Nise: The Heart of Madness a film by Roberto Berliner




Nise: The Heart of Madness

Nise: The Heart of Madness


Nise  :The Heart of Madness presents a brief period in the life of Nise da Silveria, a Brazilian psychiatrist and student of Carl Jung.

The film opens with her arrival at a psychiatric hospital in Rio de Janeiro.  She batters the closed metal door for some time before someone gives her entry to the hospital itself. A few moments later de Silveria enters an auditorium full of male doctors. Once there along with them she views a film on lobotomies and witnesses a live demonstration of electroshock therapy.

Both medical practices assault de Silveria sensibilities and she chooses to have nothing to do with either. The only avenue left for her to run an occupational therapy unit in the hospital.

This choice makes her unpopular with her colleagues and the head of the psychiatric hospit;l. Yet despite setbacks, and lack of support from colleagues de Silveria forges ahead anyway.   With help from a nurse and aid she cleans up the neglected occupational therapy unit and transforms it into an open and inviting space. Next, she begins to build trust with her patients or clients as she prefers to call them. One of the first things she does is ask a patient for a cloth he has over his shoulder and proceeds to make a ball. Within a few minutes they kick the ball toward each other. Before long other patients enthusiastically join in the game.

Another instance of trust building, de Silveria has all her clients choose other clothes to wear and then she, aids, and nurses board a bus.  All these instances and others in the film lead to the heart of it the art de Silveria uses along with dogs to help treat her clients.

The film is very heartwarming and compassionate. One of my favorite scenes occurs toward the end. Not only does Nise de Silveria  succeed in changing some of the treatment patients ‘s receive but she also with help from an art critic convinces museums to welcome her client’s artwork and through their display gains the public’s respect.


Nise: The Heart of Madness a film by Roberto Berliner: Christy’s Reviews