Love  Mercy

Coral Gables Art Cinema Coral Gables, FL


Dr. Aaron Heller

Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Miami

Love & Mercy— The Unfolding of Emotion and Mental Illness

Dr. Heller discussed the mental breakdown of Brian Wilson.

Coral Gables Art Cinema Coral Gables, FL

Film Synopsis

In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.

In the 1960s, young singer-songwriter Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) achieves international acclaim after scoring numerous hit records with The Beach Boys. Following a panic attack, he quits touring and moves into the studio, intent on creating "the greatest album ever made," Pet Sounds. Meanwhile, his grip on reality slowly loosens as he attempts to cope with the overwhelming voices in his head. Later, in the 1980s, a middle-aged Wilson (John Cusack) is shown to be a broken, confused man under the pharmacological and legal thrall of his unscrupulous therapist, Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti). After meeting Wilson, Cadillac saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) is determined to save him from Landy's abusive grip.

About the Speaker

Dr. Aaron Heller is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Miami. Dr. Heller is interested in better understanding the temporal dynamics of positive emotion (ie., how we sustain or don't sustain positive emotion) in depressed and healthy individuals. Using an emotion regulation framework to study these processes, Dr. Heller uses a variety of methods including brain imaging (fMRI), psychophysiological (facial EMG, skin conductance), and experience sampling (using smartphones) techniques to better understand emotion, emotion regulation, and the pathophysiology of health, well-being, and psychopathology. Another line of research in which Dr. Heller engages is in developing better methods to simultaneously acquire fMRI with objective measures of emotion like facial EMG.