By: Dr Ang Yong Guan
Amos splits people into 2 groups: you either like him or you don’t (aside from those who can’t be bothered). Those who like him thinks he is very intelligent but emotionally immature and therefore needs to be helped. Those who don’t like him think he is too manipulative and attention seeking and they suggest just leave him alone.
This whole saga reminds me of the movie “Goodwill Hunting.” 20 years old Will Hunting (acted by Matt Damon), an orphan who was traumatised by his foster father, was clearly of superior IQ with limited schooling. He was unable to regulate his moods and was often impulsive without considering the consequences of his actions. He had aggressive tendency and often got involved in fights, one of which landed him charged in court for assault.
One day, he was spotted by a Professor of Mathematics when he successfully solved a difficult mathematical problem which the whole graduate class could not solve. He was then working as a cleaner at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The professor fought for him to avoid jail; he proposed to the court that instead of jail, he would take Will under his supervision to study Mathematics and at the same time, ensure that Will attends psychotherapy sessions to resolve his underlying psychological problems.
The first part of the deal was easy, the second was difficult because it was not easy to engage Will in psychotherapy. He was taken by the Professor to see several counsellors / psychologists (including a hypnotist) but none of them was able to help him. He seemed able to put all of them in his pocket and in some cases, even ridiculed them. The professor did not give up; he finally brought him to see Dr Sean Maguire (acted by Robin Williams) who managed, using rather unconventional psychotherapy techniques, to engage Will and finally, succeeded in healing Will’s deep-seated psychological wounds.
The film shows the difficulty Dr Sean had in the initial few sessions to engage Will in a therapeutic relationship. Will often taunted Dr Sean with sarcasm and constantly devalued the therapist. There was a session when both did not speak for 45 minutes. Will wanted to prove that he was in control of the session and had hoped that Dr Sean would break the silence. Dr Sean did not. Will lost. It was as if both were locked in a show of power (who would break the silence first!). Through such unconventional methods, Dr Sean slowly, surely and painstakingly won over Will’s respect and trust. A wonderful and meaningful therapeutic relationship ensued leading to personality growth for Will. Will regained his self-esteem and emotional security and showed less need to be defensive and argumentative. The need to put people down and win all the time also disappeared. Will finally found himself.
Will Amos be able to find his Dr Sean?
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