movies, in therapy and I want more research done so that it becomes much more accepted and respectable. That's very important in one to one work as well as in group therapy.

I also want the whole perception of film - and I've said so many times before - the whole the level of consciousness raised so that it will become almost automatic for people to look at film as a healthy aid to whatever they are doing in their life rather than just as entertainment. That may be learning. It may be healing. It may be therapeutic. It may be motivation. It is a whole way of looking at film for positive good, globally, because, if you take it that television is now available everywhere around the world because of satellites and that there are films on all the time via Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner, or whoever, you can have twenty four hours of 'global positiveness' going on out there. I would hope that people could come from that receptiveness to catch this positive awareness.

That's an astounding thought for me. The power of that one thought. If only I can do something to get that to people's consciousness, or if we can, in whatever way that can happen where people's consciousness can move from, 'I've enjoyed this, now how can I use it?' Or, when they watch a movie, they automatically start to talk about it and apply it in their own life. They may be students studying. They may be doctors. They may be lawyers, priests, therapists, housewives, whoever. The question is, how can the movie help them and in what way do they need the help. How do they draw ii from film. Then this becomes an automatic thing like taking a breath.

This is how we use film. It is all the entertainment, but there's much more there - and it can be there for millions of people if they get the mindset to have entertainment plus. So it is enriching them in observation, in integration, in communication and in sharing their experience. It's what we three are doing here and seeing what it's bringing up. And there is the sense that, as we talk, underlying all of this there is a sense of common oneness, which could be called spirituality.

It's difficult to communicate all that I am trying to say but that's one of the big things that I want to do as well. I want it worked on in a therapy sense, pioneered and researched, all of that, but its impact in the broader sociological sense, that as well. It's not just a one-dimensional approach.

And, working personally and as part of a group, I would like to stimulate people in different careers and help them formulate their responses. Management, too, and how the movie can be taken to help them, how can it be used as a medium of communication, as a medium for presenting role models, as a medium of experiential learning, change and transformation. I see there's such a multiplicity of avenues that I find that I almost can't find the words to describe all the ways I want to go. But it's there. What happens with my intuition is that one moment it finds the way to go and sometimes it doesn't. But it's how to develop and use the movie to further that mission of therapy with its personal and sociological impact.

Peter

To illustrate this, what was the first time that you were aware that with a client a movie was going to work? And what was your appreciation of how powerful the film could be?

Bernie

I think the first situation which I really remember was with a woman I was working with. I've often quoted this one because it was so accurate and real. It's one I can quote because I have permission. The movie was Rebecca. The Joan Fontaine was the wife of a man who had been married before and she felt incredibly overshadowed by the previous wife. My client felt even worse, that the family were much more attached and attracted to the previous wife than they were to her. She felt isolated in living in the family home which had been the home of the previous marriage and she felt more isolated because of the powerful personality of this previous wife and the relationship the family had over many years with this previous wife. So she felt second best.

It's one of the few times that I've come up with the movie. I'd rather the person with me moving towards finding the movie rather than me prescribing. But I did prescribe Rebecca. And the effect was electric in that she went and saw Rebecca and there were certain scenes that had a powerful effect. I think it was the R being on the mirror. Everything of Rebecca's, the lingerie had an R on it. It was as if the ghost of this woman was still more dominant in the house than she was in her being physically there. That was how she felt. So it was how she felt that was important. She could see and understand that someone else had shared this experience albeit in a different way. So the questions was, how could we use that therapeutically? She herself picked out the different scenes but she not only saw the film, she read the book and we tracked down the interesting background of what had happened in Daphne du Maurier's own life and why she wrote the book.

And all of that was incredibly helpful to her in terms of the Mrs Danvers character. She couldn't stand the Danvers character. The Danvers character was symbolic of the family, that one character was the whole family and their attitude towards her - as if she shouldn't be there at all. She had to find a lot of strength in herself to come through this, to be her own person within the family. So the situation was very much that of the movie, Rebecca. She said how much it had helped and she actually wrote it all down and how it helped her. And she said I could use it.

Peter

How much work did you do and how much work did she do after seeing the movie?

Bernie

I think it came up on and off for a period of sessions. It didn't run every session. What would happen was that life would get in the way or another issue or another part of her personality was opening up and we would deal with that. But the central theme was not feeling good enough in her life. And this was exacerbated by her feeling second best in her new marriage. So, in a way, Rebecca was a catalyst not just for her marriage but also for her life.

And that was when I got very exited about the potential of movies. You know what it's like, it might be a good theory but this was the theory actually working. Then she had the knack afterwards of bringing me moments of films that were richly important to her. One was in The Wedding Singer when the fellow who was Jack the lad with all the girls says to him, 'Why can't I be like you?' And he just answers him, 'It's not great being me. I just want someone to put their arm around me and say 'you're OK. She identified so much with and what he said, 'I just want someone to put their arm around me and say 'you're ok. Because she couldn't feel safe. The base of her personality was, 'I can't feel safe because I don't believe I'm OK. And, if I'm not OK, I can't feel safe'. So she couldn't rest. She was brilliant but she'd driven herself because she wasn't good enough. That was the bonus of not feeling good enough. But there's no peace to not feeling good enough. Whenever you reach being OK, the goalposts have moved. So you're never safe and you never rest.

So, coming back to Rebecca and coming back to not feeling good enough, it was the catalyst for her marriage and her life. We could do the work we did after she realized that. When she started to let go of all of this, she was letting go of the hub of her personality that she'd built strategies for dealing with life from. Now she had to be like a child and come up with and deal with all new strategies because the old strategies no longer worked because she had been coming from not being good enough. Otherwise she would be reinforcing it all again which she didn't want. She had to find new strategies that worked with being good enough: that is, that she was good at something without feeling she was big-headed, being able to make statements like that and believe them, feel that she didn't have to apologise to anyone. It wasn't conceit. It was just an acknowledgement of being confident, the absolute antithesis of not being good enough. So I was very excited about that.

Peter

What about another movie example, somebody you didn't have to prompt in any way. They brought their own movie or their own scene?

Bernie

A businessman from the home counties was dealing very strongly with his workaholism and his marriage and his fear was that if his workaholism for business made him a successful businessman, his marriage would go. In trying to explain to me how it felt for him to come home, he suddenly surprised me and told me I must see Secrets and Lies by Mike Leigh. I asked him why. He said there was a part where Timothy Spall comes home and he creeps in. He said, 'This is me. I know exactly what he is feeling like'. That's the key question, 'What is he feeling?'. And he said, 'He's anticipating, his antennae is out, what mood is she in? How have I got to play this?' They haven't even seen each other yet. There's not a word being said but he's just opened the door and his whole antenna is going out to try and pick up the atmosphere. And this is what he was telling me. The identification meant that he could perfectly use the movie to say that he felt like that and that it could help him to communicate. So the movie is also a means of communication as well
as of acknowledgement. That was an exciting moment.

Then we moved on to working with different movies such as, yes, The Sound of Music, which really surprised me. Here was this big, tough chap and, you know, I've learnt never to assume. He talked about the scene were Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews look at one another across the room - and he was the romantic in the relationship. He was desperately, desperately, pining for that romance. He was pining to be able to look, for eye contact, for it all to be there. And it wasn't and that was a great sadness for him.

It was, in fact, connected to his workaholism. Because, he was married, he was using as his new mistress, work. And it gradually seemed that he could have the two. But he'd come from a teaching family so that when he listened to his wife he would talk back like a teacher, logically. His wife didn't feel heard because she really wanted to be listened to and asked what she wanted to do. But, he kept giving her answers back because he wanted to protect her. But that was the very opposite of what she needed.

He learnt to listen because I asked him, 'What do I do?'. And he said, 'Well, you mainly listen'. So I said, 'Well, I wonder if that would work?'. Gradually the relationship started to change and they started to go out for meals together. Then they went to see Titanic, much against her wishes, 'What's interesting about seeing fifteen hundred people die?'. So I just said, 'If you do go and see it, just concentrate on the eyes and the relationship'.

He said it was very powerful. She really cried at the whole di Caprio, Kate Winslett relationship, all done with eyes, all the time with looks, the despair at the end that they're together, the love, the tragedy, the fear, all of that is communicated via their eyes. I knew eyes were important to him but the message was really for him and through him to her. It was very powerful for them in bringing them much closer together. I won't say it was an amazing miracle but it brought them closer, not as Mum and Dad, which was another major issue, but as man and wife. They are different roles but people get them smudged. So they start to be just Mum and Dad and the romance and all of that starts to go. The mundane and the boring take over and the man goes down the pub and the woman talks about things on the phone with her friends or goes to bingo. But, in terms of their relationship, if you go back to the two people that met, what happened to the girl? what happened to the man he used to be?

This is where Shirley Valentine comes in. I used that movie with them as well.

Maggie

So, you're not just using the movie as a tool for therapist and client. You can actually arm or furnish your client with the movie to take home.

Bernie

I'm giving them a tool that's on offer. 'Can you pick it up and use it? You don't have to.' But, how can we find the best tool that we can share.

Afterwards I had to do some chat lines, a column that I had. What I did couldn't be therapy, it could only be advice. But it was saying that people could use movies like Shirley Valentine, like Educating Rita, to see how those characters coped with what they were facing and see the similarity. Like your Mum, for instance, Maggie. A woman who asks, 'should I or shouldn't I go to night school? It's a bit silly at my age. I've brought up a family up. Do I have ideas above my station - or something like that?' Educating Rita's a marvellous movie for that in terms of Rita's tenacity and her genius, if you like. Julie Walters plays the character brilliantly, when she was in the class with the middle class intellectual approach. Her simplicity was what was very original and refreshing when she asked, 'Why can’t it be done on radio?'. So, that's another way.

As you're listening to me now, you're hearing what I do. But you'd be able to categorise what I do better than I can because I'm always coming from intuition. In a sense I don't know some of the ways I do what I do. But you're witnessing them now.

Peter

It was interesting that distinction you made between therapy and advice. Some people scratch their heads and think that movies are just entertainment, just Mickey Mouse level. And my guess is that what they've got in mind is a discussion they heard on a chat line program and think that that's it. But your therapy approach is much deeper. There's a value in the chat line advice. It opens up horizons. But the examples you give take us to a different level.

Bernie

Those chat lines weren't kept on very long because they're looking for money. They're looking for hard hits. Astrologers earn a fortune on chat lines, an absolute fortune. But the point is that they got 267 hits. There were that many people phoned with anxiety about a broken relationship. They had to have headings for the movies. And the tapes were only three minutes.

Maggie

I'm interested in two things. One is the aspect of therapy as process, that this is part of a process which you talked about with one of your clients. Healing doesn't happen overnight, it's a process that you go through. I'm also interested in how people would then use the video of the movie. So you'd say, 'Perhaps it might be worth your looking at Shirley Valentine and let's talk about it when you've seen it.' There's an intimacy in looking at a video with a purpose in one's own environment, possibly with a fast forward and a rewind. Has anyone explored that with you? Have your clients explored that with you and said I watched a particular scene again and again and again? 'I just found myself sitting in my house and watching my life.' Has anybody actually been quite as open as that?

Bernie

Yes, people have said that but often it's been people who are not in therapy with me. You know, they've said they sat there and they said exactly that sentence, 'I sat there and watched that and thought this is my life here.' But why they've said it to me is that it's like I've turned on a small switch. They know me. They know what I do. We're friends and it's as if they've just turned a small degree and now they're looking at movies that bit differently. So they report to me. They ring me up.

I have had people who have been clients who have watched a scene and I've asked them to watch the scenes that move them, check what moves them, whether it be happy, whether it be really funny or depressing or whether it makes them so angry they want to turn it off. When they've done that, sometimes it's been the issue and sometimes it's been a look and the look has brought back a memory because the scene gets around denial. In that sense when a person is telling me how they feel about a given scene, because I'm asking them how the character feels, what's happening to that character, they're telling me how they feel. The film can't supply it all in the end. We supply the energy. We supply the feelings. Whatever buttons it presses in us, we supply the energy. That’s us.

Peter

Some radio programs discussing your work took a sceptical and even a mocking approach. There seems to be a popular (and media?) predisposition to mock the association, even in words, of movies and therapies. This must affect you.

Bernie

Yes, I used to get quite angry but I don't get angry so much now. I've become much more philosophical about it in terms of its gaining respectability, gaining ground now. An interview and discussion with Professor Anthony Clare was a great step forward. I expected a much rougher ride from him. But movies and therapy was taken as read, as absolutely valid. Not that I needed his validation but I was surprised. This was on the BBC, All in the Mind.

He's a senior, top psychiatrist who's written a number of books.
He does The Psychiatrist's Chair, where he interviews top personalities. He's very well established in the public mind and in terms of credentials for who he is and what he does. He had Anthony Sher on the program. Sher was very open about therapy, that it had been an enormous help to him. He had no qualms about it. Peter Byrne, a psychiatrist in Ireland, also spoke. He uses movies to teach his doctors what personality disorder is. He found they would yawn if he gave a lecture but if he showed them a good movie like Goodfellas or White Heat, they knew what a personality disorder was instantly and that generated interest. Again that gives weight to what I was saying earlier about the avenues for using movies and therapy.

But in terms of how it makes me feel, I think that the people who knock it invariably don't understand. The people who knock it are often not hearing because of a prejudice. They have a prejudice and they think of what it may be rather than really know what it is. It's happened with reporters before. An example was the woman, the Sloane Ranger, who came in quite full of herself and who asked, 'is this a gimmick?'. I said, 'No, it's not a gimmick and if you think it is, let's not do the interview. I'm a serious therapist. I have clients out there who may hear about this or see this. I'm not looking to be made a fool of or become not credible'. So I said the only way to really understand, to hear the authenticity of what I was saying was to tell me if she had a movie. And she said, 'Don't get me on film. I don't want to talk about film.' She was a bit bolshie.

She quietened down a little bit later. She said, 'I'm sorry if I offended you'. This was just prior to the interview starting. I said it was all right. Then she said, 'There is a film actually'. I said, 'Do you want to tell me about it?' So she said, 'Yes, it's The Railway Children'. And immediately she started to tell me about the scene of the smoke when the train stopped. Was the dad going to get off or not? And they couldn't see the dad through the steam. The Jenny Agutter character was sobbing.

We had to hold up the interview. I said to her, 'It seems like that really touches you. Is there any connection, any association there? Why would that scene be so strong?' She was a sharp woman, you know, and she said, 'Maybe to do with my young life'. So I said, 'Do you mind telling me.' Her Dad had been in the army and moved around a great deal. The Dad was sent on lots of posts so she'd experienced that waiting. Her Dad, was he, or was he not, going to be there. And the little girl was there crying on the settee. She did a brilliant thing after that. It was one of the best coverages I ever got on television. And she took it deadly seriously in her introduction but she came hostile. I don't know if that answers the question.

Peter

The other extreme is, of course, the enthusiasts who say, wonderful, now I've got something that I can use in any kind of situation.

Maggie

There is a danger of that. And that's other people not giving it its due seriousness. The same with the Myers Briggs applications of Jung's theory. It's dreadful if they allow people to get their Myers Briggs profile and then there's no work done on what it really means and enabling people to see that this is a very valuable tool to see past your own prejudices about yourself and that they open up aspects of yourself to yourself. But you need to understand how those aspects work in community with others. So you may have to shut down some things about yourself. This is the same.

I think the attitude that the Radio Four discussion, 'Money for Old Rope', started with was derisory. 'There's this therapist who says to somebody, 'oh you're a psychotic, are you? Here's a movie. Go away and watch it and you'll be OK next day'.

Actually, it's probably not something you can use easily with psychotics given that they scramble their communication.

Bernie

You could I suppose, with some, but I think the point which is more important, which we're making about the media in our present context, is that in what they are saying, they just haven't heard. I can't express this enough. It's a prejudice talking, a judgment about it before they've even heard it. It's that judgment that you have to get through.

I think what you were saying earlier was very important, Maggie, about Myers Briggs, about what I do and about what you do. We're very clear that there can be a temptation by some people to 'pseudo use' this. And it doesn't work. That seems to me to be important to lay down: that if you don't do the application properly, then it won’t work.

Maggie

It could be dangerous.

Bernie

In some cases yes.

Peter

Yes, that's the important thing.

Maggie

And there will be some forms of mental illness that require a medical model. I can remember my sister Rachel had postnatal psychosis and was very seriously ill and I know there is no way a movie could have helped Rachel. Didn't matter what you showed her, she came up with some strange meaning. But, as part of her recovery when she was stabilized with drug therapy, Dumbo got her through the minutes, if you like.

I can remember one of my favourite moments in movies ever is Judy Garland in A Star is Born when she says to that mirror, 'How do you live the days? I love my husband. He's an alcoholic. I'm not going to stop loving him. But, how do I live the days?' That's the very thing that your man was talking about, going in with the antenna out: is it OK today? is it not? All that stuff that goes on. And how do you live the days if you have psychosis? And your tablets are making you shake with a Parkinsonian side effect and you're salivating in a dry mouth which just beggars belief? Your head can't get round that at all. But you are now sufficiently stabilized to know that you have an illness. But you are living in fear of the stuff that haunts you with a psychotic illness coming back to get you again. Dumbo proved a wonderful help.

Peter

How, in fact, did it help?

Maggie

Because she watched it over and over again and for some reason that film for her was safe. There may have been other movies that would not have been safe for her and those movies might have been safe for somebody else. She coped with that movie. Whereas Hannah, Rachel's daughter, I watched taking a long time to be able to watch Dumbo all the way through, little tot, she couldn't cope with the loss of the mother. But, somehow, Rachel managed. Dumbo got Rachel through. I can still see her sitting in my house because I cared for her when she was very, very ill, at the height of the illness. Movies helped me as well I'll tell you, movies and Tia Maria! But I can still remember Rachel sitting in the big winged chair glued on Dumbo. So, in that sense, it was a therapeutic aid like massage would be or a decent scent or something else.

I think it's got to be understood as part of a process and it may not be applicable in all sorts of conditions.

Bernie

Absolutely.

Maggie

Certainly it would be a fantastic aid to training others who are dealing with people in those conditions. As your doctor said, if you look at White Heat you begin to understand a personality disorder in a way that the textbook can't really help you to do. I don't know the film yet that has looked at postnatal psychosis. I don't think I've seen anything. Considering how many women die from this and how poorly, even yet, it's understood as a physical illness that presents with mental symptoms, instead of a mental illness presenting with mental symptoms. Some of those women wouldn't die.

Peter

There's an Australian film called Do I have to Kill My Child? with one of our leading actors, Jackie Weaver, that came out in the seventies, directed by Donald Crombie who made several 'social' films as well as features that focussed on women and women's issues, Caddie and Cathy's Child. It was made for television and the ratings were extraordinary. Women rang the channel saying how this film actually unlocked their condition for them. The film did not focus so much on the psychosis but on the post-natal depression and the mother's anxiety for fear she would harm her child.

Maggie

And movies for fathers. The sheer bafflement with this and the feelings of guilt that a young man feels, 'My God, I got my wife pregnant. She had our baby and look at her. What's happened?'. Movies can be extremely powerful in helping us see that we're not alone. Somebody else has done this journey already and it's been sufficiently covered to become a movie feature. It almost legitimises some illnesses.

Bernie

It stops the loneliness doesn't it? The isolation with this problem? I have seen others who have had it too.

Maggie

It's not just me. I'm not just nuts. Schizophrenia, I think, is another baffling disease, both for the sufferer and for the family.

Bernie

And this is where research would be helpful with psychosis and schizophrenia. I think that the use of movies in controlled situations would be very helpful. There's no reason why it can't be used in conjunction with therapy and drugs. I'm quite happy to treat someone in therapy for depression who's on drugs because the two can work very well together. So it's not a question of a purist either/or. It is really what works. It's very pragmatic.

Maggie

I certainly see it as very important tool for people who are caring for the one with the illness. But, I recognize particularly that in the most dangerous stages of Rachel's psychosis, it would actually have been quite dangerous as well to show a movie because anything you gave her, a get-well card, a particular fabric, meant that she felt she wasn't in control for understanding the meaning from whatever it was.

But I think I have been able to get past some of the idiotic stances that some of the psychiatrists took to help them understand and get a handle on the inner world. But to have a dramatic showing of the inner world of somebody who is in that situation could have been invaluable.

Bernie

I think one of the major films for me that gives an experience of psychosis is Robin Williams, where he is with the DJ,

Peter

The Fisher King

Bernie

The burning knight charging on his horse, all on fire, down an American high street. That scene is evocative of what psychosis is. What the person is seeing, behaving like that, you're not seeing. And that's what's happening. That particular film would be very helpful for training.

Maggie

Marnie was interesting in how the colour red would set off a flashback. It brought out very clearly the everydayness of the problem in a psychotic illness, that you are not in control of the fact that somebody has brought in a bunch of red flowers.

Bernie

Sure, red can be everywhere.

Maggie

And that kind of flashback is so powerful for them. You have to be very creative in those situations.

And Robin Williams in Awakenings, the kind of creativity that allowed the Oliver Sacks character, the doctor, to paint the floor
Bernie

Diagonal lines to give her the woman at the looking out the window the capacity to cross the floor right to the window.

Peter

Speaking of colours and traumatic flashbacks, John Woo made a telemovie called Black Jack with Dolph Lundgren. His phobias were linked to white. He was a security guard and couldn't defend his client's little girl because he saw an overwhelming white.

Bernie

He went weak with milk, didn't he?

Peter

Yes, and the villains used tins of white paint to overcome him. He had a fear of white curtains because his father had been a gambler and used to give him a sign when he was a little boy to come into the casino and get him out of a situation. But he couldn't hear his father and the overwhelming colour was white when his father was killed and he blamed himself. The psychiatrist was trying to work with him on why he had this phobia of white. So, even in a pop telemovie the audience is assumed to be interested in this and understand it.

Bernie

I worked with a woman on the Here and Now program on television after I resisted for three or four months. She had a phobia about birds. I'll tell you the story first and then tell you the postscript. I'd only met her that afternoon. We then went to a special effects studio where I had to walk up and look at a scene with her of Burt Lancaster in The Bird Man of Alcatraz, a particular moment that got to her. Now, because we were working in front of a blue screen, it was only when we saw it on television that we could see this lady and I in a cell with Burt Lancaster. So we were actually in there with the birds flying round us and him. When Burt was looking and talking he was talking to us.

Now, when the woman was watching the scene, I asked her what it was and how she could have assumed that it was the birds because that's what she said her phobia was. She said that in the introduction. But, before the blue screen work was shot, before I got there, they took her to Trafalgar Square to see how she was with the birds there. When we worked, when I talked with her about what it was, I could have assumed it was the birds. But it wasn't. The trigger, like the colour, white or red, was the feathers. So we got really deeper and closer in to what was it about the feathers that really frightened her. She had a memory of being young that she couldn't really remember properly. There's a question that you can ask as a therapist, 'You don’t know, OK. If you did know, what would it be? Don't think'. And sometimes the memory will flash up.

She felt something had happened in the hospital when she was undergoing difficult internal examinations and being held down - for her own good or whatever - because it was quite frightening and she was very young. Her sense was that someone had tried to pacify her with some kind of toy with a feather and that was at a moment of terror. I worked with her only for a little while but, if we'd gone on working, I could have worked through that moment of terror saying it was a frozen moment in time, an emotional tape that has been playing since then and, now, what presses your tape is a feather. That's on the old tape and all we would have to do now is get her to go deeper and deeper into her feelings where feathers can be around and she will realize they are just feathers.

Peter

Going further, I would like to ask you about your Buddhist approach and how that has contributed to you and you work as a therapist and to your work with movies and therapy.

Bernie

That is a very important question. As I've said earlier, my basic philosophy and rule of thumb in my personal life and in being a therapist are the same and they are: being in the world but not being of the world. My Buddhist approach has helped me to be in a situation in the world where it has been very difficult to be in the world, to contain what is happening at that moment as a therapist or as a person in my personal life. My experiences in Buddhist meditation have helped me to realize that there is a whole other way of being which is outside of that other way which is when I can move to and witness what is going on. So it gives me a little bit of space between what is actually going on in the world and my ego's reaction. And I can have some safety, if you like, and move into this witness approach that is very much fostered in Buddhism. That witness has many different names, like awareness. The words are difficult because it is a personal witness, which is awareness. It's a bit like this: a wave is individual but, basically, it is part of the sea. The duality of that experience is present there, both together.

In other words, when I meditate, I meditate on the breath. Meditating on the breath keeps you absolutely in the moment. If you're meditating on the breath, you can't be thinking about what's going to happen next or what happened in the past. Your mind will move you away from the breath and you will wonder, 'am I doing it right?' And so I've forgotten and come off the breath again. Or you start wondering what's happening, wondering what you're going to have for dinner or face some problem. Then you come back to the breath.

So it shows you when you meditate you train your mind to be in the moment. You also are aware of the nature of the mind and how it can go to the future and go to the past, anywhere but be in the moment. Most of our sadness, suffering and neurosis comes from the thinking about what cannot be changed, what has happened in the past, or the apprehension or fear of what may happen in the future - which can't be changed because it hasn't happened yet. Anywhere but be in the present! The present now is that we three are sitting here in this room. This is the moment. My hand is touching the table. Your elbow is, Peter, and you and Maggie are looking at me. And that's what's happening in this moment.

And the more you can get into the moment, not just meditatively but emotionally, with your whole being, then the neurosis or suffering of the past just drops away and you're fully alive in what I call 'the eternal now'. And that now never changes. There's a safety and nourishment in being in and knowing that now. So that's what I work with as a therapist and in my personal life.

I move between them, if you like, as much as possible. As a therapist I have to have an internal supervisor. It's very helpful to have this kind of awareness practice in being a therapist and having that internal supervisor. Although it's not Buddhist, it's very similar to being able to witness: that when I'm listening to a client or I'm listening to Maggie, I'm also checking how this is making me feel. I'm feeling a blankness there and I'm uncomfortable. And I don't know why. But, it's helping me to get an experience but not be sucked into it too much that I can't have enough take on it to share it, to give it back and see whether there is recognition of that emotion. So that's the marrying, if you like, of the therapeutic and the Buddhist in my life.

My training, one of my trainings, was a psycho-spiritual one which was about how to use awareness and how to have a view on the ego and what the ego is. We talked earlier about George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life and how he really was lost in his ego. He lost himself but, in the end, he transcended his ego and it was greatly enriched for him.

Peter

What does that particular focusing on the breath and the now contribute, if it does, to you movie perceptions?

Bernie

What it contributes is that there's a multiple approach, whether you're sitting watching a movie in your front room, or whether you're at the cinema, you are in the witness position. It's easier being in the witness position when you're watching someone act out things that are having a bearing on their life and on their feelings. It's easy to have some space in the cinema. So, there's that aspect.

But you're also in the witness position when you are observing your own dream and you know you're dreaming and you're observing it. You can also realize when you've really been carried away by a movie and you come out of the cinema or you come away from the movie knowing that what was the reality of that moment caught you up with so much emotion that that it felt like reality. You're flooded with that experience. It also helps you not to trust the emotion too much. It helps you to have a sense of, 'hold it – do I just go with this absolute fury and anger and let fly or do I wait a bit. Do I come out into the cold air and the rain and realise that there's another stable reality behind all of this this?'.

Peter

There's quite a creative tension there.

Bernie

It's the first time I've had to really answer these questions. I'm unpacking my intuitions.

Maggie

What happens when you go into supervision yourself? ? Do you
find that you use movies when you yourself are in supervision and are trying to find out what's your stuff and what's other people's stuff?

Bernie

Sure, the whole point of any credible therapist is that, even if you've been doing it for twenty years, it's very important to go for supervision. It's not supervision like in any other sense.
It’s another consultant with a different mind who's not sucked
into the case so much, and helps you to have another perspective. In fact, the supervisor probably helps to reinforce the witness where that reinforcement may be needed. There is a need for that sense of professional and informed detachment. 'Have you looked at it like this? Do you need to look at what's going on with you here?'. So it is that second insurance for the client. If I'm using a movie, Ill explain it and the supervisor will say, 'OK, great! But what’s the intention in using this movie?'. So, again, it's unpacking what my intuitive therapeutic intention is and, when it is out there, it is easier to deal with. I can witness it and I've unloaded it. And I am free now to work more with it because it's 'out there' and not just 'in here'.

You get quite a lot of insights when you've been in supervision and done that. I might be working with a client. It may have touched on something I need to work on myself because the client can only go as far as the therapist has gone in their own development. And, because we all need to develop the different parts of ourselves which are untapped, you either have to have the integrity to develop and work with that part - and, if you can't, you have to say to the client that you think it might be necessary for them to see someone else. You have to maintain that integrity: that you are going where you can go because you know that terrain. Or you'll go to your supervisor if you need some support. Or you'll go to your own therapist if you need to do some work. In the final analysis, if you can't go beyond that point, you have to say that this is as far as we can work or, we can't work on this issue so you need to see someone else.

Maggie

Is there anything dark that you might have discovered about yourself through a particular movie, an anger, a despair...?

Bernie

The gangster films that I like, which are very selective, but I don't understand my fascination for some. I don’t like violence at all. But, for instance, Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, the horrifying capacity for violence that he has fascinates me. He shows violence like the ugliness of a snake. I don't like it. But it compels me so that shows me something about my shadow and my violence and my anger. It's the absolute full-on passion that's done by Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. I've seen all sorts of gangster films but I don't think anyone has done it that it is so real and so ugly. Because that's what violence is. It's not romanticized like you see it in a lot of movies. It is ugly.

Maggie

It's elemental so that it's like a force.

Bernie

And you see Pesci totally consumed with hate. He's so full of hate that he cannot exorcise it enough even when he expresses his violence. He just cannot get it out of him. So he is in what Buddhists would call the 'hell run'. There is no escape. All he can do is try and get some relief from killing and the murderous rage inside that he has to live with. I think that that has really shown me some of my dark side.

There was another movie, years ago, which probably won't have quite the impact now but, at the time, I thought it was a very important scene that showed the naked reality of violence but in a way that was very clever. It was the scene in Bonnie and Clyde where Bonnie and Clyde were shot. It was the bodies moving...

Maggie

in slow motion...

Bernie

A kind of macabre dance of death. It was choreographed in a balletic way. It wasn’t just the bullets. For me was the jerks and the jerking. It was the dance that said these bullets can rip you, thud you, throw your body independent of the wounds all over the place and you won't even hit the ground because their force will keep you up while they're going through you. That showed what violence was. There was a lot of comment stuff about the scene at the time and I thought, 'No, that's healthy'. I thought it was a valuable contribution really.

I'm not quite sure whether this is just shadow, but it's like someone's tracking another person down. I like the relentlessness, the ruthlessness. They never, ever, give up. That strikes a chord in me because I never, ever, give up. So that feeds me. I never give up.

Peter

Like Clint Eastwood!

Is there a film example that you have identified with? That you've used either in supervision or your own reflection to illustrate working with a movie from the inside, from inside you?

Bernie

I think for me, as a person, not as a therapist, the movie is Cinema Paradiso. It is a very important movie for me. It brings all the feeling, dare I say it, it brings up in me all the warmth and love and community and sharing about being taken into this magical world but not being taken there alone. It is sharing with all of the community and humanity around you as you go into that world. And then you come back out of that world and hear how everyone is.

You are watching everybody's excitement and at the same time you see the relationship of absolute love of film between the projectionist and the boy. You see the boy's innocence and the fact that they can row but come through that because they have a real relationship. The row won't fracture the relationship. They can be who they are. They don't have to hold back any part of them.
And there's the beautiful scene at the end where he looks at all the parts of the movies that the projectionist has saved and left. They're all about different modes of love and kissing. It's all about expression of love in him. It's highly spiritual. God is love.

It can be taken on any level you want. On the romantic level each one is a different expression of those movies ending with a kiss, with love. And there are hundreds of scenes. The boy has become a movie director. It's the impact of that experience, what that projectionist imparted to that boy and for his future and what that boy was able to do from that experience of love for millions of people via film. So, in a small way, would it be possible to do all that again via movie therapy, using film in all those areas I've talked about.

Peter

That sounds like a very good end for your comments on movie therapy. This is your movie and this is where you would like to go.


2. Maggie - Movies, Myths and Meanings



What you're doing is giving them little tiny pieces of time they never forget.

James Stewart to Peter Bogdanovich.


Peter

Maggie, your work with movies is more with groups than individuals, although you supervise individual students.

Maggie

The education side and training.

Peter

The title of your course is Movies that Matter: Myths, Meaning and Movies. In view of what you have been saying, you obviously see that as something very important for yourself and there is your joy of communicating all this.

Maggie

Yes, and that I was doing something of that that as a child. But I don't think I experienced that.

Peter

But you studied for a theology degree - should I mention that it was at age 37?

Maggie

I don't mind at all. It tells other 37 year olds out there that it's not too late.

Peter

So what sent you in the movie and meanings direction? How did you move from theology to the media?

Maggie

A very chequered career really. While I was studying for my theology degree I had the incredible good luck to have as my guru Dr Michael Williams who was also a Catholic priest and head of the Theology department at the College. He taught a module called - which makes me smile when I think about it - Contemporary Cinema and the Catholic Church, or the Catholic Church and Contemporary Cinema, which ever way round. Michael's idea in 1980 of contemporary cinema was Bunuel and L'Age D'Or, anything that was 30s or 40s.

Nevertheless, what I got from all this was the coming together of my lifelong enjoyment of film. By now I already had a very, very large video library because we bought our video player when they first came out and I'd been a widow every Friday and Saturday night for many years to my husband's guitar playing activities in a band. That had been the deal. If he started up his band and it was successful, I would be alone every weekend for at least two of the weekend evenings and the deal was that I would deal with that with equanimity as long as I had videos and movies because I couldn't get babysitters, couldn't afford to go to the cinema on my own when Graham was out playing in the band.

And so I had under my belt a good four years worth of video recordings. It was before you could go to Choices Video. They didn't exist. So any video that you had you recorded from the telly. I'd got my very first copy of Cabaret and the musicals started to fill up my life again. The kids, both of my children, became fascinated by film. So we were very much a film watching family.

And when I got to college to do my degree in theology and media and met Michael and got on his course, it brought together my film watching activities when I used to be in Aberdeen and used to go to the Art Cinema and my academic, this new academic world, that I was now immersed in. Mike showed us all the Bunuel movies, the Bresson movies. It was through Mike I came across Bergman. I'd seen an amazing number of them although I hadn't remembered. Mike helped me learn to process the theological discussion through film, a terrific eye-opener and I just took to it like a duck to water with huge enthusiasm, never, even for one moment, suspecting that I would end up teaching.

Peter

What was his approach? Could you give an example of the theological discussion?

Maggie

His theological discussion was mostly about how we understood Catholicism, particularly European Catholicism as it was inherited from before the 1900s; about what was still left over at the beginning of the century into a Europe that was to see two world wars. In the 30s the iconoclastic new young film-makers, like Bunuel and, at that time, Salvador Dali, were very much part of the Roman Catholic, Spanish Roman Catholic Church. It was part of their upbringing, part of their culture and they had new things to say about it. They also brought out some of the anger that people felt about what they began to see as an imposed faith. That, obviously, had been very important to Michael in his formation as a young man. And so, frankly, I think he was just indulging himself like mad.

But what he did for me was open up a language of cinema. He talked about cinema in a way that I had never thought about or understood as a movie watcher. And he also opened up different theological ideas of grace, the deposit of faith, how we understand faith, how we articulate it, what's permitted when we start to articulate it and what isn't. So the Bunuel movies had a great deal to say about the established church from the point of view of people who were very interested in the theological pursuit, who didn't want to quite let go of their spiritual and cultural roots, but no longer could find themselves safe in the arms of Mother Church in the way that they'd discovered it and experienced it.

There was also Robert Bresson with his very bleak filmmaking and his use of non-stars. I found his movies very difficult to watch but very compelling. And Ingmar Bergman. As far as I'm concerned, Bergman and Tarkovsky are the lyric writers of film. Their movies are lyrical, poetic. They are stark and beautiful, deep and tortured.

So that's what I got from that course, a way of getting into cinema at a very much deeper level than just the receptive emotional level that I'd always enjoyed. Through this I was helped to go at a different level as well into the more popular movies that I loved and to revisit some of those movies at a different level.

Peter

Did Michael go with the popular movies?

Maggie

Michael's always been a huge support to me. When I fought to get The Terminator movies written about, Michael was a tremendous support. He'd never seen them but he went away and got copies and looked at them.

My favourite moment with Michael was at the Edinburgh Festival. We were at a media conference, a theological conference in Edinburgh. We had had a very stiff afternoon in the University and we snuck out and went to see Prospero's Books. And my favourite moment in the cinema of all time, full stop and ever, was Mike Williams watching the trailer for Naked Gun 2½. He was on the floor in hysterics, a fabulous cinematic moment as far as I was concerned. So he was very open and is still very open. He's been a tremendous mentor and encourager given that I went down the popular movie route. And I went down the popular movie route by accident.

Peter

By accident?

Maggie

Really by accident. I was asked to go and teach at the
college, All Saints and Trinity. I'd never considered a career in teaching, never considered it for one minute. It wasn't something that I'd considered and thought: not for me. It was something I had never thought about at all. And when I was invited to go and set up a course in Christian Communication, I suddenly realized very deep in myself that this was actually what I'd always wanted to do and would be happy doing and would feel comfortable doing. I knew in a flash I was going to be a teacher. And it was a nonsensical flash because we couldn't afford for me to do it. I'd only been offered two hours a week and I was turning down a full time job back in television. But, nevertheless, my husband and I decided that's what I would do, two hours a week.

And I sat down to work out what would I like to be taught if I was doing this course. One of the areas I thought was very important was looking at film and theology. And I started to dig around for books on film and theology and discovered, Peter, your Movie Christ and Anti Christs, and Film and Values. I discovered what John R. May had written. Here were people writing, but I still thought they didn't engage fully enough with really popular movies. They were writing about the next level up. Rather than Bunuel it was Copolla. It was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

So I started to use movies in a couple of my lecture sessions on Christian Communication and what I began to discover was that the feedback from students on those particular areas was deeper than in anything area. I was getting work that was of a deeper quality. They were studying much more carefully. It was very informed work.

And at the same sort of time I had been asked, in different situations, to be part of some seminary training. It might be a session at Ushaw seminary. It might be a session with the Carmelites. But I'd built up quite an number of sessions with people who were in religious orders.

There was one very pointed afternoon were I'd been asked to do some work with some priests, what they call junior clergy, on family violence. This was something the priests themselves had asked me to do because some of them were in inner city parishes and finding that many of their parishioners were female, were single-parent mothers, were not Catholics, were not even really church goers but had found the church a place of respite. But the priests were getting more and more of these problems. These women didn't have an of confession or its vocabulary or its ritual. They couldn't really go to the therapist. They wouldn't have even known how to go to a therapist. But they went to the priest. And these guys were feeling really overwhelmed by some of the stuff and didn't quite know what to do.

It was then that I had also begun to discover through my own work as a lecturer that many of us - maybe I'll go out on a limb and say most of us - who do therapy and counselling are doing it without any training whatsoever. We're put into these positions in our jobs, if we're care-workers in hospitals, if we're nurses, sometimes even if we're doctors, it's not always given a great deal of time. Certainly seminarians get very little help. lecturers like myself who are expected to be personal tutors don't get any training. But we're doing the job.

And on this particular occasion I can remember showing the priests a documentary on violent abuse. Women were talking on camera about the things that had happened to them and showing the cigarette burns. I was watching about half a dozen people take this all on board through the head. They were nodding wisely and writing it down. I went home that night and I can remember saying, 'How am I going to get them to feel it rather than just note-take and go away from this session thinking they know about domestic violence?'. Because of my video library, fortunately, I had the good luck to have Ken Loach's movie, Ladybird, Ladybird, in the house. It had had a large impact on me when I saw it. I took it back the next day and showed them a clip. The whole tenor of the training session changed. We got people beginning to connect seriously with the fear, with what's behind domestic violence, with the helplessness, with the fact that it repeats, that it's a cyclical thing. It opened up discussion at a level that was very much deeper than it had been the day before with the documentary.

Meanwhile I had come up with the Myths, Meaning and Movies course for the second year.

Peter

Where did you get the title?

Maggie

I just dreamed up the title. I used to charge the students an imaginary fiver a title for their dissertations. It was just one of those titles that arrived. I was fascinated by story. I have always been fascinated by story. I come from a storytelling culture, parties when I was a child, ceilidh in Scotland. It's a word that means a party where everyone entertains everyone else. So there were always stories being told at the ceilidh and all the songs were story songs. So storytelling really interests me. I had begun to read a lot about it in a more academic sense, rather than just reading the stories. I had also begun to read a lot of Angela Carter and people like Marina Warner, discussions about mythology and stories. It married with my long love of classical mythology.

Then, as these things happen, a book fell off a shelf one day, somewhere, and it was by a psychologist called Rollo May. And it was called something in the myths. I can't remember the name of the book. But he was looking at stories like The Great Gatsby and looking at how contemporary stories and contemporary movies mirrored aspects of classical mythology that are used in psychoanalysis, like the Oedipus Complex and so on. He took us much more deeply into it rather than just offer a Freudian or a Jungian discussion. It was from a therapeutic point of view. That book and May's discussion of movies as well as the kind of thing I was getting back from the students one day just clicked. I can remember I wrote the course in a very, very short time: conceived it very quickly and wrote it up in a very short time.

I put together the enduring themes of humankind that arise out of ancient stories. I discovered Joseph Campbell and read a lot of his work.

Peter

I sat listening to him for a day once. He just spoke eloquently all day, showed slides, but not a note.

Maggie

I knew that I'd meet someone who had sat at his feet! In fact, it was an Australian who introduced me to Joseph Campbell's writing. It was a wonderful Jungian meeting. I met this woman under a tree for half an hour. She was going back to Australia that afternoon. I'd never met her before and I asked if I could join her under this tree. I still remember this huge hat she had. Out of that half an hour came a package - about eight months later - of six very badly dubbed Joseph Campbell interviews with Bill Moyers.

Of course, the first thing about Campbell was that he wasn't a movie addict. He didn't watch movies. George Lucas had to get him to see one. But he was fascinated by story and enduring themes. So, with my love of movies like The Godfather Trilogy and knowing a little bit about classical Greek writing like the Oresteia saga, I married this together.

And was laughed out of court, I can tell you now. If you think some of the comments about movie therapy on Radio Four were funny you should have heard the staff round the table at the College when I came up with this one. People were clutching their sides with the idea of Myths, Meaning and Movies. I put up with a great deal of stuff for at least two years, 'they only go because they sit and watch films in your class' and so on. Meanwhile the student numbers were climbing to ridiculous levels. And the external examiners were just blown away by the quality of the work.

What was more important than all of that, I think, was the recognition that in showing some movies, and there were two or three movies in particular I discovered experientially ****, this would bring kids knocking at my door. I would then be in the situation which is so important for other people. I would find myself in the situation of counsellor, maybe even of therapist, when I could not persuade them. for whatever reason, to see the College counsellor - often because the counsellors were so booked up that every time the kids tried to make an appointment they couldn't get in.

And we were dealing with fairly deep problems, often sexuality. Jimmy McGovern's Priest brought that one to my door I don't know how often. It also brought up the problem of childhood sexual abuse. Several of the students talked about that in particular. One or two students' stories were extremely heartbreaking. They talked about the importance of the recognition of the child by the mother, how that had been so important to them. But they said that the father hadn't been presented as seductive enough. These kids were carrying the burden of having been seduced into abuse and, therefore, the accusation from the father, 'You want it'. The dislike of what had happened to them but the continued love of Dad was a huge burden for them in these nineteen, twenty, twenty one year olds when they were trying to find their own sexual identities. Their ownership of their bodies was another problem. In this case it was always boys bringing the problem of recognizing that they were gay and never being able to talk about it.

We have kids from Catholic backgrounds, Islamic backgrounds. In some ethnic minorities it is often very difficult for them to talk about this sort of thing in the family.

So I learned that as an educator film was doing several things. It was teaching me that never under any circumstances can I look at one hundred and eighty students in a hall on a tired Monday morning, when it's pouring with rain outside and I really don't want to be doing this at eleven o'clock in the morning and say that I am in charge of what is in that room. It taught me a huge humility. I never ever assume anything now if I can help it. It is true to say I literally do pray before I go into those sessions.

The movies illuminate aspects of their family life that had brought them up short on something that had upset them terribly and they wanted to talk about it.

The other thing it taught me was in teaching organizational communication that film was also an incredibly powerful tool to help students see aspects of perhaps organizational life, something they had not yet experienced. It's very similar, Bernie, to your story about showing students a psychotic and showing them Goodfellas or White Heat. If you talk to students about leadership, in organizations for example, and ask them to come up with the leaders they will come up with certain movies.

But then you can start to unpack the academic and organizational discussions about what leadership is, what enables leadership and so on. There are questions of what kinds of power people have, authority power, personal power... Using movies can actually help them see this. They can explore very effectively in discussion in a way that they simply do not do from the written word. So I realized that movies can also be used in an informed way, often using clips from the movies. It's a package that you can put together as opposed to sometimes screening a whole movie. You can help the students understand issues that are beyond them perhaps because of their inexperience and years. Or, simply, that they don't see.

One of the important characters for me is Nurse Ratchett from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Looking at your immediate understanding of this character is one thing but, if you actually work out what else is going on in her, you come to a greater understanding of a human being in her different facets. How she may be seeing herself is in a way that the script does not throw at you but it is there, implicitly. She seems to see herself as a highly efficient caring individual. But we experience her differently and the characters experience her differently.

So what does that say in an organization when you have someone who sees themselves as highly efficient, where everything is run beautifully while the employees are feeling sick. Every time I see this person I feel sick with misery. The boss who says 'My door is always open' may never understand that nobody is going in there because the boss is presenting a different type of interaction from the idea of the friendly, 'my door is always open'.

So I saw that movies could be used in management training. I saw that they could be used in helping us teach better, could be used in helping us minister better in the different professions that we find ourselves in. If you think of the 'big house' movies, the prison movies and how they deal with particular types of criminal, it might help some prison officers deal with people much more effectively, deal with their own anger at particular types of criminals or their fear of them. It might help them understand them better. We see in some movies how the treatment of the young offender is exacerbated by the situation around them. I can remember an Ida Lupino movie where the innocent young woman is sent to prison. I can't remember why but it was some horrible corrective place and she has to turn into a criminal to survive the regime, whereas a very different regime may have had a very different outcome.

In education movie use is not applied in the ways I would want to apply it. Most subject areas could use film very effectively, the environment and movies that deal with environmental issues... We see the subject more creatively. We see it more imaginatively. And this helps us be better teachers, better ministers, better trainers. Through dramatization and through connecting with whatever is going on on screen, we open up our own creative abilities and see other ways of doing things, other ways of being.

And that links back into my childhood. That screen up there was saying to me that there are all these ways of being and doing. There are all these people up there but you cannot experience them all. You can't know them all from your own pool of experience. But the movies are a very useful tool. They have to be used in an informed way and they have to be backed up with other training. I don't think you should be showing seminarians Ladybird, Ladybird without looking at other aspects of what goes into family violence. So I would add Nil by Mouth, for example, to show the total family atmosphere, the generations of women dancing in the kitchen and the kids loving their dad even though he is so violent. You can ask how this helps us open up the discussion of domestic violence. And this might be allied to a program for ministers or probation officers to explore the theme at different levels.

Peter

Another example that you recommended to me is Bad Lieutenant. A media priest asked me to show a group of seminarians the scene where Harvey Keitel as the corrupt policeman howls in misery in the aisle of a church, 'Fuck you God', asking God where he was when he needed him. Using this sequence is a way of challenging how cerebral faith sometimes is. Faith is a statement of religious truth. People recite creeds. But what does a creed mean deep down in our hearts and souls?

Maggie

I think that particular film and that particular scene I
might want to use, for example, with older parish priests who have sometimes either forgotten or were of a generation where they didn't necessarily have to connect genuinely with women who lost children. For so many years we didn't even have a ceremony for stillborn babies. I think that 'Fuck you, God' is something that is implicit, although it's not the expression used, in Steel Magnolias. It's the father who feels, 'Fuck You!' to his son-in-law. 'I didn't want you to have my daughter. I want my daughter and I should have been able to have my daughter. How dare you?'

It is not just about a kind of oblique test of anger for the seminarians in terms of faith. It is a very important way of helping them journey forward. I'm amazed that the movie isn't used more often in retreats as a journey tool. It would be so helpful.

Peter

In the same vein, I remember showing a movie during a retreat to some Presentation sisters in May 1970. We watched The L Shaped Room. The next year another group from the same order watched Steve McQueen? and Natalie Wood in Love with a Proper Stranger. In those days we used movies like The Subject Was Roses and Sons and Lovers from D.H.Lawrence's novel. They were valuable for discussion and reflection - but some people thought it was a bit frivolous to have a movie during a retreat.

Maggie

I find it's still difficult to persuade people to use movies. I did a talk in Leeds a couple of years ago for about seventy people from different denominations. I can remember suggesting we watch The Terminator. A couple of Methodists ministers were just horrified: the idea of putting on The Terminator in their church hall or their youth clubs. But one of them gave me a ring a few weeks after the event was held and said it was wonderful. Terminator 2 was the one that they were particularly interested in. But hardly any of them used film in their parish settings. They didn't use them in training for Confirmation. How difficult is it to get teenagers now to be confirmed and to get them to talk about issues.

Peter

I tried movie clips once with some parents and sponsors rather than the teenagers preparing for Confirmation. We had the sessions in a church and I used Avery Dulles' 'models of the Church'. He's a Jesuit theologian in America who says that the Church can be seen as 'institution', as a 'spiritual communion', as a 'sacramental community', as a 'community for proclaiming the Word' and as a 'servant in the world'. I worked in clips from movies to illustrate all of these models, including Shoes of the Fisherman. We finished up with an image of the Church as servant, the work of Archbishop Romero in El Salvador and his assassination, which none of them had seen. The movies offered different images of Church from what they were used to - and the basis for a different conversation about Church.

Maggie

It surprises me that over and over again I go to meetings and to groups and it's the same everywhere. So many people haven't seen movies. They'll say, 'how do I start?' and they're scared to. I just say to them that you start by going to the local video shop.

There are certain movies that have been around now for twenty years, twenty-five years, thirty years. You can still use them. It's a Wonderful Life was nineteen forty seven. These have been currency for half a century. They are there. If you're with somebody who's grieving and who's stuck in their grief, you might look at Ordinary People. Mary Tyler Moore is a woman who was not stuck right from the start but, as long as life had gone along as she planned it, as she expected, she never knew the damage she'd be doing to others.

Dead Poets Society. Over and over again that film comes up in helping people especially, I would suggest in the issue of fathering. It is very, very difficult to get men to talk about their emotions. I don't want to classify all guys, but so many married couples present with the woman saying, 'he won't tell me how he feels. He won't tell me what he thinks. He says I'm not thinking. You say, 'what are you thinking? and they say 'nothing'.' A movie can be a way in because it's not about them. It's about that story.

In management and company training, they could look at Crimson Tide. You can do a lot with that movie, Gene Hackman's character and his mode of decision-making, that he and Denzel Washington, his second in command in the submarine, are both right as much as they're both wrong. But Hackman does a huge disservice to the rightness of his position by his presentation of that position, a life and death situation as far as he was concerned. His communication tactics were seriously dangerous - and you can see that come up again and again in movies.

You could even go to Captain Bligh. History has vindicated the man but we have presentations of his character in movies that can take you a long way down into issues of conflict in such a way that you enable people to rise above conflict to come together and collaborate rather than disseminate and fracture.

Bernie

All the way through what you have been saying one important point has come to me which really does need to be addressed, especially in the priesthood: how do priests who are at the sharp end of the most powerful emotional pain that people can experience in their lives on a daily basis, how does the priest remain accessible and open while protecting his own heart? That seems to me to be the dilemma where the crux of defence is built for their own personal safety but at a cost of personal presence and healing presence when they are with their parishioners. This seems to me to be a very important thing. And I wondered if we talked to priests about this how aware would they be of what we are saying. In practice, on a daily basis, how do you not have burn out? How do you protect yourself enough and remain human enough?

Maggie

It's even more problematic, I think. We try to do training of priests and it's very important we do this, but we often do broadcast training, teaching them to communicate in radio and television. But it isn't what they need. What they need, in my experience of being a woman in the Catholic Church for fifty odd years and of listening to others, is help for them to be emotionally present to people. Some of them are very disturbed by this. They become terribly disheartened because they can't mend things quickly enough and they haven't had good counselling training. It takes a very special priest who is very rooted in his own vocation, in his - and it's not too big a word when I use it - a sense of holiness, a sense of trust. I don't mean that such priests can't do damage because they obviously can but, at least, they have a rootedness.

But there are many who are literally just flailing around. I have one huge concern as an older Catholic woman of the Church, which is to help the clergy, not so much the new ones going into seminaries because we're getting very few going in now, but they are often coming from quite a variety of backgrounds. Sometimes they are much older men now going in and they've been a bit around the world. But I fear for the fifty year olds and up who entered the seminary when they were very young, unless they've been very fortunate in their formation or very fortunate in their personality because I think a lot of those priests are feeling unwanted, not very good at it any more, people aren't coming to mass. There’s a feeling that things are falling into disrepair. The old certainties have gone but there is nothing really being put in their place. I think it is an emotional odyssey that we need to be prepared to go on.

Bernie

I think we're saying the same thing there, but in a different way. It is how can you go on that emotional odyssey to be enriched rather than just live and feel more pain?

Maggie

But it doesn't just come from the pain of people coming to you with unsolvable problems. It's the shyness. It's the 'how do I say hello to the women...?'

Bernie

It's the shyness of the priest's own personality.

Maggie

Yes. It is, 'do I count?'. Every time they pick up a newspaper there is another priest in prison for assault, or whatever. Do I count? Can I be proud of this thing that I belong to called the priesthood? How do I deal with teenagers, tiny tots, mouthy women, men that are very often from middle-class parishes. You've got the problem of the middle-classness of the man because these guys are lawyers, doctors and the priest isn't the professional any more. He's not the one who knows everything any more, a real dilemma that is expressed in different ways.

Bernie

What is the Catholic Church's policy on recruitment, because it seems to me that is the heart of the matter?

Peter

A lot of work done has been done in the last ten years. It differs from country to country. And it depends whether we are talking about religious orders or particular dioceses. In many countries, like Australia, the association of leaders of religious congregations have worked with the bishops of all the dioceses to prepare and publish protocols for the handling of abuse cases and of recommending criteria for recruitment of clergy and religious and for their training.

I mention religious orders because I belong to one and I can say that most of them have been working for the last thirty five years on renewing the spirituality of their orders worldwide and locally. Because of the community training, formation in living together, in small groups or in large groups, there are often greater bonds of friendship and trust than you can sometimes have amongst the clergy in a diocese. Since the seventies most of the religious orders have either set up their own program to handle precisely what you are talking about or send their members to centres for renewal and/or therapy.

But the ones who have tend to miss out are diocesan priests who were trained in a kind of monastic style in the seminaries of the past rather than in the active style of life they must go into in parishes. They were often far more restricted in communicating with lay people than we ever were in our religious orders and they haven't taken the opportunity for going to these renewal programs when they are provided by the diocese. They fall through the net all the time. And these are the clergy people tend to notice, comment on or worry about rather than the twenty others priests around who have been to these courses and do wonderfully pastoral work. But it's the others -and their age...

Maggie

Which?

Peter

Fifty plus or so...

Maggie

Yes. It may or may not be the common experience of the average lay Catholic belonging to the local church but it's certainly been my experience.


Bernie

It just seems a shame.

Peter

In terms of policies on paper, you would approve of everything. That's not a problem.

Bernie

But it's the implementation.

Peter

Psychological, testing, training. It's all there. I spent seventeen years of my life in that job. But how it's done and how people resists, or slip through, or authority figures who don't believe in it pushing candidates through and pushing for their ordination - and then disaster.

Maggie

The other thing is, of course, they are hard pressed. The diocesan priests are busy. And many don't see any need, in a changing management world, to learn how to manage parishes. There are going to be fewer and fewer priests and laity have to be drafted in in many areas. That needs some kind of formative program because you don't just wake up one morning able to have all of that managed and it's fine. So I think that movies used within training can be an extremely powerfully evocative tool.
Peter

Dead Man Walking did a lot for priests and nuns in the last five years. Have you found that to be true, Maggie?

Maggie

Yes, I have. But I have also found movies that help priests work on some of the problems in marriage and in families. Secrets and Lies is a very powerful movie. How families live and interact these days. Dealing with teenagers that they really don't want to know. There are just so many different ways you can apply the use of film in ministry but its only beginning to be explored.

One of the themes I picked up from all of this was the theme of the Child-catcher. You can mention this in any pub. Just say the Child-catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and I promise you people will have an intake of breath. It's the physicality of the response. I found it by complete accident. I was showing some of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in a particular session and I saw all these bodies in front of me gasp. The movie spoke to me in a completely different way than it had before. It spoke to me of the way that we are picked up in all of the stages of our lives, that there is a child in us. I don't mean the obvious child but the aspect of our creativity, the aspect of our courage, the aspect of our being able to go forward, the aspect of our having the courage to stand still, to say no.

And I think it's a huge thing for those fifty plus in a world where you are too old at fifty plus. You're being chucked. You're not reaching the pinnacle of your career after all. You're on the scrap heap at fifty-two, fifty-three. That's Child-catcher stuff.

It's Child-catcher stuff in schools where kids are told they can't do things instead of that they can. It's Child-catcher stuff when a young priest comes to the parish with all of those Childcatcher presuppositions, the Jimmy McGovern? priest in that movie. He things knows the parish, that they are just a load of scum. He's almost doing it to himself. His child has been caught to such an extent that he is repressed. Robert Helpmann as the Childcatcher going round the marketplace of the town and taking the children off has opened up an extremely fertile area for exploring what stops us, arrests us, damages us at different stages in our life, at different stages in our career.

And I like the theme of the Childcatcher too because it deals with the external as well as the internal. There is a level of therapy, a popular therapy deals with how you see things: the fact that the company's bloody folded, that one of the kids is also ill, that the wife has started with Alzheimer’s. It's the externals that press in on people. The Child-catcher in the scene with the hat and the net and the paraphernalia of the state coming in is...

Bernie

the symbol...

Maggie

There is stuff imposed from outside and no matter how grounded you are, you may still die, you might still lose, still lose the family, lose the house, die of cancer, whatever.

Bernie

External forces, yes.

Maggie

And so that particular scene draws in an awful lot of the different aspects I think are helpful to work with.

Peter

At another angle, one of my questions is about the good work you mentioned that your students do. What are some of the movies that they keep writing on?

Bernie

What do they like?

Maggie

One of the things that's happened with the two courses that I teach is that sometimes students who don't do particularly well in other subjects do extremely well here. Something's caught them. They run with the ball.

In the Christian Communication course we have a section called the cost of discipleship. How would we deal with certain situations? We imaginatively put ourselves into the Violette Szabo situation during World War II (as in the movie about her, Carve Her Name with Pride) or the situation of Archbishop Romero in Latin America. Or how would we have dealt with membership of the Hitler Youth? How would we respond if some of the great world movements had hinged on us, personally? How do we feel about our own sense of rightness and wrongness and courage and ethics? We explore it for a little while through particular individuals.

I showed a clip from Small Zones with Sean Bean to one student. I can't remember the girl who plays the lead. But it's the story of a press campaign as much as anything else, to get Russian poet called Irina Ratushinskaya released from a Russian prison. She was imprisoned because of her Christian poetry, which was considered to be against the state. Small Zones is the story of how she coped with the situation in the camp during her sentence of hard labour and how the press campaign in this country was centred on a Liverpool vicar who put himself in a cage outside the Cathedral to keep the press on Irina's story. Eventually she was released and she now lives in this country.

And one student picked up on that film to such an extent that she ended up writing a dissertation on it. She got in touch with Irina Ratushinskaya. The student was a young mum with a baby. She really identified at a very deep level with this story. She was not a particularly bright student. She was looking at a pass, maybe, or a third, if she was lucky. But she got a first for the work she did. The first had to be ratified by two external examiners because it was such an extraordinary leap from the rest of her marks.

Bernie

Because you'd caught her experience.

Maggie

It was a defining experience for her, an informing and defining experience. Other students have written about movies like This Boy's Life. One student wrote about his own experiences, how the film read back to him his own experiences as a young teenager with a man who was really not suitable to be his stepfather. He realised how he hadn't really understood why his mother had let him be put into, as he saw it, this very dangerous situation. The movie showed him much more about that mother, the movie's side of the things, that he could relate in a very much deeper way to his own mother who was trying to not be a single parent in a world that constantly condemned this, who was trying to make sure that her son had a male role model. So, although it was a very damaging experience for both him and his mother, because the stepfather didn't turn out to be a successful role model at all, he watched the mother in the movie walk with the son. It was a similar implication that I got from that particular piece of work that I had had from one or two of the students who had come and talked to me about abuse.

They didn't always talk about it overtly. It wasn't always that they were saying they were abused. What they were talking about was that the movie had a great deal to say to them. So one can, or cannot, work on the assumption that they had been abused. But it was the identification with the mother and the son that was very important. In This Boy’s Life it was the identification, eventually, of the mother with the son. But the boy had been blaming his mother rather than understanding her.

Another movie was What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Another student had, from the time that he was very small, a younger sibling who had become autistic. The whole family had rallied round the care of this small child. This particular student hadn't recognized that it had impacted a great deal on his life until he watched the Leonardo di Caprio character in Gilbert Grape, a mentally handicapped young boy, with Johnny Depp playing his older, extremely patient brother. It came to that point where Gilbert loses it and hits the child. And this student said to me, 'I cried and cried and cried when I saw that. It was everything I felt growing up with somebody in the family who was autistic. All the attention had gone to that child. Nothing had come my way that I could feel that I was special'. That student talked then to their mother about it and the mother said 'I know what you mean. And if you need to know what I felt all those years, watch Awakenings because Awakenings is the story of my sudden paralysis that all of my life now is going to be dedicated to this autistic child. And I desperately wanted a carefree parenting.'

Bernie

They're are brilliant examples.

Maggie

I wanted a carefree marriage. And I couldn't have that!

There's a moment in A Chorus Line that I think is extremely important for couples - like when you were talking about the workaholic businessman and his wife and their passion, when the young, extremely good dancer, had left the Michael Douglas character (who's the director of the show) because she needed to become a famous dancer again, so that he would see her as special. That he would treat her as special because he had loved her. He really had loved her.

But, what goes on in families, maybe in parishes, maybe in schools, is the loving but the loving isn't enough. People have to feel loved. And we're bad at that. We're very bad at that. We're bad at making sure we tell our children that they're wonderful and fabulous and don't they look great today. We're bad at telling each other that.

Bosses are very bad at telling employees, 'it's great work - you always do great work'. So that the one time they don't do great work, you can point it out and say, 'What happened with this?' and they're not going to come at it from a horrible sense of 'That's not fair'. They’ll come at it from a sense of confidence, that most of the time I do good stuff and it's known that I do.

These moments are the things that students have brought to me.

Bernie

I think it is very, very important what you are saying. With research that they have done in America - they've had tapes in supermarkets - they've been astounded at hearing the amount of 'no's' and 'you can't' and 'you mustn't' and 'you're naughty'. There was hardly any 'good boy', 'good girl' or encouragement. The negative messages are three times more than the encouraging messages. This is exactly what you are saying. What you are saying is of major importance because it comes up in my work all the time.

But, what would be helpful to me is from the other side of your being Catholics and me being a therapist and a Buddhist. I get a lot of Catholics using, or interpreting, the teachings of the Catholic Church, against themselves in an unhealthy way.

Maggie

Peter's experience would be different but I have brought two children up in the Catholic Church. I don't know how old the people coming to you with this problem are but neither of my daughters and certainly their generation don't appear to have that. I think that there was an older type of Catholicism, going back into the fifties, sixties and seventies and, possibly, the early eighties. It's playing out its time in a sense.

I think it's a very healthy thing for Catholics in lots of ways. Billy Connolly says we get an A Level in guilt. What is not explored is that I get this sense of guilt across students from all denominations and none and from different faiths. I think that Catholics have a language to discuss guilt and shame whiles others will use a different language to discuss the issues. But we definitely have the language to discuss those things.

Bernie

What I'm asking is whether you have any movies that in your experience have helped the fifty year olds, or whatever, when they have internalized the judgments of the Church with their 'negative critic', with the internal Child-catcher, with the internal witch out of The Wizard of Oz. The inner negative critic, the bad internal parent, that's what gets associated in their religious understanding. Have there been any movies that have addressed
this. That would be helpful because I come across this over and over again, dealing with the person psychologically in terms of an inner critic but they are also then telling me that I'm attacking their spiritual training, their spiritual belief.


I would like to know how this might become healing and help them keep their spirituality and Catholicism but
have a new w understanding and relationship to it.

Peter

A bit of a preamble to that if I might. I taught a course on Introduction to Theology for twenty something years to young people joining religious orders and as well as to mature adults. The mainstream churches, in the name of religion, acknowledge piety and spirituality, but give a priority to truth. Faith is considered as the assent to God's truth. This was very true up to, say, 1965. There was a formality about religious and faith, that people should be able to recite creeds because up till then we were trained very much to the truths of our faith. We knew our doctrines and we had clear definitions. Religious formulae were important and exact rubrics for the performance of liturgy. So much of that emphasis has now gone but some older Catholics (and some of the younger ones) still yearn for that precision of faith and yearn to find some security that they can hang on to.

One of the things I found helpful for the course was that St Augustine had a description of faith that had three prongs of which truth and assent of the mind was only one. Latin terminology can get it quite exactly. Augustine's first description of faith is: Credere Deum, to believe God. It means I believe God who reveals this truth to me.

The second uses the Latin dative case: Credere Deo, translated something like to believe to and for God. It means I am a believer for God, a total and personal commitment, a life of faith. Which, I think, a lot of the people still have, even if they don't practise their religion or if they are questioning. Unfortunately some Church authorities seem to say that if you don't have the first kind of belief or are questioning, you've lost the lot.

The third prong for St Augustine is Credere ad Deum, translated something like to believe unto God, that we are really looking to our ultimate goals: why are we here? what is the meaning of our life? how do we ultimately go towards God in fulfilment, Nirvana, Heaven? And so this faith pervades the integrity of our living. I think those last two elements of faith have tended to be under stressed in the lives of people, let's say fifty up.

Maggie

For the kids during the late sixties, the seventies and the eighties, the teachers were all keen on those last two, the emphasis on the life situations but without the kind of structuring of the first that's given security to the older group. Now, depending on your age group, you know you've got tangles in a particular area. Is that right? But there are throwbacks! There's no question about that. It's a very complex and big faith.

Bernie

How do you feel, Peter, as a priest when someone comes to you who has absorbed the judgmental power of the Catholic Church and thinks they have to believe that they are nothing, that they are paying for sin all their life to be good enough to enter Heaven and be loved by God. They are never, ever good enough. And my role is to do a kind of judo to leave them with the strength of their faith and be and feel good enough and that their God is a God of love and not fear.

Peter

One of the problems is that a lot of them didn't get this just from the Church. They got it from society and their parents. And it was falsely attributed to Church. There's a lot of that. But another distinction I like and taught was between orthodoxy - which means holding to the correct teaching -and orthopraxis - which means living a right kind of life - and what it is to be truly a Catholic. Is it your orthodoxy or is it your orthopraxis? Is it doing the right thing in your life and commitment and love of neighbour and justice than simply being able to recite a creed and follow the precepts of the Church?

Maggie

And doing the right thing needs to be understood in all its complexity, that it isn't an easy path that is clearly seen. Mere orthodoxy cannot in every instance tell you what is the right thing to do because there's also the idea of the Holy Spirit and the informed conscience and heart.

Peter

Actually once somebody said to me playing with the Greek words that there should also be autopoesis, which literally means a right making and doing. I think it can also mean in our life of faith that we need to have a right imagination and right creativity. That's even more than orthopraxis. But you were asking, Bernie, for some movie titles

Bernie

I've been with some people who are in enormous suffering.

Peter

One way to break through some of the suffering is to get people to laugh. So, one of the main movies I've used is a wonderful little American movie called Impure Thoughts from 1985. It has to be written by a Catholic. It's set in 1961 and it has the funniest presentation of a first communion lesson with a strict sister and then the ceremony itself when everything goes wrong; it has a confessional sequence, a religion test, a talk about the missions and redeeming black babies and discussions in class about the Jews and Christians. It's all there and Catholics, even if they're angry, just have to laugh as it would remind them of their past.





3. Peter - Movies and Psychological Type


Only connect. E.M.Forster, Howards End.



Maggie

Peter, where are you going to start?

Peter

I would like to go back to 1968. Looking back, I find that 1968 was an extraordinarily significant year of the 60s, maybe the most significant year. Just starting with movies about what happened in Vietnam - Stanley Kubrick set Full Metal Jacket in 1968 and Oliver Stone Platoon. There was the American presidential campaign which led to the Nixon election. There were the Paris riots and the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. For Catholics, most importantly, there was the encyclical letter of Paul VI on human life and the condemnation of artificial contraception which led to some profound divisions in the Church. That was something of the atmosphere of the late sixties. It was the period of hippies and flower people, of drugs coming into public consciousness and a spirit of anti-authoritarianism in society and in the church.

I was asked to begin work in seminary training, both personal direction and lecturing, at the beginning of that year. And it was the same time that I started film reviewing. Although I reviewed only sixteen movies in 1968, within a couple of years I was reviewing sixteen a month. So from 1970 to 1998 I tried to review all new releases in Australia - so that means a fair number of movies viewed and reviewed.

Writing some articles about appreciating movies in these years, I was conscious of the people who were negative about movies. We had movies to review like The Graduate and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bonnie and Clyde as well as John Wayne's pro-Vietnam war movie, The Green Berets. So it was quite an interesting, challenging and changing time. So it made you think more about how the movie stories worked, how the characters worked, about the explicit and, increasingly, the implicit values.

Maggie

How did this connect with your work with the seminarians?

Peter

For me, professionally, the important thing was getting to know these seminarians. Most of them had come straight from school and then done a strict and enclosed novitiate year of training. However, it was also a time when older men were entering training and when we had to have a less structured program of training to test whether men were suitable for ministry before allowing them to make their vows. As I look back, I think we were fairly young and amateur in our approach. We didn't have a great deal of training to prepare us for this work of spiritual guidance and personal counselling. We were learning on the job. We were trying to help these fellows to be able to commit themselves to a religious order with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, for life. I also taught some theology and scriptural studies. So that was what I was involved in.

But, as the seventies began, and I was seeing more and more movies, I suppose I was becoming more confident. I remember when the movie Z came out in mid-1970, a colleague and I wrote an article about politics from a rather left-wing point of view and that kind of enthusiasm. Australia had had a Liberal, conservative, government for almost twenty-three years and the slogan of the Labor party when they finally won in 1972 was 'It's Time'. So I think we were living through an end of an era and the beginning of an era and with students going through all those kinds of conflicts.

In reviewing the movies, writing about reviewing and reflecting on reviewing, I've always thought that reviewing is a process of mediating the movie to your readership or to those who are listening to you on radio or television. It is not film criticism or analysis but your own appreciation of the movie from your experience and knowledge of cinema and its history and trying to engage your audience through what interests them and why it would interest them, to highlight particular genres and particular conventions. So, in a sense, I'm now realizing that in those early years I was trying to 'read my readership' and to understand them and respond accordingly.

At that time we also began seminars for older members of religious orders, especially sisters, who hadn't been going to the cinemas. Most of the sisters were changing their habits at the time, moving more, I suppose, into the twentieth century style, for being more amongst people. It was the period of Midnight Cowboy and strong movies like that. We would go to screenings with the nuns and discuss the movies. Some alarmed Catholics would write to the Catholic papers in Sydney and Melbourne criticizing this and we would have to be finding appropriate answers that would explain why this was important.

I should tell a story. I went to Broken Hill in May 1969. It's about 800 kilometres west of Sydney in the desert, a mining town from the 19th century. We were doing a seminar on media and religious education and the junior secondary teachers were teasingly resentful of the senior secondary teachers because they had all been to see The Graduate the year before. These were teaching middle school and superiors had not allowed them to go because the movie wasn't suitable for their children. Of all movies, 2001: A Space Odyssey was on at the theatre in Broken Hill the week of the seminar. Why the miners in Broken Hill would want to see 2001 is an interesting question. We went, but the theatre was virtually empty. But at the end of the week the drive-in programme changed and Ken Loach's Poor Cow came on. So the sisters said 'Perhaps we can go and see that'.

They began pressurizing the unwilling superior so eventually we went in three carloads to see Poor Cow at the drive-in. The supporting movie was The Trygon Factor with Stewart Granger, a thriller with fake nuns smuggling jewels into continental Europe. It drizzled a bit during the show. It never rains in Broken Hill. So in one of the cars they put the wipers on not realising that the battery would go flat. The sisters had to enlist an attendant to help with jump leads. He came over and politely asked them whether they had enjoyed the show. They said that it was very interesting. He said, 'Oh you came to see the nuns in the thriller?' They said, 'No, we came to see Poor Cow'. And the attendant said, 'Gee, it was a bit rough, wasn't it.?' And the superior spoke up: 'Oh, that's what we came for'. Those were the kinds of things that were happening.

In 1972, I was transferred from Canberra, where our student house was, to Melbourne and joined in what became the Melbourne College of Divinity. The Catholic Church set up a number of Theological Centres that were part of this ecumenical College of Divinity. That was an exhilarating time because we re-thought and replanned the whole curriculum for seminary studies for a state degree. What of the past do we keep? What do we change? What is the language we use? What subjects are relevant?

We were still re-vamping the personal formation program. The students I worked with for the next ten years were doing three preliminary years of study and training before their novitiate training and the taking of vows. We realised that we really needed to see what they were like before they committed themselves to novitiate training. While they lived in the seminary college, they did a full study load but didn't have to live a strict community life. We were experimenting in how we could form these fellows as human beings. We wanted to see if they had aptitudes and a propensity for ministry. In my day, in the mid-50s, we entered the order. We prayed. we were very ascetical and concentrated on ourselves as individuals. We made vows.

Then we moved into a community, which may or may not have been our style. But we had made our vows and it was that much more difficult to leave. For over six years we might have survived the community life (a rather enclosed variety), then we were ordained and went out on ministry where, in fact, we might not have been good at all. And it was much more difficult to leave once we were ordained. So in the 70s we wanted to do the training the other way round. We wanted to see first if they were any good at ministry. If so, there's a future for them. Then, could they live in community? If they could do both then there was more of a future for them. They were better prepared to make a novitiate. So that was the kind of work that I was involved in from 1972 to 1982.

In Melbourne it was easier to review as there were so many cinemas in the city - and the multiplexes started in a small way in the mid-70s, mushrooming from the mid-80s. I was able to go to previews and had passes to ordinary sessions, always a double pass. I was able to take a student with me to the session, so in taking the students I found it very interesting if, say, The Sting was on, who would I take to see The Sting? If Godfather II was on, who goes to see Godfather II? If One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was on, who goes to see Cuckoo's Nest? And I began to understand, without any psychological jargon or terminology, how more and more of them ticked.

One fellow who was very practical, always hands on with tools, I could take him to anything. He could go to a comedy, a thriller, Visconti's The Innocent - all kinds of movies he could manage. Others liked to book in only for the actioners or the westerns. That was it.

I had a Vietnamese student when I went back to work with students in Sydney in 1998. His requests were Home Alone 3, Mister Magoo, Dr Doolittle, all those kinds of things. With Home Alone 3, when the plank hit the spy in the face right at the beginning of the movie, he started to chuckle out loud and didn't stop for the next hour and three quarters. So again I was finding out who likes what and how do they tick. He's a very extraverted sensate type and loves that kind of slapstick humour.

Now back in the 70s, when we were full of this enthusiasm for change, I was in my early to mid-thirties. We were changing everything: changing the formation system to make it better than it was in our strict days; changing the curriculum so that it would be more relevant and modern. There were all kinds of renewal programs. We discovered transactional analysis and sensitivity groups. I started editing a theology periodical at the same time, which I did for the next twenty-seven years.

And it was at this time that we got interested in Jung. I can't quite remember how, but it was mainly for dream work. One of our major Australian movie directors, Dr George Miller (who made the Mad Max movies, the Babe movies and Lorenzo's Oil) did a centenary of cinema documentary on Australian cinema called White Fellas' Dreaming. In it he talks about movies as our public dreaming. In that sense, I was involved in reviewing all the movies, looking at the public dreaming in our emerging Australian cinema at that time, but starting to work with the students on their personal dreams. We used the basic Jungian idea, acknowledging that every character, every part of the dream is an aspect of oneself.

Maggie

What about the student and the supermarket dream?

Peter

The supermarket man who is still a bit of a supermarket twenty-five years on. We used to ask the students to identify the location of the dream by saying, 'I am a...'. He said, 'I'm a busy, crazy supermarket'. Another one dreamt of a high medieval tower with no windows except one where the maiden is leaning out signalling for help: 'I am a high tower without windows, except for one where my anima is calling for help'.

So, we were working on this kind of counselling which was really very imaginative when I was offered a brief sabbatical. I went towards the end of our academic year in 1978 and missed only six weeks of classes. I was away for four and half months and went to Berkeley, California. There were quite a number of Australians there at the time - it was the flavour of the decade for religious order people to do their studies in Berkeley!

A lot of them were studying a particular system of personality type that had just, in a sense, gone on the market, even though it had been around for some time. It had just been approved in 1975 by the American Psychological Association. Everyone was talking about Myers Briggs. A friend of mine asked me to fill in a questionnaire and he processed the result and told me, 'You're an IFNJ'. So I said, 'Thank you very much. What does that mean?'. But listening to him explain it made all the difference for me. He introduced to the Enneagram at the same time and, while I appreciated it, it didn't have the power that this new Type Theory did. Maybe I was thinking of my students and my mediating work with the movie reviews and this process could be very helpful.

So I was discovering two American women, Katharine Briggs born in 1875 and so not able to do formal studies at University in her day, the 1890s, but a great reader who loved to compare and contrast characters and worked out her own system to describe how people ticked, and then her daughter born in 1897, Isabel, who in her time did go to a Quaker college at Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Mother and daughter worked very strongly together. That's where the Myers Briggs comes: the mother was Katharine Briggs and the daughter Isabel Briggs married Chief Myers. So Myers Briggs.

They worked together, especially when Isabel was going to get married, Katharine wondering whether Chief Myers measured up to Isabel, whether they'd actually connect. He wasn't ever so enthusiastic about Type as she was. He was (using the identifying code letters) an ISTJ, that is a fairly straight up and down, focused, objective, decisive type. His party piece was when he was making a speech a reference to 'my wife's enthusiasm for type and I am a...' and then he'd look down at his label and remind himself of what he was, 'I'm an ISTJ'. He was a lawyer and put all her state in order before she died. All the copyright complexities were worked out. And that was his gift, his gift to her, because that was what he could do.

Bernie

And what are the main directions in their work?

Peter

In the twenties Katharine Briggs read Jung's Psychological Types and the story goes she threw away, burnt, all her notes about categories, so impressed was she with Jung's. She and Isabel worked on Jung's language. I understand Isabel rang Jung up once and had a conversation but that was the only actual connection.

By the forties mother and daughter were designing questionnaires for college students to try to help them to see how they functioned in interactions and in their self-affirmation and their aptitudes to what they might do. During the war Isabel Myers said that Type - she called it 'Psychological Type' from Jung - was for the constructive use of differences, something that might bring peace. What Isabel Myers, especially, was trying to do was to apply Jung in a very pragmatic, American way: this is practical; this can be used; its not just interesting theory.

So she took what Jung called 'attitudes' and explored them: where we get our energy from - do we relate to the outer world best, the world of events, people, situations? or are we more energized by our inner world of ideas, imagination and feelings? Jung called the former 'extraversion' and the latter 'introversion'. she was not merely looking at behaviour. She was reflecting on the processes and traits that underlie behaviour (which can change according to circumstances). Extraverts are often easier to pick because their main energy is 'out there' while introverts tend to keep their main energy for their inner life. It's a matter of the processes that people are comfortable with. It's the way that they are born, nature. Nurture is a strong factor in how the process is actually used. But Type is generally used for people who are functioning ordinarily and normally and so nature tends to win out and develop.

An interesting area for research is statistical variations in different countries. When we have been discussing extroverts, Maggie, you suggested that Scots are more extravert than the English. Americans are certainly more extravert than Australians. Isabel Myers developed the other 'attitude' Jung noted: while we all have to operate in the outer world, how do we do this best? Some are data-gatherers, their perceptions coming through a strongly sensate observation of the outer world or by intuitive perceptions that rely on hunches, possibilities and connections rather than a build up of accurately detailed data. Others are deciders and prefer to go into action. For some their criteria are more objective, clear and logical while others are influenced by more personal, values-oriented and subjective criteria.

This leads to sixteen 'types'. The system does not want to confine people by labelling them but rather help by naming the preferences. Jung and Myers Briggs practitioners never claim that it explains everything. Psychological Type is just one spotlight on human nature to be combined with all the others. It is complementary.

In the fifties a psychologist friend put a lot of Isabel Myers' material in order for the Psychological Association and during the sixties and seventies they wrote and re-wrote the manual, including statistics, information on reliability and validity. The Association approved it for use in 1975. Practitioners must be accredited in the US before they can buy the questionnaires and forms. But, as everything is in the marketplace these days, a lot of do-it-yourself material is now available (which can tend to give the real thing a bad name).

Maggie

And how did Myers Briggs help with the seminarians' growth?

Peter

I found that I was using Myers Briggs typology a great deal with the students after this trip to Berkeley. I was amazed how quickly they picked up the key elements and could really start to name their own experiences or, if they were dealing with something in a counselling situation, they could more accurately describe what was going on, more accurately than in the past.
And I became more confidant in using it.

A student example comes to mind. He was in his late teens and very shy. He was a second son, rather self-effacing. At school, he was thought soft and wimpish. When he verified his typology through Myers Briggs, he found that he was, in fact, by nature self-effacing. As he began to understand this better and learned about his type and accepted it, he felt affirmed. He realised, 'this is good for me'. All the characteristics are neither right nor wrong, good or bad. This is me, this is how I am. Even physically he changed. Instead of being a little stooped and boyish looking, he started to stand up quite straight and look his age. He could look people in the eye. One of the characteristics of his type (ISFP in the code letters) is that of artistic flair, either in doing or performing or in appreciating. The community came to rely on him for anything artistic, whether it was framing a picture or being in a play, designing something, drawing something, painting something. And twenty years on, he is still confident. And he has learned that Jungian and Myers Briggs theory also demand personal growth and acceptance and integration of our shadow side.

As seminarians became fewer in the eighties, we had at one stage only two, the man I have just spoken about and another who in type terms was his exact opposite. The other man is physically big, full of self-confidence, can do twenty things with one arm tied behind his back. He's outgoing, intuitive, an objective think, able to organize everything. No problem. The two had become good friends over the years. They are type mirror images of each other. They learnt a lot from each other even though it was exasperating, because there's a touch of the passive aggressive with those who withdraw and are quiet while the outgoing person can be or seem quite domineering.

I had also been working part-time in adult education during these years but then moved into this work full-time, especially with people who were on sabbatical in Melbourne. And they became very enthusiastic about type. So that was the transition from just working within the limitations of a seminary to working with a whole range of people who were in pastoral work.

Maggie

Didn't you start publishing some books on Type and Movies?

Peter

An enjoyable sideline in this type work and which people have found helpful was the publishing of Hagar the Horrible cartoons to illustrate aspects of Type theory. It was the big man that I spoke of earlier who pointed out to me how the panels reminded us of various people we knew and caught the essence of the type. Kathy Myers, Isabel Myer's daughter-in-law, was one of our accreditation trainers and she gave her approval.

After printing many of the panels in the theology review, 'Compass', that I used to edit, we published a book, 'Let a Viking Do It: Hagar and Family Illustrate the Myers Briggs Type Indicator'. It is used as an illustrative tool by seminar leaders. Americans keep telling me (in a word I really dislike), 'it's cute'. If you would like a movie example of why I find 'cute' hard to take, watch Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. It's the American parody way that Terry Jones says it. It's the sequence about tourists going to a restaurant where they serve conversations. Terry Jones is the wife and Michael Palin is the husband. They're sitting at a table for a philosophical conversation (the gist of which turns out to be that philosophers names often have an s in them!). John Cleese is the waiter who brings them the conversation menu. Terry Jones look at John Cleese and says, in a clipped, emphatic accent, 'He's cute'. And so many Americans say the Hagar book is cute. But it was a way of imagining the theory and presenting it visually and with humour.

It was also at that time, 1984, and I still can't it did not occur to me earlier, that I started looking at movies in terms of Type. I remember seeing The Star Chamber with Michael Douglas, and wondering during the movie what type he was being written as and what he was performing. He was a judge. He was the leader of several judges in their own star chamber who executed people who had escaped the justice system. He seemed to be strong, introvert, decisive, objective, here and now types (ISTJ).

The screenplay was well written which meant that the writer understood human nature and therefore incorporated type well. So I started to look for different types in movies, trying to find sixteen characters to illustrate the sixteen possible types in this particular system. Finding the extraverts was very easy. Introverts are far harder - except in Woody Allen films or - and it was a struggle to find characters like The French Lieutenant's Woman.

The publishers wanted to call the book 'Myers Briggs Goes to the Movies', which seemed to me rather irreverent, (I must have been in some puritanical stage), but once again Kathy Myers said that she liked the title, so off we went.

In terms of seminars and what Typology can offer for some kind of healing and therapy, I now use many movie clips to illustrate the theory and to illustrate personal and group situations and conflicts.

Bernie

What are some of the main clips that you use? What do they illustrate?

Peter

Well, let's take extraversion for example. I found that the first three minutes of City Slickers, where Billy Crystal and his buddies go to the Bull Run in Pamplona and it's noisy and it's boisterous. There are thousands of people there. And you've got extraverted body language and energy, the running, the crashing, people falling over each other and the loud extravert 'WOW!'. Whereas take Ingmar Bergman's films, and some of Woody Allen's, and you've got introversion personified with talking heads, the camera moving slowly from one to the other.

I think at this stage I want to add that most of the reviewers that I know, especially the older ones tend to be introverts. They get very irritated with extraverted techniques and subjects, action and special effects. They abhor slapstick, physical humour. A pie in the face! There’s nothing worse than imagining yourself at the end of The Great Race during the pie fight. Introverts would be embarrassed and trying to clean themselves up. But extraverts love it. And the introverted reviewers say, 'not another car chase' or 'not another explosion' while the majority of extravert viewers say, 'Oh, thank God, another explosion, another car chase, wacko!' So in mediating the movie type has been very interesting and useful.

And the other Jungian attitude concerning how we function in the outer world. Some are very decisive: 'Let's get the show on the road'. Others prefer to keep gathering information, data. In LA Story Steve Martin, who wrote the screenplay, goes to pick up his girlfriend, Marilu Henner, to take her to brunch. She's not ready. He paces the room puzzling about this - and she's doing thirty minute lips. 'The others can wait', she says, 'it won't kill them'. Then she looks in the mirror with another dress and changes it. He can't understand 'the ten minutes of abstract busyness' that she goes on with. He has to wait in the car. When she eventually comes down in the changed dress and he sees her into the car, he steals a quick glance at his watch. He can't help himself. They're the first to arrive!

The Odd Couple is great for this attitude too, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau illustrating the same thing, especially in terms of time. 'What time do you think it is?'. 'I don't know, seven o'clock, eight o'clock, what the hell difference does it make?' 'I'll tell you what the hell difference it makes...'

So those movie clips have been very helpful to highlight that we do function differently. What's natural to one is not natural to the other. But, both are needed. Jung always said it's the complementarity. In fact, we move from one to the other all day in our behaviour, even though we have our underlying preferences.

But the main thing is the sensate/intuitive dichotomy. Jung said that we perceive reality in two different ways. Not exclusively, we do both. But, he said, some people are really practical, down to earth, concrete, immersed in the present reality, data coming through the five senses. They retain the data. They can recall it. It's there because it's there. And that's called sensing; people are sensate.

But there are others, a minority in fact, who get their information through the five senses but, for whatever reason have particular interest focuses and if what they observe or what comes in through the senses doesn't relate to that interest focus, they edit it out, or it simply doesn't register so much. They are much more interested in the future possibilities, hunches. And that’s called intuition; people are intuitive. And that’s an extraordinary difference. You should hear sensates and intuitives talking to one another sometimes, each shaking their head in disbelief about what the other notices or does not notice.

The first clip that I found for sensate/intuitive was from She's Having a Baby with Kevin Bacon. The scene goes only for a minute where his neighbours are talking to him during a cookout, a barbeque. One says, 'There are two things I like about you, Briggsy, your wife and your lawnmower'. The other one says, 'I've seen your wife. What about your lawnmower?'. But Kevin Bacon hasn't a clue what kind of lawnmower he's got and, when they give him all the details, explain the grass-cutting capacity, I've never seen anybody look so bored and wishing to be somewhere else. Which is often the intuitive response to the sensate.

An excellent movie to use, clips or the whole movie, is White Palace with James Spader as the sensate, orderly person personified and Susan Sarandon as the messy, intuitive person personified. Maggie, you've mentioned Crimson Tide for use with managers. Denzel Washington as the intuitive officer and Gene Hackman is the straight down the line sensate.

Maggie

What was the one you used with Rob Lowe? In the kitchen?

Peter

That's Demi Moore and Rob Lowe in About Last Night. The hook on the door doesn't hold things so she lets the dressing gown fall every time. He tries and then gets a screwdriver and tightens the hook. There's Thelma and Louise, where Susan Sarandon is absolutely immaculate, like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, and Geena Davis throws everything into the back of the car, everything she possibly needs for the weekend.

The last area for Type concerns the criteria for the decisions that we make. Jung noted that people can be very objective: principles, logic and consequences, justice being very important. Others prefer a more subjective approach allowing the circumstances to modify the principles with interpretation, application of values and harmony. Both approaches are needed and both are rational, based on rational criteria, but they can create conflict. The gender difference question does come up. While there seems to be little difference between men and women in terms of extraversion/introversion or sensation/intuition, in the western world, at least, a majority of men have identified as thinking and objective and a majority of women as feeling and subjective. This creates some apprehensions in some groups: when a man identifies with the feeling function he can be dismissed as a wimp, soft. And if a woman identifies with thinking, she's domineering or she's a bitch. This can be a difficult challenge for a society or an organisation where the individual does not fit the expected pattern.

Movies about teachers provide good clips for the thinking and feeling, especially teachers who are the opposite of what is expected. Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver and Morgan Freeman in Lean on Me are thinking teachers whereas Robin Williams gets into trouble as a feeling/subjective type in Dead Poets Society. There is the more feeling Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds and the more objective Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart.

But what's more interesting is gathering together the combinations of functions because people are not just extrovert as such, not just sensate as such. Their Type profiles have combined functions. There are sensate thinkers, a combination of practical perceiving and objective decisions. Sensate feelers are practical perceivers and harmonious deciders. Intuitive feelers, favour possibilities and harmony. Intuitive thinkers favour possibilities and objectivity.

So, I show Christopher Plummer in The Sound of Music as very much a sensate thinking type whereas Julie Andrews is a sensate feeling type and with their interactions and their songs that can readily be seen. Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady are, I think, the same. Sherlock Holmes in some of the movies shows very strong sensate thinking. The end of Ghost which I like to use because, instead of using words, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore are sighing, breathing, sobbing a very emotional kind of sensate feeling.

For intuition and feeling, Robin Williams, for instance, in most of his movies is a good example, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, never using one word where a hundred would do! And for intuition and thinking, there are the private eyes like Humphrey Bogart in the Maltese Falcon (it is a good test to listen to his final speeches to Sam Spade and check whether we can really grasp his argumentation, which the audiences of 1942 were supposed to!) or an academic like C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands or Robin Williams as Oliver Sacks in Awakenings.

I also collect material to illustrate the inferior function. So in Alice Doesn't Live Her Anymore Kris Kristofferson hits Ellen Burstyn's young son, who's a perfect menace. She comes in as a feeling type, but she's so angry with him hitting the boy that she starts laying down the law, telling him he doesn't understand child-rearing and he's a bad example of parenting. She goes into completely opposite mode from an inner feeling type to an extraverted thinker laying down the law.

Or Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July. He prays to the crucifix in a very straightforward, objective way before he goes to Vietnam. He's injured there, comes back home; he's been drinking, his mother is harsh towards him, ordering him out of the house, and he just erupts with subjectivity, condemning everything about the United States, the war, religion, 'Jesus could come down off the cross after three days. I can't get out of this chair'.

Woody Allen's September with Elaine Stritch as a dominating mother, which isn't much seen, is a marvellous example. One that I really empathise with is in Shadowlands. Poor C.S. Lewis is an introverted intuitive, not very sensate at all. When he and his wife Joy go to a hotel and she asks him to get a drink from room service, he goes out the door - so she tells him he can phone. Then he picks up the phone as if he's never held one in his hand before and doesn't know what to say. He's so nervous he orders a gin and tonic for her and gets mixed up with gins and tonic or gin and tonics, and then orders one for himself, puts the phone down and says, 'But I don't like gin and tonic. I panicked'. That, for me again, is the berserk inferior function, even in just a small thing. But it reveals so much about how people tick.

One last thing: type and songs. Mary Poppins is very sensate thinking as she sings tunefully but in a matter of fact way, 'A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way'. This contrasts with Deborah Kerr or Audrey Hepburn in The King and I and My Fair Lady. Deborah Kerr, as a governess, is more like Maria Von Trapp than Mary Poppins when she sings, 'Getting to know you. Getting to know all about you. Getting to know you. Doing it my way, but nicely.'

For intuition and feeling, I would recommend 'The Impossible Dream' from Man of La Mancha - and Cabaret for the extraverts. But a group came up years ago with Over the Rainbow. So, instead of a robin feathering its nest with very little time to rest while gathering its bits of twig and twine, from Mary Poppins, now bluebirds fly over the rainbow. Why, oh why can't I?

And for the intuitive thinkers, they don't write many songs but, fortunately, there is Eric Idle before 'One Foot in the Grave'. But there's always the song from The Life of Brian.

Bernie

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Peter

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - when you are in the middle of your crucifixion. However, I like to use the Galaxy Song in The Meaning of Life, full of scientific data and even some computer graphics. It's been a useful and entertaining for movies to open up people's perceptions about themselves and others.

Bernie

I want to make a point about society in this country. It definitely seems to be in America that there is an assumption that there is something wrong with the introvert. With the kids in the school playground, the extroverts will be together, probably out in the middle, and the odd introverts will be wandering round the edge or in small groups of two and three. I'm seeing the desperate need to balance that out with the value of the introvert being recognized as well letting the extraverts join the introverts. It would be interesting to have a training session where that was one of the exercises, where you've got all the extroverts on one side and all the introverts on the other and then team them up and see what they could learn from one another's approaches to very specific tasks, a focus for them to come through the inter-relationship difficulties, but, hopefully, to come out enriched.

Peter

Yes, and the same for the other areas having sensates and intuitives talking about what they actually see and notice and having thinkers and feelers discussing, especially in issues of discipline where the thinkers tend to name the offence, state the regulation and, logically, nominate the penalty. The feeling function people then intervene to ask, 'but, did you know he was sick? and his mother had lost all her money?' and try to modify the decision.

What I try to do if we have a big enough group is to spend a whole day self-verifying our Types. I much prefer self-verifying before any filling in of questionnaire forms so that as participants look and listen, with cartoons, movie clips and anecdotes illustrating the theory, they identify themselves. I know it's working when somebody says 'My husband must be...' or 'My wife must be...'. It's clicking. (The Americans still prefer to fill in the forms first - they must be much less wary than Australians about forms and their possible sinister meanings!)

On the second day after I've processed the forms, they can compare what they thought (which is referred to as 'True Type') with the result of the questionnaire (which is referred to as 'Reported Type').

Maggie

I want to ask you about the forms and reading them. Do you always come out the same Type? Perhaps people can be shrewd in filling out the form and gear their answers.

Peter

They should come out the same Type, but the strengths of particular preferences like extraversion and introversion will vary. Even if someone was trying to control the results, there is so much cross-referencing of answers for validity and reliability. One question might be weighted for one point for sensate and two for judging. For many of the questions there is no score. They are there really to keep people alert. It's said in Australia that some people think they are expected to come out extravert and so they try to answer everything as extravertly as possible.

Maggie

That's where I'm concerned about companies using it badly. For example, if you're testing all your salesmen there may be an implication that, if they are not extravert, they are not going to be able to go out and sell. I go back to my point about presentation: in fact the introvert may well make a good broadcaster and journalist using the techniques. We cannot assume that, just because they are introverts, that they can't do something.

Peter

That can emerge in the group work in the second day of the seminar. You can sit the participants in like-type groups around the room, making sure each group is sitting across from its exact opposite. Just to give an example: in nursing homes, the ISTJ organized type are right opposite the ENFPs who are the gregarious types. I always ask, 'What strengths do you bring to your organization... and what drives you mad?'. The organisers say that they are the backbone of the organization and what drives them mad are the unorganized types who float in and want this, want that and don't give thought to... and 'there they are over there'. Then those over there say, 'What we like is to work with the patients in the recreation activities and be creative but we're always hamstrung because of... and there they are over there'.

That's the kind of thing that you were suggesting, Bernie?

Bernie

Recognition

Peter

Recognition, listening to one another and saying, 'right, it's neither good not bad, right or wrong but what we do with it?'. It's not letting them off. Type explains things, but it doesn't explain them away.

Maggie

How you would use this in a situation like a prison because you were talking about certain kinds of stress. You were talking about opposites, the undeveloped, the inferior functions.

Maggie

The other thing I wondered about is whether there is a developmental kind of schema for looking at growth in type?

Peter

The theory is that we become comfortable in childhood in acting in one of the four functions, a bit like preferring our right hand or our left hand, so we don't have to think twice, we just do things that way. Which means that the opposite function will be the least developed. And unfortunately it's called, in the jargon, the inferior function. I'll keep saying 'the least developed function'. This is the great challenge for adult growth.

I'll take my experience for a moment as an example. My most developed function is introverted intuition. I can sit and watch a movie and have hundreds of intuitions without, literally, batting an eyelid. Nobody knows what's going on inside of me, but I'm having the most exciting time. I am silent, but a lot is going on, I'm connecting. This means then that I have neglected my extraverted sensing, that I really notice even less than I should out there, and that I am clumsy because I'm not paying attention to the here and now, to the breath of the moment. We talked about the shelves of books dropping on me and how, instead of picking them all up and putting them back, I was so shattered that I just sat and looked at them and then went home. I could then recoup my strength and come back the next day. Naomi Quenk in the US has written a book about this, 'Beside Ourselves': there's our well-functioning selves and then, beside ourselves, is this least-developed function surfacing, especially when we're under stress.

This can lead to an illumination in therapy, people can name their experience and might say, 'I am an intuitive type, but somehow or other when I get under stress, I start tidying the house in the most obsessive way. What does this mean'? And you're able to reply, 'When you're under stress, your sensing opposite function which is your least developed starts surfacing, and since you're really not adept at functioning that way, you do the cliche thing of fixated tidying up or else just go berserk and throw things everywhere'.

We stay the same type because that's the way we are born and are 'graced'. But, we are continually moving towards integration of all these functions, what Jung called 'individuation'. We are trying to move comfortably as well as uncomfortably into our opposite all the time. Life draws us into our opposite. So, yes, our type stays the same but in terms of how we exercise it and our ability to exercise the opposite, we grow. In fact, it's been suggested that a lot of women in seminars say, 'when I was young I was very lively and vivacious, but now I want more quiet time...'. It does not mean that they are introverts but that life has enabled them to become more introverted.

So, when we do the self-verifying, we try to get people to forget about their professional selves. We urge them to go back to when they were younger and were themselves, shoes off, nobody looking over your shoulders, no expectations, and answer the questions spontaneously and in free flow.

Peter

With this developmental interest there's a lot of research going on in all these areas, a lot of people working on type and the brain and how the brain functions. They don't yet draw many conclusions about the first five or six years of life. But they say that research shows that from six to twelve or so the child is relying on its most favoured function, its 'dominant' function, the one that it is best at and comes naturally. If the child is an extravert you tend to see it because the child is using it 'out there'. That means a challenge for the introvert child where the function is working best 'in there'. You've got to try to work out what's happening in there. Are they sensate or are they intuitive, are they very objective or are they very subjective?

And then in the adolescent years, it's suggested that the introverts start to move out a bit while extraverts go in a bit. The education system reflects this in its demands for study. Interestingly, most teachers I've met in primary schools are extraverts; most in secondary schools are introverts. And that suits adolescent development.

In early adulthood, when one is moving towards integration and the challenge of opposite functions, the third function that perhaps has not been used so much yet can come into play and is very creative.

Which means that the function which is the opposite of our dominant function and has tended not to be neglected and undeveloped is the challenge for the second half of life.

This can illuminate aspects of the Christian tradition of prayer. The old adage 'grace builds on nature' corresponds with the positive nature of our basic type. However, as we grow older and realize we can't do everything of ourselves, then the challenge to move into opposite functions is God's action. The other adage about prayer is 'agere contra' (to go against ourselves). As an intuitive I can pray intuitively without much effort but for me to be focused, sensate, is very, very hard. I've used an exercise in seminars where I've asked people to go outside the building and ask sensates to try to pray intuitively, not to notice anything and be open to possibilities, and intuitives to notice everything in detail.
Everybody struggles back absolutely exhausted after ten minutes. If an intuitive looks at a leaf during that exercise, they've seen enough of the leaf in about five seconds and want to move on. To force themselves even for twenty seconds to look at that leaf is very extraordinarily hard. On the other hand, a sensate woman trying to let go of detail said to me, 'that was an impossible exercise. I just walked out the door deciding to think and notice nothing when a five centimetre blue tailed round feathered orange finch ran in front of me'.

It is said that when we are under stress what often surfaces and puzzles people in organizations, children in families and parents is this inferior function surfacing. We are not used to seeing it in people. I can surface unhealthily. But it can also be good that it surfaces. In It's a Wonderful Life some in the audience are very upset that James Stewart was angry with his children towards the end when he was under pressure. We often give people advice, 'be yourself. don't repress your anger', so in this sequence what happened was that his inferior function, his ability to be clear and objective, was surfacing in his anxiety and he started laying down the law to his children and taking out his anxiety on them. Which he repented of.

Those were some of the things then that I was discovering. Somebody suggested I write longer essays on key movies, so I called that book Mirror, Mirror on the Screen. And that seems to echo...

Bernie

Sums up...

Peter

sums it all up.

Bernie

Yes, because it is really in the title of the book, Mirror,
Mirror, on the Screen. You've explained the use of type, the use of acknowledgment of your own type and then once you can acknowledge that there is an acceptance that you can grow - like your artist example. And what I was saying was that that is exactly what we are doing, that's the magic and power of film. That when you're doing what you're doing, doing what Maggie's doing, doing what I'm doing, people can then accept and recognize and be aware and it clicks. They have that ah-ha experience. That's really the essence of what this is all about.

Maggie

Mirroring, illuminating and searching.

Peter

So three names for what we're doing.

















FOUR: SOME PARTICULAR MOVIES


Peter

Perhaps we could bring our book to a close by having a three-way conversation about some sample movies to illustrate how movies mirror our experiences and illuminate our search for our true selves. It works concretely as we converse about a couple of movies. That seems to me a good and useful kind of final chapter.

Bernie

It's interesting but, as you talk, one of the films that crosses my mind - it's not film I've seen a lot of times, but I just want to get it in in case I forget - is Clockwise. It mirrors a great deal. John Cleese is such an obsessive type. I think that is really important to today's world. Everyone is obsessed by time. Everyone has that kind of person inside them to a larger or smaller degree - like Maggie's childcatcher.

Peter

John Cleese seems to me to be the type that has the letters ISTJ: he's an introverted headmaster operating best in his office, looking at the students in the yard from inside; he's very decisive indeed, definitely wants things done; he's very objective about the school and its issues, the rules and the discipline; he's very sensate in his attention to detail.

He belongs to a type group which, I think, is more likely to become obsessive with minutiae. My type might be obsessive about different possibilities for doing things; you might be obsessive about learning more and more theory, you just can't get enough. But the headmaster in Clockwise is obsessive about details, so that when he makes one error in getting in the wrong carriage of the train, his whole day goes skew-whiff. An intuitive could manage: 'Oh, I'll get out at the next station and come back.' But the ISTJ is obsessive, is so fixed on the object here and now and on 'this is how it's done', that intuitions are alien (intuition is this type's 'inferior function' and so he just becomes fixated on one possibility (and it is the wrong one).

Bernie

I also wondered with a lot of what you were saying about types and their inferior function, how many times that is sought in a relationship, that the inferior function is the dominant function of the partner. So they seek to become a whole.

Maggie

I wanted to pick up on something that Bernie was talking about, the inferior function, the partner supplying the opposite, so that you get a whole.

Bernie

It's almost unconsciously what they're attracted to.

Maggie

When you look at the wife in Clockwise, she's dealing with people for whom you cannot have that kind of strict attitude - she's dealing with people who have got no sense of themselves at all. And she's constantly like a mother hen, gathering them into her car and finding another car somewhere else. The one who keeps looking for the hospitals, she goes and gets her. She's in this collecting role, this kind of, 'It's okay, they're escaping', whereas he's in a rigid role. The fact that he gets on a train was fascinating, I thought, rather than driving, because there are the train lines, rigid and fixed train lines all the way there.

Bernie

Absolutely, he's focused.

Maggie

He's focused. But when it all begins to fall apart - and this was a subjective thing that I got out of the movie because at that time my mother was beginning to dement - the one voice of clarity in all of this mayhem is that of the old demented lady who's singing, 'This Is My Lovely Day'. She's in the middle of all that mayhem in the lecture hall and she's actually got one of the other lecturers sitting just rapt in attention. That's being in the now!

Bernie

The holy moment.

Maggie

She's there. Nothing is deflecting her from her song or from the delight that she's experiencing because somebody has been very nice to her and offered her a sherry. It is almost the antidote, in a sense, to that rigidity of John Cleese.

Bernie

What happened there, in Buddhist terms, was the clarity of that woman singing in that moment allowing him to drop his conditioning and transcend it. It all fell away like scales. In Buddhist rituals you often hear bells - you do the bell at the end of meditation with a particular type of bell. It's the clarity of that sound, like the crystal moment when she was singing and everything else dropped away.

Maggie

The other thing that struck me very strongly is the tatters, it's the clothes. He finally limps in with one sleeve up, one down. Nevertheless he is, at the end of the movie, who he is. And his concern for the pupil shows us an authentic headmaster. He is rigid in his application, he is rigid in his way of living - and John Cleese does it rigidly with his body language, everything about him is rigid - but that does not detract from the authenticity of the man's role in life and the way that he considers his role in life. It may be dressed up in pomposity, but it's authentic.

I think that was very beautifully done in the film, where we see him minding about the student not getting to her exam in time. Of course he loses it because he's completely out of his swimming pool, he's not in his place. Nevertheless he authentically hangs on all the way through. He's the guy that would not desert his post if he was in a wartime situation. He wouldn't desert his role as a father or as a teacher, so there's a real authentic individual in all of that upset.

In using Clockwise, say in management training, I would be asking, 'How do you present that authenticity?' John Cleese presents it with pomposity, with rigidity, but let's not turn away from the fact that he's still the goods, he's the real thing.

Bernie

He's the genuine article because, in Buddhist terms, it's his intention. The heart of his intention is to do a good job. He is absolute about commitment. You could trust him and rely on him, wherever. It's his strength but, in a sense, it's also his weakness.

Peter

In using type language about Clockwise and looking at John Cleese's character, I'd say he's obsessive in his type, but that the journey and its frustrations, the lady, his wife and the student all activate his opposite functions, his more subjective feeling function for instance, but especially his inferior function which is in fact his extraverted intuition - possibilities out there. So what you've illuminated for me is that these possibilities start to impinge on him. They can change him but they don't destroy his basic truth in himself.

So he will always be ISTJ and pompous in style, but the possibilities of redemption rather than fixation are there in the way that you were describing his intention. Scaffolding falling away leaving a purity of intention, which is his authenticity. Another thing is that the adjectives commentators offer for that particular type are responsible and loyal. Which means that Clockwise is well written and well acted and can be used by all of us, each in our own way, which is a compliment to the movie.

Bernie

It's like having a sweet with a wrapper that you don't like, but the sweet is brilliant, isn't it? It's how he presents which is off-putting, but his absolute commitment, his love, his zeal, motivation, are all pure.


Peter

This is a difficulty in presenting workshops of Type and using movie clips. So many people, CEOs and school principles, hospital administrators are like him. Then they are invited to look at the movie mirror by someone who does not identify with that type and they run the danger, often unwittingly, of tending to highlight the pomposity and making them look foolish or rigid. I suppose if I were going to John Cleese's school and talking to him about type, I would have to present it in the most clear, logical, practical way. Then he could say, 'Ah, yes, I understand'.

Bernie

As we've been talking about Jung's school of thought, I think what's important is what we haven't touched on with what's happening to John Cleese and, in a sense, what's happening to James Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life. They're both having moments moving them towards individuation.

Peter

Yes. Why don't we go on to It's a Wonderful Life and talk in the same vein, how each of us would approach it.

Bernie

For me, George is the classic example of the story of the ten monks that crossed the stream. When they get to the other side, the lead monk keeps counting and he can only find nine, over and over again. A young monk says, 'I'll count'. He counts, one, two, three, four, and he says, 'Ten', because he could do what George couldn't do; he counted himself first. That's very salutary about Its a Wonderful Life, I think, because George didn't count himself first. Counting oneself is not selfish, it's healthy. If you can love yourself and love others, that's good. But if you love others and you can't love yourself, what does that say about your attitude towards yourself? You see this finally erupt with George Bailey, his denial of the anger inside him. He's so angry that he's going to take out the ultimate sanction against himself, the ultimate criticism, as George Bernard Shaw said, suicide.

At the end of the movie, George has learned and has transcended his ego, which now includes his real self. At the end he transcends his ego and is greatly enriched. That's a transcendental spiritual moment. It isn't just a do-good, feel-good illusory moment. So many people can identify with that. This is why Capra's son said to me that his dad had received many, many letters from prisoners in San Quentin who said that the movie absolutely stopped them committing suicide. So I think that's very important to point out there, really.


Maggie

My take would be slightly different and I hope it's complementary to what you're saying. I'm interested in the externals in It's a Wonderful Life, the what happens to individuals who have an appetite for a certain goal. for a dream that they want to follow but external factors constantly impinge on that dream. That might be, for example, like the student who talked to me about her mother and her attitude towards the movie Awakenings. That might be something like an illness in the family or a company that requires tough decisions - in George's case it was just that, a company in a small town where decisions had huge effects on the community. But how do we deal, as individuals, with external factors that prevent us from fulfilling whatever it is that we've seen fit for our lives? When I'm talking to people who have been carers for many years with parents or sick children, that externality is very important to take on board.

George Bailey is angry and that anger is allowed. He's frustrated and that frustration is understandable. It may well be that there isn't a happy ending because the dream may be gone. I remember, Bernie, the woman in one of your radio programs who kept saying, 'It's too late, it's too late' - she had been caring for her mother.

We also have to recognise that this is external, it's not just about what's going on inside of us. It's impinging from the outside. And the movie at least will open up discussion for people who are in those situations to discuss their lost lives, the lost time, but also how, in their own lives, they did reach positive outcomes, unexpected positive outcomes, like George's 'Merry Christmas everybody'.

It helps people retrieve some of the gems, recognise them, and see that life experience does add up to something rather than nothing. So I would use the movie in training and I would also use it with students, particularly if they opened up dialogue about possibilities. Students come and say, 'I've no idea what I want to be'. And I say to them, 'Well, try and find out what you don't want to be'. It might be a more fruitful journey to discover what you don't want to be. But they need to recognise from the start that it isn't always up to them, but that they must try, somehow or other, to find a way of being the best they can be within a certain set of circumstances.

So It's a Wonderful Life can begin a process for students of setting out on their lives, to have a basketful of goodies, whereas George didn't: he had that great big suitcase, but all the suitcase had was labels on the outside, where he was going to go with that suitcase. He hadn't got stuff inside the suitcase.

Bernie

What I think is important about that is choice. George made that choice because of his family and who he was in that family. His brother made different choices.

Maggie

Yes, he did. But we also meet people who believe and who may well, in human terms, be dead right that they did not make a choice, they had no choice. They were the only one in the family that was fit to look after an aged parent. It's like, whichever partner is the one that finds that they stay to look after the handicapped child. We have to be very careful with that language. I have experienced it with groups, particularly when I worked at St James' Hospital with the dementia group. There was a lot of anger about the idea that they'd chosen to care for the disabled person. They wanted it to be understood and to be affirmed and to be honoured that they had, in fact, not made the choice at all, because there wasn't one; that the situation put them in a position which they rose to, rather than making a choice to be in at all. They rose to it.

Bernie

Yes, that is important about the language. They didn't make a choice to be in it, but they made a choice in how to handle the situation.

Maggie

Maybe, but I think it's still quite a different concept for people who feel they didn't have and didn't make a choice. Rising to a challenge, maybe, and slowly...

Peter

... taking the responsibility.

Maggie

Or taking responsibility.

Bernie

Which was what George Bailey did.

Maggie

I share that with you only because it was really quite a huge step for me to learn that people felt so angry.

Bernie

I'm glad you shared it. But what I think is important about your sharing it is your passion when you shared it. And one of the reasons I bring this up is that there's an assumption in the public in general that therapy is quite soft and is always simply understanding. But in the way I practise therapy it is also bringing out the fact that people make choices within given circumstances. All of us do. And it's not a bad thing to hear that we do. Even if there's an angry or violent reaction, when the dust settles, that seed is there, that every day we make choices about what we're going to do and what we're not going to do. It may be just at a subconscious level.

Maggie

It is the very hard thing. I think that I would disagree with you in that I wouldn't have thought that the public perception was that therapy was easy or soft. This actually came up in the workshops at St James with this very example. It was clear that there was a problem about the terminology of choice, because people think of choosing as, "I'll have that or I'll have that," but maybe they're choosing between two goods as well.

Bernie

You could say 'deciding' then. Rose to the challenge.

Maggie

Taking responsibility or rising to a challenge, because that seems to be more positive.

Peter

And that's where the choice is. They could choose not to help and abandon their relative.

Maggie

I do think, though, that one of the cris de coeur came from people who did not think that they could have chosen not to - or everything in themselves mitigated against choosing not to. So they felt stuck with it.

Bernie

Trapped.

Maggie

Because they couldn't choose not to; they didn't have whatever mechanism allows us to walk away. They didn't have it. Some of them, I think, were possibly trying to get to a place where they felt they could have chosen to walk away. And maybe that would have been an empowerment, not necessarily to do it, but to have known that perhaps they could have done.

Bernie

Exactly. It's having the internal space rather than being trapped, and I think that's the spiritual point.

Peter

When I looked at It's a Wonderful Life last, and in terms of type, I saw mirrors. I acknowledging all that you've said and I don't want to underestimate that in any way, but on listening to the actual dialogue of the movie, I didn't find it consistently written in terms of type and character. Irrespective of what choices George makes, what kind of type is he presented as - how is he graced in himself as a person, how is he blessed?

It seemed to me that he was an extravert. He was getting his energy from out there in the world and he wanted to go even further. He was decisive, he got things done. When I thought about the criteria he used to make his decisions, listening to the screenplay, he comes across as a feeling type, look at the reaction to his father's death and what he should do for the people. This is part of the reason why he was trapped. He was also intuitive, there were possibilities everywhere. In Myers Briggs terms he was an ENFJ. The qualities of that particular type lead to their being entrepreneurs, ringmasters, people-organisers. That's their giftedness.

So what happens to him? He says he wants to build bridges, but I couldn't believe that. He was too people-oriented because what he actually did was to build homes for people. His achievement, which he couldn't see, because of feeling trapped, his anger and his frustration, was that he did build except it was not in Venezuela or where he might have imagined but it was right there at home in Bedford Falls. and not in Venezuela or somewhere. If he had lived later and we were all around to help him (!), he'd see that all his aspirations could be there in the Buddhist breath of the moment in what, say, a Catholic spirituality often calls 'the sacrament of the present moment', that that was where he was going to live his life. And I would imagine Clarence coming down and showing him another scenario, the good one: 'George, you're an ENFJ, you're a people person. Here are all these people that will fulfil every dream that you have when you do these things for them, when you help them, build for them, organise them, serve them. And that might have been you, had you not felt trapped'. Does that make sense?

Maggie

Yes, and it fits in extremely well with what I think I've been trying to say about the idea of choice and what Bernie is saying about the recognition that we make choices. And that's what I mean when I say I would try to use the movie in terms of retrieving the gems.

Peter

But what was required of him or how he interpreted it and what he hated was that he thought he had to turn into someone like John Cleese in Clockwise, which is almost his opposite. He couldn't see and he didn't have much help how to do what he did as George Bailey, in his way and not in his opposite way. So he was angry and frustrated and he needed to hear Clarence's story.

Mr Holland's Opus, according to commentators is a reworking of It's a Wonderful Life, except that Richard Dreyfuss' Mr Holland doesn't get the option to see his opposite life. Rather he finally gets his tribute and Clarence-like speeches from the State Governor, whom he helped as a musician. She makes him realise that thirty years of the life that he had lived in the school in 'the present moment' were all there represented on the stage with students from 1965, 66, 76 - all those moments were there, playing his music. But, more importantly, they told him that they were his music.

Bernie

They were his opus.

Peter

They were his opus and he had touched every life in that room. So, he was offered the chance to see - and I think he was much the same type as George Bailey - what in fact he had done with his life, and it had been a wonderful life.

While I'm on a roll, I'd like to bring in The Devil's Advocate, with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. That movie also seems to me another version of It's a Wonderful Life, a reverse version in which the hero first sees what might be his horrible life.

Bernie

Another negative journey in a mirror.

Peter

He begins it literally looking in a mirror. The audience thinks it's all straightforward but we don't know...

Maggie

Where he's going to go ......

Peter

No, but you think it's real, you think that this is his life. And instead of Clarence, he gets Satan himself, John Milton, with Al Pacino going over the top and leading him into every temptation. But when he gets back to that mirror, it's a realisation that nothing has happened and the choices are there. What will he do? So, he's already had It's a Horrible Life before he has to make his choices. It's an interesting 90s way of handling the theme, suggesting that we perhaps are in a more satanic, devilish era where disaster is more possible than it was in 1947.

Maggie

There's tiny hint at the end of it that he might dice with the Devil again.

Peter

Yes, and rightly so. That's always a possibility. George has gone through it all and he's reached redemption point, so to speak, and so has Mr Holland in retirement. But Keanu Reeves' lawyer is at the beginning of his career.

Bernie

Keanu's young.

Peter

He can dance with the Devil again.

Maggie

I'm thinking of the end of Saving Private Ryan: the idea of one's lost life because of external events impinging. War is obviously an extremely important one influence. But at the end of Private Ryan, we don't have either the triumph of a man's life, like that of George Bailey, in terms of the community, and we don't have the possibilities of what might happen as we do in The Devil's Advocate. We don't have the music, the recognition from others, the affirmation from others.

At the end of Private Ryan we have a very private Ryan, saying to the rest of us, 'I've lived this myself'. It's not been public. There is a family in the background: he says, 'I've never forgotten every day that you've sent me and I hope I've lived up to it'. But he has not really helped us to know if he has. He's dying on a hope. We know his wife says, 'Of course, you've been a good man,' so we know he's been a good husband and that he's retained her love, but that's all, and I think that ending, with the other films we've talked about, brings the whole issue into a circle so that we have the public affirmation, the recognition that your life's work or your life's activity have been worth the candle. Or you still have the possibility of messing up. Or you've got the recognition that it might just be a very, very quiet understanding.

Bernie

Personal?

Maggie

That you're not going to get this affirmation from everybody else, that it's fine to die on a hope. It wasn't this individual man, obviously, it was the idea of a family not being wiped out, a nation not being wiped out that was the impetus to save him, a morale thing. Nevertheless, a loss of life, as we see it, might still well be deemed worthwhile.

Bernie

Towards the end of the movie, Tom Hanks drops his role as a sergeant and says, 'I'm a schoolteacher'. This man's saying that they have been following him with all the guts and the bravado of a tough soldier faced with horrendous problems but he just says, 'I'm a schoolteacher'.

Maggie

Yes, an Everyman. It's a question that challenges each of us in our very deepest selves. It's not about, 'Prove to us that you were worth it', it's about, 'To be rested for the rest of Eternity in yourself you need to be able to know that you were worth it, that you took it seriously, that it was authentic for you.'

Bernie

That you can reaffirm yourself, that you can nurture yourself. That is the spiritual and healthy psychological moment, isn't it?

Maggie

Yes. And I think so much illness and so much crime comes down to, 'I didn't rise to it. I wasn't worth it'.

Bernie

I'd like to hear from you, Peter, about this aspect of Saving Private Ryan where he says, 'Look, I'm a schoolteacher', how does that work in Myers-Briggs? type terms? He's been playing a tough sergeant. In his real life he may be a John Cleese!
But he's thrown into an arena.

Peter

I think he's a thinking function person in his life and as the schoolteacher. He's gone on that mission and he's done what's right, even if he didn't want to go and didn't even believe the mission - he wasn't so persuaded by the feeling function reasons given. But he goes and he does it. But it's in the context of letting the hostage go, despite urging by the men, that he makes the revelation. But now he has to move beyond the objectivity and the sense of duty and the mission; to make a decision as a human being.

Bernie

Would you he say transcends himself in that moment?

Peter

Yes, I think that's his moment. And it's a very difficult thing for him and for the audience because he's proven wrong, because the sniper comes back and kills Hanks's men. But, as with the whole interpretation of the film that you've given about the worth of a life, he rises to the occasion: 'This is a human being; I'll make this option and my men will not be brutal and they will not kill him in cold blood, and we will run that risk and we will be better men of integrity for it'. And, at that moment, he names what he did in his life in its simplicity and its ordinariness. The game and his men's betting about his profession is over. He uses it as a means for them to do a bit of self-transcending as well.

Bernie

And at that moment he has made, albeit an unconscious choice, a decision to follow the decent, the spiritual. Because if he had taken the sniper's life and went on living his private life after the war, would we have an embittered man who would never have learnt what in fact he had learned in that moment? That was a scene about an internal battle as well, wasn't it?

Peter

Yes. And in that sense, then, he's ready to die.

Bernie

Because he's found the oneness.

Peter

Bernie, you asked a question previously about complementarity, and I wrote down White Palace, and you gave the example, Maggie, of John Cleese's wife in Clockwise. It would be worthwhile having something a bit more explicit on that complementarity, at least from a Type perspective. You also asked about people's inferior functions attracting as well as the destructive aspects of that complementarity in relationships. There is both in White Palace, but it is ultimately constructive.

Bernie

That was what I was interested in, the constructive.

Peter

Why I like White Palace is that it's almost schematic in its structure. The opening with James Spader's going into his house almost looks and sounds like somebody who knows Type saying, 'Here is a sketch of an extreme Sensate.' Everything is so neat. And the fact that he straightens the tassels of his rug not only once but twice when they're only a few millimetres out. His cupboards of racks of shirts and suits. The way he puts his watch down on his bureau - he's absolutely meticulous.

Then the contrast with Susan Sarandon's apartment, a sketch of an extreme Intuitive. Her place is a mess, a shambles. But, somehow or other there is an attraction, because she can liberate him and humanise him because he's been trapped in his 'good self' by the death of his wife at such a young age.

Bernie

That's the thing I want to pinpoint, because that's the magic of movies and therapy: there you see and experience how people can liberate one another. James Spader starts to be quite scruffily dressed after being very smart in his Armani suits.

Peter

And she was scatty. I liked her poster on her wall, 'Different day, same shit'. Her name being like that of Marilyn Monroe and all the rest of her chatter. But when
Spader brings her the gift and she is so excited until she opens it and finds it is cleaning equipment, she reacts showing how he has not yet personalised any change. 'You bring me flowers, you bring me jello, you don't bring me cleaning equipment. You bring me that because you care for me'. He argues that she's got ringdings under her chairs. She says it's her house. But, and he has to swallow it, she has actually made her dining room neat and she had cleaned the kitchen.

But she's also come alive in a more genteel way and sees a possibility for settling down.

Maggie

You've got a similar interplay in Calamity Jane with Katy and Calamity. I was interested in how Calamity is almost taken over by the Katy character. Calamity's cabin is made beautiful. You see her in a beautiful dress. She's about to cross the stream but, of course, Calamity being Calamity, she falls in and ends up a mess again. But the next time you see her she is beautifully dressed again. It's when she sings 'Once I Had a Secret Love', but she isn't dressed as a clone Katy. She's now dressed as an assertive Calamity, a Calamity that's allowed herself to become a woman.

Bernie

Feminine as well.

Maggie

But on her own terms - beautiful buckskins, a beautiful shirt and a lovely cowboy hat. She's gorgeous. But she's not the Katy clone.

Peter

She's hasn't just blown in from the Windy City.

Maggie

No, she hasn't blown in like that, but she's gone through the dress bit but you get the idea that she knows who she is now. And Katy leaves town to allow Calamity the stage. But it's through Calamity that Katy's found her voice and her assertiveness. They come together again because Calamity goes back to retrieve Katy. This is interesting because, as in White Palace, these two grow together but they don't become the same person.

Peter

Schematically at the end of White Palace, Susan Sarandon has a job but James Spader is out of work. His inferior function is actually extraverted intuition. Now, for him, everything is open.

Maggie

'I think I'll go back to teaching', he says.

Peter

Yes, everything is open again, which earlier he wouldn't - or couldn't - allow. So he's still himself, but everything is open. She, on the other hand, is still the gregarious type but she's better dressed, she has become more focused, so that her inner sensate, which is her inferior function, enables her to go much more into some meaning to her life. So in that sense you can almost make a diagram of the movie and the characters and interactions and changes.

Bernie

In therapeutic terms, she now has boundaries that she needs, and he has less rigid boundaries. So you come back to the John Cleese Clockwise type as well where his less rigid boundaries dropped as James Spader's dropped. In therapy I often say to people, 'If you want to show love to your partner, give them what they give you'. And the reverse is true, isn't it? So I think that's very important in the work that you're doing with the Myers-Briggs? material in studying relationship, that people get very sharp about the gifts that they're given or the way that their partner expresses love, because that's what expressing love means to that partner. It may not be what they want to receive from that partner, but they're learning what to give that partner, because what they give is what they say is love.

Maggie

That ties in, I think, with the idea of technique, because I think that often the loving isn't presented. You're saying they're not presenting their loving in an adequate way or an understandable way. The loving is there, but they present it wrongly, so that they don't present it at all. They don't ask 'how does this person need me to show them that I love them'.

Bernie

It isn't that they present it wrongly; it's just they come from what they think and feel is love, love that they would like to receive, only the other person doesn't share that model.

Maggie

Yes, that's what I mean by saying the loving is there, but the presentation of the loving does not communicate it. It's like the father in Cat People. You have this man who loves his daughter, but he presents a different type of emotion to the child.

Bernie

It's presenting to the need as opposed to not meeting the need, isn't it?

Maggie

Yes. The need is being met, but the need does not feel as if it's being met.

On another emotion theme, I don't know if anybody's done work on prisoners and on particular crimes as well and what kind of type might have a predilection towards a particular type of crime, given a set of circumstances. But obviously it would all be contained in an institution like a prison. This might lead one to assume, although not in all cases, that the person is under stress, in a stressful stress situation.

Peter

I'd go the other way.

Maggie

So would the less developed function be the thing that would be mapped out much more clearly for you in that situation?

Peter

I wouldn't like to generalise and say, for instance, that all rapists are sensates and all forgers intuitives. I'd rather say, 'Here's a group of forgers', and we look at their different types and realise this one might have forged for one reason, the next for quite a different reason. Regarding the rapist: sensates are obviously much more tactile and more likely to lose their block - extraverted sensates are likely to hit first and think afterwards and, by the way, a majority of men actually identify with those particular characteristics. The intuitive, on the other hand, might say, 'I abhor violence'. I can vouch for that. When I watch a slapstick comedy like The Great Race, where they're throwing pies in people's faces, I can't stand it, because all I'm thinking of is, 'I don't want to be humiliated by having a pie in my face and the mess in having to clean it off', whereas everybody else is roaring laughing.

Maggie

And the fact that Tony Curtis's teeth are gleaming all the way through doesn't move you at all?

Peter

Certainly not! But then I realised that, if I'm under stress, I could erupt and be more violent than any sensate. So that's why I wouldn't like to say rapists tend to be...

Bernie

It's the identification of the shadow first.

Peter

No, I think it best to identify the type first, and then you'll see where the shadow lies. I am an intuitive type but when under stress, I act in my shadow, and there can be a sensate eruption.

Maggie

What I was interested in was the idea that in a prison, particularly a long-stay prison, everybody's under stress in that situation. They're not living in any kind of free way to rise to those more developed aspects of themselves and be comfortable with that.

Peter

Except Tim Robbins and even Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption might say yes, you can.

Maggie

Yes, but while Tim Robbins was in a stress situation, his character came from a thinking conviction of his innocence and a sense of wrongful imprisonment rather than, 'I'm here because of what I've done and I'm stuck with it for 25 years'. If you were in that situation, trying to help the prison staff understand their charges better, how would you use Myers-Briggs?, because would it be the less-developed aspects of the prisoners that would probably be showing up more?

Bernie

I was thinking of Jimmy Boyle. He was one of the toughest prisoners they'd ever had. But he became a great sculptor and writer.

Peter

It's interesting that in the movie version, The Debt Collector, with Billy Connolly as Boyle, that he eventually does erupt after his release. Despite everything in his rehabilitation and the support of wife and friends, when he is put under pressure, he goes back to being the old, tough Jimmy Boyle.

Bernie

This often comes up in therapy, as I'm sure you know, where when people are under pressure, these shadow sides come up again. But theoretically we can get confused with models: does it come up because it's a pattern of model development from the home that they came from, or is it an inherent part of type? Do you see what I mean?

Peter

Yes. Type theory certainly acknowledges both nature and nurture. It holds that nature, in ordinary circumstances, is what prevails and that nurture, for people who are operating 'normally' will allow nature to come through. It might be modified a bit, but it will basically come through. In that sense, type can be used only fruitfully for people who are functioning normally.

Bernie

That's very, very important, I think, to establish.

Peter

Yes. So that if you're dealing with people who are very badly mentally disturbed, or prisoners who are not themselves, I think you can use type, but you have to start asking all kinds of extra questions and using a lot more resources.

Bernie

I think there's a lot to be said about Awakenings because Awakenings is such a good title for what we're doing and has a wider symbolic meaning for what we are trying to say, hopefully, in this book, 'Can we bring about a moment, a now moment where your scales fall away and you see the benefit. Could it be an awakening and an enrichment for your life?'. That's part of the way I'd like to use Awakenings.

I'm sure there's more, but I find it a difficult film, Awakenings. There's something so deep about Awakenings that I wouldn't want to be trite about it.

The work of Oliver Sachs was important but the depth of what it must have meant to those patients and their carers to have a kind of sacred moment. But they also come back to the living and tell them, 'You're the problem. You don't realise what you have. You can't realise the now. We've been away from the now so long that we realise what this means'. But the now is going to be snatched back from them. It's all an experiment. There's the creeping fear and terror they're going to be snatched back into the dark.

I see that as very Buddhist, but it doesn't have to be Buddhist; it can be Catholic, it can be self-realisation. It can be a Van Gogh, a still life where you see the now and experience it with such clarity that the rigidity of personality conditioning drops away, concern about the future drops away and concern about the past. When you are that clear in that moment, you are enlightened.

Peter

From a Type point of view I was looking more at Oliver Sachs himself, his journey and his awakening. I appreciate what you said about the patients. In a sense because they're in the present moment their type doesn't matter so much, nor did it occur to me to think about it. They are in a different experience with their awakenings and those now moments.

But Sachs seemed to me very introverted, not a decisive type, he went with the flow, a strongly thinking type. He was a very theoretical man with his study and research, but intuitive.

Now, that INTP type is actually almost the most laconic of the types in conversation - which seems to be casting Robin Williams against type. They're very private but they're thinking big pictures and trying to construct something new intuitively. It also means that their opposite is one of the most social types. Sachs was presented as socially awkward, he couldn't go out for the cup of coffee.

Bernie

But the nurse was social.

Peter

Yes. But what happened for his patients, as you have described it, also happened to him. He had to move from his theories and big pictures, which he would continue with, because that was what he was good at, to being able to say to the nurse, 'Let's go and have a cup of coffee'. In saying that he would have the cup of coffee, he came down to earth, learnt how to relate, acknowledged that there was an ordinary world in which he also had to live. And for me, that was the awakening of the people who were suffering, and also his awakening. So from the Type angle, I found I was focusing on Sachs and his journey.

Bernie

In terms of that part of his journey, what was very interesting was the symbolism of his glasses getting broken, and he still didn't see. Leonard, de Niro's character, mended the glasses and then Sachs came to life in the real world and he did see. Later you see him lecturing and telling his audiences that it was they (we) who had the problem. What had happened to de Niro internally was now made to happen externally.

Maggie

If I was using Awakenings in Education or in Organisational Training, the organisation itself would have to change. In training, for example, you have care workers who are dealing with people with dementia and they often don't acknowledge that these people have been alive. They don't know who those people were. Once the carers in the film have these individuals in front of them wanting their hair dyed, good at dancing, remembering the old songs, the caring itself takes on a very different aspect. And that's a huge challenge for carers and nurses in situations where they're not going to get that insight into the people they care for, so they're going to have to create it for themselves. They've got to move themselves towards a creative response in remembering that these people are human beings, fully human beings, even though they're not presenting like that. They may be presenting as somebody who can just hold their hand up in the air and maybe with a reflex catch a ball.

In terms of looking at how organisations and individuals within organisations present themselves, I think the doctor in charge was very important. He had the unenviable job of not going for the quick cure where there would be mayhem afterwards, and where there was only a limited amount of money to spend. There were very serious organisational pressures on how he conducted this experiment. He had to keep the place together but did he present that in a way that the viewer could relate to with compassion and sympathy? I don't think he did, and I think the movie character was constructed so that there would be a lack of compassion.

But it helps us question how we take the news about the closing down of a department, a factory and how we present that news. And it's also a matter of support, checking out whether your team has enough support people to ensure that a particular job gets done and done well. Have you got someone like the character of the nurse in Awakenings, someone who's able, professionally, to see what's going on? She was a link with the patients, with the other staff. She smoothes the awkward man's path and gives him the space to do his thinking about what's going on in the situation. And she's very much part of his coming to a much more well-established interactive ability with people. She helps him see things. She prompts him.

Bernie

And that's emotional intelligence.

Maggie

It's recognising everyone in the team and their place. 'Is that the receptionist? Who is it? Who are these people? And do you honour them? Or do you not even notice that's what they're doing?'

Bernie

The work in emotional intelligence is important and you're saying there, Maggie, that the receptionist or someone who's not the receptionist may well be a better receptionist than anyone else in the organisation, because the emotional intelligence that she has or he has for the job is there. The grace is there. It's who do you use where?

Maggie

So to use a dreadful word: as a functionary, she's essential.
And the other doctor was also essential, but there could have been something done about his manner. He was presented as, 'Who do you think you are? I've got this hospital to run'. He was almost contemptuous, almost. And then you see more of him little by little and you can see that this man is reining in his sorrow for the so many that he can't cure, the so many that can't be helped.

Bernie

I wonder if there's some more clarity about technique and presentation. It would be good if the doctor could feel differently, so that it was real, rather than superimpose a way of doing it.

Maggie

But this isn't going to happen in real life. It doesn't. But if you could... If you could get companies, hospitals and organisations to have their staff trained in a real understanding of Myers-Briggs?, to have an educative input, illuminating input, then the deep searching could be taken on board so that they can go and be counselled, helped to see into themselves and into the choices that they make. As an educator I recognise that a lot of the time this is not going to happen. They're not going to be paid for. There's not going to be the time available. It's not going to happen. And you're right, it shouldn't be a question of the emperor and simply new clothes. That man in the movie was, underneath, actually a caring doctor.

Bernie

And you could have seen his anger, his frustration at not being able to do as much as he wanted to, but he had to keep some control on himself, didn't he?

Maggie

And a good trainer should at least be able to illuminate that. But one of the things I feel very strongly about is my recognition that in so many cases those in charge will not spend the money or the time on a proper examination of what's going on in staff. One day's counselling training for the managers, and men think they have been trained.

Bernie

I've spent nine years training, independent of practice.

Maggie

Heartbreaking. But that is the case, I'm afraid.

Bernie

I've had the experience that you're talking about. If you notice in Awakenings the attitude of the two nurses that really want to talk about the girlfriends or whatever it is they're doing, they're chewing gum. If you perceive that as lack of care, you could perceive it as ignorance. But really, it seems to me that it also could be perceived as self-protection from the powerlessness of their situation, because when the patients revive, become human beings and have their now moment, the nurses are very interested in them. It all changes.

Peter

Well, we've come to the end of the conversation. We applied some of our viewpoints to Clockwise, It's a Wonderful Life, Mr Holland's Opus, The Devil's Advocate, Saving Private Ryan, White Palace, Calamity Jane and Awakenings. How is that?

Maggie

OK.

Bernie

Brilliant!












APPENDICES


APPENDIX 1 MOVIES AND YOU/Bernie Wooder

A guide to the positive power of film.

'I want to give expression to the aware ego, the witnessing ego as opposed to the judgmental ego'.

'Movies are the dominant 20th century art form and can be used to explore the whole gamut of human emotions.'

1. What is movie therapy?

Movie therapy happens when a client watches a film that contains relevant issues. It allows the client to view the problem from a different perspective with guidance from the therapist. This allows the client to escape the vicious circle of emotional torment they are living with.

2. What film can do for you.

  • Film enables us to contact deeper feelings which we may not normally be aware of.
  • Film suspends disbelief, helps in therapy of denial or repression.
  • Film indicates what moves the areas of our emotional lives that may need attention.
  • It provides healthy role models for healing.
  • Film can show what is going on inside us by manifesting it on screen.

3. What films can do for you.

  • They can help access and heal negative emotions that may have been affecting the quality of emotional life.
  • They can purge repressed, unhappy negative feelings.
  • They touch and spark off the unconscious memories that the negative feelings originate from.
  • An overall sense of motivation can be created more powerfully than any other way by the combination of music, acting and directing talents.
  • They speed up the process of therapy.

4. Ways to use the power of film.

  • Find the film that moves us.
  • Video/DVD: in the comfort of our own home these methods can lead to a fascinating journey of self-discovery.
* With video/DVD, scenes that affect us can be seen over and over again.
  • Groups of friends can use this method to discuss what aspects of the film touch them.
  • Selection must be based on our experience of viewing the film, even an individual scene.

All people from all walks of life, everyone who goes to the cinema, can shift in their perceptions from sheer entertainment to 'entertainment plus', a road to self-discovery.











APPENDIX 2 MOVIES, MYTHS AND MEANING, A COURSE/Maggie Roux

SESSION ONE: INTRODUCTION.

The importance of stories (narratives) as tools for exploring meanings in out personal lives and in the structures through which we live. We look at some aspects of narrative theory - definitions, structures and devices. We will consider how narrative might shape our understanding of ourselves and others and how ancient stories throw light on the here and now when told through contemporary forms. We discuss Philip Larkin's critique of the 'common Myth Kitty' in that the return to such stories might reflect a retreat from the present and facing up to contemporary difficulties and Daniel Taylor's contention that "You are the stories... They have shaped how you see yourself, the world and your place in it.'

SESSION TWO: ONCE AND FUTURE TALES.

The four main functions of mythology as discussed by Joseph Campbell and Rollo May; the modern implications of the story of Theseus and the bed of Procrustes, the story of Ariadne and the Labyrinth.

SESSION THREE: THE MYTHIC POWER OF FILM.

The work of Bruno Bettleheim through his book 'The Uses of Enchantment' where, in his introductory chapter, he discusses the 'struggle for meaning'.

Through the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Pier Paolo Pasolini, we examine Marshall McLuhan's definition of Myths as 'active metaphors' and power of such metaphors to translate experience into film.

We discuss Roger Angell's point about Martin Scorsese that movies are 'felt long before they are understood' and Geoffrey Hill's contention that besides the emotional impact of the story through film, our 'participation in these cinemyths help alter the consciousness of society, either for good or ill depending on the myths portrayed.'

SESSION FOUR: MYTHIC RITES OF PASSAGE -JOURNEY TO SELF.

The Oedipus story and the search for the truth about selfhood - who we are, what we are about, how do we reconcile the different elements of our characters, our situations, our relationships with others? How do we face up to the consequences of our actions and what are the consequences of refusing to deal with such actions and consequences?

SESSION FIVE: THE HERO QUEST.

The Hero motif as the central theme in mythology. The Hero cycle as a model of ideal behaviour in the sense that the hero takes each ordeal as it comes and rises above the common response. We look at Michael Grant's tribute paid to the contribution for good or ill, made to human civilisation by the concept of the hero in the Iliad and the Odyssey. We examine P.L.Travers' discussion of the hero as a channel through which the gods connect with humankind. We also look at the work of Joseph Campbell on the Hero figure and the Monomyth structure.

SESSION SIX: MESSENGERS FROM THE GODS

Joseph Campbell and the discussion of the mythological function of the 'helper'. We explore characters such as the Ferryman, Hermes, Ariadne, Beatrice, Virgil and the story of Jason and the Argonauts. We examine the Biblical idea of the Messiah, the 'Anointed One' and look at how in the New Testament this figure became associated with Jesus of Nazareth.

We consider the ancient belief across different cultures in divine beings known as Angels signifying the direct intervention of the Divine in human affairs. The mythology surrounding the character of Lucifer, known also as 'Son of the Morning' and 'Light Bearer'.

The character of the 'Alien Messiah' in popular film as a response to the fear of self-annihilation of humankind and the inability to find coherent meaning in the modern world - Hugh Ruppersberg essay in 'The Alien Zone', 'The Alien Messiah' identifies the two stages relating to the appearance of such a figure and his concern about the underlying deception he believes is behind such ideas.

In 'A Cinema of Loneliness', Robert Philip Kolker makes the point that such ideas operate in Spielberg's films as the 'politics of recuperation' and that their function is to dissociate the audience from the reality of the problems that they pose.

SESSION SEVEN: EVIL AND ALL ITS WORKS.

What do we mean by 'evil'? We look at the ancient stories of good and evil from Biblical sources in the Jewish Scriptures, the Mesopotamian hero Gilgamesh and the Greek Hero, Herakles. We explore the gradual development of the idea of the personification of evil in the character of Satan towards the end of the third century BCE and at the development of messianic and apocalyptic beliefs, and the identification of Jesus with this messianic character.

We examine these stories in the light of the Greek myths of Prometheus, Herakles, Theseus and Dionysus and we consider aspects of these stories such as Salvation, Sin, Hell and Eternal Life. We Explore Plato's 'Story of Er' which links us the medieval imaginings of Hell, the place of torment.

We explore the subject of evil, using a discussion on what Jeffrey Burton Russell calls 'radical evil' in his discussion in 'Facing Evil'. Looking then at the language used in the popular press to discuss crimes such as brutal murders we explore the difficulty of finding metaphors to ensure a sufficient sense of what evil is about. Through the story of Oedipus, we examine the failure to confront the consequences of personal activity.

We consider the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the attempt to separate the animal versus the civilised components in human nature. In view of the insistence by Jung that we must recognise the 'dark side' of the psyche, we look at the Star Wars trilogy and Darth Vader's removing his mask and confronting his personal appetite for evil. We also consider the sin of betrayal in Dante's Inferno and between Michael and his brother Fredo in The Godfather II.

SESSION EIGHT: SACRED LANDSCAPE/THE GODDESS

In the first chapter of Alan Paton's 'Cry, the Beloved Country' he honours the land as the repository of human well-being and goodness and considers the fate of the land where the effects of human sin are manifest. We explore ideas of Spirit of Place, Land as Sacred Space, and Land as metaphor for fallen humanity. We read Genesis 2:8-11 and the cursing of the ground in Genesis 3:17-20 due to the sin of Adam and eve; and Elie Weisel's story 'Night' and Claude Lanzmann's film, 'Shoah', the story of Aeneas entering Tartarus after the defeat of Troy and Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now' with the landscape as created horror. There are the 'shaping perceptions' which are imprinted on the stories told of the land such as John Ford's westerns.

Joseph Campbell discussed with Bill Moyers the differences of perception arising from mythologies which have a transcendent creator and those like the Goddess mythologies which have at their centre a tradition of creator materially linked with the created.

SESSION NINE: THE HOLY GRAIL.

The final lecture draws some of the threads together such as the land as metaphor for the spiritual state of the world, the necessity of facing the consequences of personal evil, the hero journey, the requirement of the 'helper' (or the messenger of God), the mix of stories from different cultures and faiths, the search for self, healing for the world and the deep desire for spiritual integrity, emotional health and the manifestation of the transcendent.

We examine the various legends surrounding the Holy Grail including the Cauldron of Plenty, the Cauldron of Immortality and the Cup of Salvation and the source of Enlightenment as well as the Fisher King. The success of the Quest for the Grail requires the qualities of discernment, humility, persistence and the ability to ask the necessary question so that healing can take place.





APPENDIX 3 THE MYERS BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR/Peter Malone

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator looks at a particular way of considering human behaviour and the processes that lie behind our behaviour. It is, of course, not meant to be the explanation of the way we act. Rather, it considers the ways we function: the ways in which we perceive our world, the ways in which we come to grips with it in action.

In the early decades of the 20th century, American Katharine Briggs, an avid student of human nature and a woman of great insight, found that Carl Jung had formulated categories to describe human behaviour and processes that expressed well what she had discovered. Her daughter, Isabel Myers, spent several decades before her death in 1980 , developing theories that she and her mother had worked on along with observations, statistical data and conclusions of her own. After considerable time and testing, she produced a questionnaire designed to gauge the way individuals function. The questionnaire (which has undergone further verification for reliability and validity over several years and which has developed into several more sophisticated forms) is an indicator of preferred ways of functioning.

The main focal points of the MBTI are:

1. The sources of our energy - from within or from the world outside us: the question of introversion and extraversion.

2. The ways we perceive reality, either in present concrete detail sensately or by appreciating hunches and possibilities intuitively.

3. The ways we act, either thinking clearly logically or, in a more subjective way, basing our decisions on our personal values before logic - feeling.

4. The way we act in the outer world whether we are introverts or extraverts: our propensity for decisiveness, and judging, or for keeping our options open and data-gathering, perceiving.

The symbols used are:

E for Extraversion, I for Introversion
S for Sensation, N for Intuition
T for Thinking, F for Feeling
J for Judging, P for Perceiving.

Jung observed that people show a preference for the world in which they operate best. The preference could be slight or marked. And, of course, the strength of the preference varies at different times of our lives, let alone at different times of the day. But it is a preference nonetheless. This ordinary human behaviour and the natural preference cannot be labelled right or wrong and neither is better than the other.

- Extraversion, in the way Jung and his interpreters have used the word, means an attitude by which a person prefers the outer world of people and things to their own inner world. It is where they draw their energy from, the world they look to when they need replenishment. Introversion can be very draining.

- Introverts, Jung would say, are those who are more comfortable in their own inner world of ideas, feelings and imagination. They draw their energy and their replenishment from within. Extraversion can be very draining.

Jung also noted now people perceived their world. At their extremes, our ways of noticing tend toward opposite poles - although we are able to and do function in both ways. It is just that one is more congenial and comfortable.

- Basically, sensing indicates awareness through the five senses. this way of perceiving anchors us in reality, the reality of the outer world as well as the reality of our inner world. The great qualities of this way of functioning are attentiveness, a strong sense of presence, awareness of detail of time and space and, though we are all prone to untidiness, a sense of order. If we are sensate people, we take it for granted that we are down to earth, and realistic.

- But there are other people who are not such 'feet on the ground' types. They are definitely 'up in the air'. They are hardly realistic - at least, not all the time. They overlook detail, often not noticing it until it is pointed out by the eager sensate. They are intuitive. The great qualities of this way of functioning seem to do with leaps of understanding, capacity for making links and associations between seemingly disparate realities, sixth sense vibes and hunches.

Jung noted that we go into action in either of two ways. They appear to be contraries. However, each of us uses both. We are simply more comfortable with one way than with the other.

- Here the two preferred ways of functioning are thinking and feeling. The thinking function means that we go into action on the basis of principle, order, clear thinking, logic and consequences. This sounds somewhat impersonal and it is. The thinking function enables us to make decisions that are part of our integrity. Thinkers aim for objectivity.

- The feeling function has an inbuilt difficulty in its name. Jung was not referring to feeling in its emotional sense. It is true to say that many thinkers can be quite impassioned (feeling, emotional) in their stances on principle. Some feelers may seem far less emotional in their personalised decisions, 'cool', more phlegmatic in manner. The feeling function responds to values rather than to logic. Its preference is for more varied factors to be introduced into decision-making: circumstances, the need for harmony. Feelers include more subjective elements in their decisions and actions.

These ways of deciding and acting are not necessarily opposed. They both offer rational criteria for decisions. In fact, they are complementary. The thinker's strength is in the affirmation of principle (where the feeler might be too caught up in a personalised view of the matter). The feeler's strength is in the nuances of a situation that might require more attention and appreciation (where the thinker might ride roughshod over people for the sake of truth).

And, whether we are extraverts or introverts, how do we act 'in the world?

- Some want 'to get the show on the road'. Others want to gather more data before the show gets on the road. The former often appear decisive, the latter indecisive. The first is judging. However, judging does not signify being critically judgmental. Rather, it is to be understood as the propensity for making judgments and putting them into action.

- The second is perceiving. This does not mean that a person is necessarily perceptive in the sense that he or she has great sensitivity towards people. Rather, it means that the person is open to more and more data.

The great strength of judging is that decisions are congenial and get made. The great strength of perceiving is that more detail becomes available for a more comprehensive decision or more creative insights are offered for a wider range of decisions.

Clearly no one acts out in a textbook fashion the attitudes and functions that have been described. The descriptions (better than 'labels' which has overtones of glib naming and narrow interpretation) are helpful in naming facets of our processes and behaviour and encouraging us to explore them further.

The MBTI highlights the sixteen possible combinations that result:

There are four types which are comfortable with sensate-thinking functioning:

ISTJ
ISTP
ESTP
ESTJ

There are four types which are comfortable with sensate-feeling functioning:

ISFJ
ISFP
ESFP
ESFJ

There are four types which are comfortable with intuitive-feeling functioning:

INFJ
INFP
ENFP
ENFJ

There are four types which are comfortable with intuitive-thinking functioning:

INTJ
INTP
ENTP
ENTJ

As indicated in the conversation in this book, there is a great deal more to Psychological Type. But this will serve as introductory background.

This material on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator has been abridged from the introduction to Peter Malone, Let a Viking Do It, Hagar and Family Illustrate the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (David Lovell, Melbourne, 1996).


Acknowledgement: Claire Openshaw for the transcription of the discussions.

Created by: malone last modification: Tuesday 25 of August, 2015 [05:25:26 UTC] by malone


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