There have been several examples of popular modern media that focus on a criminal seeking psychiatric help. One of the most iconic is the hit TV show, the Sopranos. It focuses on the boss of a violent criminal gang. After suffering from panic attacks, he starts seeing a therapist. This allows him to delve into his own mind and better understand it.
This concept was also seen in the comedy Analyze This, in which it is given a more humorous tone. Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro star as the therapist and crime boss respectively. Both this film and the Sopranos depict a criminal who cannot handle the stresses of his private and professional life.
The theme of criminals and psychotherapy is given a greater sense of immersion in the video game Grand Theft Auto V. Players take control of a retired bank robber called Michael. After being forced back into a life of crime he occasionally visits his therapist to vent his frustrations. The player’s choices and actions will directly affect Michael’s psychiatric diagnosis. For instance, if he engages in excessively violent activities he will be certified as dangerously unstable.
Removing the Stigma of Mental Illness
Psychotherapy is sometimes used in media as a way of exploring the mechanics of mental conditions. By informing the viewer of the reasons and/or nature of these disorders it allows them to understand them better. This helps to remove the stigma that comes with negative stereotypes of mental illness.
Sometimes this causes audiences to recognise previously undiagnosed issues with their own mind. They are able to use modern tech such as the livi app to discuss these problems with a medical professional. In this scenario, the depiction of psychotherapy is good for society.
However, there are still cases of misrepresentation of mental illness in modern media. This is particularly prevalent in the horror genre, where sick people are given a villainous role. The “knife-wielding maniac” has become a common trope in horror.
The Link Between Surrealism and Psychotherapy
Surrealism is an art movement that arose after the First World War. It was particularly inspired by the work of Freud relating to psychoanalysis. Proponents of this style wanted to create work that completely dismissed rationalism. It was their opinion that rational thought was what led to such heavy losses during the war.
For this reason, the films, paintings and sculptures of surrealists lacked any tangible sense of time or space. An excellent example of this is Un Chien Andalou by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali. The bizarre imagery had a secondary purpose. It was hoped that it would allow viewers to think on a subconscious level as a form of self-performed psychotherapy.