A few months ago, navigating through streaming platforms for a movie to keep me company at dinner, I stumbled upon one of the most extraordinary and exciting content on the platform [Netflix]: Stutz (2022).

Stutz is a 2022 Netflix documentary written and directed by Hollywood actor Jonah Hill, starring himself and his psychiatrist and therapist, Phil Stutz.

If the name Jonah Hill rings a bell, it’s probably because he’s starred in some very world-wide known movies, such as “The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)”, “Superbad (2007)” and “The Hangover (2009)”, amongst others. Phil Stutz, on the other hand, less popular in the television scene, is an American psychiatrist and psychotherapist, author of the book “The Tools (2012)”.

Now you maybe wondering what these two have in common and why have they participated in a film-documentary together… Phil Stutz is Jonah Hill’s psychiatrist, he has been for years, and the film is the patient’s homage to his therapist.

In the documentary, Jonah Hill invites us to witness an insightful journey into the mind of his therapist Phil Stutz. At first we thought that the one who would lay his life bare would be the actor himself, but at a certain moment we realized his true purpose. «I’m making a movie about you, not about me.» Jonah will not only focus on his own problems, but almost all the attention is focused on his psychiatrist, Stutz.

What happens when the client-therapist roles are reversed?

On the one hand, Stutz seems to be making a professionally risky move. In psychotherapy, in fact, deontology restricts and discourages the therapist from sharing his or her private life and details about his or her mental health with the patient, since the protagonist of therapy is the client and not the therapist. Despite this, we know that the quality of the therapeutic alliance, which is fundamental to the success of therapy itself, also feeds on the therapist’s ability to show himself or herself as human. Stutz gives us a chance to reflect on the fact that therapists are not «super humans» who have it all figured out, but vulnerable human beings made of insecurities and frailties, like everyone else.

This is why Stutz must be watched, because it highlights certain qualities of the therapeutic alliance between client and therapist; the great act of trust of surrendering one’s life into the hands of one’s therapist in what the patient perceives to be a safe place where they can feel comfortable, heard and understood.

The documentary is hence an ode to friendship and goodness, but it is also an example of psychological innovation, in which the psychiatrist is suddenly transformed into the patient. Jonah Hill does more than pay tribute to his psychiatrist. They both invite us into a brave and honest conversation about mental health, vulnerability, and human flaws. These are two men united by a strong emotional bond, in which, suddenly, it is the therapist himself who becomes the patient, revealing his inner labyrinths…

“The driving force in this whole thing [the movie], to me, is your vulnerability. No question about it. If we’re true to that idea and you’re forthcoming with it, we really can’t go wrong. The thing is, if you wanna move forward you can’t move forward without being vulnerable.” (Stutz, 2022)

Phil Stutz: Fighting the mental-health stigma

Phil Stutz is the American psychiatrist who has developed one of the most innovative techniques for optimizing human potential. In his long professional career, he has helped thousands of writers, artists, producers and CEOs deal with their insecurities, traumas and problems.

Phil Stutz is known for his book The Method: the tools that will activate your inner strength to change your life (2012), co-written with therapist Barry Michels. In this work they provide an innovative therapeutic approach based on the tools, mechanisms, and resources we can all develop by activating our «higher forces» to solve problems, (I will not make any spoilers, watch the documentary and find out what “the tools” are!).

Reseña de cine- Stutz, un homenaje a la alianza terapéutica, la humanidad y la vulnerabilidad 3

Why is Stutz’ testimony so important in fighting the stigma?

Because Phil Stutz has Parkinson. We notice him immediately when he picks up one of his famous cards to illustrate his tools. His stroke is shaky and he can barely pull off that technique that has accompanied him throughout his professional life.

The documentary offers a moving reflection on the unstoppable advance of his illness, hinting at his issues with anxiety, insecurity, emptiness, eating disorders and the death of Stutz’s younger brother.

Hill and Stutz talk about mental health through honesty, vulnerability and love. If we need to talk more about psychological problems, it is to eliminate stigma. We need collective testimonies to understand that everyone will experience these things at some point.

Thanks to Jonah Hill, we don’t just see another Hollywood star revealing his problems, but he brings us a psychiatrist capable of sharing tools while revealing his own problems, sadnesses, and vulnerabilities. Because not even those who have the knowledge to pull us out of our black holes are immune to life’s suffering.

Sinews, Hacemos Fácil lo Difícil
Sinews MTI
Multilingual Therapy Institute
Psychology, Psychiatry and Speech Therapy
Clinic Appointment