A Dangerous Method Essay
A Dangerous Method
David Cronenberg’s latest film, “A Dangerous Method,” recounts the relationship between two psychiatry pioneers, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, in the early part of the 20th century. Michael Fassbender as Jung, Viggo Mortensen as Freud, and Keira Knightley as Jung’s patient and future psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein. It’s Jung around whom the story revolves, as a rising young intellect attempting to build on Freud’s fledgling theories of psychoanalysis.
In Cronenberg’s version, we watch as their professional relationship evolves from student-teacher to one more like father-son, before eventually fracturing. Jung has a wife (Sarah Gadon) who spends most of the film either pregnant or lamenting that she’s popped out yet another girl. It’s a stable, normal relationship, exactly the type of thing to send a driven man like Jung into the arms of another woman. He can’t help himself, and he has a willing and ready partner in Spielrein. Knightley’s Spielrein is a patient of Jung’s during this time.
With Spielrein’s committal and therapy sessions with Jung, she states, “I’m vile, filthy, corrupt! ”, after admitting she found her father’s sexual and physical abuse arousing. The complexity of the situation is demonstrated by her academic and personal development. After an unusual on-off affair with Jung, whose disagreements with Freud are presented simultaneously, But it’s her romantic relationship with her mentor, in addition to varied professional differences, that Cronenberg tells us is at the center of Jung’s falling-out with Freud.
There are reasons that doctors shouldn’t sleep with their patients, many of which surface during the course of Jung and Spielrein’s romance. As the relationship breaks down, things are further complicated by the fact that Spielrein is a psychiatric student herself, allowing her to analyze her doctor/lover right back. Spielrein eventually seeks out Freud to be her new analyst, which further poisons the Jung-Freud relationship. Sexuality issues portrayed in this film were the arousal from the beatings from her father and the affair that Spielrein was having with Jung.
The beatings she first remembered started when she was four years old. Her father told her to go to this little room, then told her to take off her clothes, he then beat her. After the beating she then wet herself, and her father then beat her again for wetting. This excited her very much. After that every time she got sent to that room she got excited, then even more excited after her father beat her. She would instantly have to go masturbate after the beatings.
After a little time it wasn’t just the beating that got her aroused, it was any kind of embarrassment. The more embarrassing the more excited she would become. One instance in the movie Spielrein dropped her coat on the ground, Jung picked it up and started hitting it with his cane to get the dirt off of it and she instantly needed to go back to her room because she was so excited that she needed to masturbate. The affair with Jung was of course inappropriate in many ways, but for Jung I saw it as a way to keep his life exciting.
His wife always seemed to be pregnant and very low key and having the extra woman on the side kept him going. Not that it makes it okay, especially since it was clients that he was sleeping with. Even after Jung put a stop to the relationship with Spielrein, later when she came back to talk about her dissertation they then had another intimate encounter. The more Jung spoke with her, the more they explored her past with her father, and this gave Jung a better understanding of what things made her more aroused then others.
At one point in the movie Spielrein is asked about her troubles sleeping at night. She explains that she feels like something is in bed with her and it felt slimy on her back. Jung then asked if she was naked, and her response was yes. He then asked if she was masturbating, and her response again was yes. This told him it wasn’t all her imagination it was also parts of her arousal while masturbating. I loved this film, I have now watched it three times.
It shows how sometimes peoples pasts can really affect their daily life with something such as embarrassment, or being beaten as a child. It was very eye opening to me to see how easily Jung started sleeping with his clients, and how his wife just didn’t say much at all about the affairs. Almost like if she didn’t say anything then it didn’t make it real. The first time watching this movie I found myself on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what was going to happen next, and how they were going to deal with her outbursts and situations.
I think this movie would be great for awareness, because it seemed so easy for them to go into a relationship, but really it is very wrong to become emotionally attached to a client, let alone sleep with them. I know this movie probably isn’t quite for everyone, but going into a human services field I think it would be a great movie to show in one of the many classes that regards to client and helper relationships. I found it intriguing and informational and I love building my knowledge when it comes to situations with helpers and clients.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 January 2017
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