Exquisite Continent

Executive Producer: Kathleen Man Gyllenhaal
2012, Feature Documentary.
*Fiscal Sponsorship provided by the International Documentary Association

Today, there is a crisis in the field of psychoanalysis. Since Freud’s discovery of the unconscious and the contributions of other renowned analysts such as Carl Jung and Melanie Klein, there have been no significant breakthroughs in the field. Under traditional Freudian psychoanalysis, patients have not flourished as hoped. As a result, psychoanalysis has gone out of fashion and “New Age” remedies have eclipsed scientific approaches. Psychoanalytic societies and institutes are impoverished in numbers, conviction, and enthusiasm. Fewer people seek out analysts. These are all indications that the traditional, Freudian paradigm has reached its limit and that the time is ripe for a new model.

“The Exquisite Continent” documentary focuses on new psychoanalytic research that has the potential to radically impact the psychiatric profession and improve people’s lives. Dr. Bernard W. Bail, a physician, psychoanalyst and training analyst in Los Angeles, has developed a new methodology that diverges from the traditional, Freudian analysis. At 90 years old, Dr. Bail has been working with patients and analysts for over 50 years and still maintains his private practice. Bail’s extensive research and writing center on his original theory that all human beings are born with a split psyche – a maternal imprint – that is the result of psychological and emotional trauma sustained in fetal life. His work ushers in a new paradigm of mental functioning that eschews the Oedipal Complex and places the Unconscious and primal survival instinct at its center.

According to Bail, the unconscious mind, which communicates to our conscious mind through dreams, is the key to psychological health. Through rigorous introspection and with proper interpretation, dreams guide us to the site of the original fetal trauma, where it is possible to repair the psychological pathways that hinder emotional balance and self-realization. By focusing on fetal trauma and the primal survival instinct that bonds a baby to its mother, Dr. Bail pinpoints the “imprint” that informs a human being’s decisions throughout his/her entire life. Bail’s ideas are radical. They question prevailing psychiatric practices (like the widespread prescription of anti-depressants) and complicate the “nature vs. nurture” discourse.

To further understand this breakthrough and its impact on medicine, “The Exquisite Continent” will bring to life the dreams and interpretations of real people who have worked extensively with Dr. Bail.

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