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“Ultimately, my life has improved tremendously by working with you”He tells Jonah Hill to his psychologist Phil Stutz in a scene from the documentary. Suddenly, an alarm sounds. It’s time for his Parkinson’s medicine. The specialist downplays the sound, because he is attentive to the conversation with the actor. The 75-year-old takes his pills and then goes on to talk to him about the years of depression he went through and how therapy tools helped him overcome pain and anxiety at the toughest stage of his career. him in Hollywood.
The “tools” are various drawings that have names such as “the vital force”, a pyramid of three valuable human aspects, or “the labyrinth”, an accumulation of traumas that put a person’s life on hold, etc. Hill doesn’t mention it, but the concepts in the documentary are part of the book “The Tools” by Phil Stutz and therapist Barry Michels. Both are known in Hollywood for having actors, screenwriters and film producers as patients. Joaquin Phoenix, the protagonist of “Joker” (2009) is, in fact, the main producer of “Stutz” and a former patient of the doctor.
“Stutz has created a methodology based on his experience, which scientifically, perhaps, is not supported”
“Stutz has created a methodology on the basis of his experience, which scientifically, perhaps, is not supported”warns clinical psychologist Christian Martínez Monge. “For it to be scientifically valid, clinical cases would have to be demonstrated and there would be more research. But that does not mean that this therapy has been successful for Jonah Hill “.
Phil Stutz has a directive or confrontational approach in actor therapy
“Phil has a directive or confrontational approach in therapy with the actor”says clinical psychologist Luis Armijo. “He creates a bond with his patient. At the beginning, in the documentary, it is said that the function is to share the actor’s tools in his life, but at the end he mentions something totally different, since the relationship between the two is honored. That seems so much more healing to me.”.
Martínez and Armijo agree that the final message of the documentary is more powerful than the therapy tools, where Jonah Hill talks about his demons so that the public can identify with Stutz’s drawings. However, psychologists accept the importance of the pyramid of life force, the pearl necklace and the snapshotamong several others mentioned in the film.
Netflix’s “Stutz”: The Pyramid of Life Force
Jonah Hill he didn’t take his shirt off on the beach “until he was 30 years old,” the actor said in a post on his Instagram account in 2021. With a father who was an accountant for Guns N’Roses and a mother who was a movie costume designer , he was destined to fall into show business in some form. Years later, fame caught up with him and he began to worry about not being able to get rid of the paparazzi. But, in an invasive industry like Hollywood, he only thought about how to be more attractive to people.
“Exercise and diet were presented to me as if there was something wrong with my appearance, but they were never proposed to me in terms of mental health. I would like it to be presented to people in a different way, because, in my case, that caused a lot of problems.”Hill comments to Stutz during their conversation in the documentary.
The vital force pyramid, similar to that of the psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), is useful for anyone who believes that nothing they do makes sense or does not find a specific direction. It consists of three levels: the body, the people and the inner being: in simple words, it consists of exercising, relating to others and believing in yourself. “The concept is related to Freud himself, who talks about trusting the body a lot to give itself that vital impulse, because sometimes only the mind leads to depression,” explains psychologist Luis Armijo.
“Depression has to do with the inability to see yourself fit to do things. Therefore, understanding this tool helps to reduce emotional pain, but not eliminate it. Even so, it serves to remember our life force, connect with other people and solve the emotional problem oneself”adds the specialist.
Netflix’s “Stutz”: The Pearl Necklace
In the middle of last year, Jonah Hill decided to get out of the public eye and stop promoting the films where he worked. He announced the documentary that he was shooting with Phoenix and Stutz, and then disappeared. This was a wise decision for his psychiatrist, because the actor came from a depression related to his fame and his body. Criticism about his physical appearance rained down in the headlines, the paparazzi followed him and he still did not know how to deal with the loss of his older brother Jordan Feldstein (1977-2017).
“Meeting you and going through our process came about out of desperation to feel happier,” Hill tells Stutz in the film.
The pearl necklace is a tool that the psychiatrist teaches his patient to cope with adversity, understanding that “there will always be shit inside”, an expression that he graphs with a black dot inside a circle. In the drawing, he also puts stripes and more circles, which are actions. Each share has the same value. With this, he refers to the “cliché” of “moving on”, in his words.
“Happiness and suffering are coins with two different sides. Because they always have a load of fear and anguish. In psychology, it’s been shown that one way to build relationships in the mind is through metaphors and pictures, as Phil does with his patient to explain that even when you ‘keep going’, what you do won’t be perfect, but it will keep you going. advancing”, assures the psychologist Luis Armijo.
Netflix’s “Stutz” (H3): The Snapshot, aka ‘The Kingdom of Illusion’
Until 2013, Jonah Hill was an actor known for comedy films such as “Supercool” (2007) and “Small Squad” (2014), but had struggled to sign on for industry-leading films such as “The Wolf of Wall Street,” by Martin Scorsese. He was so desperate to work with that director that he agreed to the Screen Actors Guild minimum wage of $60,000. (Leonardo Di Caprio was paid $10 million for the lead role.) Thus, in 2014, he was nominated for the Oscars for best supporting actor for his successful role.
“Before I met you, I was a tremendously insecure guy and then I thought that success and awards would make me avoid the pain of life, so I worked very hard to come up with that perfect image. Due to my privileges and luck, I arrived relatively early. But when none of those hits healed my pain, I got so much more depressed,” Hill told Stutz in the documentary.
According to the doctor’s explanation of this tool, when a person is looking for the perfect experience (a unique wife, a lot of money in the bank, a blockbuster, etc.), you are thinking of something that does not exist. For Stutz, that is a snapshot or “the realm of illusion.”
“The snapshot is also these representations of the mind and how we face them with some reality,” explains psychologist Christian Martínez. “The mind represents situations that generate discomfort in images. This representation occurs because the person remembers his bad moments as a child, in the family or something else. It looks real, but it’s not”.
At first glance, the documentary “Stutz” explains the tools of therapy, but in the end the characters realize the bond they have formed after years. “We have an extremely personal relationship, so much so that you let me make a movie about you,” Hill says, laughing with her psychologist. For this reason, the specialists Armijo and Martínez assure that the film is not only didactic, but that it pushes the audience to a healing corner, where the deep and unmasked connection of the characters is seen from the dialogue about death, their mothers , their own shortcomings, among others. Basically, it is a movie, or a slap in the face to continue walking in life, despite the problems.
Trailer for Netflix’s “Stutz”
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Does Jonah Hill have the answer to healing depression? Psychologists think of his documentary on Netflix