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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 100  

Lesson in humanities from movies: Its subtle role in promoting empathy

Department of Community Medicine, ESIC Medical College, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Date of Submission11-Jan-2020
Date of Decision13-Jan-2020
Date of Acceptance20-Jan-2020
Date of Web Publication28-Feb-2020

Correspondence Address:
Harshal Tukaram Pandve
Department of Community Medicine, ESIC Medical College, Sanathnagar, Hyderabad, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_11_20

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How to cite this article:
Pandve HT. Lesson in humanities from movies: Its subtle role in promoting empathy. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2020;13:100

How to cite this URL:
Pandve HT. Lesson in humanities from movies: Its subtle role in promoting empathy. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Mar 20];13:100. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/text.asp?2020/13/2/100/279619

The editorial proposes how fiction in the form of literature, movies, or drama may play a role in promoting empathy among medical students and doctors, resulting in better doctor–patient relationship.[1] A regional movie on the issue is illustrative on how fiction can evoke empathy in the viewer.[2]

“Smile Please” is an emotional but positive journey of the protagonist, Nandini, who is suffering from early-onset dementia, a very rare form of this condition. In her thirties, she is a successful fashion photographer living in Mumbai with her father and a maid, who is more like a family. Nandini has separated from her husband, a well-known director living in the same city. They have an adolescent daughter who lives with her father as she is closer to him. This is a source of hurt for Nandini though she never expresses this overtly.

Over time, Nandini starts having problems while carrying out her day-to-day activities. She forgets simple things like whether she had taken tea. Due to such increasing lapses of memory, she consults a therapist. She comes to know that she is suffering from early-onset dementia, a very rare form of this disorder. Her first reaction is denial. She discusses the diagnosis with her estranged husband. He promises support. Her father comes to know about her condition while looking for some papers in her cupboard. He is saddened, but extends emotional support and persuades her to continue therapy. The psychiatrist informs them that the role of family is important in management. They start the sessions. Sometimes her estranged husband, at other times her father accompanies her. All strive to cope with the situation. Problems persist and get aggravated one day when Nandini finds herself alone surrounded by a noisy crowd celebrating the local festival. She is disoriented and panics. Fortunately, an old family friend, Viraj, recognizes her and takes her to her home. He exudes optimism and is by nature empathetic. He observes Nandini's deteriorating condition and her family's dismay. He wants to help Nandini and her family. He overcomes the initial barriers of denials to win the confidence of Nandini and her family. This rapport enables him to restore Nandini's self-confidence and take a positive attitude to life. Under his influence, Nandini gets her smile back.

Early-onset dementia, which occurs before the age of 65, is rare, and there is a lack of awareness both among the medical fraternity and the lay public.[3]

The film Smile Please illustrates how a progressive disease without cure, demands empathy from therapists and caregivers. In the absence of cure, empathy can make the sufferers smile again. There can be healing without cure, leading to peace and acceptance. The movie has important lessons in empathy for doctors, patients, and caregivers.

  References Top

Banerjee A. Empathy in the time of artificial intelligence: Fiction not fact may hold the key. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2020;13:97-100.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
Sharma D. Movie Review: Smile Please; 09 August, 2019. Available from: https://www.filmfare.com/reviews/bollywood-movies/movie-review-smile-please-35010.html. [Last accessed on 2020 Jan 09].  Back to cited text no. 2
Maslow K. Early Onset Dementia: A National Challenge, a Future Crises. Alzheimer's Association. Available from: https://www.alz.org/national/documents/report_earlyonset_summary.pdf. [Last accessed on 2020 Jan 09].  Back to cited text no. 3


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