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The Dark Mirror: Psychiatry and Film Noir

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The Dark Mirror: Psychiatry and Film Noir probes the meanings behind the depiction of psychiatry and psychological illness in film noir, and how these depictions contribute to an overall understanding about the noir cycle itself. In this study, Marlisa Santos examines the role that the popularization of psychoanalysis in the 1940s and 1950s, beginning with the use of psych The Dark Mirror: Psychiatry and Film Noir probes the meanings behind the depiction of psychiatry and psychological illness in film noir, and how these depictions contribute to an overall understanding about the noir cycle itself. In this study, Marlisa Santos examines the role that the popularization of psychoanalysis in the 1940s and 1950s, beginning with the use of psychoanalytic techniques to treat World War II soldiers, had on writers and filmmakers of noir. This popularization had a lasting effect on American culture, especially as ideas such as introspection and a morally neutral universe became status quo, and thereby became reflected in the noir series. The films analyzed in this study reveal a distillation of such ideas, a bringing to the surface concerns and fears regarding the contradictory, yet thrilling nature of psychoanalysis: the ability of a "science of the mind" to eliminate the mysteries of the human psyche and the simultaneous nature of this science to expose the fundamental unknowability of the human psyche. Indeed, Santos argues that noir itself might not have existed without the introduction of psychoanalysis into American culture.


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The Dark Mirror: Psychiatry and Film Noir probes the meanings behind the depiction of psychiatry and psychological illness in film noir, and how these depictions contribute to an overall understanding about the noir cycle itself. In this study, Marlisa Santos examines the role that the popularization of psychoanalysis in the 1940s and 1950s, beginning with the use of psych The Dark Mirror: Psychiatry and Film Noir probes the meanings behind the depiction of psychiatry and psychological illness in film noir, and how these depictions contribute to an overall understanding about the noir cycle itself. In this study, Marlisa Santos examines the role that the popularization of psychoanalysis in the 1940s and 1950s, beginning with the use of psychoanalytic techniques to treat World War II soldiers, had on writers and filmmakers of noir. This popularization had a lasting effect on American culture, especially as ideas such as introspection and a morally neutral universe became status quo, and thereby became reflected in the noir series. The films analyzed in this study reveal a distillation of such ideas, a bringing to the surface concerns and fears regarding the contradictory, yet thrilling nature of psychoanalysis: the ability of a "science of the mind" to eliminate the mysteries of the human psyche and the simultaneous nature of this science to expose the fundamental unknowability of the human psyche. Indeed, Santos argues that noir itself might not have existed without the introduction of psychoanalysis into American culture.

11 review for The Dark Mirror: Psychiatry and Film Noir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Santos has selected a great lens from which to view Noir films, noting that the psychiatrist appears as frequently as stock characters such as femme fatales and private eyes. More than fifty films are extensively and originally analyzed from the perspective of the thematic chapters: Noir Psychiatrists; Noir Asylums and Treatments; Noir Amnesia; Noir Neuroses and Psychoses; and Inducing Insanity in Noir. In the introduction, Hitchcock’s Spellbound is treated as a case study to tease the themes di Santos has selected a great lens from which to view Noir films, noting that the psychiatrist appears as frequently as stock characters such as femme fatales and private eyes. More than fifty films are extensively and originally analyzed from the perspective of the thematic chapters: Noir Psychiatrists; Noir Asylums and Treatments; Noir Amnesia; Noir Neuroses and Psychoses; and Inducing Insanity in Noir. In the introduction, Hitchcock’s Spellbound is treated as a case study to tease the themes discussed throughout the rest of the book, but that several page analysis of the movie is repeated with dozens of films, so that each theme is covered in great depth and with multiple example films. The conclusion is that: “Even in the most horrifying crisis, one’s own mind should be a firmament on which to depend; however, noir shows this to be a crumbling illusion, fraught with unexpected inconsistency and danger, from loss of memory to loss of control.” [163] And: “. . . the ultimate existential crises depicted in film noir - the absolute uncertainty of anything previously deemed certain: government, society, family, one’s own mind.” [161] Fantastic book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Irus

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Derige

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tokoror

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Passow

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eloise

  7. 4 out of 5

    Groovy

  8. 5 out of 5

    Abdulkadir Jailani

  9. 5 out of 5

    Durakov

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sadie

  11. 4 out of 5

    Margo Day

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