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The Doctor Who Hears Voices (2008)

TV Movie  |   |  Documentary, Biography, Drama  |  21 April 2008 (UK)
7.0
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Based on a true story. "Ruth" (played by actress Ruth Wilson, to protect the identity of the real patient in question) is a junior doctor hearing voices which tell her to kill herself. She ... See full summary »

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Based on a true story. "Ruth" (played by actress Ruth Wilson, to protect the identity of the real patient in question) is a junior doctor hearing voices which tell her to kill herself. She is treated by controversial psychologist Dr Rufus May. Written by Anonymous

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Strange
22 April 2008 | by (Manchester, UK) – See all my reviews

The doctor who hears voices

Literally just watched this last night and thought I'd visit IMDb to see if I could get a few answers but there are no other comments on here so thought I'd leave one myself.

The story itself was intriguing and, if true, quite incredible.

The reason I say "if true" is because while watching it I was confused by the format and also midway through and again at the end, questioned whether it could even be a hoax.

I'm pretty certain it couldn't be a hoax. No one would exploit their audience that much would they? Pretend to document a legitimately mentally ill person? So where does my confusion arise from? It's the way it was filmed.

At the beginning we are told this is a dramatisation with the patient being played by an actress to protect her identity. We are also told everything else is documented as it happened. The only other people to feature in this are Ruth's 'Psychiatrist' Rufus, and the voice of the film maker, Leo Regan.

The story is of a young woman who used to be a doctor but was suspended due to depression. She now has a voice in her head that disrupts her daily lifestyle, telling her to hurt or kill herself and also to kill others. Despite this, Ruth is trying to get re-employed as a doctor (!).

While we are aware the character of 'Ruth' is played by an actress, Leo Regan talks as if the scenes with her in are not dramatised. So he will say things like "The next time I saw Ruth her voices had got worse" and then show a clip of Ruth arguing with herself. But it's fake, right? It's an actress. But Regan talks as if what we are watching are the actual events as they unfold. But we know they are fake. So it's and odd relationship between the viewer and the film maker then. On one side we are being told it is drama, on the other we know we are watching a documentary (as opposed to fiction) and the narrator (the actual film maker, who is 'real' and not an actor) talks as if the events are also 'real' and happening in the present, and not something that happened in the past or something that is being dramatised. It's confusing to try to explain, but if you watch it you will understand. It's too hard to tell what is drama and what is real. Rufus is the only other person we see and since it jumps between scenes of him on his own and him with Ruth as if it were all natural, you begin to wonder where the drama ends and documentary begins. Which then has you questioning whether any of it is real at all. Or it did with me anyway.

Rufus, the apparent 'radical' psychiatrist is a strange character too. His controversial techniques revolve around dismissing drugs in favour of talking. It's sounds romantically simple and may have been effective in this case, or at least the documentary suggests this. Watching him though, you can't help feel he doesn't really have a clue what he's doing. He doesn't behave or talk like a psychiatrist. His vocabulary is quite restricted, his ideas incomplete. I'm amazed he is a qualified psychiatrist at all. Then I was curious as to how Ruth came to be his patient and how he has free reign to use these 'radical' techniques on her (not on the NHS, surely?). In all honesty he came across as someone who didn't have any medical background at all and was experimenting on his patient.

It's probably worth noting also that Rufus used to be in a mental home as he was schizophrenic when he was younger. Yet, we never find out how he was 'cured.' I don't know the details of how someone would become a psychiatrist, but if you can't be a doctor if you have a mental illness, would you not expect the same protocols for psychiatry?

Another strange thing is he says some incriminating things on camera (things that he himself admits are incriminating) and yet they still show it. Would his job not be on the line? The documentary continues along in this vein. I had a strange feeling that Ruth would recover and all would be well. Which is exactly what happened. Apparently she 'defeated' the voice in her head that told her to kill herself and others and was employed once again as a doctor. I find this amazing. She (or I should say, the actress) fully admits to lying to the NHS to achieve this (of course, if they know of her mental state she would not be allowed to practice).

But again, this is all admitted on camera….do the film makers not have a duty to let the NHS know they have a schizophrenic doctor in their employ? She is potentially dangerous!

How did they ever find out about her anyway? How did this documentary get made?

What of Rufus? Assuming he was not an actor also (it does not state he was), surely his right to work as a psychiatrist would be revoked after this programme? After all, he encouraged Ruth to lie to the NHS to become employed again. He also practised outside of the normal rules (e.g. not informing the authorities when he thought Ruth had maybe killed herself after she had disappeared for a while). It all seems so unbelievable.

If true, this is an interesting documentary in as far as the subject is interesting, yet I feel (if she is real) she has been exploited. Over all it's not very insightful and (again, if real), surely immoral???


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