UNCG Campus Weekly

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The Five Spot: Roy Hamilton

091510FiveSpot_HamiltonDr. Roy Hamilton, a staff psychologist and training coordinator at Gove Student Health Center, has been on staff for seven years. During most of the year, he speaks with five or six students a day, on a wide gamut of problems they are experiencing. Such as? “Everything. Adjustments, romantic difficulties, anxiety problems, depression problems, adjusting to illnesses, eating disorders …” Any ways to bond with the students – to speak a common language – are helpful. He will refer to films, books, music, pop culture, which can sometimes provide a common language with the student. “When you have a teachable moment, you use it.” His Fender bass guitar rests in a case in one corner. He practices sometimes during lunch break, quietly, jamming for example with a “Live at Leeds” CD by The Who. He plays with bands at open mic nights locally – and he used to tour as a professional, up and down the East Coast, with a Washington, D.C., based band called the Choir Boys. He played bass and sang. He says their sound was like The Blasters or The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Hamilton sometimes gives a talk on Iggy Pop, “the godfather of punk,” he says, at a School of Music class on the history of rock and roll. He presentated at conferences in Santa Fe and Australia in 2008 on psychological matters in Iggy Pop’s music and life. And last month he delivered a paper at Santa Fe’s “Creativity and Madness” conference on another pop culture topic: “Nightmare on Elm Street: Dream Warriors.” Among other things, he explored how it is a parable for the advantages of coping in a positive way. There are beneficial ways to cope with bad situations – such as talking with others, and trying to actively change the situation – and there are lots of bad ways that work short term and do not address the situation. Horror and thriller films are revealing for psychological issues, he says. He had this epiphany decades ago, when he was watching a “Freddy” film back in the ’80s, “Hmm. There’s something beyond the surrealism and the gore,” he realized. CW asked him about some horror films that are revealing for their psychological issues they explore or exemplify:

Interesting horror films, from psychological standpoint

  1. “Labyrinth” by Jim Henson, 1986 I like it because of changing of perspectives … for cognitive flexibility. It gives tie-in to cognitive approach to psychology – that our thoughts influence how we feel and behave.
  2. “EXistenZ” by David Kronenberg, 1999 It’s a sci-fi thriller. I’m a training coordinator. We have three or four interns a year. I provide a seminar on existential therapy. Kids are dealing with meaning. What is worth doing? Who am I? Why am I in this world? A person going through grief will go through this stage [of asking existential questions] … One character in “Existenz” says, “I never really know what the rules are.” Yes, that’s what we face every day.
  3. “Memento” by Christopher Nolan, 2000 A must-see movie, even if you aren’t interested in psychology. A great study in anterograde amnesia, not being able to form new memories. You experience the movie the way the character experiences life. He uses tattoos to remember. When confronted by something disturbing, he creates a new memory – it’s a study in denial.
  4. “The Host” by Joon-ho Bong, 2006 A South Korean horror film. Happy families are all alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. A Russian writer, Tolstoy, said that. The family in “The Host” is not close. The monster is a stressor. It’s not a happy film. People die, a big monster throws things around … But the family does come together and wins together.
  5. “Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master” by Renny Harlin, 1988 It shows individual growth. I’d originally thought of doing this for a presentation [and may in the future]. It shows the developmental process of individuation. A girl becomes a separate entity. Freddy kills off group members, her friends. She has a mirror in her bedroom [covered with pictures of friends.] As they die, she removes them and starts to finally see herself … As we individuate, we use experiences and they give us individual indentity. [As a result] she is ready to face Freddy.