HSS 2102 (Fall 2014) – Video Analysis Assignment
Faculty of Health Sciences
November 24, 2014
Dr. Tien Nguyen
John Patrick Shanley’s “Joe Versus The Volcano” tells a story of Joe Banks, a man suffering from an incurable disease, given only a few months left to live. With his impending demise in mind, he sets out to live out the rest of his life how he sees fit. The selected clip is from a scene in the film where Banks is told by his doctor, Dr. Ellison, about his terminal disease. Banks walks into the doctor’s office, after being called in repeatedly by the secretary, and sits down to speak about his ailments and possible causes. Ellison then reveals to him the results of his medical tests; a terminal disease. Ellison then advises Banks to live out the rest of his life to the fullest.
Health Communication Models: Leary Model
The scene portrayed a pure encounter between a doctor and a patient, following Leary’s model of two dimensions regarding the dominance-submission roles assumed by Banks and Ellison. At the beginning of the encounter, Banks is anxious to discover the source of his ailments, assuming a submissive role. Ellison strengthens his dominant role as he allows Banks to take guesses at the diagnosis, as if toying with his patient like a game of cat and mouse. When the diagnosis was delivered, Banks attempted to take dominance by claiming that he did not feel well at all despite the terminal illness’ lack of symptoms, attacking the doctor’s diagnosis with skepticism. Ellison returned the submissive role back to Banks by explaining the gravity of the situation, to which Banks settled down and asked “What am I going to do?”. Leary’s model proposes a rule that states that dominant or submissive behaviour stimulates opposite behaviour in others, and the rule suggests that the roles can be reversed if one party chooses to do so. After learning his fate, Dr. Ellison suggests that Joe go on a vacation. Enraged at his lack of options Banks begins to lash out while approaching the doctor’s desk, forcing Ellison to submissively suggest Banks to seek a “second opinion” as if to free himself out of the corner he had been backed into. The scene portrayed a constant power struggle, a form of tug-and-war, between doctor and patient.
Non-verbal Communication + Interviewing and Counselling
The very beginning of the scene depicts Joe Banks sitting in the waiting room outside of a doctor’s office, covering his face in his hands, as if to hide from reality. The secretary moves and speaks to him slowly and carefully, as one would with a mentally unstable individual. The facial expressions of both Banks and secretary are polar opposites; one is tired of life, and the other is cautious for the safety of her own. The camera is placed right behind the secretary, while Banks is situated in the relative distance to further simulate the polarity.
What seem like insignificant details are in fact important in examining the encounter in terms of patient-professional attentiveness. Holding the results to the tests, proven facts about a patient’s health, the doctor still asks Banks how he is feeling at the moment. When Banks mentions his time in the fire department, the doctor, despite his extensive medical education and expertise, asks questions about what one does in the fire department and if it was dangerous. A well experience physician should know what a fireman’s job entails, but Ellison asks anyway to show greater sensitivity for his patient’s situation. After a minute of small talk, Ellison proceeds to give the diagnosis, and a careful and concise explanation. Banks also takes part in the attentive etiquette by asking for clarification for omitted information on the disease’s symptoms and curability. Aside from verbal cues, the nonverbal cues can be seen through Banks’ reaction to his diagnosis:...
References: 1. Adler, R., Rodman, G. & Sevigny, A. (2011). Understanding human communication, 2nd Canadian ed., Don Mills, ON: Oxford.
2. Devito, J., Shimoni, R. & Clarke, D. (2012). Messages: building interpersonal communication skills, 4th Canadian ed., Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada Inc.
3. Dubrin, A. & Geerinck, T. (2012). Human relations: for career and personal success, 4th Canadian ed., Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada Inc.
4. Joe versus the volcano [Motion picture]. (2002). United States of America: Warner Home Video.
5. Northouse, L. L. & Northouse, P. G. (1998). Health communication: strategies for health professionals, 3rd ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
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