Movie Review:Love And Mercy—Foxes Minding the Henhouse


I’m not much of an audiophile.  there is so much noise in my life, I generally listen to NPR on the radio, and go for jazz.  However, I still enjoy the rock of my youth.  On my desert island playlist is Good Vibrations….  I’ll say that straight off.  Next thing I’ll say  is that I have been mentally  ill on and off. Mostly depression, but the fact is that I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and I  just  don’t fit anywhere.  I’m on the Wrong Planet.

Because I love Beach Boys music, and so many people told me they enjoyed this movie, I had to see it.  It’s a visually beautiful movie, taking place in southern California, and a story well scripted and edited.  The music is great, of course.   Paul Dano and John Cusack both  do  an excellent job of playing Brian Wilson young and old, in all his turmoil.

I don’t  think that most of us who enjoy Beach Boys music realized  Brian Wilson arranged so many of the hits we love.  He really is a genius.  However,  it’s hard to be an artist. It appears that his fellow band members had a different idea of what they wanted to do.  Coupled  with an abusive  father, and whatever stresses cause mental illness, he was really tortured for a very long time…  Psychotherapist Eugene Landy, who  somehow got  guardianship of  Wilson, also abused him more.

We in America are so trusting of care providers. We just assume they are altruistic and have your interests at heart.    I saw several psychiatrists and psychologists  as an adolescent.  They made a lot of money off my parents and really did no more than assure me I was not crazy.  When I was starting my college career, I was thinking of majoring in psychology (because I wanted some insight into how  people make decisions).  I had the  amazing luck to  get a ‘self-taught’ intro to psychology course  with a textbook written by James V. McConnell :  “Understanding Human Behavior” (http://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/12/obituaries/james-mcconnell-psychology-teacher-and-researcher-64.html), the genius (no joke—he got a MacArthur grant) worm biologist, who addressed the practice of psychology on humans.  He said, in a nutshell, that 1/3 of people who go to  psychologists/psychiatrists for  talk therapy get better, 1/3 stay the same, and 1/3 get worse.  It’s  essentially the dynamic between the patient and the  doctor.

Brian Wilson had the extreme misfortune to come under the control of Landy, who alienated him from his family even  further, and it was just by a stroke of luck that he met Melinda Ledbetter.  She had the integrity to  try to disentangle him.  Of course, this could have gone either way.

Mental illness is  sort of like diabetes in that  if you take care of yourself. are a bit introspective,  and avoid stress, you can  function in the  world…but it never really goes away.  And what is it? A chemical imbalance?  Thanks to Temple Grandin,  there is a lot less  ambiguity to  human psychology than there used to be.  However, the foxes are still in charge and , coupled with lawyers, they tend to keep us oddballs suppressed.
This is a sad story with a happy ending, and it  does a lot to show that not everyone who is mentally ill is schizophrenic.

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