Intended for both the general public and medical professionals, Reel Psychiatry is a comprehensive catalogue of mainstream films that accurately portray psychiatric conditions. Robinson combines his "two passions: teaching psychiatry and watching films" to create a classroom resource for medical educators who want to use film to teach the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders and a critical compendium for anyone else who has more than a passing interest in cinematic works that dramatize the personal experience of patients and professionals grappling with mental illnesses.

The book is organized in three sections: primary psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder; personality disorders and mental retardation; and substance-related disorders and general medical conditions. The general symptoms and associated features of each condition are first set forth and then followed by descriptions of individual films that depict those symptoms and features.


Reel Psychiatry is a valuable resource for teachers and scholars in medical humanities, psychiatry, and film studies as well as a fascinating introduction to both the multi-axial approach of diagnosing mental illnesses and the myriad cinematic depictions of them. There is a long-standing and well-documented relationship between movies and psychiatry, notably discussed in works such as Psychiatry and the Cinema by G. and K. Gabbard.

For many non-psychiatrists, movies have provided the main exposure to and experience of the symptoms and treatments of psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia in 0133 (see annotation) or dependent personality disorder in What About Bob? or inhalant intoxication in Blue Velvet. For many psychiatrists, movies have provided ready access to the storehouse of images that dominate the unconscious such as those in Suddenly Last Summer and the complex of motivations that make up an unforgettable character such as Eve in 0022 (see annotation).

What Robinson contributes is an assessment of the accuracy of film depictions of psychiatric conditions with the express objective of identifying the behaviors and actions that best illustrate the symptoms of any given condition. In addition to competent summaries of approximately 145 films (all English-speaking), Robinson provides a list of key organizations, a selective bibliography, and a movie index. This last resource lists the title of the film and the principle diagnosis portrayed in it.


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Rapid Psychler Press

Place Published

Port Huron, Mich.; London, Ontario, Canada



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