The Soloist – From My Perspective

One of my student in University (Widya Mandala Catholic University, Surabaya, Indonesia) suggested me to watch a movie, The Soloist. He said that the movie would be a benefit for our discussion in Social Intervention class. So, I gave myself a try.

He was right.

The Soloist is a story about a homeless man, named Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, Jr – well played by Jamie Foxx. Nathaniel used to be a very talented musician and entered one of the biggest music school in the US. But something happened in his previous years and let him wander along the streets of LA.

His story was unknown to public, until he met, Steve Lopez, a columnist in LA Times – well played by Robert Downey Jr. Lopez wrote many stories about Nathaniel and his columns gained appraisal from the community.

But what interest me the most from the movie is the fact that we live in a real world – with so many schizophrenics around us. The young and talented Nathaniel was showing symptoms of psychotic disorder – delusion, auditory hallucinations, distorted perception, but never had a chance of receiving any treatment. This condition was a big concern of Lopez, and he asked the social worker to bring Nathaniel to mental health professionals.

From a professional view, Lopez suggested the right thing – get medication to help Nathaniel. But from personal point of view, Lopez is not always right. Nathaniel has the right to keep living his life the way he want to, unless he holds potential danger for himself or others.

Even though the movie didn’t really capture the stress contributing factors of Nathaniel’s delusional beliefs, but it shows the vulnerability of himself. Since very young, Nathaniel used to lock himself for his musical practice and the world went without having him in it. This condition was worsen when he started to hear voices and telling him to do things. In this condition, Nathaniel believes that he has no power to resist or refuse the commands given by the voices.

Any delusional belief bears personal meaning to the individual. Sometimes the voice soothes their mind, therefore they choose to live in those voices. Like a scene in the movie, when a lady told the others about the effect of medication that she had. She said that the voice that soothe her suddenly disappeared whenever she took the medication. Not every voice that individual hears can do good, because sometimes it can do harm as well. Therefore, they are suggested to take medications.

The topic of schizophrenia is my new love story. Since mid 2009, I started to learn more about schizophrenia and the individuals who has been diagnosed as schizophrenics. The way they see the world is special – it’s like the title of one Lopez’s article: Life has its own mind. If you want to understand them, then you have to walk out from your stool and lay low. Be with them and understand what their minds try to tell you.

Writing is my way to share it to you.

Review : Antwone Fisher

I’ve watched this movie before, because the cast is my favorite for all time, Denzel Washington. But during School of Children Counselling, the purpose of watching this movie had been changed. We had to look through the effect of abuse that Antwone had to deal in his childhood years. He’d been abandoned by her mother since he was born (in the jail) and he had to stay with foster family or in government house. Don’t forget to notice the physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse that he had gone through his childhood.

Child counsellor, child psychologist and parents need to watch this movie for 2 purposes:

  1. To understand the condition of the victims in many abuse cases. This movie describes the condition of Antwone during and after the abuse occurred. We can learn to understand how it felt for a child to be beaten, strangled and sexually abused. We can get the general idea on how that abuse will affect a child in his teens and adult life.
  2. To look inside ourselves of what we have done to children around us, could be our own children or those who are working with us. We tend to do ‘daily abuse’ such as: look down at a child, swearing, call them by name and many more.

The real Antwone Fisher

The real Antwone Fisher

Because of the abuse that he had in his childhood, Antwone is now a grown up man who can’t handle his feeling toward others. He will easily punch his co-workers in the Navy, but he also afraid to get into relationship with woman. He never kissed a woman or have physical contact with them, since the day when a young woman in foster care abused him sexually. This movie captured that moment perfectly! When Antwone had to kiss his girlfriend, he could relieving the moment of that abuse. But, with love and real affection from his girlfriend, Antwone can get through that moment.

Step by step, he’s doing what needs to be done. He looked out for his true family – his mother and relatives from his father (who had been shot by his ex-girlfriend). At first, he imagined that this reunion would be something terrifying, but by the time he met them, he can get his sense of belonging back. He felt that he has identity as someone else’ family and that feeling has been missing from his heart since long.

during session

during session

The process of helping Antwone, also has a deep impact on the psychiatrist who helped him. That process helped him to get out from his own marriage problem. It seems that when we help other people, we help ourselves too. The meaning of giving is never ending, we can always give something that we have to others and eventually, we will get something back in return (Well, I’m not talking in a business way of thinking).

If you want to know more, this movie worth a watch…