Integral Cinema Project: Exploring an Integral Approach to Multimedia Mental Health Interventions

By: Mark Allan Kaplan


As part of the Integral Cinema Project’s outreach application process, I recently consulted on a multimedia mental health intervention project at the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago Schools of Medicine helping them apply an Integral approach to deepen the power and effect of their intervention. The researchers already had intuitively fleshed out the need for an intervention that addressed the intentional, behavioral, cultural, and social dimensions of the issue at hand, namely helping teens at risk learn to become more resilient in the face of the often daunting challenges of growing up in today’s fast moving and complicated world.

To help the research team apply and integrate these four main intervention dimensions in a more coordinated and effective way I created an Integrally-Informed Sensory Synchronization Template for the project, mapping the four intervention dimensions of intentional, behavioral, cultural, and social across the multimedia expressive dimensions of Text, Image (still & moving), Sound, Time (accumulated meaning patterns), and Interactivity. This integration of the intervention and expression dimensions included the mapping of desired affect patterns and their relationship to expressive modalities including textual linguistic and mimetic patterns; visual shapes, colors, tones, framing and space; audio modalities (dialogic, musical, atmospheric, effectual, etc.); and meaning patterns accumulated over time.

The goal of this approach was to help them coordinate the intervention across multiple modes of expression and perception to induce what cinematic theorist Sergei Eisenstein called the synchronization of the senses, the process in which a message, synchronized across multiple expressive dimensions, achieves the power and force of actual lived multi-sensory experience. This shift from mere information sharing to a deeply felt lived-experience has the potential to induce deep change and transformation across all four dimensions of intention, behavior, relationship formation, and socialization patterns.

This research is still ongoing but initial results suggest a great potential for this approach.

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