Shrinks on screen: psychologists on TV and Film

Course Dates: 23/03/24
Time: 10:30 - 16:30
Location: Keeley Street
In this course, we will look at examples of ‘shrinks on screen’—portrayals of mental health professionals (psychiatrists, social workers, psychoanalysts, etc.) in cinema and TV. We will critically examine ‘head doctors’ tropes, and identify iconic psychotherapy sessions in movies and television that convincingly represent the challenges and effectiveness of the so-called ‘talking cure’.

Mary Wild is a film lecturer and podcaster with an academic background in psychoanalytic theory. Her research interests include cinematic representation of the unconscious, surrealism, mental illness, feminine subjectivity, the horror genre, and auteur studies. In addition to teaching at City Lit, she is a regular speaker at Freud Museum London.
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Shrinks on screen: psychologists on TV and Film
  • Course Code: HF086
  • Dates: 23/03/24 - 23/03/24
  • Time: 10:30 - 16:30
  • Taught: Sat, Daytime
  • Duration: 1 session
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Mary Wild

Course Code: HF086

Sat, day, 23 Mar - 23 Mar '24

Duration: 1 session

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

Psychotherapy is not a straightforward process to depict in popular culture. It is common in film and television to see successful treatment emerging from unexpected and sensational catharsis, or unearthing deep secrets; sometimes widespread misconceptions appear about psychotherapy for dramatic effect. In this course, we will identify motifs in mental health counselling as represented onscreen, including: dream analysis, therapeutic alliance, client confidentiality, transference, counter-transference, personality disorder, etc.

What will we cover?

Spellbound (1945) dir. Alfred Hitchcock
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) dir. Miloš Forman
Ordinary People (1980) dir. Robert Redford
Deconstructing Harry (1998) dir. Woody Allen
Joker (2019) dir. Todd Phillips
Frasier (1993–2004)
The Sopranos (1999–2007)
Mad Men (2007-2015)
In Treatment (2008–2010)
Sex and The City (1998-2004).

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

-Understand the relationship between psychoanalysis, TV, and cinema
-Learn film interpretation techniques to approach moving image in a deep and investigative way
-Discover the work of film directors that represent psychoanalytic themes and motifs.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is open to all levels; there are no pre-requisites to register. Interest in film is desirable.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Psychological terms will be taught in an inclusive, accessible and engaging way with the help of bespoke PowerPoint slides and video montages. Group discussion will be encouraged, and there will be no assignments outside of class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no additional costs beyond the enrolment fee. Material for taking notes will suffice during sessions.
Scenes will be shown during the course; students are not required to obtain them.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Check out film studies courses on our website at, Culture and Writing/Film Studies.

Mary Wild

Mary Wild is a film lecturer with an academic background in psychoanalytic theory. Her research interests include cinematic representation of identity, the unconscious, mental illness and auteur studies (e.g., Andrei Tarkovsky, Lars von Trier, and Fritz Lang). In addition to teaching at City Lit, Mary is a regular speaker at the Freud Museum and Hackney Picturehouse.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.