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Gabbard, G.O. (1997). The Psychoanalyst At The Movies. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:429-434.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:429-434

The Psychoanalyst At The Movies

Glen O. Gabbard

In a recent interview, Claude Chabrol, the esteemed French film-maker, noted that he had collaborated with the psychoanalyst Caroline Eliacheff in the writing of his film, La Cérémonie (Feinstein, 1996). He went on to explain why such collaboration was exceedingly helpful: ‘It's very hard, when you deal with characters, not to use the Freudian grid, because the Freudian grid is composed of signs that also apply to the cinema’ (p. 82). Indeed, the intimate relationship between the medium of film and the psychoanalytic study of the mind has long been recognised. As early as 1916, Harvard psychologist Hugo Mnsterberg wrote The Film: A Psychological Study, in which he suggested that film transforms the external world into the mechanisms of the mind, including memory, imagination, attention and emotion.

By 1926 psychoanalysts were consulting with film-makers. Although Freud himself had reservations about the cinema as an art form, he did not discourage Karl Abraham and Hanns Sachs from acting as consultants to the German director G. W. Pabst (Schneider, 1985). The result was the classic Secrets of a Soul, which featured dream sequences rich in symbolism and compelling in their demonstration of Freud's dreamwork. The narrative of the film revolved around a chemist with a knife phobia, homicidal impulses and impotence, who was cured by psychoanalytic treatment.

In this issue, with Jacob Arlow's discussion of Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries, we inaugurate something that will become a regular feature of the Journal: film reviews.

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