Depression
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
A Mood ApartA Sadly Troubled HistoryActive Treatment of DepressionAdolescent DepressionAdult Bipolar DisordersAgainst DepressionAgents in My BrainAmerican ManiaAmerican MelancholyAn Unquiet MindArtificial HappinessBeating the BluesBefore ProzacBeyond BlueBiological UnhappinessBipolar DisorderBipolar Disorder DemystifiedBipolar Disorder in Childhood and Early AdolescenceBipolar DisordersBipolar ExpeditionsBlaming the BrainBoy InterruptedBritain on the CouchCalm EnergyCase Studies in DepressionChange Your ThinkingChronic DepressionComprehending SuicideConquering Postpartum DepressionConquering the Beast WithinCry Depression, Celebrate RecoveryDamageDepressionDepression 101Depression and GlobalizationDepression and NarrativeDepression Doesn't Always Have to Be DepressingDepression FalloutDepression in ContextDepression Is a ChoiceDepression SourcebookDepression, Emotion and the SelfDepression, the Mood DiseaseDepression-Free for LifeDetourDiagnostic Issues in Depression and Generalized Anxiety DisorderDown Came the RainDowning Street BluesDysthymia and the Spectrum of Chronic DepressionsEight Stories UpElectroboyElectroshockEssential Psychopharmacology of Depression and Bipolar DisorderExperiences of DepressionFacing BipolarFast GirlFatal AttachmentsGetting Your Life BackGod HeadHandbook of DepressionHandbook of DepressionHello to All ThatHelping Students Overcome Depression and AnxietyHow Everyone Became DepressedHow I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill MeHurry Down SunshineI am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!Journeys with the Black DogLeaving YouLet Them Eat ProzacLife InterruptedLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Lifting DepressionLifting the WeightLincoln's MelancholyLiving Without Depression and Manic DepressionLong ShotLucy Sullivan Is Getting MarriedMadnessMaking Sense of SuicideMalignant SadnessManiaManicManic DepressionManufacturing DepressionMelancholiaMindfulness for Urban Depression: Tools for Relief from Stressful City LivingMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMood GenesMoody Minds DistemperedMy DepressionNatural Healing for DepressionNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNew Hope For People With Bipolar DisorderNew Hope for People with DepressionNight Falls FastNovember of the SoulOn DepressionOn the Edge of DarknessOne in ThirteenOrdinarily WellOut of the BlueOutsmarting DepressionOvercoming DepressionPerfect ChaosPotatoes Not ProzacProzac and the New AntidepressantsProzac BacklashProzac HighwayProzac NationProzac NationPsychotic DepressionPuppy Chow Is Better Than ProzacQuiet Your Mind & Get to SleepRaising a Moody ChildReasons to Stay AliveScattershotSelf-CoachingSightlinesSilencing the Self Across CulturesSilent GriefSongs from the Black ChairSongs Without WordsSpeaking of SadnessSpontaneous HappinessStudent DepressionSubordination and DefeatSuicidal Behavior in Children and AdolescentsSuicideSunbathing in the RainSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving Manic DepressionSwing LowSylvia Plath ReadsTalking Back to ProzacTaming Your Inner BratThe Aesthetics of DisengagementThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Mood DisordersThe Anatomy of MelancholyThe Anti-Depressant Fact BookThe Antidepressant EraThe Antidepressant SolutionThe Antidepressant Survival ProgramThe BeastThe Bell JarThe Best AwfulThe Bipolar ChildThe Bipolar Disorder Survival GuideThe Blue Day BookThe Breakthrough Depression SolutionThe Clinical Science of Suicide PreventionThe CorrectionsThe Cruelty of DepressionThe Depressed ChildThe Depression CureThe Depression WorkbookThe Devil WithinThe Emotional RevolutionThe Family SilverThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Forgotten MournersThe Loss of SadnessThe Memory of LightThe Mindful Way through DepressionThe Mood CureThe Myth of Depression as DiseaseThe Naked Bird WatcherThe Nature of MelancholyThe Noonday DemonThe Pits and the PendulumThe Postpartum EffectThe Secret Strength of DepressionThe Van Gogh BluesThe Van Gogh BluesThe Weariness of the SelfThe Years of Silence are PastThirteen Reasons WhyThis Close to HappyTo Walk on EggshellsTreatment for Chronic DepressionUndercurrentsUnderstanding DepressionUnderstanding DepressionUndoing DepressionUnhappy TeenagersUnholy GhostUnstuckViniyoga Therapy for DepressionWhat Goes UpWhat the Birds SeeWhat Works for Bipolar KidsWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhen Words Are Not EnoughWhen Your Body Gets the BluesWhere the Roots Reach for WaterWhy Are You So Sad?Why People Die by SuicideWill's ChoiceWriting Through the DarknessYou Are Not AloneZelda

Related Topics
Boy InterruptedReview - Boy Interrupted
DVD
by Dana Perry (Filmmaker)
HBO, 2009
Review by Christian Perring
Sep 1st 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 36)

Boy Interrupted is a heartbreaking documentary about the Perry family; Evan Perry killed himself at the age of 15, leaving behind his parents Dana and Hart.  The film consists of old photographs, old videos and films of Evan, and interviews with Dana, Hart, Evan's half brother Nicholas Kopple-Perry, Evan's grandmother, a teacher, Evan's psychiatrist Ladd Spiegel, and his school friends.  From a very early age, Evan was preoccupied by death and was planning on how to kill himself by the age of five.  He was diagnosed with depression and put on Prozac, but progress was slow.  He could be extremely engaging and creative, but when he was in a depressed mood he was entirely unreachable.  At the age of nine he was listening to the music of Bob Dylan and Nirvana and was writing songs about dying.  He made several suicidal gestures and after one serious threat of suicide he was eventually was hospitalized at Four Winds at the age of 10.  He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  His parents talk about the difficulty they had in coming to terms with him being in a locked-down ward with other very seriously mentally ill children.  Eventually he was put on lithium and he stabilized.  He started attending Wellspring school, and this turned out to be good for him, after he settled down and started making friends.  Interestingly, one of the faculty at the school says that it was when that they started holding him accountable for the harm he was causing others that Evan's behavior improved.  From there he started attending York Prep, where he thrived.  For several years he was doing well, but at the age of 15 he tried going off his lithium.  This turned out to be a bad idea, because his mood soon spiraled out of control.  Even though he had an appointment with his psychiatrist to go back on lithium, he killed himself at home before restarting his medication.  We see him from his birth to his funeral, and we see the pain experienced by his parents, his half-brother and his friends.  It's impossible not to be moved.

The style of the documentary is simple; interviewees talk to an interviewer who is behind the camera; most of the time they are calm, but towards the end many of them cry.  All through the film there's a somber orchestral score by Michael Bacon which heightens the emotions.  The editing is professional -- Dana and Hart Perry are professional film makers who have made several films for cable TV previously. 

There are several aspects of the film that raise concerns.  Most obviously, even by the time of the funeral Evan's parents had decided to do something with it, because they asked friends to film it, despite the fact that his suicide note said he wanted a private funeral, and that he didn't want people from his school to know how he died.  It's clear that filmmaking is in their blood, and is central to their own way of dealing with the world.  Further, it's not so clear that the wishes of a depressed boy who killed himself should be paramount; funerals are for those still living. 

Evan's middle name was Scott: presumably he was named for his uncle, Scott Perry, his father's brother, who killed himself when he was in his twenties.  The most haunting interview of the whole film is with Scott's mother, Evan's grandmother, not because of the richness of her reflections, but because she seems so closed.  She says words cannot convey her feelings, and she does not remember finding his body.  Hart Perry says his parents were devastated by Scott's suicide -- they shattered like glass.  Yet they went on, and similarly Dana and Hart go on. 

The film very much presents Evan's problems as a result of his bipolar disease, with Evan's obsession with death coming out of the blue, and his behavior that of a typical bipolar child.  The influence of Scott is no more than a genetic one, with bipolar illness running in the family.  Unsurprisingly, the film does not explore to what extent Evan's emotions were a reaction to events going on in the family. 

It's a little more surprising that the film doesn't do more to explore the difficulty of making treatment decisions.  For example, the parents agreed to using antidepressants on Evan when he was very young, although there have been few if any studies studying the efficacy of medications for young children.  There's also no discussion of the cost of treatment and how it was covered: long stays in psychiatric hospitals are notoriously expensive.  The fact that the family have a home in Manhattan and could afford to send Evan to a Manhattan prep school suggest that they are much more affluent than most, but that doesn't mean they didn't have to battle with health insurance companies.  So it seems that the film probably paints a rosy picture of treating serious mental disorder in children. 

Finally, there's the choice of title of the film, which is problematic.  Girl, Interrupted was a Hollywood movie about the institutionalizing of a teen girl for behaving badly, and questions whether there was anything really wrong with her.  Yet the whole point of Boy Interrupted is that there really was something wrong with Evan.  His psychiatrist even gives the impression at one point that Evan's suicide was inevitable.  So there's no parallel with Girl, Interrupted

These concerns don't take away from the fundamental power of this documentary, but they do provide points of departure for further discussion.  It's a film that will be educational for many, and that could work well as a teaching aid when discussion childhood mental illness. 

 

Link: Movie website

 

© 2009 Christian Perring         

         

   

Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7800 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716