CinemAnalysis: Learning About Psychology Through Film


Page Count: 155 Pages

Authors: Craig Pohlman Ph.D. and Josh Jensen, M.A., L.M.F.T.



CinemAnalysis: Learning About Psychology Through Film

We dig movies.

The inspiration for this book flows from that simple fact. The motion picture is the dominant art form of our time. It will be supplanted someday- it may even be happening right now with the rise of video games and interactive entertainment.

But, movies rule the moment for a number of reasons. They immerse us in dynamic imagery, sound, and music. They provide escapism. They can evoke every emotion, from fear to joy to passion. They can stir our thoughts and pose consequential questions. But more than anything else, movies tell stories. And people love hearing (and telling) stories.

CinemAnalysis connects films to psychology through double features- movies paired because they share striking amounts of cinematic DNA (as if they were separated at birth).

Each chapter describes a double feature, including why the movies can be appreciated more by viewing them in tandem. Then psychological ideas are illustrated through the paired films.

Topics include psychosis, depression, family dynamics, parenting, identity formation, cognition, marital relationships, and development over the lifespan. Films span decades and genres, including Harvey (1950), Fight Club (1999), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), About Schmidt (2002), and Before Midnight (2013).


CinemAnalysis: Table of Contents

Act I | Sell Crazy Someplace Else: Cinematic Psychopathology

  • Black Swan and Fight Club
  • The Road and Children of Men
  • Kill Bill: Volume 2 and Oldboy
  • Match Point and In the Bedroom
  • Sound of My Voice and Don Juan DeMarco
  • Lars and the Real Girl and Harvey
  • Melancholia and Take Shelter

Act II | Family Thermo-Dynamics: Parents, Children, and Siblings on Screen

  • Terms of Endearment and Postcards from the Edge
  • Nothing in Common and Big Fish
  • The Royal Tenenbaums and Little Miss Sunshine
  • The Fabulous Baker Boys and Big Night
  • You Can Count on Me and The Darjeeling Limited

Act III | Through The Looking Glass: Identify on Film

  • Up in the Air and The Accidental Tourist
  • Sideways and Bunny and the Bull
  • October Sky and Searching for Bobby Fischer
  • Aliens and 28 Weeks Later
  • The Incredibles and Hancock

Act IV | Emotional Pictures: Romantic Relationships and Friendships

  • Blue Valentine and Priceless
  • Revolutionary Road and Scenes from a Marriage
  • Say Anything and Garden State
  • Waitress and Like Water for Chocolate
  • Lost in Translation and The Station Agent

Act V | Streaming Consciousness: Cognition and Perception in Movies

  • Pan’s Labyrinth and The Fall
  • Inception and Waking Life
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Vanilla Sky
  • Pulp Fiction and Go

Act IV | BioFlicks: Lifespan on Screen

  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and How to Train Your Dragon
  • Where the Wild Things Are and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • (500) Days of Summer and Annie Hall
  • Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight
  • Bridesmaid and Jerry Maguire
  • About Schmidt and The Visitor


About the Authors of CinemAnalysis

Craig Pohlman, Ph.D. directs Mind Matters, Southeast Psych’s learning success program. Over his career, Crag has helped thousands of struggling learners through assessment, consultation, therapy, and advocacy.

Dr. Pohlman strives to communicate findings and strategy ideas as clearly as possible, sometimes using visuals and metaphors.

Josh Jensen, M.A., L.M.F.T. is thoughtful in his approach to serving individuals and families through various struggles and transitions. He strives to create a warm, collaborative and non-judgemental environment where therapy can work towards clear solutions, deeper truths, and a fuller acceptance of strengths and struggles.

Josh is an enthusiast and practitioner of many aspects of creativity and fine arts.


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