I finally (finally!) saw The Hateful Eight. I’m a confirmed Quentin Tarantino fanboy, so I was really behind the curve on this one and I’m glad to be caught up. Before we get to the psychotherapy/self-help portion of this post, let me give my $.02 on this flick. I really liked it a lot, but I don’t think it is one of his top films, which I consider to be Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds, followed closely by Django Unchained. That said, I really, really like all of his movies a lot and find them endlessly re-watchable as well as thought-provoking. The Hateful Eight is no exception. So, since I’ve seen the movie, safe to say there will be a couple of mild *SPOILERS* ahead.
If you’ve seen the film, you know that most of it takes place in a cabin (that is actually a store) known as Minnie’s Haberdashery.
Summarizing the film is beyond the scope of this post, so let’s just assume we’ve all seen it and move on. If you haven’t seen it, just bookmark this and come back later!
When someone walks into my office and tells me about their life, it is not unlike the arrival of the characters at Minnie’s. I know nothing about them, except what they tell me. This is the same situation that John Ruth encounters as he meets Joe Gage, Oswaldo Moabry and Bob, The Mexican. Their stories of their life and what they choose to tell him (or leave out) is all he has to go on. It might be said that this is often true of any people we meet, but let’s just stick to The Hateful Eight here. Minnie’s Haberdashery is not unlike my office, in that it is a controlled, confined space. The clients are there by choice and I, the therapist, am entering their life by choice. As Joe Gage says when John Ruth asks if he is in Gage’s life story: “you just entered it.” People can be whoever they want to be, as I know no one else in their life and no way to verify if what they are telling me is the “truth.” I usually don’t try to determine whether what I’m being told is the “truth.” I presume that since the client is there voluntarily, they are at least telling the truth as they understand it. It is my job, as therapist, to draw out the details and flesh out their story. The more details I know, the more there is for me and the client to discuss, which lets us collaborate on an approach to whatever has brought them into my haberdashery.
I believe that the ability to re-invent yourself in a therapist’s office is one of the key benefits of therapy. It’s been said that the therapist’s office functions as a microcosm of the world, and that the conversation and relationship that occur will mirror the “real world.” If this is the case, I hope that my clients do take the time to re-invent a better version of themselves, and that they carry this better version out into the world.
Because the good news is, unlike the unlucky folks who wind up at Minnie’s Haberdashery, we’ll all be leaving my office alive. Presumably….
Mike McMahan is a psychotherapist in private practice in San Antonio, Tx.
Therapy Goes POP
Perspectives on therapy and mental health as viewed through the lens of popular culture