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‘Seishin’ Draws Back Curtain on Mental Illness and Society

Seishin / Mental (Soda Kazuhiro, Japan) (European Premiere)
Berlinale 2009, Forum
Monday, February 9
Read the Forum synopsis

The patients who visit Chorale Okayama have profound illnesses – schizophrenia, severe depression – many are self-abusive, some are suicidal. Through several deftly filmed consultations and other encounters, we learn Dr. Yamamoto Masatomo’s original, thoroughly humanistic, and highly social therapeutic method.

Dr. Yamamoto suggests practical tools patients can use to share their perspective with others and guides them to make incremental steps toward self-determined goals. His skillful and caring staff provide practical support and education toward meeting essential tasks of daily life – creating, working, paying bills, preparing food, cleaning house, planning an evening out. Focused on "rebuilding the whole person," doctor, staff, and ultimately the patients create a uniquely functional community.

During the course of the film, we see how several patients develop remarkable insight and critical acuity, both about their illness and about the relationship of the individual to society. Even while realizing their vulnerability to pathological processes, they accept responsibility for their actions. And in pulling the curtain back on this taboo subject – taboo not only in Japan – each one begins to realize that "I’m mentally ill, but no one is perfect."

Visit the film website.

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