What is the place of psychological horror and thriller in a world gone 'mad'?

Depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental and emotional malaises are more rampant than ever. The stresses of everyday life and the constant feed of nearly apocalyptic news reaching us on a daily basis surely have something to do with our collective plight.

How well do psychological horrors, like Psycho (1960), The Shining (1980), Jacob’s Ladder (1990); and psychological thrillers, such as The Machinist (2004); capture our current state of dis-ease?

  • Great idea. You could easily turn this one into a book, breaking the movies down by decade. You could also focus this idea into two articles: pre 9/11 and post. The major aspect is to research the experts of each era. Hitchcock, for example, is certainly guided by outdated notions concerning psychology, whereas Brad Anderson is attempting to be more informed with contemporary theories. – Michael J. Berntsen 2 years ago
  • I second that. I'm intrigued about the respect aspect, too. That is, are these stories respectful to real people with mental illnesses? For instance, I don't watch Rain Man or many, if any films whose main characters have disabilities because they all seem to be saintly, severely affected, childlike, etc. That doesn't represent me and I don't think it respects me and other members of my minority group who are not that way. I wonder if people with mental illnesses feel the same way when they watch these films, or yet another film where the villain's primary raison d'etre is tied to psychological or psychiatric illness. – Stephanie M. 2 years ago
  • Claims of mental illness being more "rampant than ever" would require some rigorous data research to back those up, but this is an interesting topic for sure. I wonder if this could be slightly re-framed. Instead of looking back at old films that have been rigorously analyzed for their symptomatic representations of political landscapes at the times of release, it would be interesting to try and explore films of THIS decade to try and determine a common trend in mental illness representation, and how these representations are in reaction to current events. JOKER is an obvious one, and would be an interesting centerpiece since it's just released now, and two months before the decade ends. A sort of retrospective look at this decade's cinematic view of mental illness could be very interesting and illuminating, especially with Trump's presidency taking place halfway through it. A comparative analysis between pre- and post-Trump administration films maybe. – calebwhutch 2 years ago
  • I love the suggestion that Calebwhutch made. I agree that might be a generalization (or at least would take a lot of research to prove) that mental illness is more widespread now than ever before. BUT, as with all art forms, social fears and anxieties are well reflected in art, and it would be interesting to see an analysis of various films that provide such a reflection. Joker is a great choice. Get Out is another that comes to mind. – JCBohn 6 months ago

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