Characters on the Couch
Exploring Psychology through Literature and Film
by Dean A. Haycock, PhD
August 2016, 334pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3698-5
$75, £56, 63€, A108
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3699-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Surprisingly, some mental health care training programs use well-known fictional characters from books and films to teach students about psychological and psychiatric disorders.

Providing intriguing insights for students, film buffs, and readers of various genres of fiction, this fascinating book delves into the psychology of 100 well-known fictional characters.

Our favorite fictional characters from books and movies often display an impressive and wide range of psychological attributes, both positive and negative. We admire their resilience, courage, humanity, or justice, and we are intrigued by other characters who show signs of personality disorders and mental illness—psychopathy, narcissism, antisocial personality, paranoia, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, among many other conditions. This book examines the psychological attributes and motivations of 100 fascinating characters that include examples of both accurate and misleading depictions of psychological traits and conditions, enabling readers to distinguish realistic from inaccurate depictions of human behavior.

An introductory section provides a background of the interplay between psychology and fiction and is followed by psychological profiles of 100 fictional characters from classic and popular literature, film, and television. Each profile summarizes the plot, describes the character’s dominant psychological traits or mental conditions, and analyzes the accuracy of such depictions. Additional material includes author profiles, a glossary of psychological and literary terms, a list of sources, and recommended readings.


  • Provides an engaging and entertaining way to learn about both positive psychology and mental health issues through the behavior of interesting and often familiar characters, leading to a better understanding of human behavior
  • Helps readers distinguish realistic depictions of psychological disorders from inaccurate ones, providing a basis for avoiding negative mental health stereotypes and stigma associated with mental illness
  • Covers a wide range of behaviors and psychological disorders arranged in a convenient format, making it easy to find and learn about particular topics that can be read in or out of order
Dean A. Haycock, PhD, is a science and medical writer. He is author of Murderous Minds: Exploring the Criminal Psychopathic Brain: Neurological Imaging and the Manifestation of Evil; The Everything Health Guide to Adult Bipolar Disorder; and The Everything Health Guide to Schizophrenia. His book, Murderous Minds, received the Honorable Mention award in the 2015 American Society of Journalists and Authors writing competition in the category of general nonfiction. Haycock earned a doctorate in neurobiology from Brown University and a fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health to study at The Rockefeller University. His scientific research has been published in Brain Research, Journal of Neurochemistry, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and other peer-reviewed journals. His articles have appeared in Drug Discovery & Development, The Lancet Neurology, and Annals of Internal Medicine, as well as online at WebMD, BioWorld Today,, and Medcast Medical News. His website is


"This title, which has potential for real-world application, pushes readers to consider an individual’s life in context: a crucial characteristic of an empathetic and effective psychologist. This text may expand viewpoints of the effects of mental illness. Recommended for psychology students and practitioners."—Library Journal, January 11, 2017

"Characters on the Couch offers to laypersons a wider and deeper knowledge of mental illness, dispelling many stereotypes and often giving readers a glimpse of the livedexperience of those living with psychological disorders. For clinicians, the book provides an opportunity to think critically about presentations of disorders with which they may or may not be familiar. Finally, for educators, Characters on the Couch does present some interesting pedagogical applications with respect to psychopathology and assessment."—PsycCRITIQUES, January 19, 2018
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies | Decline.