Last night Mrs. ShrinkWrapped and I saw "United 93." It was a very intense, often harrowing, experience. Since we knew the outcome from the start, the tension came from the filmmakers ability to induce an effortless suspension of disbelief; you felt that you were int he airport, in the air traffic control centers, inside the plane. The people, while shown with minimal character development (the film proceeds in "real time") were recognizable human beings facing unprecedented situations. It took me several minutes to catch my breath when it ended, yet ultimately, it was a positive and very optimistic evening. The movie also helped me understand something that I have written about many times, yet grasped in a much more visceral way while watching a movie that had the feel of a documentary.
I have lived in the New York City suburbs for most of my life. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood at a time when anti-social behavior was still ground for school suspension and expulsion. Violence and hate were always kept at a distance. I suspect a great many of my contemporaries were similarly insulated from the hatreds that fester in some of the darker places.
From time to time I witnessed violence; you do not spend four years working around Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital without seeing the occasional violent, agitated, psychotic patient. In most such situations, the Hospital Police were available to ensure that the dangers were minimized. Within the confines of a Psychiatric ward, rage was not uncommon, but was always contained and containable. Later, when most of my professional time was spent within a consultation room, it became even more unusual to see violent emotions expressed in any other than verbal terms.