Many of us feel like we know Jonah Hill thanks to the false closeness we feel to celebrities, but the truth is, we just don’t. However, there is one man who knows him perhaps better than anyone else in his life. This guy is Phil Stutz – Hill’s handler.
Last month, the actor and filmmaker launched a project unlike anything he’s done before, in the form of a mental health documentary on Netflix. Stutz. The film delves into the life of Hill’s friend and famous Hollywood therapist, Phil Stutz. Viewers are offered a front row seat to the former prison psychiatrist and co-author’s methods Tools, He offers to his patients.
But the movie is more accurate than just a self-help guide. During the documentary, it became clear that the Oscar-nominated actor hasn’t been feeling well the past few years. The actor excels in the documentary with his own struggles; From shock surrounding his weight, to grief over his brother’s untimely death (in 2017, Hill’s older brother, Jordan, died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism). But the focus is always on Stutz’s personal life and contraptions — concepts like “Life Force” or “Shadow self” adoption — that can help viewers with mental health issues.
Aside from bucking the trend of celebrity-directed, self-focused mental health documentaries and the irrelatable effects of fame, the documentary has been lauded for offering a lifeline to viewers who may not be able to afford a therapist like Stutz, who has been practicing for more than two decades. . Stutz It also reveals an immeasurable connection between Hill and his therapist. The pair have an easy style of communication: they swear at each other frequently, Stutz jokingly tells Hale to “shut up and listen to what I say,” and, in a poignant scene, Hale openly says he has no idea what will happen to him when Stutz, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, dies.
The documentary raises many questions about the kind of relationship we can have with a therapist and also: Is it okay to use this documentary as a guide to navigating our mental health struggles? we asked James Davies, qualified psychotherapist and author Psychedelic: How Modern Capitalism Created the Mental Health Crisisfor his thoughts on documentary film and Stutz’s methods.
VICE: Hi James, thanks for talking to VICE. So, is Stutz a good therapist? James Davies: The assessment of whether someone is a “good therapist” depends on the procedure used. From the point of view of some procedures, Stutz rejects much that is associated with good therapeutic work—keeping boundaries, not giving advice and not relying on untested theories. But with other measures—developing a good therapeutic relationship, setting shared goals, and showing warmth and empathy—it seems to be doing very well. There is certainly a discussion to be had here.
Innovation always begins with overreach, but the best innovators actively encourage testing of their ideas—they seek validation through empirical inquiry and don’t rely solely on positive anecdotes. Stutz builds on the latter, breaking away from the tradition of science-led clinical practice—make that what you want.
How does Stutz as a “famous and pioneering psychiatrist” differ from a psychotherapist viewers might see?
Davies: It’s different in many ways: Stutz developed his ideas and practices in a very unique environment, working with Hollywood’s highly privileged elite. Many of his clients seem to believe that he gives them special access to “higher world powers” as long as they apply his tools unquestioningly. For his approach, he claims an almost transcendental status, like a shaman, divine, or necromancer.
It demands complete faith in order to heal and transform lives. What distinguishes this approach from work in clinical psychology is that it is completely detached from any scientific evidence base. Instead of evidence, we have faith. Instead of research-led practice, we have engaging leadership. If or when his approach “works,” I suspect it has less to do with the reasons he provides—tools that bring you closer to universal power—and more to do with his approach invoking ‘common factors’, as we call them in psychology. Essentially, this means fueling faith, hope, and the placebo effect. The power of listening, feeling close and feeling supported.
Is there a problem with your processor authenticating the way Hale seems to have?
Davies: There is a large body of research literature on why the therapeutic framework, as it is called, is so important – it creates security, facilitates recovery, and protects clients from rogue practitioners/practices. It maintains the idea that therapists exist to help clients create the most fulfilling relationships in their lives—rather than serving as some kind of paid surrogate. I trust the general orientation of that literature.
Do you think that the documentary film and its methods can work instead of personal therapy?
Davies: It’s a cool, attractive watch, and I also really like Stutz as a person. But I don’t think watching a documentary—and temporarily adopting some of its suggestions—will be a substitute for good, long-term personal therapy. I suspect Stutz would agree to that, too.
Therapists rarely advise or instruct, but Stutz takes a more directed approach to Hill – is that a problem?
Davies: There are some very good psychological reasons why many therapists do not recommend it. presumably we know better; This means that we assume power over other people’s lives and decisions (which can, over time, be very frustrating for the client) and nurture dependency in our client (they learn to follow us, rather than develop their own instincts for what’s right, and their own decision-making abilities). Aside from moments of crisis management – where some advice may certainly be appropriate – most therapists steer clear of the “power grab”, due to its potentially harmful long-term effects.
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