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He holds the second session in a park; he ends the fifth session early and angrily sends away his patient because he is frustrated by his ‘bullshitting’ (this would be highly unusual even if he were a Lacanian); he also talks freely and abundantly about his own private life and suffering.One wonders if these sessions should be viewed as serendipity rather than therapy – an encounter in a special situation between two men with similar roots. Will is quite possibly his last case ever – so intuitively feeling the looming life change and existential challenge that this encounter poses, he breaks all the rules.Sean, who is originally from the same neighbourhood and social background as Will, stands up to the boy’s arrogant attempts to disqualify him, and eventually tames him into cooperation.
He sees Will as a member of an exceptional category: as ‘a prodigy’, as ‘the new Einstein’, as a huge potential that needs to be groomed so that he can contribute to the progress of humanity; but he doesn’t see him as ‘Thou’: he may act as a benefactor and a mentor, but he never actually ‘meets’ Will.
By contrast, Sean is touched by Will from the first moment.
As Sean points out in a memorable conversation during the fifth session, no matter how hard Will is trying to make everybody believe he’s satisfied with his life, it’s actually Will himself who took the first step towards something new. Why did you work at the most prestigious technical college in the whole fucking world?
” There is someone within him that’s looking for achieving more of his potential.
Following a long period of bereavement after his wife’s death from cancer, Sean also decides to leave town, and he sets out on a journey to India.
It is difficult to assess the eight-session therapeutic intervention presented in the movie from a professional point of view.But when one relates to a ‘Thou’, one's whole being is involved; nothing can be withheld” (p.365).Lambeau’s relationship to Will would be an example of an I-It relationship.Although it is not entirely clear which school Sean follows, we can safely say that this therapy bears many marks of an existentialist-humanistic treatment.Indeed, the encounter between the two men serves as a beautiful illustration of the underlying premises of the existentialist approach, and especially of what Buber calls an ‘I-Thou’ relationship.With each ‘Thou’, and with each moment of relationship, the ‘I’ is created anew.When relating to ‘It’ (whether to a thing or to a person made into a thing) one holds back something of oneself: one inspects it from many possible perspectives; one categorizes it, analyzes it, judges it, and decides upon its position in the grand scheme of things.Thanks to the mathematician’s intervention, Will can avoid a jail sentence, but only if he agrees to regularly see a therapist.After several failed attempts with various therapists, Will finally accepts the authority of Sean, a childhood friend of Lambeau.Your complimentary articles You’ve read one of your four complimentary articles for this month. To have complete access to the thousands of philosophy articles on this site, please (1997) is an encounter between Will (Matt Damon), a twenty-year-old working class prodigy, and an apparently burnt-out middle-aged therapist, Sean (Robin Williams).This is in fact a story of a Buberian I-Thou relationship which deeply touches, upsets and inspires both men to the extent that they both end up leaving behind the comfort of their old habits, move out of their homes, and leave town.