Have you seen ‘My Life As a Dog’? A film full of life lessons…

‘My Life as a Dog’ is a Swedish film released in 1985 and having just had the privilege of watching it I realised what a truly touching film Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom has created.

In brief, the film is an examination of the adult world through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy in the late ’50s. Ingemar is sent to stay with relatives in the country when his mother becomes seriously ill, and ‘learns valuable lessons about love, separation and growing up’ from the local characters that populate the film.

I loved the resourcefulness of Ingemar (played by Anton Glazenius) who shows great resilience even in the face of tragic life changing events.

ImageThis is a classic film; a worldwide hit when it was first released and it continues to delight on DVD in Swedish with English subtitles (which are not at all intrusive). If you are interested in appreciating some wonderful characterisation, great writing and the ways in which the adult world imposes itself on children, this is 1 hour and 40 minutes not to be missed.

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can listening heal this?

nspccI ask myself “What is everyone thinking about the sexual allegations.  What are their thoughts about the uncovering of decades of power and sexual abuse dished out to vulnerable children and adults behind the screens of some of our largest and most respected organisations – the Church, the BBC, British Boarding Schools, Houses of Parliament?”

When I ask myself the same question I realise I feel overwhelmed, dazed by the constant revelations, stunned by the ‘big names’, and numbed by the abhorrent nature of these violent acts.     It’s not just big names.   It is widespread, coming from numerous areas, locations and professions.

I feel disgusted and realise this is a good response  and I want to stay and stick with my disgust so I remain alert to further  information revealed in the week, months, even years to come.

I want to listen, hear and acknowledge a victim’s story – many still untold, kept secret through shame and silenced by our culture:- with years of mishandling by authority, by the police and even closer to home – people  in charge of their care.

Moira Smyth, our NSPCC representative, says “Last year the NSPCC’s Childline received over 2600  landline calls from Somerset. Nationally 25% of calls are from landlines (75% from mobiles). In Somerset this means there could have been over 10,000 calls from distressed children.  Where are these children?”

Maya Angelou spoke at an event, chaired by Jon Snow, in support of Stephen Lawrence. Her words, “We are the architects of our lives, our cultures, and each of us have a responsibility to do what is right, and speak out” still resonate for me.  We can create a world with more transparency – where children and adults can come forward, be received with respect, and given the care they need.

This is why we need to support the work of Operation Yew Tree – to listen, to believe and deal with each and every victim who comes forward.  I commit, as each story unfolds, to think of the victims, take time to reflect on their pain and admire their courage to speak.  They give us hope we can do this differently and better.

Jane Gotto, UKCP Registered Psychotherapist, works in Taunton with individuals, couples and families, supervises professional counsellors and psychotherapists and co-leads Post Graduate groups at Spectrum Therapy in London.

Jane founded The Terrace, Humanistic Psychotherapy and Complementary Health Centre, Staplegrove Road, Taunton in 1994.   01823 338968, www.the-terrace.co.ukwww.janegotto.co.uk