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Warped Minds

Warped Minds: Cinema and Psychopathology

Temenuga Trifonova
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  • Book Info
    Warped Minds
    Book Description:

    Warped Mindsexplores the transformation of psychopathologies into cultural phenomena in the wake of the transition from an epistemological to an ontological approach to psychopathology. Trifonova considers several major points in this intellectual history: the development of a dynamic model of the self at the fin de siècle, the role of photography and film in the construction of psychopathology, the influence of psychoanalysis on the transition from static, universalizing psychiatric paradigms to dynamic styles of psychiatry foregrounding the socially constructed nature of madness, and the decline of psychoanalysis and the aestheticization of madness into a trope describing the conditions of knowledge in postmodernity as evidenced by the transformation of multiple personality and paranoia into cultural and aesthetic phenomena.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2294-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction Toward a Therapeutic Model of Psychopathology
    (pp. 11-42)

    ‘To Define True Madness,’ the first episode in the BBC series Madness, traces the origins of our ideas of madness back to the belief in divine possession that is to be found in a wide range of mythologies. With the advent of Christianity, the idea of invisible forces became visualized in terms of a struggle between the forces of Good and Evil competing for control of individual human souls. The Christian belief that one would be held accountable in the afterlife for one’s deeds in this life contributed to the processes of growing introspection that were already underway, and to...

  2. 1. The Story of Attention: Toward a Dynamic Model of the Self
    (pp. 43-68)

    The last decade of the nineteenth century was marked by acute and widespread anxiety over a range of ‘undesirables,’ including ‘the biologically unfit, the criminal classes, the “lower races”, the alcoholic, the syphilitic, the degenerate artist, the idiot, the moron, the masculinizing female, the feminizing male.’¹ InThe Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind(1896), Gustave Le Bon identified urbanization and its consequences as probable causes of the ‘epidemic’ of insanity.² Crowds, he observed, were extremely mobile and volatile, excited randomly by whatever was happening at that moment, incapable of premeditation, and difficult to govern. For Le Bon, what...

  3. 2. Photography and the Construction of Psychopathology at the Fin de Siècle
    (pp. 69-104)

    How was the mind conceptualized at the end of the nineteenth century in psychology, psychiatry and medicine, and how did photography and film affirm or subvert dominant views? To what scientific and medical uses were photography and film put in mental asylums and research laboratories, what was their diagnostic and treatment value, and how did they provide the foundations for the new ‘sciences of mind’?

    The eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century were dominated by physiognomic theories of madness, which posited a one-to-one correspondence between mental states and body states: the body was seen as an...

  4. 3. Cinema and Psychoanalysis
    (pp. 105-150)

    In ‘Réflexions sur les représentations iconographiques de l’alienne au XIXe siècle’, Bénédict Augustin Morel and Claude Quetel attribute the declining importance of photography at the end of the nineteenth century to the rise of psychoanalysis and the attendant shift from the eye to the ear:

    Si de la physionomie a la phrénologie, on a pu aboutir en 1861 avec Broca a une théorie neurologique des localisations cérébrales le passage de la physionomie au portrait ‘didactique’ d’alienne et aux supports idéologiques qu’il suppose, échappe a son propos, car il ne correspond pas finalement a l’objet de la psychiatrie. Non pas seulement...

  5. 4. Multiple Personality and the Hollywood ‘Multiple’ Film
    (pp. 151-206)

    Around the middle of the nineteenth century, scientists began asking themselves whether the strange phenomenon of multiple personality was ‘primarily a pathological response to the physical doubleness of the brain or the result of disordered association.’ The debate revived an old question: ‘[I]s there a co-ordinating power within each individual, formed through memory and shaping individual will, that constitutes the core of the self? Or are we nothing but a series of bodily sensations, cerebral reflexes and fragmented memories that together constitute the fiction of individuality?’¹ In his essay ‘The Dream as a Revelation’ (1893), to which Freud refers in...

  6. 5. Paranoia and the Geopolitical Conspiracy Thriller
    (pp. 207-226)

    Does the current cinematic epidemic of the multiple exacerbate our already bad case of metaphysical uncertainty? The answer, I think, is no. In Hollywood films the multiplication of realities, identities and temporalities does not lead to skepticism, as one might expect, because every illusory reality, mistaken identity or a-chronological sequence of events is eventually given a clear narrative or psychological justification, having been ultimately designedto reinvest characters with a sense of agency: in other words, the ‘multiple film’, which transformed the psychopathology of multiple personality into a cultural and aesthetic phenomenon, serves atherapeuticfunction. The contemporary conspiracy thriller’s...