The Kingʼs Speech: Profound from a Psychologistʼs PerspectiveHave you seen The Kingʼs Speech yet? It is worth seeing for a...
The Kingʼs Speech: Profound from a Psychologistʼs Perspective  to achieve a clear purpose. He irreverently sat on St. Edwa...
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The Kings Speech: Profound from a Psychologist\'s Perspective

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The King\'s Speech illustrates the body/mind connection and aspects of a dynamic therapeutic relationship and healing process. These aspects are outlined in this paper.

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The Kings Speech: Profound from a Psychologist\'s Perspective

  1. 1. The Kingʼs Speech: Profound from a Psychologistʼs PerspectiveHave you seen The Kingʼs Speech yet? It is worth seeing for a number of reasons (itʼs been nominatedfor 12 academy awards)! This movie also illustrates several powerful aspects of a dynamic therapeuticrelationship and the reparative, healing process. Read on if youʼve seen the movie or if you donʼt mindknowing some things about it before you see it.From my point of view as an integrative therapist, this movie marvelously:1) Depicts the importance of hope and how a good therapist fosters hope in the beginning, middle, and end phases of the therapeutic work. Lionel began, of course, by instilling hope when the King (Duke of York at the time) had none, by having the King read aloud while listening to rousing music. He also asked questions that separated the disability from his sense of permanent identity. Throughout the movie, we watch the King struggle with maintaining hope, a sense of dignity, and belief in himself. He was quick to denigrate himself, to get angry, to collapse into despair and ineffectiveness. Lionelʼs calm presence and steadfast belief in the King was crucial, even in the last moments of the movie when the King struggled with his sense of competence and hope of getting through the challenge of this all important speech.2) Shows the beauty and power of having someone who fully believes in your capabilities, and who can acknowledge and address your very real shortcomings. The Queen truly believed in her husbandʼs capabilities, yet she herself was incapable of helping him overcome his stammering. She needed to find someone like Lionel who believed in the Kingʼs integrity and competence, yet did not flinch from seeing the Kingʼs debilitating fear and unresolved anger. Not only did Lionel clearly see the Kingʼs limitations, he brought practical and relevant skills to help him overcome them. By the end of the movie we see the King grow in his confidence and competence, while simultaneously leaning mightily on the aid of his friend and therapist.3) Provides a view of the “therapeutic frame”: mutual respect, equality, safety and confidentiality. Lionel himself demonstrated great courage in his work with the King. It is not easy to work with such a powerful person, yet Lionel unwaveringly established and maintained a therapeutic frame by insisting they meet in his office, by making deals with schillings and model airplanes to keep the King accountable, by insisting they use first names, by refusing to let the King smoke in his office, and by being unflinchingly honest about what was required for the King to overcome his stammering. Lionel apologized when he was in the wrong and showed true respect for the King, even while probing for personal information and confronting his fear.4) Depicts the body/mind connection and how the art of correcting stammering involves both physiology and psychology. Lionel was steadfast in his view that to truly correct the Kingʼs stammering they would need to work with his musculature and his psyche. Loosening the diaphragm and jaw, strengthening the tongue, and strengthening the abdominals were important, but he also knew they would need to talk about emotional events that precipitated the Kingʼs development of his stammer. Human beings are unified in body and mind and healing requires addressing both.5) Shows the brilliance and effectiveness of sound but unconventional methods. Lionel Logue makes no apology for who he is, for the way he learned his trade, and for doing what was necessary for a ʻcure.ʼ Little did the King know that in his work with Lionel he would: • shake and jiggle his face and jaw while making loud and silly sounds • roll on the floor • yell vowel sounds out the window • lie on the floor breathing while his wife, the Queen, sat on his belly • swear a blue streak so his words could flow without censoring • sing a difficult life experience to help him get past the emotional hurdle of speaking If the King had known all this, he might never have gone back. Sometimes it is the things that make us most uncomfortable that are the most healing. Even much later, Lionel used unconventional methods
  2. 2. The Kingʼs Speech: Profound from a Psychologistʼs Perspective to achieve a clear purpose. He irreverently sat on St. Edwardʼs chair, provoking the King and helping him find his voice, his power, and his right to be heard.6) Portrays the limits of intellectual understanding and the importance of practical (often physical) remedies. In contrast to the Kingʼs father, who was alternately understanding, demanding, and exasperated, Lionel did not try to talk the King out of his anxiety and fear. Nor did he assume that understanding the roots of his stammering would automatically help the King overcome it. Rather, Lionel gave him concrete tools: pushing his feet into the floor, rolling onto his “Pʼs” (a-people), taking a breath to compose himself, using his pauses to create effect, strengthening his tongue with ʻthistle twisters,ʼ and connecting to his desire to be heard by putting a hand on his heart. In the culminating event of the movie, Lionel makes physical and visual changes to the room by hanging patterned fabric on the walls and ceiling (visual cues of Lionelʼs office?), opening the window, and arranging for the red light to be turned off for the recording. He conducts as the King speaks, helping him over the hurdles, and most of all, instructing him to “forget everything else and just say it to me.” Lionel truly does help King George VI “find his voice” and “let him know there was a friend to hear him.”Nancy Jonker, Ph.D.Licensed PsychologistCertified Bodywork PractitionerFebruary 20, 2011

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