Exploring Spiritual Development in the Face of Disaster and Death through the Mindful Viewing of Films

July 23, 2021

This session is divided into two segments. Participants will watch film clips from the films Titanic and Ikiru where inspiring characters show spiritual development in the face of death.  Through these mindfulness viewing experiences, the aim is to renew these same qualities in the lives of the participants and in our work with patients

“The Night Sea Journey of Titanic”
While the 1997 film Titanic recreates the setting of the historic 1912 tragedy of a night sea journey, the director James Cameron hoped that a remembered love story would serve as “a kind of emotional lightning rod, if you will, allowing viewers to invest their mind and their hearts to make history come alive again.” He has more than succeeded in telling an extraordinary love story that can be viewed as a psychological night sea journey-- a watery initiation of anima development-- of the heroine Rose Calvert. This presentation will utilize film clips and a brief self-reflective exercise to help participants trace how her lover Jack Dawson catalyzed Rose’s spiritual development as C. G. Jung described as anima development. Finally, the contemporary framing story of the elder Rose’s remembered love stimulated by found objects on the ship (comb, mirror, and a drawing of her) exemplifies the process by which the anima develops fully to the wisdom of Sophia.   

“Spiritual Transformations Through an Encounter with Death: A Study of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru”
Akira Kurosawa’s film 1952 Ikiru (the intransitive verb ‘‘to live’’ in Japanese) presents the viewer with a seeming paradox: a heightened awareness of one’s mortality can lead to living a more authentic and meaningful life. While confronting the four existential issues of death, meaninglessness, isolation, and freedom discussed by Irvin Yalom in his 1980 book “Existential Psychotherapy,” our hero Kanji Watanabe, an elderly civil servant who heads up the “Citizen’s Section” at city hall, traces the path of the Hero’s Journey as described by the mythologist Joseph Campbell. Toyo, a young woman from the office, enlivens and inspires Watanabe through her energy and enthusiasm for life. She is an anima figure that catalyzes his transformation of discovering his agency and freedom. Simultaneous to this outward arc of the Hero’s Journey, Watanabe experiences an inward arc of transformation of consciousness taking him from the individual persona to ego, then to the self, and finally to the transpersonal. 

Learning Objectives

Through this Medical Humanities film experience, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify how characters experience spiritual transformation in the face of disaster and death to identify these spiritual potentialities in themselves and in patients.
  2. View films from a mindfulness perspective in which inspiring characters embody compassion, love, courage, and wisdom to renew these qualities in their lives.
  3. Understand the essential role of developing compassion, love, courage, and wisdom for spiritual development.
  4. Help patients view films mindfully for the purpose of renewing these qualities in their lives.
Additional information


Kiara Bond
Phone Number: 
+1 (414) 955-7250
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 3.50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™
    AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™
  • 3.50 APA
    APA credit.
  • 3.50 Hours of Participation
    Hours of Participation credit.
  • 3.50 NASW
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
Event starts: 
07/23/2021 - 1:30pm CDT
Event ends: 
07/23/2021 - 5:15pm CDT
United States

Francis G. Lu, MD, is the Luke & Grace Kim Professor in Cultural Psychiatry, Emeritus, at the University of California, Davis.  As a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Dr. Lu has contributed to the areas of cultural psychiatry including the interface with religion/spirituality, psychiatric education, diversity/inclusion, mental health equity, and psychiatry/film. He has presented at every APA Annual Meeting since 1984. He was awarded APA Special Presidential Commendations in both 2002 and 2016 for his contributions to cultural psychiatry. He has received Distinguished Service Awards from the APA in 2020 and the American College of Psychiatrists in 2021 and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Association for Academic Psychiatry in 2008, and the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture in 2020. He has led or co-led 36 film seminars at Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA and 7 at DCSI since 2013.

ACCME Accreditation Statement:
The Medical College of Wisconsin is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Designation of Credit:
The Medical College of Wisconsin designates this live virtual activity for a maximum of 3.5 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

APA Accreditation Statement:
The Medical College of Wisconsin is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. MCW maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This activity contains content or processes that may be potentially stressful.

Available Credit

  • 3.50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™
    AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™
  • 3.50 APA
    APA credit.
  • 3.50 Hours of Participation
    Hours of Participation credit.
  • 3.50 NASW


Please login or register to take this course.

Tuition for each 3-hour session is $120 if received by June 18, 2021.  After June 18, 2021, tuition for a 3-hour sessions is $145.  
Tuition for graduate and medical students and resident physicians is $90 with a letter from the training director.
There is a $5 processing fee for online transactions. 

Refunds, minus a $20 administrative fee, may be obtained if requested in writing no later than 15 days prior to the beginning of each session. There will be no refunds thereafter.