Movies and the Modern Psyche
by Sharon Packer
September 2007, 216pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99359-7
$55, £41, 46€, A79
eBook Available: 978-1-57356-728-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Shows how films reflect and influence psychological theories and treatments, and investigates the more general question as to why film and psychology have always been so deeply intertwined.

By looking at the interactions between cinema and psychology, Packer offers readers clear and basic insights into some of the most fundamental reasons why film is such an important influence upon our lives today. Movies and the Modern Psyche first describes the basic concepts of psychoanalysis, experimental psychology, behavioral conditioning, and hypnosis, which have all played major roles in the histories of both film and psychiatry. It then goes on to discuss the recent rise in film therapy, drug treatments, treatment for drug abuse, and the closing of asylums, to show how shifts in treatment techniques, theories, and settings are foreshadowed and fossilized by film.

Psychology and cinema are kindred cousins, born at the same time and developing together, so that each influences the other. From the mind-controlling villains that occupy early horror films and Cold War thrillers (like Caligari, Mabuse, and The Ipcress File), to the asylums that house numberless political allegories and personal dramas (in Shock Corridor, Spellbound, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Girl Interrupted), to the drugs, phobias, and disorders that pervade so many of our favorite films (including, as a small sample, Vertigo, Night of the Hunter, Psycho, Rainman, Fight Club, Requiem for a Dream, and Batman Begins), there is no escaping either psychology in the movies, or the movies in psychology. By looking at the interactions between cinema and psychology, this book offers readers clear and basic insights into some of the most fundamental reasons why film is such an important influence upon our lives today.

Movies and the Modern Psyche first describes the basic concepts of psychoanalysis, experimental psychology, behavioral conditioning, and hypnosis, which have all played major roles in the histories of both film and psychiatry. It then goes on to discuss the recent rise in film therapy, drug treatments, treatment for drug abuse, and the closing of asylums, to show how shifts in treatment techniques, theories, and settings are foreshadowed and fossilized by film.

Reviews

"Packer explores the relationship between psychology and film, phenomena that originated at approximately the same point in history and affected each other's development. The book requires no specialized knowledge because the author provides background information and defines all technical terms. She discusses how trends in psychological treatment, such as talk therapy and medicines like Thorazine and antidepressants, are represented in film and how these representations influenced psychological practice, as was the case with reduced use of shock therapy after its depiction in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). She also discusses how Freud's teachings affected films long after his importance had waned in psychological circles....This book is a worthy follow-up to Packer's outstanding Dreams in Myths, Medicine, and Movies (CH, Apr'03, 40-4923) and a solid companion to Jesse Fox Mayshark's Post-Pop Cinema (CH, Dec'07, 45-1930). Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers."—Choice, June 1, 2008
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