Jimmie P is the story of the psychoanalysis of a Native American - I think they call him a Plains' Indian, but the setting is New Mexico. Jimmie is a veteran who was not seriously injured in the second world war but who suffers from continuous headaches, periods of disorientation, depression and severe fatigue - in short, PTSD in an era that did not yet recognize the disorder. Medical tests are negative and finally he is sent to a facility where the psychiatrist calls in an anthropologist with psychological training to conduct Jimmie's psychoanalysis. The anthropologist knows enough about Native American culture to be able to talk with Jimmie using 'insider' lingo that Jimmie understands, and through compassionate listening and a non-pathologizing attitude, allows Jimmie to open up and share about his past traumas, most of which took place in childhood. I thought the film-makers' did a good job of showing how childhood traumas create problems for people later in life. For example, Jimmie witnessed a little girl drown when he was only five years old - nevertheless even as a tiny child himself, he felt he ought to have tried to save her. Instead, terrified, he ran away. Even so much later in life he still carried around with him a great deal of guilt over that perceived 'failure', unreasonable though it was.
So overall the film was a good portrayal of a successful analysis, with the added interest of a beautiful setting in New Mexico - or somewhere out west. I saw the film a few weeks ago and already I'm forgetting important details. There's a minor subplot about the analyst's personal life: his change of identity after fleeing Europe during the Nazi era, changing his Roumanian-Jewish name to a French equivalent. He also receives a month-long visit from his high-class married girlfriend, providing some romantic interludes from the psychoanalytic process. All in all a pleasant and interesting film, a lovely night's entertainment that stays with you afterward. I give it four stars.
What I liked best about this film was that it highlights the importance of cultural awareness in psychoanalysis or, I would think, any kind of counseling. Culture is one of our current-day hurdles to mutual understanding and even to democracy. The problem is, that in coming to understand the cultures of others, we learn things about our own culture that we weren't really quite 'aware' of, and that is often rather painful.