Films Recommended for Understanding Modes in Schema Focused Therapy

The maladaptive modes from Schema Focused Therapy are inadvertent, consistent patterns of manifestation of the schemas, which are unconscious patterns of pathological thinking. Aside from the maladaptive modes, there are healthy modes.

In the work with the clients to support them in understanding the characteristics of each mode, I came to the conclusion there is a good idea to assign as homework watching certain films which depict the behavior for that specific mode. The purpose of watching these films is to identify patterns of specific behavior and thinking which it manifests in their lives. Films have a special way of illustrating behaviors that other means don’t.

Therefore, I included in this post the 14 unhealthy/maladaptive modes and the 2 healthy modes which are measured by SMI 1.2. (Schema Mode Inventory). Newer versions of the psychometrical inventories are measuring more refined definitions of the modes, but in my experience, working on and fixing these 14 modes fixes almost all of the schemas too, so there is no practical need of going into further details. Therefore, working on these 14 is necessary and enough.

In certain cases, I chose several films. For each film, I chose a trailer (if it is available), the IMDb(Internet Movie DataBase) link, and maybe some articles/reviews.

The definitions for each mode are in the first person. The text is adapted after the training manual “Mindfulness and Schema Therapy. A Practical Guide” by Michiel van Vreeswijk, Jenny Broersen, and Ger Schurink, the English Edition translated for Wiley Blackwell by Jar ver der Tempel, 2014, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, West Sussex, UK, pp. 91-97.

The maladaptive modes

1. Vulnerable Child (this also encompasses the further sub-cases: Lonely Child, Abandoned & Abused Child, Dependent Child)

I believe that nobody will fulfill my needs and everyone will eventually abandon me. I mistrust others and believe that they will abuse me. I feel worthless and expect rejection. I am ashamed of myself and I often feel excluded. I behave like a small, vulnerable child who clings to the partner for help because I feel lonely and believe there is danger everywhere.”

Recommended film: The Horse Whisperer (1998, USA, directed by Robert Redford). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

2. Angry Child

I am feeling intensely angry, enraged, and impatient because my core needs are not being met. I can also feel abandoned, humiliated, or betrayed. I am expressing my anger in extreme manifestations, both verbal and nonverbal, just like a small child who has an outburst of anger.”

Recommended film: Promising Young Woman (2020, USA, Directed by Emerald Fennell). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

3. Enraged Child

“I am feeling enraged and impatient. I am feeling abandoned, humiliated, or betrayed and I am losing control. This is expressed in offensive and injurious actions toward people and objects, in the same way a small child hurts his parents.”

Recommended film: Margot at the Wedding (2007, USA, Directed by Noah Baumbach). IMDb here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

4. Impulsive Child

I want to satisfy my (non-core) desires in a selfish and uncontrolled manner. I cannot control my feelings and impulses and I become enraged and infuriated when my (non-core) desires or impulses are not met. I am often behaving like a spoiled child.”

Recommended films: the first one is Gegen Die Wand/Head-On (2004, Turkey/Germany, Directed by Fatih Akin). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

The second one is The Miracle Worker (1962, USA, Directed by Arthur Penn). IMDb here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

5. Undisciplined Child

“I have no tolerance of frustration and cannot force myself to finish routine or boring tasks. I cannot bear dissatisfaction or discomfort (pain, conflict, or overexertion) and I behave like a spoiled child.”

Recommended film: Rush (2013, USA/Germany, Directed by Ron Howard). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

6. Compliant Surrenderer

I am devoting myself to the desire of others to avoid negative consequences. I am suppressing my own needs or emotions and bottling up my aggression. I am behaving subserviently and passively, and I am hoping to gain approval by being obedient. I tolerate abuse from other people.”

Here there are several recommended movies. The first one is Compliance (2012, USA, Directed by Craig Zobel). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

The second one is Quiet Rage: The Stanford Prison Experiment (1992, USA, Directed by Ken Musen). IMDB here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

The third one is The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015, USA, Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

7. Detached Protector

I am cutting off strong feelings because I believe that such feelings are dangerous and can get out of hand. I withdraw from social contacts and try to cut off my feelings (sometimes this leads to dissociation). I am feeling empty, bored, and depersonalized. I may adopt a cynical or pessimistic attitude to keep others at arm’s length.”

Recommended film: Detachment (2011, USA, Directed by Tony Kaye). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

8. Detached self-soother

“I am seeking distraction in order not to feel negative emotions. I achieve this by self-soothing behavior (e.g. sleeping or substance abuse) or by self-stimulating activities (being fanatical or occupied with work, the Internet, sport, or sex).”

Recommended film: Manchester by the Sea (2016, USA, Directed by Kenneth Lonergan). IMDB here. Articles and analysis (to be read after watching the film): here, here, here – I also recommend reading the comments, here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

9. Self-Aggrandizer

I believe that I am superior to others and entitled to special rights by the virtue of my grandiose plans or excellent skills/results. I insist that I should be able to do or have what I want, regardless of what others think. Others fear I would show off and denigrate them to augment my self-esteem.”

Recommended films (in this order): Troy (2004/2007, US/UK/Malta, Directed by Wolfgang Petersen)(Extended Director’s Cut). IMDb here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

Prometheus (Extended director’s cut, Chaos version)(2012, USA/UK, Directed by Ridley Scott). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

and Alien: Covenant (Extended director’s cut, Chaos version) (2017, USA/UK, Directed by Ridley Scott). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

10. Bully & Attack

I want to prevent being controlled or hurt by others, and therefore I try to be in control of them. I am using threats, intimidation, aggression, and force to this end. I always want to be in a dominant position, and take sadistic pleasure in hurting others.

First recommended film: Swimming with Sharks (1994, USA, Directed by George Huang). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

(alternative trailer for Swimming with Sharks)

Second recommended film: Återträffen (2013, Sweden, Directed by Anna Odell). IMDb here. Review here.

 

11. Punitive Parent

“I am aggressive, intolerant, impatient, and unforgiving toward myself and/or others. I am always (self-)critical and feel guilty. I am ashamed of my mistakes and believe I have to be punished severely for them. I also feel negative emotions towards those who are trespassing and feel something must be done about this. This mode is a reflection of what (one of) the parents or other educators used to say to me to belittle or punish me.”

Recommended films: Se7en (1995, USA, Directed by David Fincher). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

Alternative trailer for Se7en

The second film about punitive parent is Cool Hand Luke (1967, USA, Directed by Stuart Rosenberg). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

The third film about punitive parent is Jane Eyre (1996, USA, Directed by Franco Zeffirelli). IMDB here. Review here. I also recommend from a cinematographical point of view the versions from 1943 and 2011, but for the punitive parent representativeness, I think this version is best.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

12. Demanding Parent

I am feeling that I must fulfill rigid rules, norms, and values. I must be extremely efficient in meeting these. I believe that whatever I am doing is never good enough and that I must strive harder. Therefore, I am pursuing my highest standards until it is perfect, at the expense of rest and pleasure. I am also never satisfied with the result. These rules and norms are also internalized from (one of) the parents.”

Recommended film: Whiplash (2014, USA, Directed by Damien Chazelle). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

13. Perfectionistic/Obsessive Overcontroller

I want to prevent being controlled or hurt by others, and therefore I try to be in control of them. In my attempts to protect myself from a perceived or real threat, I am focusing my attention on exercising extreme control. If I fail at one point, I am ruminating. I am focusing on perfectionism to attain control and prevent misfortunes and criticism.”

Recommended film: Christine (2016, USA/UK, Directed by Antonio Campos). IMDB here. Review here (please read after seeing the movie).

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

14. Suspicious Overcontroller

I want to prevent being controlled or hurt by others, and therefore I try to be in control of them. In my attempts to protect myself from a perceived or real threat, I am focusing my attention on vigilance, scanning other people for overt or covert signs of malevolence. I am controlling other‘s behaviors out of suspiciousness”

Recommended film: Body of Lies (2008, USA, Directed by Ridley Scott). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

The healthy modes

1. Contended/Happy Child

“I feel loved, satisfied, protected, understood, and validated. I am self-confident and feel competent, appropriately autonomous, and in control. I can react spontaneously, I am adventurous and optimistic, and play like a happy, young child.”

There are 2 recommended films for this mode. The first one is Le Petit Prince/The Little Prince (2015, France/Italy, Directed by Mark Osborne). IMDB here. My review for this film.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

The second film for the Contended Child mode is Happy-Go-Lucky (2008, UK, Directed by Mike Leigh). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

2. Healthy Adult

“I have positive and neutralized thoughts and feelings about myself. I do things that are good for me and this leads to healthy relationships and activities.”

Recommended film: L’Avenir/Things to Come (2016, France/Germany, Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve). IMDB here. Review here.

Trailer (keep reading ↓):

Film and review selection made by Marcus Victor Grant

Text Copyright for the descriptions of the modes John Wiley and Sons © 2014-present

The materials on this blog are subject to this disclaimer.

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