Erb, Cynthia. "Have you ever seen the inside of one of those places?" Cinema Journal 45.4 (2006): 45-63.
Following World War II, a series of scandals involving conditions of mental hospitals in the United States were portrayed in the media. In this article, Cynthia Erb discusses deinstitutionalization, a phenomenon and cultural reference of postwar to renovate hospital conditions, reduce the number of patients therein, and educate the public about serious mental illness. Pre-war films depicted mental illness and their institutions negatively. Following WWII, there was an explosion of interest in psychiatry and mental health. The rupture of the war, especially the numerous confrontation with traumas experienced by veterans, caused the people and culture to realize and accept that mental illness was more widespread than previously had been thought. Traumatic stress and nervous conditions were widely seen in these veterans. This caused a wave of interest in mental illness, psychiatry, and psychotherapy, which supply material for many postwar Hollywood films. Furthermore, the federal government encouraged deinstitutionalization due to financial pressures. Theater owners were also encouraged to invite hospital officials and psychiatrists to special screenings in order to inspire positive word of mouth from experts themselves.
The author of the article talks about how in Spellbound the illness of Ballentine is cured by psychotherapy, and the illness is used more so to advance the plot as opposed to films like The Wrong Man (1956), Vertigo (1958) contain long term mental illness that cannot be cured. This type of illness and the aftermath remains with the audience far after the film is over and has a stronger effect on them. Erb continues arguing about how there is only a single sequence of surrealism- the Dali dream. On the other hand, Hitchcock's later films have several surrealist sequences indicating the complexity of long-term illnesses.
From this article, we can see that Spellbound was one of the first steps in changing view of mental illness after WWII and the complexities of it, which are further elaborated in Hitchcock's later films.
Tallis, Frank. "Detective Fiction is all in the Mind" The Times (London) 4 October 2008, Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe. 21 November 2008.
Tallis describes how psychoanalysts and detectives have a great deal of shared characteristics. Both study evidence, look for clues, reconstruct histories, and seek to establish an ultimate cause. For this reason it shouldnt be surprising that psychoanalysis has had such a profound influence on detective fiction. In addition the genre of crime would have been quite different had it not been for Sigmund Freud. His ideas of personal history, childhood experience, intimate relationships and significant life events would interest any therapist. However these ideas are central to many crime writers as well. We see this influence in the character-based novels of Barbara Vine, in which learning the identity of the murderer is much less important than discovering their motives. Freud's influence is so powerful that crime writers, who have never read work of Freud use his psychoanalytic ideas in their fiction because those ideas have now become a part of our culture. Hollywood is the source of circulating and popularizing Freudian ideas. Among the many Hollywood directors who fell under Freud's influence was Alfred Hitchcock, whose thrillers were highly psychological.
Spellbound is the most explicitly Freudian of Hitchcock's films. Among the technical credits the viewer will see: "Psychiatric adviser, May E. Romm M.D." Selznick's own psychotherapist, May E. Romm, was brought on set. In the movie, when Ballentine and Peterson are about to kiss, we see doors within doors sequence. This idea of doors opening within doors, signify that Peterson learned to show emotion, doors of love opened for the both of them. Also, throughout the film, the theory of guilt complex plays a huge role in the character of Ballentine. During his childhood, Ballentine accidentally kills his brother. Because of this guilt that is stored within him, he makes himself believe he is the murderer of Edwardes when in reality he is not.
Call#: Van Pelt Library RC553.D5 D545 1994
"The Domain of Dissociation," a chapter by Etzel Cardena, pages 15- 31.
Cardena argues that the domain of dissociation can be thought of as a constellation, or a way of thinking about dissociation and its related problems. "Dissociation" means that two or more mental processes or contents are not associated or integrated. It is usually assumed that these dissociated elements should be integrated in conscious awareness, memory, or identity. Cardena proposes two subdivisions, a repression of memories and disassociation of memories as escape mechanisms. Repression is a defense against anxiety-triggering internal stimuli, while dissociation is a defense against external stimuli. However, dissociation involves particular alterations in phenomenal experience that are related to a disconnection or disengagement regarding the self and/or the environment. Certain "ecstatic" experiences cause an enhanced sense of contact with the surroundings and the self. Forgetting who you are, and other events and things are voluntary with dissociation. Often is the case that memories are triggered when a matched association is made in the subconscious. This is highlighted brilliantly in Spellbound, once again, with Ballentine's character.
We first see Ballentine in mental distress when Constance Peterson draws the shape of a pool they want to build at the asylum with a fork at the dinner table. He becomes angry with her drawing on the table cloth. We again see him react a similar way, when he is hugging Dr. Peterson when she is in her night robe that is white with black stripes. By now, it becomes clear to us that " the fake Edwardes" has his own mental problems. Whenever he sees a white object with black lines on it, he enters a state of intense stress. This is what Cardena wrote about above: dissociation. Because of repressed memories, he becomes highly uncomfortable at the sight of black lines on a white background. We later learn the black lines on white signify ski tracks on snow. This is where the real Edwardes fell off a cliff and died. This "ecstatic" experience was triggered by the environment they were in, in the form of black lines on white.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1998.3.H58 P66 2004
One such artist was Savador Dali. Also, Pomerance points out that Hitchcock drew attention to the fact that certain aspects of his film such as the heterosexual romance or the neat, tidy ending, were concessions to a repressive studio system and perhaps, by extension, a repressive society by having that romance seem forced or by suddenly shifting the tone of the film.
Contention was caused by the hiring of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí to conceive certain scenes of mental delusion of Ballentine in Spellbound. Selznick hated Dalí's ideas, and although much of his work was used, one dream sequence depicting Bergman turning into a statue of the Roman goddess Diana was cut. Dali's work is clearly seen in the depiction of the dream of the amnesiac. The dream consisted of a gambling house with no walls, instead had curtains with eyes painted all over them, there was a man with a pair of scissors cutting all the drapes in half, a girl who hardly had anything on who went around kissing everyone, Ballentine dealt a seven of clubs to a man with a mask, proprietor accuses the man with mask cheating, then the dream is sifted to a sloping roof of a high building, the man with a mask is hiding behind the chimney with a wheel, he drops the wheel on the roof, suddenly Ballentine is running and he sees shadows chasing him and a winged figure following him. Each and everyone one of the elements of this dream symbolizes how the murder of Edwardes took place through random association in Ballentine's subconscious, which came out in the dream. Dali did this beautifully. For example, Ballentine said the kissing girl reminded him of Constance- what Freudian would call wishful thinking. The man with the mask is the murderer, Dr. Muchinson ,the old head of the asylum, and the wheel he was holding symbolizes a revolver, and thus he drops the gun on the cliff after shooting Edwardes.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1995.9.W6 H86 1997
Although in Spellbound, Dr. Constance Peterson's role as a psychiatrist was outside of Haskell's theory of conventional roles as well-to-do mothers and girls next door, the three male gazes are clearly seen. The cameraman films her in close-ups which emphasizes her beauty and, causes her to have little movement as possible, making her more like an object. Throughout the film, Peterson is surrounded my males, in the asylum she is the only female psychiatrist, center of attention of all the other males, and criticized by the males in a scene when Peterson comes to the dining hall late with grass and mustard on her shirt. her. The male doctors have a keen gaze on her, eyeing her up and down, commenting on her appearance, and knowing about her whereabouts. Even though she is portrayed as a psychiatrist, she is still the attractive female, which demeans her importance as a doctor. And of course, the gaze of the spectator presumed to be male, would also look down upon her
Call#: Van Pelt Library BF315 .T32 2002
Hitchcock followed many Hollywood directors who were also influenced by Freud's work. Several of Hitchcock's films including Marnie, Spellbound and Psycho are psychological thrillers. Spellbound was written by his producer David O. Selznick, who himself was in psychoanalysis due to depression. After experiencing psychoanalysis himself, he was eager to share with others the phenomenon of mental analysis. Spellbound, not regarded as one of Hitchcock's best movies, portrayed psychoanalytic approaches using surreal dream sequences, to help move along the narrative, although many would argue the incorrect use of the methodologies.
This paper examines different ways in which dreams have been represented and interpreted in cinematic depictions of psychoanalytic treatment over the past eighty years. Popular film portrayals of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy have often been legitimately criticized for being misleading, distorted, or even pathological. The focus of Brandell's article is on the contribution of dreams and dream interpretation in movies from different historical periods and how they reflect alterations in our understanding of either the treatment process or relationship between analyst and patient and/or both. Brandell also investigates two questions: whether it is possible to identify cultural forces that may have shaped cinematic depictions of dreams and their interpretations; and second, whether technological advances in cinematography have influenced the manner in which dreams are represented in movies. He discusses these topics in context of four movies: Secrets of the Soul (1926), film directed by G. W. Pabst; Hitchcock's suspense thriller, Spellbound (1945); David and Lisa (1962), produced and directed by Frank Perry; and Twelve Monkeys (1995), directed by Terry Gilliam. After analyzing the portrayal of psychoanalysis in each film, Brandell comes to the conclusion that the representations of dream sequences are irrelevant to the technological advances, but rather are influenced by current events and social culture, which dictate these dreams.
Brandell concluded that Spellbound, while remaining firmly entrenched in Freudian representation, suggests that catastrophic events may acquire an importance in shaping psychopathology, a viewpoint likely influenced by the then-recent psychiatric experience with traumatized war veterans of World War II as well as the dominance of ego psychology. Therefore, Ballentine's character was based on culture belief of psychiatry and psychoanalysis of that time rather than based on Dali and surrealism. Like the war veterans, Ballentine witnessed (and also believed to be the cause of) the death of Edwardes. He was cured by Peterson and Alex by psychoanalysis, which including going to the location where the murder happened, destroying the guilt complex from childhood, and getting into the subconscious. This, however, is not usually the case. Psychoanalysis is much more complex, and it is often nearly impossible to know what everything in the dreams symbolize. Thus, psychoanalysis has inaccurately been represented, but may have been purposely done to create hope for the veterans and the people at the time.
Shortland, Michael. "Screen Memories: Towards a History of Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis in the Movies." JSTOR: The British Journal for the History of Science 20.4 (1987): 421-452.
Shortland investigates the role of psychiatry and psychoanalysis in film. He closely examines a few films in depth and how psychoanalysis played a part in films such as Carefree (1938), Blind Alley (1939), Spellbound (1945), Dressed to Kill (1980), etc. Shortland begins by discussing Goldwyn's interest of exploiting the association between psychoanalysis and sex on screen, but although he approached Freud with 100,000 dollars for his co-operation in making a movie, Freud declined. Some aspects of Freud's reaction to Goldwyn have continued to sour the relationship between psychoanalysis in cinema. Psychoanalysts have resisted the cinematic popularization of their work for a mass audience, but this has not stemmed the steady outpouring of motion pictures depicting psychoanalytic themes, ideas and figures.
During the war, the profession of psychiatry went public. It served the allied war effort by screening, testing, treating and then rehabilitating those who served in the armed forces. As we might expect, films began to portray the psychiatrist in a more unified manner, or at least, more generally sympathetic. From this point on, with few exceptions, psychiatrists begin to be given steadily more considerate and kindly, at times even romanticized, roles. Hitchcock's presented a murderous amnesiac as a counterweight to this trend in Spellbound; yet the film also offered a far more powerful-and lasting-image of the beautiful psychiatrist who cures Ballentine's mental illness and thereby proves him innocent of a murder. Within the guilt complex present in Ballentine's character, and cure of it by psychoanalysis and Freudian dream theory, this feature film glamorized psychiatry. Love between Peterson and Ballentine and the simplicity of how the psychiatrists were able to cure Ballentine are the roots of such glamorization in the film.
Leff, Leonard. "Selznick International's Spellbound." The Criterion Collection. 2002. Online Cinematheque. 26 November 2008 .
Leff's article on Spellbound basically investigates the film and exploits psychoanalysis and processes that went behind making the film. It also highlights Selznick's and Hitchcock's relationship. The most famous producer-director partnership in American movie history was not the most friendly. Throughout the early years of World War II, after Rebecca, which was their first picture together, Selznick International paid Hitchcock his salary, then loaned him out at considerable profit. The deals bred Hitchcock's resentment, and his independence. Leff then goes on talking about the controversy of Salvador Dali, who was brought into the production. Dalí was both an artist and a personality, and would give the movie his "genius". Even so, some found his "high-brow" designs a mixed blessing. A fear was created about the cost of executing his Dali's designs as well. Shooting the dream sequence was quite troublesome. Psychiatric advisor Dr. May Romm counseled that a giant, obviously phallic pair of pliers "might prevent whatever possible endorsement we might otherwise get from a psychiatric society." Meanwhile the censors warned that the costume of the "kissing bug" exposed too much midriff, thigh, and breasts. The pliers were removed and the wardrobe committee redesigned the costume. Hitchcock then shot the sequence on interior sets, another compromise since Selznick had denied the director from using exterior ones. The sequence was more of a nightmare than a dream, quite contrary to what Dali and Hitchcock wanted.
From Leff's article, we learn that because of many differences in opinions and disputes between the producer and director, the movie isn't what either one of them exactly had in mind. The Dali dream however, was an important component of the theme of psychoanalysis. The dream sequence was designed by Dalí, and was originally supposed to run for 20 minutes. It included a scene with Dr. Peterson covered in ants. Only part of it was filmed, and even less of it ended up in the released version. David O. Selznick hated Dalí's ideas, another dream sequence depicting Bergman turning into a statue of the Roman goddess Diana was cut. Selznick wanted much of the film to be based on his experiences in psychotherapy, thus bringing his own psychotherapist in on the set as a technical advisor. Once when she disputed a point of fact with Hitchcock on how therapy works, Hitchcock said, "My dear, it's only a movie." This shows the battle between the surrealist ideas of Dali and Hitchcock of psychoanalysis versus the accurate treatment of psychoanalysis. Selznick believed Dali's ideas were way too strange for the audience to accept and would do the very opposite of attract them, while Hitchcock believed otherwise.
Schneider, Irving, M.D. "The Theory and Practice of Movie Psychiatry." The American Journal of Psychiatry 144.8 (1987): 996-1002. This article explores the depiction of psychiatry in the movie and how it has been a source of concern to many in the profession over the years. They feel that a false picture of the work of a psychiatrist has been illustrated to the public. In fact, psychiatry in the movies has developed its own characteristics, which only occasionally intersect with those of the real-life profession. In this paper, Schneider outlines theories of the invented profession of movie psychiatry.
"I'll explain to you about dreams so you don't think it is hooey. The secret of who you are and what has made you run away from yourself-these secrets are buried in your brain, but you don't want to look at them. The human being very often doesn't want to know the truth about himself because he thinks it will make him sick; so he makes himself sicker trying to forget. You follow me?... Here's where dreams come in. They tell you what you are trying to hide, but they tell it to you all mixed up like pieces of a puzzle that don't fit. The problem of the analyst is to examine this puzzle and put the pieces together in the right place and find out what the devil you are trying to say to yourself."
The above quote from the movie by Dr. Alex (addressed to Ballentine), shows how method of criminal detection and psychoanalytic method are related. The truth behind Edwardes murder is buried beneath an accumulation of alibis, false tracks, confusing recollections, and the analyst-detective patiently tries to get to the bottom of the case. Throughout the history of film, the psychoanalyst has been a solver of mysteries, often criminal mysteries, as the murder in Spellbound, but just as often personal ones.