All of Us Strangers: A Therapy Couch Perspective

Written by Emma Evans

January 28, 2024

SPOILER ALERT – if you have yet to see All Of Us Strangers, the intriguing movie released in January 2024, then you may well be advised to not read further!!

Having just left the movie theatre, I can honestly tell you – this was one of the best movies I have watched in a very long while!

Through the lens of a therapist, “All of Us Strangers” becomes more than just a character study; it’s a raw exploration of grief, trauma, and the winding paths to healing. Director Andrea Arnold masterfully weaves past and present, reality and imagination, creating a tapestry of emotions that invites introspection and analysis.

As a therapist you cannot fail to note the various psychological models at play and beautifully weaved into such a touching and tragic story. The emotional rollercoaster that the main actor displays so gently and desperately is gripping and beautiful. From attachment theory, transference, defence mechanisms, trauma (including PTSD, grief and dissociation) to hope and recovery, this incredible film takes the viewer on a journey of self-discovery along with absorbing them within the lives of the two main characters ask supporting roles. 

Adam’s early childhood loss of his parents casts a long shadow, shaping his struggles with intimacy and trust. Adam’s denial and escapism, manifested in his dreamlike encounters with his younger self, are explored as coping mechanisms for unprocessed grief. Seeing these defences through a therapeutic lens adds depth and empathy to his character.

Adam’s sexuality is portrayed within the movie and his past experiences, including bullying and societal pressures, contribute to his initial confusion and shame around his sexuality. The film highlights delicately but firmly how societal stigma and internalised homophobia can impact mental health and self-acceptance. This theme connects with therapeutic work around unpacking internalised prejudice and exploring how past experiences shape sexual self-concept.

The film subtly hints at the complex dynamics between the main character and that of Harry, who Adam happens to meet by chance, as they live in flats in the same tower block in Croydon. Adams idealisation of this brief encounter shows transference and counter-transference, and how positive transference can often be the path to healing. 

The film delicately portrays the impact of childhood trauma on adult life, without sensationalising or exploiting it. I felt this was the most touching part of this powerful movie; if the watcher has suffered similar loss or trauma, the writing felt gentle enough not to be triggering. 

Despite the darkness Adam faces, the film ultimately offers a message of hope and resilience. His gradual progress towards self-acceptance and connection inspires the movie goers to believe in the possibility of healing, even from deep wounds.

“All of Us Strangers” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that offers a unique perspective on mental health and the therapeutic process. Therapists and clients alike may find value in its nuanced portrayal of human struggles and the transformative power of self-exploration. Just remember to bring your tissues and an open mind.

I’m happy to discuss any specific aspects of the film or mental health themes that you find particularly intriguing, I’d be happy to hear your comments after watching! 


Published : Jan 28, 2024