The new Chronenberg movie “A dangerous method” starring Kira Knightly and Michael Fassbender tells the story of a therapist having a tumultuous (and sexual) relationship with a female patient. This makes for great cinema, but is this film glamorizing having sex with a patient? This is a major medical misconduct and could also be considered sexual abuse.

That’s something I’ll be taking a look at today.

The situation

Sabina Spielrein: A vulnerable young woman is admitted to a mental hospital where she is care by the future famous Carl Jung. She’s a brilliant woman and eventually is revived from her mental malaise. During this time and possibly after, she and Jung have a sexual relationship. She ends up becoming the first ever female psychoanalysis.

Happy ending, right? In theory, but what if she had been more seriously mentally ill? What if the actor playing Jung wasn’t the handsome Michael Fassbender?

What really went on in mental institutions during this time?

Sadly the truth is many women were sexually abused in institutions during the early 1900′s. What makes this case any different? The fact that this woman is intelligent and “strong spirited”? Even if she came onto him and she was a smart woman, she was also troubled and in an incredibly vulnerable position.  What was the age difference between these two anyway? Ten, fifteen years?

Sure Jung might have had an actual romance with his patient, but that is still a strong breach of trust. As a therapist, it doesn’t matter what the situation is, he should have kept the interest of his patient first and foremost in his mind.

A sexual relationship does not help a person’s mental care, it only more on their mind. At a time when Sabina should have been focusing on her recovery, she was instead obsessing about her therapist. He should have known better. He was married, it’s not like he was a deprived man.

In my mind the only thing that makes this movie palatable is the attractive actors and the story of a woman eventually rising up, out of an institution and trying to help others who where in the same situation.

David Cronenberg is always a controversial director, but this time, I think he’s gone too far.