Mental Mechanisms was made by the National Film Board (NFB) for the Mental Health Division of the Department of National Health and Welfare. Psychiatrists from the Allan Memorial Institute of Psychiatry at Montreal served as expert consultants and Jack Griffin, Medical Director of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene and In Search of Ourselves commentator, worked as a technical adviser.
The series was initially intended as a tool for psychiatrists and other professionals to use with their patients as a means of helping them to understand the roots of their emotional problems. However, it was soon shown more widely because it was believed that the films would help to educate parents in good child-rearing practices and alert them to any emotional disturbances their children might exhibit.
Using dramatization with professional and amateur actors, but drawing on real case histories, each film told the story of a how a particular emotional dysfunction developed through bad parenting. Films in the series include: The Feeling of Rejection
(1947), The Feeling of Hostility (1948), Overdependency (1949) and Feelings of Depression (1950).
The Cummings showed The Feeling of Hostility alongside other movies during a three-day film festival, titled ‘Small Fry’, in February 1952. Each Small Fry film short linked mental health and poor parenting. The event attracted a total of 260 people. Approximately 60 of these viewers remained after screenings to participate in small group discussions led by John Cumming.
Feelings of Depression
In early 1951, even with a discussion guide provided by the NFB, the Provincial Director of Health Education was apprehensive about showing Feelings of Depression to audiences because he believed that its abrupt ending might upset viewers. Read an exchange of memos on the subject between concerned provincial health officials. In order to prove the Director’s suspicion, test screenings was conducted with audiences in Regina. In fact, audience polls found that his concerns were misplaced. Review the poll results. Watch the film and decide for yourself.