In Session with “The Sixth Sense”

This week Dr. Sam & Dr. Fran discuss the supernatural psychological thriller, The Sixth Sense! Join the doctors, including Dr. Malcom Crowe, for October’s Spooky Session Series as they explore working with a child who sees dead people.
Dr. Sam & Dr. Fran evaluate Dr. Crowe’s therapy sessions with 9-year-old Cole. Do child psychologists stalkerr followthe children they provide therapy to? What does Dr. Crowe do well in his attempt to help his patient? And what are some things we don’t recommend? Hint: don’t discuss your failing marriage with a child. 
We also dive into what possible diagnoses may be appropriate for Cole. If Cole was not seeing ghosts or (SPOILER ALERT) receiving therapy from a ghost, what might a psychologist consider in terms of diagnoses? Finally, The Sixth Sense focuses on loss and grief so the doctors describe and explore these concepts. 
If you see dead people – or you don’t – don’t miss this spooky session! 
Content Warning: suicide, child abuse

Glossary of Terms

Mood disorder – umbrella term for psychological disorders that are related a person’s emotional state (e.g., major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder)

Rapport – a close and trusting relationship between the therapist and client

Miracle question – a therapeutic technique used to identify how things would be different if the client’s problem was solved in order to clarify treatment goals

Transference – when a client expresses feelings toward the therapist that appear to be based on the client’s past feelings about someone else (e.g., parents)

Psychosis – mental state defined by losing contact with reality (e.g., hallucinations, delusions)

Hallucination the perception of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, or smelling something that it’s actually present

Delusion – a fixed belief that doesn’t change even when presented with conflicting evidence

Disorganized speech – one potential symptom of Schizophrenia; speech abnormalities (e.g., nonsensical speech, repeating words)

Negative symptoms a class of symptoms associated with Schizophrenia characterized by absence of things we expect to typically see (e.g., difficulty showing emotions, apathy, social withdrawal)

Termination session  the final session in the therapeutic relationship

Bereavement – the experience of having had a loved one die


We discuss the potential impact of parental divorce on children through the lens of  Cole’s character. Learn more in these two articles.

Dr. Crowe’s initial impressions are that Cole may be experiencing childhood psychosisread more about this rare diagnosis here and here. We also briefly review schizophrenia.

We highlight how a major theme of The Sixth Sense is bereavement, grief, and loss.  Learn more about bereavement, as well as a condition currently being studied called Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder.

If you are interested in learning more about delusional disorder, check out our Shutter Island session or listen to our Sharp Objects session to hear more about factitious disorder imposed on another (previously called Munchausen syndrome by proxy).

Listen to The Lonely Island spoil the greatest twist of all time.