Podcast Blog: Adjustment Disorder in Wildlife

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

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Episode 42: Adjustment Disorder in Wildlife

Main stream pop culture has a propensity for exaggerating what mental health problems actually look like. Sometimes we're not sure if the writers do this solely for effect, or if they just don't understand that there's more to mental health than the extremes they repeatedly show us (and get wrong). That's why indie films can be so refreshing. Running on much lower budgets than their summer blockbuster-extravaganza counterparts, the directors and writers often value story as

much, if not more, than the bottom line. This holds true for Paul Dano's Wildlife. Well known as an actor, Dano, a first time director, tackles an intimate story of a small family struggling with a host of sudden changes at break-neck speed. Whether Dano intended to show us the effects of an adjustment disorder or not, doesn't matter, because that's exactly what we see when the family can't cope with circumstance and change.


Ryan is back from vacation and the engines are fired back up! Separated by only six months in age, Mike and Ryan can immediately relate to what growing older means to them. With those thoughts in mind, they talk about birthdays, and how they like to celebrate. (Note: Don't celebrate Mike's birthday)


Fourteen-year-old Joe is the only child of Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) and Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) -- a housewife and a golf pro -- in a small town in 1960s Montana. Nearby, an uncontrolled forest fire rages close to the Canadian border, and when Jerry loses his job -- and his sense of purpose -- he decides to join the cause of fighting the fire, leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves. Suddenly forced into the role of an adult, Joe (Ed Oxenbould) witnesses his mother's struggle to adjust as she tries to keep her head above water

Episode Diagnosis

Ryan (accuracy):

5 of 5 Playing Catch With Dads -- Absolutely a real insight into what can happen when a person, or persons, encounter big changes, and don't cope well.

Mike (Enjoyment):

4.5 of 5 Joes -- Excellent movie! Worth more than one watch. The only detractor was my problem with the timeline.

Pop Psych 101 is a weekly mental health podcast hosted by Therapist, Ryan Engelstad, and advocate, Mike Graham. They analyze the portrayal of mental health in pop culture and discuss the accuracy, for better or worse. 

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