Movie “Madonna of the Seven Moons” by Arthur Crabtree – through the lens of the Communication Model


Title of artwork, “Feel the day” Oct. 3rd 2013 by Annuska van der Pol, BA, PDD-IMHA

In the movie “Madonna of the Seven Moons,” directed by Arthur Crabtree, 1945, the theme of psychosis arises. The movie portrays a lady (Phyllis Calvert, the lady actress/mother/wife/multiple roles) who is happily married, who is wealthy and who is sensitive to emotion. One day the lady’s daughter returns from school and somehow this triggers a dissociation to a time when the lady herself was at school, around the same age as her teenaged daughter is now. This psychological dissociation causes a switching from one person to another. This new personality entails her transforming into a very active, fast-paced, extroverted gypsy versus the sensitive, contained and moderate housewife. Somehow the lead character completely changes into a new person – like a chameleon changes his/her colors when reaching a newly colorful environment. The newly transformed lady, does not stay at home but instead flees to another part of the country and takes on another identity. What is so fascinating about this movie is the apparent cause-and-effect sequencing that is clearly explained by a doctor/psychiatrist to the original husband, into the lady’s character change. This cause-and-effect sequencing namely, trying to understand the source of the emotional switching in the female character – paints a very clear picture of a lady who is experiencing a dissociation as means of a coping mechanism in order to deal with the paranoia and hence fear that her daughter will experience the same kind of tragedy she herself experienced at her daughters age. What is great about these scenes is how the doctor/psychiatrist explains this event in a very matter of fact way and from the outside looking in onto the situation. The listener, i.e. the original husband, has a very open-mind and is attentive. This displays a non-judgement and an absolute acceptance into his wife’s character. This non-judgement is also displayed by the daughter and the second person that Phyllis Calvert loves. It is the acceptance that is such a powerful trait into the love for the individual and this is what the Communication Model shares with movie “Madonna of the Seven Moons” from 1945.


Written by Annuska van der Pol, BA, PDD-IMHA

Mental Health and Addictions Practitioner

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada



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