Healing Homes — a guest review


This is a guest post by Marian at Different Thoughts. I posted about this film earlier but did not do a thorough review.

There is now a collection of films by Daniel Mackler and they are very important documentation about programs that help people heal from such conditions that are labeled schizophrenia and psychotic. See posts on Beyond Meds that feature Daniel’s work here.

Thought to be chronic and hopeless, here in the United States and most of the Western world we see that it’s simply not true and that the method of treatment and care in the United States is actually detrimental. The programs and individuals that Daniel Macklers documents in these films all recover from these “hopeless illnesses” often with little or no medication at all and certainly not for a lifetime.

Review of Healing Homes by Marian:

Yesterday morning, Daniel Mackler’s new film Healing Homes. An Alternative, Swedish Model for Healing Psychosis was in my mailbox. I’ve watched it four times since then.

If you know Daniel’s previous film,Take These Broken Wings, this one is different. Healing Homes is an informal, often contemplative, and also raw, and at the same time very intimate and personal film.

Instead of the carefully staged interviews we saw in Take These Broken Wings, in Healing Homes Daniel Mackler takes a step back as a director, and leaves the scene almost entirely to the participants in the film, joining them only as just one more participant himself. This allows him to capture the essence of what Familjevårdsstiftelsen, the Family Care Foundation, in Gothenburg, Sweden, is all about: fearless openness and authenticity. Take These Broken Wings showed us, in a very professional way, how full recovery from “psychosis”/”schizophrenia” without drugs is possible, even likely, with the help of a professional therapist. Healing Homesgoes further, not only explicitly revealing a truth about the human being Carina Håkansson, founder of the Family Care Foundation, but indeed revealing the truth about crisis to be a state of being human to an extreme extent that can be understood and overcome with the help of other human beings who are not afraid to be extremely human themselves. This is what this film is about. The healing power of being oneself, genuinely, uncompromisingly. And not just behind the closed-door of a therapist’s office, but in all life situations, which is what the family home, “det utvidgade terapirummet”, the extended therapy room, invites to.

Just like Daniel Mackler himself, I’m quite suspicious of professionalism in the field. As the Norwegian psychologist Christian Moltu wrote in his article “Det konkrete, mellommenneskelige” (The actual, interpersonal) in 2009, all too often therapists make use of therapy techniques, of their professionalism, as a kind of shield they can hide behind whenever they don’t manage to stay present, and truly meet their clients where these are at. Healing Homesnevertheless has convinced me that professionalism can be of great value if it is used as a means to prevent exactly this distancing, alienating, the other dehumanizing use of itself, if it is used to help the therapist, and whoever else interacts with a person in crisis, stay present with the person in any given situation by being “professionally” human, conscious about and self-aware of one’s own as well as the person in crisis’ humanness.

“It’s about people, and… people. Giving love to people”, Therése says in the film about the Family Care Foundation. And it is what the film not only is about, but what it actually does, fearlessly and uncompromisingly with great respect and love allowing people to be who they are. I’ve watched Healing Homes four times now, each time discovering new, fascinating details. It’s a film I’ll watch again and again. For the details, but first and foremost for its love for people that is the magic behind the success of the Family Care Foundation as well as the magic of this film.

Order the film here, and watch it, again and again.

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