Historian of medicine Chiara Thumiger has just posted an essay on director Kazuhiro Soda’s 2008 film Seishin (Mental). As she describes it:
That of Sugano is just one of the human stories narrated by the film “Seishin” (“Mental”), by Kazuhiro Soda, an unforgettable documentary (if often hard to watch) about mental health and mental suffering in the context of a small clinical community, with its efforts and hard work, its struggles with the bureaucracy and with budgeting, and its daily routine. It is also a documentary on what it means to offer care to patients who suffer mentally, and to be a doctor; most of all, it is a touching collection of scattered pieces of human life, seen through the lenses of a handful of particular individuals. Their stories and emotions, but also their bodies, faces, expressions and physical presence – talking, working, laughing, smoking – are the real centre of the account; their individual viewpoints represent more clearly than any theoretical discussion the infinite possible meanings of ‘mentally ill’ and ‘mentally sound’ across different situations and worlds, and from one individual to the other.
You can read more by Thumiger on her blog Stories and Histories of Mental Health: Ancient World to Contemporary.