BOB GARFIELD: This weekend, the sequel to the comedy Analyze This opens nationwide. It's called Analyze That, and it continues the saga of a psychiatrist played by Billy Crystal treating mob boss Robert DeNiro. Anyway, it got OTM's Sara Fishko to thinking.
SARA FISHKO: I asked Dr. Irwin Hirsch, a PhD psychologist and psychoanalyst, the question I've always wanted to ask a shrink. When you see a portrayal of an analyst in the movies, well, how does it make you feel?
DR. IRWIN HIRSCH: I hate seeing portrayals. I, I could practically never remember an analyst portrayed in any way that I wasn't annoyed, angered by in any medium.
SARA FISHKO: Analysts, it turns out, really do look at these movies.
DR. GAIL SALTZ: I think that analysts are concerned about how they're portrayed not so much having to do with just that they're analysts but that psychoanalysis has taken a real downturn in the last couple of decades.
SARA FISHKO: Dr. Gail Saltz is chairman of public information at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute.
DR. GAIL SALTZ: And I think that they're trying to understand why that's happened, and certainly that has something to do with their image.
SARA FISHKO: Analysts are portrayed almost invariably as powerful. [SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC FROM MOVIE SPELLBOUND UNDER] The power to change people. The power to extract secrets from their patients. The power to recover memories for good or ill.
INGRID BERGMAN: Try remembering. Let your mind go back to your childhood. Was it happy?
SARA FISHKO: Ingrid Bergman treating Gregory Peck in Spellbound--
GREGORY PECK: I'm haunted, but I, I can't see by what.
SARA FISHKO: -- can't have been too bad for the image of analysis -- back in the days when the Europeans and Hollywood were all on the couch. Spellbound even used David O. Selznick's real-life analyst as a consultant on analytic matters -- not that it helped much.
INGRID BERGMAN: And if we can [...?...] that one tiny memory, it'll give us a key to the others.
DR. GLENN GABBARD: That's in the tradition of the cathartic cure.
SARA FISHKO: Dr. Glenn Gabbard is a professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and co-author of Psychiatry in the Cinema. His book lists more than 400 films which involve some form of mental health treatment.
GREGORY PECK: [BREATHING EXCITEDLY] My hand hurts.
INGRID BERGMAN: Your hand is remembering. Open your mind, and the pain will leave--
DR. GLENN GABBARD: Gregory Peck suddenly has this flashback to a repressed memory--
GREGORY PECK: It's burning! My hand's burning!
INGRID BERGMAN: Try to remember--
DR. GLENN GABBARD: And he's miraculously cured. [MIRACULOUS CURE MUSIC]
SARA FISHKO: Pretty dramatic for an analytic session.
DR. GLENN GABBARD: If you actually put a video camera in my office or any other therapist's office, it would be so boring that people would demand their money back! Nothing exciting happens, [LAUGHS] generally in a therapist's office.
SARA FISHKO: If only it could be the way it is in the movies. [SOUNDTRACK FROM MOVIE CAREFREE]
MAN: How do you know she's willing to be psychoanalyzed?
FRED ASTAIRE: Oh, she will, if I ask her to.
SARA FISHKO: Fred Astaire analyzing, sort of, Ginger Rogers in Carefree.
FRED ASTAIRE: Well you do know that you have two minds --the conscious and the subconscious.
GINGER ROGERS: Really!
FRED ASTAIRE: It works all the time, even when you sleep. It never forgets anything.
GINGER ROGERS: Is that so?
SARA FISHKO: Then dancing together at the country club. What could a 1938 movie audience have made of that? [DANCE MUSIC] In that era the power, perhaps, to lift one out of the doldrums with a little analysis, a little dancing meant a lot. In more recent times, the power of the analyst has been viewed with wild ambivalence. We like to see them godlike. We like to see them tender. And we like to see them mean. [MUSIC FROM MOVIE ORDINARY PEOPLE] And talk about power. Sometimes the image is so striking it affects analysis off-screen. [SOUNDTRACK FROM ORDINARY PEOPLE]
TIMOTHY HUTTON: [WEEPING] I'm scared. Scared.
MAN: Feelings are scary.
DR. GLENN GABBARD: Someone'll come in, like after Ordinary People in 1980--
JUDD HIRSCH: ...you can't feel pain, then you're not going to feel anything else either.
DR. GLENN GABBARD: -- and in this case it was a college student who was in her early 20s, and she said I was wondering if you could hug me like Judd Hirsch hugged Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People.
MAN: You're here, and you're alive!
DR. GLENN GABBARD: And I said well now, no -- the-- we have to use words here. This is psychotherapy. And she said I know it's just a movie, but the point is, it helped him!
TIMOTHY HUTTON: I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't been here. You're really my friend.
JUDD HIRSCH: I am. Count on it. [TIMOTHY HUTTON CHARACTER SOBBING]
SARA FISHKO: I guess it helped Nick Nolte, too, to run into Barbra Streisand in Prince of Tides. [SOUNDTRACK FROM PRINCE OF TIDES]
BARBARA STREISAND: [WHISPERING] You can do it. You can handle it.
SARA FISHKO: While she's analyzing his sister, she winds up expressing more than doctorly love towards him.
BARBARA STREISAND: [WHISPERING] Please take me with you.
DR. GAIL SALTZ: Prince of Tides was definitely a time when I heard a lot of patients talking about this.
SARA FISHKO: Dr. Gail Saltz.
DR. GAIL SALTZ: It's -- is it okay to do that or is it not okay to do that? Or I found that very disturbing - that analysts could be like this. [SOUNDTRACK FROM GOOD WILL HUNTING]
MATT DAMON: Yeah, let's do it -- I'm pumped. Let's let the healing begin!
SARA FISHKO: Such boundaries are routinely crossed in movies, as they are in Good Will Hunting.
MATT DAMON: Do you buy all these books retail or do you send away for like a shrink kit that comes with all these volumes included?
ROBIN WILLIAMS: Do you like books?
SARA FISHKO: When Robin Williams extracts humanity from a tortured Matt Damon in that film, the cathartic cure and the God-like shrink are one.
ROBIN WILLIAMS: It's not your fault.
MATT DAMON: I know.
ROBIN WILLIAMS: No, no, you don't. It's not your fault.
DR. IRWIN HIRSCH: It was a statement that this can't work unless I really express a kind of a love for you that your rotten father or mother didn't do, and I express it overtly and palpably by hugging you, by telling you about my personal life, by taking you home with me, etc, etc.
MATT DAMON: [SOBBING] Oh, God. Oh, God I'm so sorry--
DR. GAIL SALTZ: The flip side of being a deity is being completely evil. They're very close to one another actually. Analysts who explore the mind -- that's very frightening for a lot of people and they are either idolized or de-valued, and those aren't very far from one another. [SOUNDTRACK - MUSIC FROM DRESSED TO KILL]
SARA FISHKO: Some analysts are still reeling from Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill in which Michael Caine played an analyst.
MICHAEL CAINE: No waiting. Go right in. The doctor will be with you shortly.
SARA FISHKO: Dr. Gabbard considers it to have been a low point for shrinks. [MURDER SCENE MUSIC FROM DRESSED TO KILL] [WOMAN SCREAMING]
DR. GLENN GABBARD: Michael Caine, whenever he got turned on by a woman patient, would dress up as a woman, take out his razor blade and murder the patient in the elevator which we think is bad technique. [CLIMACTIC MURDER MUSIC]
SARA FISHKO: Which brings us to power personified -- the man-eating analyst. [SOUNDTRACK FROM HANNIBAL LECTER MOVIE]
ANTHONY HOPKINS AS HANNIBAL LECTER: What is your worst memory of childhood?
CLARICE: Death of my father.
ANTHONY HOPKINS AS HANNIBAL LECTER: Tell me about it and don't lie or I'll know.
DR. GLENN GABBARD: Hannibal Lecter, of course, is the most evil.
ANTHONY HOPKINS AS HANNIBAL LECTER: You're very frank, Clarice.
DR. GLENN GABBARD: And then you see some that are sort of hard-working but misguided like Jeff Bridges in Kpax. [SOUNDTRACK FROM KPAX]
JEFF BRIDGES: I don't believe you're from Kpax. I believe you're as human as I am.
MAN: I would say you're in need of a thorazine drip, doctor.
DR. GLENN GABBARD: I'd say right now we're getting a pretty good variety of positive and negative portrayals-- [SOUNDTRACK FROM ORDINARY PEOPLE] [WOMAN WEEPING]
ANALYST: Caroline, what are you feeling?
SARA FISHKO: A variety of shrinks; that really is all one can ask.
CAROLINE/PATIENT: [SOBBING] Do you think I was driving him away, Dr. Sobel?
SARA FISHKO: Looking at them, laughing at them helps us audiences work things out.
CAROLINE/PATIENT: I mean maybe there's still hope.
ANALYST: Well he did take out a restraining order against you, and I have to be honest -- that's usually not a good sign. [MUSIC FROM MOVIE CAREFREE]
SARA FISHKO: So when it comes to analysts in the movies, I can honestly say that--
MALE ANALYST: Time's up.
SARA FISHKO: --er-- for On the Media--
WOMAN PATIENT: Time's up--
SARA FISHKO: -- I'm Sara Fishko--
MALE ANALYST: And we will continue next week when I get back from my vacation. [WOMAN SOBBING] [THEME MUSIC]