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Thursday, May 17, 2012 11:54 AM

I am reviewing a DVD this month, one called “This Emotional Life.” I feel that it is appropriate now since May is Mental Health Month. This DVD is a boxed set, originally appearing as a six-hour presentation on PBS. I simply cannot say enough great things about this. I watched it practically all in one sitting, taking small breaks to do kind of important stuff like eat, but still…it completely held my attention and is that good.

The show is broken into three parts – “Family, Friends, and Lovers,” “Facing Our Fears” and “Rethinking Happiness.” All three parts are captivating, educational and eye-opening. If I were teaching psychology anywhere at the moment, this is something I would definitely use in the classroom as it would provoke much interesting discussion.

The show describes itself as one which “explores ways we can improve our social relationships, learn to cope with problems like depression and anxiety, and become more positive and resilient individuals.” Within the series, such topics are covered like living with Asperger’s Syndrome, solving marital problems such as infidelity, dealing with depression, overcoming PTSD, addressing bullying in schools, recognizing alcoholism and many more.

The series is peppered with interviews by celebrities such as Chevy Chase, Larry David, Alanis Morissette, John Leguizamo, Katie Couric, Richard Gere, Elizabeth Gilbert and others as they chime in to reveal times in their lives when they experienced depression or other difficulties and how they overcame their obstacles.

What I like about the series is that it not only informs viewers of various realities in our society, but it personalizes it by following real people experiencing real struggles and gives us their perspectives on it. This method is so much more effective than simply presenting arbitrary information about a disorder without giving it a face and personality. I especially related to the girl experiencing depression, since I have personal experience with that. I feel her story, just like the stories of others presented in the video, has a huge impact on the audience, since we get to see firsthand, with no holding back, what it’s like to suffer with some of these disorders we normally might never encounter.

The show’s host and narrator, Daniel Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and best-selling author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” is an engaging leader, as he navigates the emotional world for us, allowing us to peer into the lives of all these individuals brave enough to share their stories so that we might learn a thing or two and perhaps grow in our understanding of various important issues. He interviews not only people who struggle with a multitude of problems, but many experts on varying topics as well, who lend their knowledge and expertise from their field.

I’m an avid documentary fan and enjoy anything in which I can be entertained and simultaneously become educated. This series really opened my eyes to a lot of information and reinforced some of the beliefs I already had regarding emotions and human interaction. I would recommend it to anyone who is into psychology – or anyone who is into human beings, for that matter.


Last Updated on Tuesday, November 06, 2012 4:03 PM

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