Both movies, Ordinary People and Good Will Hunting, describe the relations between therapists and their patients. Ordinary People represent the life of the family which tries to return to normal life after their teenage son Conrad makes a suicide attempt. After returning home from hospital Conrad decides to see psychiatrist Dr. Berger. Dr. Berger finds the source of suicidal behavior. He realizes that Conrad blames himself in the death of his older brother, Duck. Conrad suffers because of guild and posttraumatic stress. Conrad can not come in terms with his loss and suicide becomes his attempt to run away from pain and grief. Conrad was overshadowed by the talents and bright personality of Buck when he was alive and he can not overcome the feeling of guilt and estrangement from his friend and family when his brother is dead. In Good Will Hunting the main character is also haunted by the feeling of guilt and personal imperfection. This feeling is rooting in his difficult childhood and abusive parents. In both movies the main reasons of sense of guild and low self-esteem and estrangement from the people are result of family relations. In Good Will Hunting these feelings are the result of hard childhood and abusive parents, and in Ordinary People these feelings and provoked by terrible tragedy.
In Ordinary People Dr. Berger makes everything possible to help Conrad to overcome his feeling of guild and to find strength to continue living. Personal talk and analysis are main methods the doctor uses.
In Good Will Hunting Sean also makes everything possible to help his character to overcome the feeling of guilt and to come in touch with his real dreams and desires.
Will: So what does it say? Will has an attachment disorder? Fear of abandonment? Is that why I broke up with Skylar?
Sean: Didn’t know you had. Wanna talk about it?
[Will shakes his head, stares off]
Sean: Will, you see this, all this shit?
[Holds up the file, and drops it on his desk]
Sean: It’s not your fault.
Will: [Softly, still staring off] I know…
Sean: No you don’t. It’s not your fault.
Will: [Serious] I know.
Sean: No. Listen to me son. It’s not your fault (IBDM).
In Good Will Hunting the protagonist, Will Hunting also goes the session of psychotherapy with Doctor Sean Maguire. Professor Gerald Lambeau takes patronage of ordinary janitor when he finds out about his extraordinary gift in mathematics. Session with the psychotherapist is one of Lambeau’s necessary conditions he puts to Will in exchange for his help. Professor turns to the help of his childhood friend Sean. Sean does everything possible to find the reason of Will’s behavior, his motifs and reasons. They use the method of psychoanalysis and personal talk. Their meetings also contain the elements of person-centered therapy and cognitive therapy. Doctor Sean wants to find the deepest reasons of his patient’s behavior. In the beginning of their professional relations Will does everything possible to sabotage the work of Sean. He does not want to come in
Doctor Sean finds himself in difficult situation when he finds out that his patient has experienced same domestic violence and abuse as he himself did in the childhood. Now he has to deal with the problem he has experienced himself and from the one side it simplifies the task but from the other side makes it more difficult.
Will: [Sean is going through Will’s profile. Inside we see are pictures of Will after brutal assaults by his foster parents] You ever have any, uh, experience with that?
Sean: Twenty years of counseling, I’ve seen some pretty awful shit.
Will: No. I mean, have you ever had any experience with that?
Sean: Personally? Yeah. Yeah I have.
[Sean looks away for a moment]
Sean: I’m sure it ain’t good (IBDM).
Sean finally discovered deep feeling of guild which directs all thought and actions of Will. This feeling is rooted in childhood abuse and Sean wants his patients to get rid of this feeling. Will influences Sean as well. He became the driving force which makes the doctor to face his own problems and fears.
Dr. Berger also meets a kind of moral dilemma while working with his patient. Conrad’s family can not provide him necessary support after the death of his brother, same like after his attempt to commit a suicide. Dr. Berger finds himself in a difficult situation and meets a kind of a moral dilemma. While he makes everything possible to prove Conrad that his parents really care for him and truly love him, he gradually finds out that Conrad’s mother Beth does not show any good attitude to her younger son. Beth’s feelings are frozen if any, and even when Conrad follows Dr Berger’s advice and tells his mom about his feeling and hugs her she distances from him.
To my opinion, despite both therapists show high professional level, they both make mistakes in their actions. Dr. Berger does not recognize the essence of relations between Conrad and his mother. He pushes the boy to reveal his feeling to his mother in order to be rejected again. Despite it finally clears up the situation, this experience is too hard for the teenager who experiences hard trauma after the death of his older brother. Dr. Maguire starts too personal relations with the patient. The patient provokes him to start dealing with his personal problems. Despite these facts are good for the plot of the movie, they do not correspond to the medial ethics. Probably I would choose non of the therapists. When speaking about the patients, I think that Conrad’s case is interesting and challenging. I would be interested to help him to pass through the feeling of loss and to build normal relations with his parents