19815 Bay Branch Rd
Andalusia, Alabama 36420
(334) 222-2523
HELPLINE: 1-877-530-0002



SCAMHC is an approved Mental Health site for the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment program.  Find out the program details and see if you qualify by visiting: http://nhsc.hrsa.gov/

SCAMHC is an Equal Opportunity Provider and Employer and maintains a Drug-Free Workplace.

SCAMHC serves all individuals regardless of inability to pay. Discounts for essential services are offered based on family size and income. For more information, contact (334) 222-2523 or our 24/7 Helpline at 1-877-530-0002.



powered by centersite dot net
Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersVideosLinksBook Reviews
100 Things Guys Need to Know3 NBS of Julian DrewA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainAdolescence and Body ImageAdolescent DepressionAfterAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAmelia RulesAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsArtemis FowlAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBeyond Diversity DayBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBill HensonBipolar DisordersBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoyBoysBrandedBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingCan't Eat, Won't EatCatalystChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering the Beast WithinContentious IssuesCrackedCutDancing in My NuddypantsDemystifying the Autistic ExperienceDescartes' BabyDilemmas of DesireDirtyDoing ItDoing SchoolDying to Be ThinEating an ArtichokeEducating Children With AutismElijah's CupEllison the ElephantEmerald City BluesEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEvery Girl Tells a StoryFast GirlsFeather BoyFiregirlForever YoungFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFreewillGeography ClubGeorgia Under WaterGirl in the MirrorGirlfightingGirlsourceGirlWiseGLBTQGood GirlsGoodbye RuneGranny Torrelli Makes SoupGrowing Up GirlHandbook for BoysHealing ADDHeartbeatHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHollow KidsHow Children Learn the Meanings of WordsHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHug MeIntrusive ParentingIt's Me!It's Perfectly NormalJake RileyJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKeeping the MoonKilling MonstersKim: Empty InsideKnocked Out by My Nunga-NungasLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLearning About School ViolenceLeo the Lightning BugLet Kids Be KidsLiberation's ChildrenLife As We Know ItLisa, Bright and DarkLittle ChicagoLord of the FliesLoserLove and SexLove That DogManicMastering Anger and AggressionMind FieldsMiss American PieMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MonsterMore Than a LabelMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNo Two AlikeNot Much Just Chillin'Odd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOn the Frontier of AdulthoodOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming School AnxietyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeriod PiecesPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellPretty in PunkPrincess in the SpotlightProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Psychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsRaising a Self-StarterRaising BlazeRaising Resilient ChildrenReclaiming Our ChildrenRedressing the EmperorReducing Adolescent RiskRethinking ADHDReweaving the Autistic TapestryRineke DijkstraRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRunning on RitalinSay YesSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceShooterShort PeopleShould I Medicate My Child?Skin GameSmackSmashedStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStick FigureStoner & SpazStop Arguing with Your KidsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStrong, Smart, & BoldStudent DepressionSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving OpheliaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTargeting AutismTeaching Problems and the Problems of TeachingTeen Angst? NaaahThat SummerThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Arctic IncidentThe Bipolar ChildThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Carnivorous CarnivalThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Dream BearerThe Dulcimer Boy The Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Eternity CubeThe Explosive ChildThe Field of the DogsThe First IdeaThe Identity TrapThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Little TernThe Mean Girl MotiveThe Men They Will BecomeThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Nurture AssumptionThe Opposite of InvisibleThe Order of the Poison OakThe Other ParentThe Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Rise and Fall of the American TeenagerThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Shared HeartThe Spider and the BeeThe StepsThe Thought that CountsThe Unhappy ChildThe Vile VillageThe Whole ChildThen Again, Maybe I Won'tTherapy with ChildrenThings I Have to Tell YouTouching Spirit BearTrauma in the Lives of ChildrenTreacherous LoveTrue BelieverTwistedUnhappy TeenagersWay to Be!We're Not MonstersWhat about the KidsWhat Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhen Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhere The Kissing Never StopsWhose America?Why Are You So Sad?WinnicottWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!You Hear MeYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses

by Jordan Melamed (Director)
IFC Films, 2003
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Apr 2nd 2004


Manic is a film about a psychiatric ward for deeply troubled teens.  It is fiction, written by the young writers Michael Bacall and Blayne Weaver, who also act in it.  But the style of the film is highly influenced by documentary, shot on digital film, and avoiding mannerisms that might emphasize the drama of the situation but would heighten the sense of artificiality.  On the DVD commentary, director Jordan Melamed explains he sees this debut film as in the tradition of directors such as Lars Van Trier (best known for his bleak films Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark) who are more concerned with communicating real emotion than employing impressive special effects.

The film starts with 17-year-old Lyle Jensen (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) being admitted to the lock-down unit after having beaten another boy severely with a baseball bat in a fit of rage.  At first he is furious, convinced that there is nothing wrong with him.  Through his interactions with the other teens, especially in group therapy, he starts to recognize that his way of expressing his anger does no good.  At its heart, this is a simple film about Lyle's gradually increasing insight into himself.  Yet it is dramatically successful because of the strength of the performances and powerful cinematography. 

The most striking characters are the other residents of the ward.  Tracey wakes in the middle of the night screaming and can only be calmed by an injection.  Mike is a violent young man who likes provoking trouble.  Sara wears very dark make-up that seems to signal some kind of emotional turmoil.  Chad is self-destructive and apparently manic-depressive.  Kenny was sexually abused and has abused others.  Other characters are played by young people who were themselves institutionalized and gave advice to the actors on what the experience of being such a ward is really like.  The acting is astonishingly good, and several of the cast give mesmerizing performances.  Don Cheadle plays the ward therapist David Monroe with great conviction, bringing a sense of a center to the whole story.  David leads the group therapy sessions and handles the volatile dynamics calmly, provoking different individuals to face their issues and reminding them why they are in the ward in the first place. 

One theme in the film comes from Chad's fascination with Camus' book The Myth of Sisyphus, based on the ancient story in which Sisyphus is condemned to roll a heavy boulder up to the top of a hill until it falls back down again, and then to start again.  The film suggests that recovery from childhood trauma or mental illness is like this; the pain will never end, but the task of dealing with it continues forever.  Recovery is not the absence of pain, but rather learning how to cope with it.  This is linked with Van Gogh's paining "Crows in the Wheatfield," which is a sign of the despair they feel as well as possible hope of escape.  Maybe it's profound, but it also seems a little adolescent; maybe that is appropriate for a film about teens, but it is not what makes the film memorable.

The power of Manic comes from its ability to depict the naked vulnerability of these miserable young people and their search for ways to cope with their unhappiness.  Of course, we see the group therapy.  But we also see the therapeutic value and consolation of the violence of music in bands like Deftones, Slipknot, and Rage Against the Machine.  There is the camaraderie from quiet conversations between different characters, and the developing relationship between Lyle and Tracey.  And there is the catharsis of shooting hoops.  These are unsurprising elements in recovery, but they nevertheless manage to be moving.  The tensions between Lyle and Mike and Chad's anger serve as important dramatic counter-balances to the gradual recovery and make them all the more poignant.

In contrast to other films that have portrayed the mental illness of the young, such as Girl, Interrupted, Jordan Melamed's work does not question the validity of psychiatry, although it does make clear how difficult it is to help those with illness. As a low budget independent film, the unpolished hand-held camera work gives it an edgy feel.  The editing includes a great deal of fast cutting that is enormously effective in conveying confusion and anxiety.  It is likely to especially appeal to a young audience, but anyone with an interested in psychological turmoil should see it.  While it has some flaws, Manic is one of the best portrayals of mental illness in recent film. 



© 2004 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.


Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.