Will Smith starrer Gemini Man is an action Film and yet you can see elements of mental health, especially the influence of the mind on behaviour.
1.Henry, the lead actor wants to retire because “after 72 kills”
a)He feels doubts (If I am 6 inches off, she is dead!)
b)He doesn’t feel as confident on himself as he should, or as he used to (This time, I got lucky),
c)He doesn’t find it as comfortable as before (I didn’t feel the shot-not like I should have),
d)He feels hurt by what he is doing, even though it is patriotic freelancing (72 kills. . . . . that shit starts to mess with you a bit, deep down its like my soul is hurt, I just want some peace, I’m finding myself avoiding mirrors lately, I take that as a sign) A sign that he needs to see a Psychiatrist
All these feelings are natural but when they begin to interfere in your work and make you feel bad despite no rational reason, then the science of Psychiatry says it is an aberration that we need to assess and treat, make it go away so that you can make a choice to continue and be as productive as before.
While an army man or a sniper (even if he is a freelancer) does kill people, it is done on the grounds of patriotism and to save the country from the evil forces of the enemy. It is also possible to make mistakes and feel bad or guilty about it, but should we let the emotions cloud the judgement?! Psychiatrists help remove the associated emotions and thus clear the mind to make a rational choice. We do this through a combination of medicines and therapy. More importantly, medical science has shown that the content of thoughts is not as important as is the emotional impact of those thoughts.
Thus, I have helped people struggling with the work they do in a multinational FMCG company – ‘why am I selling biscuits and washing powder’, or a Lawyer working with families – ‘there is so much dispute between loved ones – what is the use of marrying and having a family’, or even a local political leader who has had a criminal background – ‘why do I hurt people, threaten them, make them fear me; let me leave all this and go and do penance (Hindu spirituality way)’! In all and more of such emotional problems, I have helped people get back their focus, their mojo and to do the same things they were doing earlier in as good and as enjoyable a mood as before.
For any person to have self doubt, to question self as to why I am doing this; is not bad but the difference in it being a disorder is in the impact it has on the life of the individual and the loved ones/family. More often than not, a possibility of such guilt or remorse being a mental illness, the emotional negativity that such doubts have and the pervasiveness of self blame is an indicator of whether we can change and restore the status as before or not.
2.The company/organisation one works for can pick up on the signals of a self doubting individual. The lack of pleasure of work is apparent in day to day interactions. The lack of productivity is gleaned by the managers and senior colleagues, who may be supportive initially but will constantly nudge you to get rid of ‘holding back’ attitude. In the movie, we hear why: A human can feel “Tired, fear, pain perhaps remorse, conscience, but sub-optimal as a soldier, less perfect, less profitable” and it is hence that machines (or clones) are replacing humans! Mental health preservation is thus an essential tool to remain productive (and profitable).
3.If one has misgivings about Henry having emotional problems, one needs to look at the latter half of the movie where he talks about his insomnia: “the Mind never sleeps, and even when it does it attacks you with nightmares, I am talking about those 3 o’ clock nightmares, somebody please save me kind of nightmares, then there’s the doubts, those are the worst, you hate them, they make you feel weak, you hate them and hate how they make you feel ……….. real soldier doesn’t doubt” Substitute the word ‘Man’ instead of soldier and you have a toxic behavior of denying and minimising emotional problems, behavioral problems, and thinking problems. Regrettably, this denial is much more often in men and is one of the biggest reasons why the numbers of men dying by suicide is double that of women dying by suicide. Men will not talk about their feelings and will not tell their men friends to seek help for emotional stuff. Psychiatrists have long been asking men to open up and to talk, not to let feelings bottle up, and not to give up!
4.In the movie we also get to see how Henry felt as he was growing up and how parenting was an issue for him. One of the negative themes in many people who are struggling with emotions and thoughts, is about how they recall their childhood as not being particularly pleasant. Here Henry recalls his mother: ‘Woman whipped my ass, father left when I was five, every time she saw me, she felt like I looked like him’.
He goes on to tell us a little about his growing up life: ‘made first friends in the army, shooting medals, and going on since then……..couldn’t stop’, ‘the only time you ever feel happy is when you are flat on a belly about to squeeze the trigger and at that time everything makes sense’, AND ‘still a virgin dying to be in a relationship but terrified to let anybody near you, what if somebody actually saw who you are because how could they love you, so everybody is a target!’
These are terrible experiences, revealing the pain and suffering that a person such as Henry has undergone. The emotional understanding that this was what I was feeling when I was younger, is not easy and doesn’t come till later. More often than not, it is something that therapy helps you realise, accept and come to terms with. It is only then (after the acceptance) that mental health professionals can actually take you on a recovery journey and help you change and become different than what you have become.
5.The movie ends with a positive message of a change in the younger/cloned Will Smith. What I hope you learn is that you can stop and become who you want to be: a student, a player, a son, a friend or a younger brother. Anything, but it can be done. You can become a better person!