Cinema Therapy for Uncertain Times

Things will never look the same and the new normal is already here. COVID-19 is forcing all of us to re-think what our world will look like in the months, if not years ahead. The movie Contagion released in 2011 has one special scene towards the end that might lift your spirits for a moment.

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You can stop waiting for the “new normal” to show up pending COVID-19 as we are already living it. Mindfulness teaches us that attaching ourselves to a desired future outcome is a recipe for disappointment and suffering. The past is a memory, the future is a fantasy, and all we have is the present moment. 

Radical acceptance that things will never go back to how they were before COVID-19 is a harsh reality to digest. It is normal and a part of our nature to be traumatized by the unknown outcome of a global health crisis.

In September of 2011, a movie called “Contagion” was released and it walks us through an eery pandemic with a rapidly spreading, contagious, life-threatening virus. The CDC and world governments have no protocol to handle this deadly illness. The entire plot is creepy in how familiar it is to what we are going through with COVID-19 in the year 2020.

You can watch it as a form of Cinema Therapy, and yes, such a thing does exist. According to Birgit Wolz, Ph.D., MFT., author of

Cinematherapy can be a powerful catalyst for healing and growth for anybody open to learning how movies affect us and to watching certain films with conscious awareness. Cinematherapy allows us to use the effect of imagery, plot, music, etc. in films on our psyche for insight, inspiration, emotional release or relief, and natural change.

Contagion (2011) © Warner Bros. Pictures: Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Since we are coming up on graduations and proms, I’ve selected my favorite scene, which is a new spin on prom night. This is my favorite scene from Contagion because it offers a hypothetical spin on what our “new normal” could look like in a positive light.

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