Cinema's Sinister Psychiatrists: From Caligari to Hannibal by Sharon Packer

By Sharon Packer

Movie historical past is merged with psychiatric historical past seamlessly, to teach how and why undesirable depictions of brain medical professionals (especially hypnotists) ensue in early movie, lengthy earlier than Hannibal Lecter burst upon the scene. The German Expressionist Dr. Caligari isn't really cinema’s first psychotic charlatan, yet he launches the stereotype of display psychiatrists who're sicker than their sufferers. Many movie psychiatrists functionality as political metaphors, whereas many extra replicate actual existence medical controversies.

This publication discusses movies with diabolical drugging, unethical experimentation, involuntary incarceration, sexual exploitation, lobotomies, “shock schlock,” conspiracy theories and army medication, to teach how truth informs fable, and while fable trumps truth. conventional asylum thrillers replaced after health center remains shortened and legislation safe humans opposed to involuntary dedication. aside from six brief “golden years” from 1957 to 1963, portrayals of undesirable psychiatrists some distance outnumber stable ones and this e-book tells how and why that used to be.

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Caligari cajoles Cesare into taking the life of the heroine, Jane. Cesare tries to stab Jane with a knife, but he cannot carry out Caligari’s command because he has fallen in love with her. After Jane faints from fear when she sees the knife, Cesare swings her limp body over his shoulder, hoping to save her from Caligari’s evil plans. But Cesare collapses and drops Jane, and then drops dead himself. Jane escapes as Cesare lies lifeless in the field. Then the truth is discovered. By now, Jane’s male companion Francis has grown suspicious of Caligari, and has secretly followed him and tracked him down to a nearby insane asylum.

The remake pushes the original’s race-related subplot into prominence when it substitutes Washington for Sinatra and casts him in the lead role as Major Marco. This ploy draws attention to the fact that Washington gained film fame by playing the slain Civil Rights leader and radical Black activist Malcolm X in Malcolm X (1992). Some might say that Denzel Washington’s heroic role as the lead military officer anticipated the election of America’s first Black president — just as the original Candidate inadvertently anticipated the assassination of JFK.

His efforts helped persons suffering from advanced neurosyphilis. Neurosyphilis was endemic in 19th century Europe and put more people into mental asylums in that era than any other ailment. Penicillin’s discovery was a long way’s away, and arsenicals and mercury were incompletely effective. Fever therapy was the best treatment available. It would be enough to contrast Wagner-Jauregg’s cruel treatment of shell shocked soldiers with his amazing advances in the treatment of neurosyphilis. However, if we examine the details of “fever therapy” or “malarial therapy,” the specifics start to sound less kind, 1.

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