BROOKE GLADSTONE: A few years back, we asked WNYC's
SARA FISHKO: to assemble some of the more memorable attempts to put the unconscious on the big screen.
SARA FISHKO: I asked Dr. Irwin Hirsch, a Ph.D. 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 can 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 down-turn 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 "SPELLBOUND"] The power to change people. The power to extract secrets from their patients. The power to recover memories for good or ill. [FILM CLIP � "SPELLBOUND"]
MAN: Try remembering. Let your mind go back to your childhood. Was it happy? [END FILM CLIP]
SARA FISHKO: Ingrid Bergman treating Gregory Peck in "Spellbound" � [FILM CLIP � SPELLBOUND"]
GREGORY PECK: I'm haunted, but I, I can't see by what. [END FILM CLIP]
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" SOUNDTRACK IN BACKGROUND] "Spellbound" even used David O. Selznick's real-life analyst as a consultant on analytic matters. Not that it helped much. [FILM CLIP � "SPELLBOUND"]
MAN: And if we can unlock one tiny memory, it'll give us a key to all the others. [END FILM CLIP]
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. [FILM CLIP � "SPELLBOUND"]
GREGORY PECK: My hand hurts.
MAN: Your hand is remembering. Open your mind, and the pain will leave. [END FILM CLIP]
DR. GLENN GABBARD: Gregory Peck suddenly has this flashback to a repressed memory � [FILM CLIP � "SPELLBOUND"]
GREGORY PECK: It's burning! My hand's burning!
MAN: Try to remember. [END FILM CLIP]
DR. GLENN GABBARD: And he's miraculously cured. [DRAMATIC 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, generally, [LAUGHING] in a therapist's office. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER]
SARA FISHKO: If only it could be the way it is in the movies. [FILM CLIP � "CAREFREE"]
MAN: How do you know she's willing to be psychoanalyzed?
FRED ASTAIRE: Oh, she will, if I ask her to. [END FILM CLIP]
SARA FISHKO: Fred Astaire analyzing, sort of, Ginger Rogers in "Carefree." [FILM CLIP � "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? [END FILM CLIP]
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 "ORDINARY PEOPLE"] And talk about power. Sometimes the image is so striking, it affects analysis offscreen. [FILM CLIP: "ORDINARY PEOPLE"]
TIMOTHY HUTTON: [CRYING] I'm scared, sca--
MAN: Feelings are scary. [END FILM CLIP]
DR. GLENN GABBARD: Someone will come in, like after "Ordinary People" in 1980 � [FILM CLIP: "ORDINARY PEOPLE"]
JUDD HIRSCH: - if you can't feel pain, then you're not going to feel anything else either. [END FILM CLIP]
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 can hug me like Judd Hirsch hugged Timothy Hutton in "Ordinary People." [FILM CLIP � "ORDINARY PEOPLE"]
MAN: You're here, and you're alive - [END FILM CLIP]
DR. GLENN GABBARD: And I said, well, now, no. 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! [FILM CLIP: "ORDINARY PEOPLE]
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 SOBS] [END FILM CLIP]
SARA FISHKO: I guess it helped Nick Nolte, too, to run into Barbra Streisand in "Prince of Tides." [FILM CLIP: "PRINCE OF TIDES"
BARBRA STREISAND: [WHISPERING] You can do it. You can handle it. [END FILM CLIP]
SARA FISHKO: While she's analyzing his sister, she winds up expressing more than doctorly love towards him. [NOLTE CRYING, CLIP] [FILM CLIP: "PRINCE OF TIDES"]
BARBRA STREISAND: [WHISPERING] Please take me with you. [END FILM CLIP]
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: 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. [FILM CLIP: "GOOD WILL HUNTING"]
MATT DAMON: Yeah, let's do it, I'm pumped. Let's let the healing begin! [CLIP SOUNDTRACK UP AND UNDER]
SARA FISHKO: Such boundaries are routinely crossed in the movies, as they are in "Good Will Hunting." [FILM CLIP � "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? [SOUNDTRACK FROM CLIP UP AND UNDER]
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. [FILM CLIP � "GOOD WILL HUNTING"]
ROBIN WILLIAMS: It's not your fault.
MATT DAMON: I know.
ROBIN WILLIAMS: No, no, you don't. It's not your fault. [END FILM CLIP]
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. [FILM CLIP: "GOOD WILL HUNTING"]
MATT DAMON: [SOBBING] Oh, God. Oh, God, I'm so sorry. [END FILM CLIP]
SARA FISHKO: The flip side of being a deity is being completely evil, and those aren't very far from one another. [SOUNDTRACK - MUSIC FROM "DRESSED TO KILL"] Some analysts are still reeling from Brian De Palma's "Dressed to Kill," in which Michael Caine played an analyst. [FILM CLIP: "DRESSED TO KILLL"]
MICHAEL CAINE: No waiting. Go right in. The doctor will be with you shortly. [END FILM CLIP]
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. [MUSIC FROM MURDER SCENE]
SARA FISHKO: A variety of shrinks. That really is all one can ask. [FILM CLIP "ANALYZE THIS"]
CAROLINE (MOLLY SHANNON): [SOBBING] Do you think I was driving him away, Dr. Sobel [CRYING]?
SARA FISHKO: Looking at them, laughing at them helps us audiences work things out. [FILM CLIP]
CAROLINE: I mean, maybe there's still hope!
DR. SOBEL (BILLY CRYSTAL): Well, he did take a restraining order against you, and I have to be honest, that's usually not a good sign. [END "ANALYZE THIS" CLIP] [MUSIC UP AND UNDER]
SARA FISHKO: So when it comes to analysts in the movies, I can honestly say that � [FILM CLIP]
MAN: Time's up. [END FILM CLIP]
SARA FISHKO: Oh. For On the Media � [FILM CLIP] FEMALE
ANALYST: Time's up. [END CLIP]
SARA FISHKO: I'm SARA FISHKO: [FILM CLIP]
ANALYST: And we will continue next week when I get back from my vacation.
FEMALE PATIENT: [SOBBING] [END FILM CLIP] [MUSIC UP AND UNDER]
BOB GARFIELD: Coming up, HIV researchers come down hard on Harper's, and Steven Colbert stares down the White House press.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is On the Media from NPR. END SEGMENT B STATION BREAK 2 (MUSIC)