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Psychiatry and the Cinema, Second Edition

Glen O. Gabbard, M.D., and Krin Gabbard, Ph.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-964-5
  • Item #8964

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Early in the history of cinema, psychiatrists studied the movies to understand their appeal and power. Meanwhile, filmmakers have long been intrigued by psychiatry and frequently portray this mysterious world in film. Both movies and psychiatry focus on human thought, emotions, behavior, and motivation—making a link between the two subjects inevitable.

Psychiatry and the Cinema explores this complementary relationship from two angles, psychiatrists who have studied the movies and movies that have depicted psychiatry. This second edition looks at:

  • Over 400 theatrically-released American films that feature psychiatrists or other mental health professionals at work
  • The stereotypical characters and conventions dominating the presentation of movie psychiatrists and the historical rise and fall of the psychotherapist image in the movies
  • New trends in psychoanalytically oriented film theory
  • State-of-the-art understanding of psychoanalytic film criticism and illustrative examples of the use of that methodology with films such as Casablanca, Alien, Three Women, Sea of Love, Working Girl, Good Will Hunting, and many more
  • Clinical implications of the film representations of psychotherapy for the mental health practitioner

Both entertaining and educational, this book serves as an important aid in understanding the special hold that movies have on audiences.


  • Foreword. Preface. Introduction.

    Part 1. The Psychiatrist in the Movies.

    Typology, mythology, ideology. The alienist, the quack, and the oracle. Golden age. The fall from grace. The female psychotherapist in the movies. Clinical implications.

    Part 2. The Psychiatrist at the Movies.

    Methodology and psychoanalytic film criticism. Play it again, Sigmund: psychoanalytic approaches to the classic hollywood text. 3 Women: Robert Altman's dream world. Narcissism in the cinema I: the cinematic autobiography. Narcissism in the cinema II: the celebrity. Alien and Melanie Klein's night music. Phallic women in the contemporary cinema. Epilogue. Filmography. References. Index.

About the Authors

Glen O. Gabbard, M.D., is Professor and Director of the Baylor Psychiatry Clinic at the Baylor College of Medicine and Training and Supervising Analyst at the Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute in Houston, Texas. He was previously Director of the Menninger Hospital in Topeka, Kansas. Dr. Gabbard is the author or editor of sixteen books and currently is joint Editor-in-Chief and Editor for North America of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. His numerous awards include the 2000 Mary Sigourney Award for outstanding contributions to psychoanalysis.

Krin Gabbard, Ph.D., teaches film, literature, and cultural studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is author of Jammin' at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema (1996) and editor of Jazz Among the Discourses (1995) and Representing Jazz (1995). He is currently working on a book about movies, masculinity, and music.

The first edition of Psychiatry and the Cinema appeared in 1987. Now released in a second edition, it remains the definitive inquiry about that curious bedfellowship of psychiatry and American film that has flourished since the medium's advent near the century's turn. The book is the product of a felicitous partnership between brothers Glen O. Gabbard and his brother Krin Gabbard, a prominent film/jazz scholar.—The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

The discussion is both comprehensive and deep. . . . Any moviegoer eager to understand his or her own response to films will find these analyses provocative.—JAMA

I thoroughly enjoyed Psychiatry and the Cinema. . . . If you have even a passing interest in psychiatry and film, you will want to read this book. If you have more than a passing interest, you will want to read it more than once.—Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

Psychiatry and cinema arrive at the same historical juncture to put a new spin on human dreams–indeed, the critic Parker Tyler once called the movie-house the psychoanalytic clinic of the average worker. This invaluable and insightful book, now in a welcome second edition, illuminates the ways in which that glamorous clinic chose to represent the activities of its soulmate and rival.—J. Hoberman, Film Critic, The Village Voice, New York, New York

The love hate relationship between the cinema and psychiatry and psychoanalysis continues unabated. For this second edition of Psychiatry and the Cinema, published eleven years after the first, Glen and Krin Gabbard have added close to 150 films to their filmography. Lively and informative the book sets out a feast in word and pictures for film buffs, mental health professionals and those of us who are both. If there was an Academy Award for a book on film, Psychiatry and the Cinema would be the winner, hands down.—Arnold Richards, M.D., Editor, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, New York, New York

The second edition of Psychiatry and the Cinema is a welcome addition to the literature. This important study of both psychiatrists in movies and applying psychoanalytic critical methods to movies has been updated to include recent films and recent theory. The results are impressive, necessary reading for anyone interested in these fascinating topics.—Peter Lehman, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Media Arts, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

This extraordinary book is simultaneously erudite, comprehensive, amusing, and fascinating. The authors provide a deep description of the interaction of movies and psychiatry, and they demonstrate the sophisticated use of psychiatric and psychoanalytic scholarship in approaching another discipline. It is not the least of this book's virtues that the writing is clear, and ideas are presented without obfuscation. The readers will learn a tremendous amount about the place of psychiatry in American movies and culture, and they will have as much fun as they would if they went to the movies.—Arnold M. Cooper, M.D., Deputy Editor, American Journal of Psychiatry, Editor for North Amer, Intl Journal of Psychoanalysis, Prof Emeritus in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, Cornell Univ Med Coll

I largely enjoyed reading this book and will be pleased to have it as a reference as the inevitable additional films about psychiatry continue to be produced. I suspect that psychiatrist now depicted as succeeding only with the talking cure may well start to be represented by psychopharmacologists, neurophysiologists, brain imagists, and others as Hollywood catches up with the neurosciences in the future.—Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

Now released in a second edition, it remains the definitive inquiry about that curious bedfellowship of psychiatry and American film that has flourished since the medium's advent near the century's turn.—Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders, Vol. 188(9), 9/1/2000

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