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Taking the Pulse of Our Times

On the Couch with Woody Allen: Therapy Culture and the Role of Psychologists in Contemporary Societies

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Transcript of Taking the Pulse of Our Times

of

Taking

Media, Therapy
&
Emotions

Therapy Culture and the Role of Psychologists
in Contemporary Societies
Emotions: a Personal Introduction
Fear
Emotions: an introduction
"I hate reality but it's still the only place to get a good steak"
Do you find
this sequence...
Amusing?
Miguel Ángel Huerta Floriano
@michihuerta
PSYCHOANALYSIS AND CINEMA
The linguistic and aesthetic codes of cinema are
IDEAL
to
DREAMLIKE
representation, the visual representation of
MENTAL

STATES
and the natural co-existence between
REALITY
and
FICTION

In most of Woody Allen’s movies...
"an awareness of psychoanalysis operates as a kind
of master narrative to provide some tentative means for organizing the chaos of modern experience"
(Girgus, Sam. B, 2002: 28).
FRAMING
Looking at the camera + Voice over
A kind of confession
from the main character
A co-existence between reality and fiction, present and the past: childhood is the explanation of the dissatisfied behavior of the protagonists
There is a huge influence of the psychoanalytic theory in cinema theory in general terms
and there are so many interesting contributions
ONSCREEN SPACE
OFFSCREEN SPACE
PERSPECTIVE
SPEED
STAGING
LIGHTING
PSYCHOLOGY AND CINEMA
Narrative
Cinematographic narrative
can be constructed from
a very special relationship
between cinematographic texts
and the audience, that are around the field of psychology
STORY
PARTICIPATION
IDENTIFICATION
The viewer can recognize himself in a fictional character. There are different narrative mechanisms to achieve this level of identification,
but above all there is one particular element that does it:
CONFLICT
ME
SIMPLIFICATION
A visual representation of the incidents of a plot allows us to represent and to understand complex operations in a very simple way
In the opening of
Annie Hall
the
FLASHBACK
is a
BASIC RETHORIC
operation that allows us to experience the past in order to understand the present and its causes.
In conclusion:
CINEMA IS A FORM OF BRINGING ORDER IN CHAOS
"Deep within the characters and their conflicts we discover
our own humanity. We go to the movies to enter a new, fascinating world, to inhabit vicariously another human
being who at first seems so unlike us and yet at heart
is like us, to live in a fictional reality that illuminates
our daily reality" (Robert McKee).
Identification through conflict should not be understood just as something that we can recognize from our experience or from
our habits, but it is something wider
The base of drama
Robert McKee
Annie Hall
Opening sequence
MISERY
SUFFERING
UNHAPPINESS
W. Allen is a director concerned about exploring
INNER EMOTIONAL

CONFLICTS
of his characters, something uncommon in the American cinematographic story.
In fact, he has European influences (Bergman, Fellini)
“The good thing about cinema is that we are forced to be in moral positions,
in which most of them we have not been.”
Álex de la Iglesa
THERAPY AND THERAPISTS
The first prototypical psychoanalyst in cinema
was played by Gustav Von Seyffertitz in
The Front Page
(Lewis Milestone, 1931)
and in
Mr.Deeds goes to Town
(Frank Capra, 1936). He was a German actor settled on Hollywood since 1917 and he created an image of a deceitful Central European psychoanalyst
in a humorous tone.
We found an important character due especially to suspense as
a narrative element. There is an essential movie in this area and
in the entire “therapy cinema”:
Spellbound
(Alfred Hitchcock, 1945).
The most important element in noir cinema is the connection between psychoanalytical and detective investigation that exists in the collective imagination (the use of retrospective inquiry methods,
look for clues, the establishment of inferences in semiotic constellation for the search of truth).
The Seven-per-Cent Solution
(Herbert Ross, 1976) imagined a collaboration between Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud to solve a murder. In fact,
Oedipus Rex
by Sophocles, can be understood as the first police investigation in history.
In the case of Von Seyffertiz, he anticipates one of the main narrative uses of the therapist figure in cinema, that it can be summed up into different roles, as Xavier Pérez claims...
Comedy
The eccentric character prevails
in a humorous tone. It is also present
in contemporary cinema:
Beyond Theraphy
(Robert Altman, 1987)
or
Analyze this
(Harold Ramis, 1999)
Drama
When the character is the protagonist usually shows
the paradox of his own experience and emotions management in comparison with their patient’s treatments.
The decomposition of the marriage of therapists,
such as
Anskite mot anskite
(Ingmar Bergman, 1976),
and
La stanza del figlio
(Nani Moretti, 2001), in which the psychoanalyst loses his son
in an accident. These are
good examples of this
kind of relationship.
Usually dramatic movies tend to maximize the weaknesses and the contradictions of the analyst.
Nevertheless, there can also be a more positive approach, especially when the analysts are adopting a role of initiation: that is the case of
Good Will Hunting
(Gus Van Sant, 1997),
a film in which there is an emotional exchange between a gifted young man and his therapist. Thanks to this relationship the young man is able to overcome his trauma and
the therapist can solve his own contradictions.
How are the patients?
How are the therapists?
Humour
Troubled point of view
It is also a paradox: therapy is often a space in which all the personal conflicts of the characters, particularly of those sentimental ones, can be solved
Personal conflicts work to reveal
inner emotional conflicts. In relation to this,
the most important of those inner emotional conflicts is the pessimistic point of view of Woody Allen. Since “inner emotional conflicts” in cinema tend to shape, what is called in narrative, “the transformation of characters”: This is the dramatic evolution of a character,
in which they have learned something really important through the story
They are usually really chatty, insecure
and outgoing. Patients fail at personal relationships and they need help to keep their human
interaction alive
Above all, patients need the security provided
by therapeutic monitoring. In the case of the dialogue
about the artificial insemination of
Hanna and her sisters

is a good example of this
In Woody Allen’s films there is a huge variety
of therapists. Sometimes they are perceived
as strict figures. But other times, they are passive figures that they just listen to other patients
On the one hand, some therapists are an extension of their patients in terms
of personality and
life style, a versatility that has a critical purpose.

When therapists have a greater role, like in
Deconstructing Harry
, Allen designs them as somebody who has more psychological problems than his patient and consequently that person is unable to help himself
A good example is a psychoanalyst gag
in
Deconstructing Harry
, in which the psychoanalyst
is devouring pills while her patient discusses
his problems with her. This situation is represented from
a satirical point of view, criticism is in relation to humour
In
Husbands and Wives
there is a phrase that summarizes quite well the attitude of Allen as a creator.

“You make suffering some funny”, says a young student to her professor in relation to the manuscript of a novel that he handed to her in order to know the student’s opinion.

“Funny suffering”

This is the summary of the relationship between cinema and emotions in Woody Allen’s filmography
Woody Allen’s movie protagonists tend to stay at the end of the story on the same spot as they were on the beginning: These characters are usually slaves of their own feelings and traumas
They usually suffer because of the pressure
that the environment impacts on them.
In addition, they have traumas that
are associated with family and partners
EPILOGUE
CINEMA AS THERAPY
I have been talking about psychology, psychologists and therapy in cinema.
The relationship is profitable, but it goes beyond the way in which movies represent this topic
The bibliography is wide and there are successful and remarkable cases described in these books and articles. Perhaps in all these bibliographical sources
there is little information
about aesthetic and narrative foundations.
I tried to explain some
of these foundations rapidly
CINEMA AS THERAPY
PLOT
STRUCTURE
CHARACTER
PLOT POINT
MOTIVATION
POINT OF VIEW
Emotions:
an introduction
“Fear” is an emotion that sometimes can be useful.

As the Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke says:


the Pulse
Our Times
PSYCHOANALYSIS AND CINEMA
PSYCHOANALYSIS AND CINEMA
PSYCHOANALYSIS
AND CINEMA
AESTHETICS
PSYCHOANALYSIS
AND CINEMA
PSYCHOANALYSIS
AND CINEMA
AESTHETICS
AESTHETICS
The linguistic and aesthetic codes of cinema are
IDEAL
to
DREAMLIKE
representation, the visual representation of
MENTAL

STATES
and the natural co-existence between
REALITY
and
FICTION

In most of Woody Allen’s movies... "an awareness of psychoanalysis operates as a kind of master narrative to provide some tentative means for organizing the chaos of modern experience" (Girgus, Sam. B, 2002: 28).
AESTHETICS
FRAMING
AESTHETICS
Looking at the camera + Voice over
A kind of confession from the main character
A co-existence between reality and fiction,
present and the past: childhood is the explanation of the dissatisfied behavior of the protagonists
There is a huge influence of the psychoanalytic theory in cinema theory in general terms and there are so many interesting contributions
ONSCREEN SPACE
OFFSCREEN SPACE
PERSPECTIVE
SPEED
STAGING
LIGHTING
PSYCHOLOGY
AND CINEMA
NARRATIVE
PSYCHOLOGY
AND CINEMA
NARRATIVE
PSYCHOLOGY
AND CINEMA
NARRATIVE
PSYCHOLOGY
AND CINEMA
NARRATIVE
Cinematographic narrative can be constructed from a very special relationship between cinematographic texts and the audience, that are around the field of psychology
STORY
PARTICIPATION
According to David Bordwell, cognitive psychology states that the viewer’s activity in the tale is based on wondering constantly... “What is going to happen next?”
IDENTIFICATION
The viewer can recognize himself in a fictional character. There are different narrative mechanisms to achieve this level of identification, but above all there is one particular element that does it: CONFLICT
ME
SIMPLIFICATION
A visual representation of the incidents of a plot allows us to represent and to understand complex operations in a very simple way
In the opening of Annie Hall the FLASHBACK is a BASIC RETHORIC operation that allows us to experience the past in order to understand the present and its causes.
In conclusion: CINEMA IS A FORM OF BRINGING ORDER IN CHAOS
"Deep within the characters and their conflicts we discover our own humanity. We go to the movies to enter a new, fascinating world, to inhabit vicariously another human being who at first seems so unlike us and yet at heart is like us, to live in a fictional reality that illuminates our daily reality" (Robert McKee).
CONFLICT
CONFLICT
CONFLICT
Identification through conflict should not be understood just as something that we can recognize from our experience or from our habits, but it is something wider
CONFLICT
THE BASE OF DRAMA
Robert McKee
Annie Hall
Opening sequence
MISERY
SUFFERING
UNHAPPINESS
W. Allen is a director concerned about exploring INNER EMOTIONAL CONFLICTS of his characters, something uncommon in the American cinematographic story. In fact, is an European influence (Bergman, Fellini)
“The good thing about cinema is that we are forced to be in moral positions, in which most of them we have not been.”
Álex de la Iglesa
THERAPY AND THERAPISTS
The first prototypical psychoanalyst in cinema was played by Gustav Von Seyffertitz in The Front Page (Lewis Milestone, 1931) and in Mr.Deeds goes to Town (Frank Capra, 1936). He was a German actor settled on Hollywood since 1917 and he created an image of a deceitful Central European psychoanalyst in a humorous tone.
THERAPISTS
The eccentric character prevails in a humorous tone. It is also present in contemporary cinema:
Beyond Theraphy
(Robert Altman, 1987) or
Analyze this
(Harold Ramis, 1999)
THERAPISTS
THERAPISTS
THERAPISTS
We found an important character due especially to suspense as a narrative element. There is an essential movie in this area and in the entire “therapy cinema”:
Spellbound
(Alfred Hitchcock, 1945). Besides there is a context that highlights the importance of movies such as Spellbound: Post-war former combatants that are wounded and amnesic, the bad atomic people’s consciences, the anti-communist paranoia, etcetera. In American society exists a collective social trauma.
THERAPISTS
The most important element in noir cinema is the connection between psychoanalytical and detective investigation that exists in the collective imagination (the use of retrospective inquiry methods, look for clues, the establishment of inferences in semiotic constellation for the search of truth).
The Seven-per-Cent Solution
(Herbert Ross, 1976) imagined a collaboration between Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud to solve a murder. In fact,
Oedipus Rex
by Sophocles, can be understood as the first police investigation in history.
In the case of Von Seyffertiz, he anticipates one of the main narrative uses of the therapist figure in cinema, that it can be summed up into different roles, as Xavier Pérez claims...
COMEDY
DRAMA
When the character is the protagonist usually shows the paradox of his own experience and emotions management in comparison with their patient’s threatments.
The decomposition of the marriage of therapists, such as
Anskite mot anskite
(Ingmar Bergman, 1976), and
La stanza del figlio
(Nani Moretti, 2001), in which the psychoanalyst lose his son in an accident, are the both good examples of this kind of relationship.
DRAMA
Usually dramatic movies tend to maximize the weaknesses and the contradictions of the analyst. Nevertheless, there can also be a more positive approach, especially when the analysts are adopting a role of initiation: that is the case of
Good Will Hunting
(Gus Van Sant, 1997), a film in which there is an emotional exchange between a gifted young man and his therapist. Thanks to this relationship the young man is able to overcome his trauma and the therapist can solve his own contradictions.
CINEMA NOIR
CINEMA NOIR
EPILOGUE
CINEMA AS THERAPY
I have been talking about psychology, psychologists and therapy in cinema.
The relationship is profitable, but it goes beyond the way in which movies represent this topic
FILMS AS TOOLS FOR THERAPY
The bibliography is wide and there are successful and remarkable cases described in these books and articles. Perhaps in all these bibliographical sources there is little information about aesthetic and narrative foundations. I tried to explain some of these foundations rapidly
CINEMA AS THERAPY
From my point of view, the most important thing is that art is always a form of therapy for an artist. In The Cave of Altamira there is a bison with eight legs that some people understand as the first film in history. From that prehistoric man until Woody Allen there is still something in common: the release of fears and the search for personal harmony through an artistic discourse.
PLOT
STRUCTURE
CHARACTER
PLOT POINT
MOTIVATION
POINT OF VIEW
On the Couch with Woody Allen
Appealing?
'Very cinematographic'?
a wonderful
couple
Therapy Culture
and
Cinema
are
Aesthetics
Aesthetics
PSYCHOANALYSIS AND CINEMA
PSYCHOANALYSIS AND CINEMA
PSYCHOANALYSIS AND CINEMA
PSYCHOANALYSIS AND CINEMA
Empathy
“Fear is a cultural driving force.
If we were happy, we would not need art. Without fear,
we could not make movies.”
Aesthetics
Aesthetics
Aesthetics
PSYCHOLOGY AND CINEMA
PSYCHOLOGY AND CINEMA
PSYCHOLOGY AND CINEMA
Narrative
Narrative
Narrative
According to David Bordwell, cognitive psychology states that the viewer’s activity in the tale is based on wondering constantly...
“What is going to happen next?”
CONFLICT
CONFLICT
CONFLICT
CONFLICT
THERAPIST
THERAPIST
THERAPIST
THERAPIST
THERAPIST
Drama
Cinema noir
Besides there is a context that highlights the importance of movies such as Spellbound: Post-war former combatants that are wounded and amnesic, the bad atomic people’s consciences, the anti-communist paranoia, etcetera. In American society exists a collective social trauma.
Cinema noir
The main paradox consists on the perception
of Allen of this contradiction to be absolutely ridiculous and useless
Paradox
Strangely enough, there is a need for using
this paradox. Characters cannot live without
a therapy; despite this therapy is just
a mere consolation
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Troubled point of view
Troubled point of view
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
How are the patients?
How are the patients?
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
How are the therapists?
How are the therapists?
On the other hand, therapists are secondary characters that have the function to characterize and to assist main characters, even though they have no success whatsoever
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Humour
Humour
FILMS AS TOOLS FOR THERAPY
From my point of view, the most important thing is that art is always a form of therapy for an artist. In The Cave of Altamira there is a bison with eight legs that some people understand as the first film in history. From that prehistoric man until Woody Allen there is still something in common: the release of fears and the search for personal harmony through an artistic discourse.
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Therapist and therapy
in Allen’s cinema
Paradox
Full transcript