Control Your Emotions (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #376 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]

A rather bogus-sounding psychologist lectures us on the benefits of emotional control. His arguments are based on behaviorist theory, but he is seemingly ignorant of the fact that behaviorism, in the simplistic fashion that he uses it, undercuts his arguments because it’s so mechanistic and deterministic. For instance, he says emotions are based on “stimulus-response patterns,” hitting his knee at the reflex point to illustrate this. But if emotions were that automatic and involuntary, we wouldn’t have any control over them at all. But I’ll forgive him for that because he has the coolest audio-visual aids ever: bricks that say “RAGE,” “FEAR,” and “LOVE,” and a big round black piece of cardboard with the word “PERSONALITY” written on it in plastic letters. These great props would have a place of honor in the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices, right up there with the wire rack from Speech: Using Your Voice, though I think I’d save the “RAGE” brick to throw at the television screen. Anyway, back to the movie. After his lecture, the psychologist shows us the story of Jeff, a teen who flies into a rage at the least provocation, culminating in almost beating his little brother to death with a coat hanger––his mother stops him, fortunately. This is a tantrum that Joan Crawford would approve of, since he uses a wooden coat hanger, rather than a wire one. The psychologist then steps in and shows us alternate ways Jeff could have handled the situations that made him angry. These are good solutions for the most part, but he gives us no clue as to how somebody with a serious anger control problem like Jeff could simmer his feelings down enough to be able to put these suggestions into practice. This is a typical campy Coronet film that takes a complex psychological problem and makes it seem like it could be solved in the space of a 13-minute film. Which, of course, makes it a great deal of fun and very mstable.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

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