Writer's Commentary: Not Your Fault

On Post: Not Your Fault

Date: January 2, 2013

Find it here

I cannot speak for all people in the field of psychology but I can say that amongst my peers and professors, Good Will Hunting has a reputation for portraying therapy fairly poorly. Is Robin Williams good in the role? Definitely. Is the relationship between him and Damon’s character dramatic compelling? In my mind, yes. But it is not really what is usually defined as a “good” or “proper” therapeutic approach. And the zenith of that is, of course, Williams’s repetition of “It wasn’t your fault” (paraphrased). So when “Not Your Fault” came up on the old randomizer, that’s where my mind immediately went.

Don't worry, he's still better than here than he is in Patch Adams. (Picture from  actoroscar.blogspot.com     )

Don't worry, he's still better than here than he is in Patch Adams. (Picture from actoroscar.blogspot.com)

As covered in the past, when I do write about people doing therapy, in therapy, acknowledging the existence of therapy, I try to be very, very careful so as not to just be pure but appear pure as well. Confidentiality, for obvious reasons, is incredibly important to clients and no one wants to feel even remotely like their therapist is violating their confidentiality to enhance his or her ability to write fiction. So, I try to write about therapeutic experiences I have not have so there is no chance or temptation to incorporate other people’s stories. So while I’ve worked in a prison, it was a woman’s prison and it was not as someone evaluating if a suspect is fit to stand trial, satisfying my desire for distance.

In another way, however, I do feel like I might have not achieved enough distance. I do find myself a little concerned that the truths the therapist discusses regarding typical individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopaths in more common parlance) versus their cinematic depictions read less like dialogue and more like a lecture from me inserted into a fictional man’s mouth. I didn’t feel like that when I wrote it, nor when I just re-read it to write this commentary. Still, in between the writing and the re-reading it occurred to me that it might be too lecture-y. Perhaps I’m being a bit too overanalytic.

(That’s not a therapy joke but if it enhances my status in your eyes do feel free to approach it that way.)