The Camp Psychiatrist in American Horror and Thriller Movies: From Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate to M. Night Shymalan’s Split

The camp psychiatrist in The Manchurian Candidate (1962).

For more than a century, psychiatrists have had to live with the cultural consequences of how their profession has been depicted in the movies. According to Irving Schneider’s influential taxonomy, psychiatrists have been represented cinematically as “Dr. Dippy”, “Dr. Evil” or “Dr. Wonderful”. [1] In Psychiatry and the Cinema, Glen O. Gabbard and Krin Gabbard identify a brief moment in the late 1950s and early 1960s when representations of the profession were largely so positive as to constitute a Golden Age of movie psychiatry. [2] At other times, they argue, psychiatrists have tended to be depicted dualistically: they are either good or bad, and sometimes both types coexist in the same film. The Gabbards’ inclusion of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956), Psycho (Alred Hitchcock, 1960) and The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer, 1962) among films that inaugurate or represent the Golden Age, however, rests on at least three questionable manoeuvres. First, they down-play the fact that there are two psychiatrists in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, one of whom is implicated in the pod-people plot. Secondly, they ignore other critics’ observations that the psychiatrist in Psycho is not entirely idealized. And thirdly, they misrepresent The Manchurian Candidate. For while they acknowledge the good African American psychiatrist played by Joe Adams, they overlook Yen Lo (Khigh Dhiegh), the evil Communist brainwasher. The fact that Yen Lo is neither a psychoanalyst nor a psychotherapist but a behaviourist does not account for his exclusion, because the Gabbards claim to encompass all kinds of mental-health professionals in their study. Despite acknowledging the existence of Yen Lo in Cinema’s Sinister Psychiatrists, Sharon Packer surprisingly upholds the Gabbards’ assertion that there was a Golden Age of movie psychiatry. [3] Since John Flowers and Paul Frizler include Yen Lo in their encyclopedia of psychotherapists on film, [4] why the Gabbards overlooked him is puzzling.

The Manchurian Candidate is so far from being an obscure film that its title has entered the popular lexicon on account of the brainwashing Yen Lo performs. He is pivotal to the bravura set pieces depicting the nightmares of Ben Marco (Frank Sinatra) and Al Melvin (James Edwards). Apart from Matthew Frye Jacobson and Gaspar González’ discussion of Yen Lo’s race, he is an under-examined figure. [5] I concentrate here on Yen Lo to argue that The Manchurian Candidate has affinities with equivocal representations of psychiatry in a number of American horror and thriller films: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Psycho, Dressed to Kill (Brian De Palma, 1980), The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991) and Split (M. Night Shymalan, 2016). Consequently, I think that the “bifurcated myth of psychiatry” (namely the depiction of psychiatrists as either good or bad) did not go into abeyance during the years 1956-1962. On the contrary it persisted, and closer attention to how it operated in the films of that era will yield insights into the cultural work being done by movie psychiatrists. [6] The Manchurian Candidate’s Yen Lo is particularly important because he enacts a triple demonization of not only a certain type of psychiatry but also of Communism and gender liminality.

I begin with the Gabbards’ observation that, in the pre-Ratings era, Hollywood filmmakers used the figure of the psychiatrist to introduce taboo content into their movies. As they remark of Glen and Glenda? (Ed Wood, 1953), “the psychiatrist articulates the dominant ideology’s notion of normality while he simultaneously legitimizes the voyeuristic fascination with what is forbidden.” [7] The Manchurian Candidate and Psycho both focus on gender liminality, and install a psychiatrist to license this risqué topic. In so doing, they render the psychiatrist himself suspect – open to interrogation, subversion, parody and camp representation. Writing about camp in 1954, Christopher Isherwood associated it with Freudian psychoanalysis. [8] A decade later, Susan Sontag mainstreamed the sensibility with her foundational ‘Notes on “Camp.”’ [9] Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate both emerged in this milieu, and several critics have noted the camp qualities of the latter film. [10] The most important features of camp sensibility for my analysis are having fun at what is essentially serious and interrogating gender. I focus on how Yen Lo “camps” his way through his performances because this gives Frankenheimer the opportunity to screen a phobic response to the destabilization of binary constructions of sex and gender. This stigmatization is of course reprehensible from today’s perspective. But as Kevin Ohi has pointed out, “the queer pleasure of the film . . . cannot stand aloof from the homophobic imperatives structuring the conditions of its being made”. [11]

The Manchurian Candidate begins with the title “Korea 1952”. That was the year when news of Christine Jorgensen’s sex-change operation was headlined “Ex GI becomes Blonde Beauty”. [12] Susan Ferentinos has shown how a concatenation of mid-twentieth century events – such as the Kinsey Reports, Christine Jorgensen’s celebrity, and the weakening of the Hays Code – affected Hollywood films by allowing some tentative representations of gay, lesbian and transgender life to be screened. [13] And Matt Bell has pointed out how The Manchurian Candidate participated, albeit fearfully, in the discussions these inaugurated. The early Cold War was also the era of the “Lavendar Scare”, in which homosexuality and feminization were associated with Communism as conjoint threats to American national security. [14] As Tony Jackson says, in The Manchurian Candidate “the real danger, the real fear, involves the feminization of the American male and the coming to power of the American female”: the film “imagines masculinized women and feminized men to be the real source of cultural failure”. [15]

The Manchurian Candidate begins with the abduction during the Korean War of a US Army patrol, whose members are repatriated to the United States unaware that they have been brainwashed by Yen Lo, some more successfully than others. The film’s protagonists are Ben and Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey). When Ben’s brainwashing begins to break down, he has nightmares in which factual scenes from a demonstration lecture run by Yen Lo emerge palimpsestuously through the fictional cover story he has been conditioned to recall. This motivates the detective phase of the drama, in which Ben discovers that Yen Lo has programmed Raymond to act as a sleeper assassin, a fact of which Raymond remains unaware for most of the film. It emerges, however, that his American handler is none other than his mother, who is a secret Communist agent. Acting under her orders, he murders both his new wife and his father-in-law, and very nearly assassinates the Vice-Presidential nominee. Her unwholesome influence is emasculating at all levels. She resembles the “castrating mother” John Phillips identifies in Psycho, and is the epitome of Philip Wylie’s annihilating ‘Mom.’ [16] Raymond can escape her toxic influence only by murdering her and killing himself.

David Sterritt has revealed psychiatric themes common to The Manchurian Candidate and Psycho[17] Both films focus on a young man who is “passing” for a normal, heterosexual American, but whose combination of Oedipus and Orestes complexes makes his sexual pathology much more complicated. Both hinge on the crime of matricide. Both treat us to expository lectures from their resident psychiatrists. And both feature cross-dressing. But whereas in Psycho it is Norman who dresses as Mother, in The Manchurian Candidate the psychiatrist Yen Lo himself cross-dresses as Mrs. Whittaker – or rather, Mrs. Whittaker becomes Yen Lo. The psychiatrist in Psycho merely explains gender hybridization, but in The Manchurian Candidate actually embodies it.

Although the Gabbards recognize that Alfred Hitchcock’s subtexts might well undermine the apparently positive representations of psychiatry in his films during the Golden Age, they argue that Dr. Richman’s (Simon Oakland’s) lecture at the end of Psycho is authoritative and satisfactory. By comparison with the unimaginative police who have failed to solve the murders Norman has committed, they find Dr. Richman a model of competence. Other commentators, however, find the lecture inadequate because it fails to explain the queer case represented by Norman/Mother. Its mode of delivery contains clear markers that the psychiatrist is being subverted. “For the viewer who has learned anything from Psycho”, Leo Braudy writes, “[Richman] must be dismissed. The visual clues are all present: he is greasy and all-knowing; he lectures and gestures with false expansiveness”. [18] Others have labelled Richman’s performance “bombastic”, “belabored”, “swaggering”, “arrogant”, “glib”, “complacent”, “reductive”, and “preposterous”. [19] I would add “camp”, because it is blatantly theatrical and to a degree self-knowing. Just how camp and theatrical it is can be seen by comparing it with the corresponding scene in Gus Van Sant’s 1998 remake of the same name. There the psychiatrist’s performance is relatively flat, characterized by compassionate exhaustion rather than by salacious interest. Donald Fredericksen, an enthusiast of Hitchcock’s Richman, reports the “audience’s typical laughter” when the psychiatrist says that Norman is “not exactly” a transvestite, but he does not explore that laughter. [20] This omission undermines his argument that Richman is to be taken entirely seriously. I submit that this laughter is engendered partly by the psychiatrist’s arch demeanour and partly by uneasiness about the subject – gender liminality – with which Richman’s lecture tentatively deals. [21] Although the lecture Hitchcock gives us is funny it nevertheless concerns a worrisome development at that time. Cold War gender ideology treated the feminized man as one of the most serious and phobic of subjects because its national implications were so significant. [22] From a director’s point of view, the psychiatrist who provided a vector for this subject matter to enter a movie was a godsend, in so far as his presence as an expert licensed the discussion of material otherwise unlikely to have made it past the censors. Nevertheless, any psychiatrist thus exploited was likely to be tainted by association with such disquieting topics as the Oedipus and Orestes complexes, transvestism, momism and matricide, subjects so serious that the safest way to approach them was indirectly, and by means of camp – although Sontag finds Hitchcock’s approach too heavy-handed to achieve the full camp effect. Either way, the psychiatrist in Hitchcock’s Psycho is certainly not the “Dr. Wonderful” that the Gabbards make him out to be.

Yen Lo’s lecture in The Manchurian Candidate is depicted twice: first as it is dreamed by Ben and then as it is dreamed by Melvin. After citing psychiatric literature, Yen Lo jokes with his audience before demonstrating the efficacy of his brainwashing techniques by ordering Raymond to murder two members of his own patrol. In this most serious context, Yen Lo has fun. And he also changes his sex. The lecturer at the beginning of Ben’s nightmare is actually Mrs. Whittaker – a white woman (Helen Kleeb); in Melvin’s, she is an African American woman (Maye Henderson). Throughout these dream sequences, Mrs. Whittaker and Yen Lo share the lecture narrative by alternating on both the visual and auditory tracks. In this respect, the soundtrack of The Manchurian Candidate recalls the last moments of Hitchcock’s Psycho, when the mother’s voice is heard despite the fact that Norman’s body occupies the visual frame. Bell observes that the editing of the first nightmare sequence – in which the camera begins by panning in a 360 degree arc – highlights the outrageousness of Yen Lo/Mrs. Whittaker’s “gender fuck”. [23] “The absence of a cut in the protracted first shot”, he writes, “heightens the shock of the visual substitution …The shot astonishes us because this unblinking, panoptic camera movement encounters the kind of startling, discontinuous ‘bad surprise’ that paranoia always anxiously fears”. [24] The effectiveness of the nightmare sequence – “so cold, so funny, so horrible” – depends on the theatricality of Yen Lo’s laughter, cross-dressing, and campness. [25]

Another thing worth noting is that, as an actor, Khigh Dhiegh had form, and the intertextual implications of his other roles inflect our understanding of his performance as Yen Lo. Khigh Diegh brought to the role a set of acting conventions that concatenated western conceptions of the Evil Oriental with the sometime psychiatrist/indoctrinator. In Time Limit (Karl Malden, 1957), for instance, he had played a Korean POW camp Commissar who laughed his way through an indoctrination lecture in the face of the prisoners’ derision. He would go on to play another psychiatrist – again with an obscene and sinister but infectious giggle – in John Frankenheimer’s Seconds(1966). Khigh Dhiegh’s star persona carried a freight of political meaning through all three films: his roles connect psychiatry, indoctrination and brainwashing with the foreign Other and specifically with Communism.

But in The Manchurian Candidate Yen Lo does not let ideological conviction inhibit him. In the scene in which he checks Raymond’s conditioning in a sanatorium, he jokes at the expense of Comrade Zilkov (Albert Paulsen) about matters of Party piety. Cyndy Hendershot thinks this contrast between Yen Lo’s cheerful amorality and Zilkov’s earnestness marks a juncture in Cold War popular culture, when US paranoia was prompted by Chinese Communists rather than Soviet ones. [26] The dream sequences Yen Lo dominates condense and displace mid-twentieth century American discussions of sex, gender and political ideology into the domain of camp black comedy. Despite the fact that he appears at the apex of the Gabbards’ Golden Age, Yen Lo is a monstrous psychiatrist.

The relationship between Yen Lo and his American psychiatrist counterpart (unnamed in the film) illuminates the question of how psychiatry was represented in 1962 movies. Instead of abandoning dualistic representations of the psychiatrist as either “Dr. Wonderful” or “Dr. Evil”, The Manchurian Candidate complies precisely with the myth of bifurcation. As Packer points out, it even divides its psychiatric disciplines along ideological lines. For whereas behaviorism and hypnotism are depicted as totalitarian and mind-controlling Communist practices, psychoanalysis – with which Hollywood had more sympathy – is associated with freedom. So while Ben recovers the meaning of his dreams with the benign help of the African American psychoanalyst, Raymond remains under the influence of Yen Lo’s Pavlovian conditioning.

Raymond’s zombie-like obedience to his American Operator’s commands helps explain why The Manchurian Candidate has been compared with Invasion of the Body Snatchers. More importantly, both films derive their dramatic energy from a specifically American paranoia that associates Communism with mind control. In this context, it seems to me, the Gabbards’ emphasis in their discussion of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is questionable. For while they acknowledge it as a “transitional” example that perpetuates the “bifurcated myth” of the psychiatrist, they unduly emphasise the sympathetic psychiatrist (Whit Bissell) in the brief narrative frame that was added to the film as a nervous afterthought in order to contain its more terrifying effects. [27] For the bulk of the narrative, however, the resident mind-doctor in the town of Santa Mira (Larry Gates) is an agent of the alien enemy who colludes in converting free-thinking Americans into pod people. This enables the Gabbards to categorise Invasion of the Body Snatchers as “one of the films anticipating the era of almost consistently positive images” of the psychiatrist, despite the fact that the film itself does not support this characterization. [28]

One reason why Hitchcock’s Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate contain troubling representations of psychiatrists is that they license the film to explore the question of gender liminality. In both films the psychiatrist is rendered camp, particularly in his theatrical performance as a lecturer. It is worth noting that before George Axelrod wrote the screenplay for The Manchurian Candidate he had demonstrated his sophisticated Freudian and post-Kinsey credentials by introducing a parodic psychiatrist into the screwball comedy The Seven Year Itch (Billy Wilder, 1955). But he had also participated in stripping the gay content out of the film adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Blake Edwards, 1961). The kind of camp he helped create in The Manchurian Candidate does not permanently undermine status quo assumptions about gender binarisms and heterosexuality. Initially, it certainly appears to disrupt Cold War norms of masculinity. But Mark Gallagher lists it among films that “ultimately champion conventional formations of masculinity, or summon conventional formations to refute the alternative masculinities the films initially offer”. [29] In another essay I have described how the male protagonists in The Manchurian Candidate are first feminized and then allowed to redeem their masculinities via acts of military role-fulfillment. [30] The “mainstreaming” of camp in the 1960s is extraordinarily significant, Fabio Cleto observes, because it is “inexorably linked not only to its oppositional value, but also to its availability as a weapon of containment”. [31] In the early 1960s the Hollywood film industry was so heteronormative that Yen Lo’s camp could be no more than an ephemeral disruption.

I now turn to some films that feature psychiatrists since the 1960s. The Gabbards strongly dissociate the depiction of psychiatry in Psycho from that in Dressed to Kill, which they find emblematic of the relationship between films in the “Golden Age” and those from the subsequent “Fall from Grace”. The psychiatrist in Dressed to Kill, Dr. Robert Elliott (Michael Caine), suffers from multiple personality disorder, and cross-dresses as “Bobbi” to commit sexually motivated murders. In so doing he is rendered both ridiculous and monstrous. It becomes easier to see connections rather than contrasts between Dr. Richman and Dr. Elliott/“Bobbi”, however, once we realise that movie psychiatrists who either inaugurated discussions of gender liminality or embodied it were parodied or even demonized even in the Golden Age. Whereas Dr. Richman talks about transvestism and sexual confusion, Yen Lo embodies it. Like Psycho, Dressed to Kill calls upon a psychiatrist – Dr. Levy (David Marguiles) – to explain the dysfunctionality of Dr. Elliott/”Bobbi”. As in Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate, Dr. Levy is tarred by association with the gender dysphoria he describes: the Gabbards characterise him as “effete”. [32] Nor is his explanation convincing. Dr. Levy’s effort to interpret the meaning of the monstrous transsexual is conspicuously weak as Dr. Richman’s was. According to the Gabbards, De Palma uses “mock seriousness” in Dr. Levy’s account of Dr. Elliott/”Bobbi”, as this is “often the most effective means of telling a far-fetched tale”. [33] But in the context of cross-dressing and psychiatry, this tendency to mock what is serious resonates with the camp sensibility.

The cross-dressing mental-health professional reappears in Raising Cain (Brian De Palma, 1992). John Lithgow plays Carter Nix, a child psychologist who has multiple personalities, one of whom is “Margo”. He suffers from this condition because he was deliberately traumatized by his father, who was also a child psychologist. For the bulk of the narrative, we are led to believe that an older Dr. Nix is one of Carter’s alters; but it emerges that he is Carter’s father, who has returned to steal babies and continue his experimental work. The children are abducted by an alter named “Cain”, who murders a series of women before (in a gesture that recalls Psycho) sinking their bodies in cars in a swamp. (Psycho’s famous musical score is also sampled in the soundtrack). Again, the mental condition of Carter/”Cain”/”Josh”/”Margo” is explained by recourse to another psychologist, Dr. Lyn Waldheim. The skeptical reactions of local police indicate that her explanation stretches credulity. Cross-dressing is again invoked: she is being treated for cancer, and complains that her wig makes her look like a transvestite. And that wig is not incidental. It becomes important late in the narrative, when Dr. Waldheim is deployed to extract answers from Carter, much as Richman is deployed to extract answers from Norman. During a session in which Dr. Waldheim is hypnotizing Carter, “Margo” emerges, signalled by Lithgow’s gesticulating in an arch manner. “Margo” overpowers Dr. Waldheim, steals her clothes and her wig, escapes dressed as a woman, and foils the child-abduction plot by attacking her father. What prevents the narrative from ending happily is that “Margo” again escapes. With Lithgow dressed in full drag, “Margo” returns in a chilling coda to menace Carter’s wife. In Raising Cain, as in Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate, psychiatry or psychology and cross-dressing are mutually implicated in ways that render both suspect.

The Silence of the Lambs likewise presents us with two psychiatrists: Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkin) and Dr. Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald). Lecter’s monstrousness is augmented by his association with the serial killer Jame Gumb (Ted Levine), the would-be transsexual who is making a girl-suit out of real girls. Nor does Chilton provide redemption for the psychiatric profession, incompetent and over-confident as this case represents, he fails either to treat or to contain the monster. By the end of the film, Lecter, set free, is seen tracking down Chilton, presumably with the intention of eating him. Chilton’s miscalculations are fatal.

I agree with the Gabbards that Dressed to Kill, Raising Cain and The Silence of the Lambs depict psychiatry negatively, because these mental-health professionals are either mad and bad or frankly incompetent to deal with the madness that confronts them. But this is not a product of a historic “fall from grace”. On the contrary, their camp monstrosities and inadequacies correspond with types found in films of the alleged Golden Age, and notably The Manchurian Candidate and Psycho. We have subsequently seen signs that cinematic representations of the psychiatrist are being revised in response to contemporary concerns. Updating the content and visual style of the original to reflect the current era of “hypermediacy”, the remake of The Manchurian Candidate (Jonathan Demme, 2004) hinges not on paranoia about ideology and gender but on what Sonja Georgi calls “cyber-noia”. [34] This film revises its representations to correspond with the biological turn in psychiatry since Frankenheimer’s original was produced, although it does not reference psycho-pharmacological technologies. It also refigures the sources of fear, which are now corporate control, genetic manipulation, and technological surveillance. Its depictions of the psychiatric profession are altered accordingly. Since brainwashing is achieved by surgical means rather than by behavioural conditioning, computer chips are implanted in the members of the lost patrol. There is no “good” psychoanalyst because what ails Ben (Denzel Washington) is beyond the reach of the talking cure. He is deprogrammed with the help of backyard electro-convulsive therapy administered by a character who exists in a Faraday cage, mise-en-scène borrowed from The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974). Yen Lo disappears in the new hysteria about technological surveillance. The evil psychiatrist is now not a psychiatrist at all, but a geneticist named Dr. Atticus Noyle (Simon McBurney), whose tools are drills, computer chips, and virtual reality simulations. He is neither humorous nor a cross-dresser. Nor does he deliver theatrical lectures. He is characterized by his ubiquity and insinuation. Mother is still so monstrous as to emasculate Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber); but his demeanour is neither as “prissy” or “effeminate” as Laurence Harvey’s. [35] Ted Levine, who was Jame Gumb in The Silence of the Lambs, plays one of those Army medical officers who fail to listen to Ben, but gender does not feature in his intertextual presence. Because the focal concern is no longer gender liminality, Demme does not give us a camp psychiatrist.

The tradition inaugurated by Hitchcock’s Psycho and Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate, however, is not entirely dead. In 2016 M. Night Shymalan released Split, a film in which – as in Psycho, Dressed to Kill, and Raising Cain – the protagonist suffers from a Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Kevin (James McAvoy) is a man with more than twenty alters, among them “Patricia”, who is a “campy hoot”. [36] Split has attracted opprobrium for various reasons, notably its representation of rape and abuse survivors, its “transphobic” content, its treatment of DID sufferers as monstrous, and for its ‘lazy’ recycling of filmmaking habits that nowadays are culturally contested. [37] “Aware of the fact that the director is very fond of the horror genre and is paying homage to that Hitchcock tradition”, Fincina Hopgood associates this outmoded tradition with the 1960s. [38] Split betrays its sixties’ pedigree not only in its depictions of mental illness and transgender but also in its less-than-perfect psychiatrist. Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) at first appears to be Dr. Wonderful. She carries the burden of the film’s exposition, and explains her understanding of DID in a lecture mediated this time via Skype. Her theory that DID alters are physiologically distinct turns out to be correct: Kevin’s twenty-fourth alter is a supernaturally endowed “beast” whose appearance is accompanied by physical metamorphosis. But for all her insight, she disbelieves the stories the alters are telling her and badly underestimates the situation. As Steve Rose points out, “she is too interested in how Kevin’s condition could ‘unlock the potential of the brain’ to check if he is abducting young women.” [39] Possibly because of her own gender, Dr. Fletcher is not rendered monstrous or camp by association with the cross-dressing serial killer. But she pays a high price. She dies fatally outmatched by the monster she has partially explained but failed to fully understand, treat or contain.

Discussing Richman’s lecture in Hitchcock’s Psycho, Robert Corber concludes that “the film seems less interested in providing an adequate and convincing psychoanalytic explanation of Norman’s behavior than in calling attention to the rise of the expert in postwar American culture.” [40] What is at stake in the camp lecture performances screened in Psycho and Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate is the status of the psychiatrist. The figures cut by Dr. Richman and Yen Lo reveal an ambivalent attitude to the psychiatric expert: in furnishing the movies with an opportunity to screen problematic content, he is simultaneously punished by association with it. He is at once revered and resented for the uncomfortable truths he might reveal about sex and gender. Yen Lo and Dr. Richman represent a fascination with psychiatry that combines a desire to either dismiss its more outré theories or evade their uncomfortable implications. Representing the era’s most phobic subjects, Yen Lo is both terrifying and not to be taken too seriously: charismatic, mesmerizing and sinister, he is also camp. Far from participating in a Golden Age of movie psychiatry, Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate yoke psychiatry with gender liminality in a way that renders both profoundly equivocal. This casts a long shadow over horror and thriller movies until at least 1992. But the tendency to camp up psychiatry subsequently abated as the cultural work being done by psychiatrists altered. Moreover, a careful analysis reveals the problematic nature of Schneider’s original categorizations; for while Yen Lo is undoubtedly “Dr. Evil”, Dr. Richman’s characterization is less straightforward. The movies’ psychiatrists can no more be type-cast as “evil”, “wonderful” or “dippy” than categorized as either “bad” or “good”. We need to pay more attention to the specific ways in which they are stigmatized by association with the phenomena they are either invoked to explain or embody. It is time for a new, and subtler, taxonomy of movie psychiatry. Here, the horror and thriller films have been examined with a view to beginning the discussion of such taxonomy; the next step will be to turn to genres like the melodrama and comedy to explore the broader implications of the argument made here.

[1] Irving Schneider, “The Theory and Practice of Movie Psychiatry”, American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 144, no. 8 (1987), pp. 996-1002.
[2] Glen O. Gabbard and Krin Gabbard, Psychiatry and the Cinema, 2nd ed, (Washington DC: American Psychiatric Press, 1999).
[3] Sharon Packer, Cinema’s Sinister Psychiatrists: From Caligari to Hannibal (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2012).
[4] John Flowers and Paul Frizler, Psychotherapists on Film, 1899-1999: a Worldwide Guide to Over 5000 Films, Vol 2 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2004).
[5] Matthew Frye Jacobson and Gaspar González, What Have They Built You to Do? The Manchurian Candidate and Cold War America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006).
[6] Gabbard and Gabbard, p. 74.
[7] Ibid., pp. 65-66.
[8] Christopher Isherwood, “From The World in the Evening”, [1954] in Fabio Cleto (ed), Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999), p. 52.
[9] Susan Sontag ‘Notes on “Camp”’, [1964] in Fabio Cleto (ed), Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), pp. 53-65.
[10] Matt Bell, ‘“Your Worst Fears Made Flesh:” The Manchurian Candidate’s Paranoid Delusion and Gay Liberation’, GLO: a Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, vol. 12, no. 1 (2006), p. 104; Louis Menand, ‘Brainwashed’, The New Yorker, vol. 79, no. 26, (15 September 2003), pp. 88, 90; Jacobson and González, pp. 48, 98.
[11] Kevin Ohi, “Of Red Queens and Garden Clubs: The Manchurian Candidate, Cold War Paranoia, and the Historicity of the Homosexual”, Camera Obscura, vol. 20, no. 1 (2005), p. 175.
[12] “Ex-Gi Becomes Blonde Beauty”, Daily News (1 December 1952), p. 1.
[13] Susan Ferentinos, Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites, (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015).
[14] Kathleen Starck, Of Treason, God and Testicles: Political Masculinities in British and American Films of the Early Cold War Era (Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016), p. 159.
[15] Tony Jackson, “The Manchurian Candidate and the Gender of the Cold War”, Literature/Film Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 1 (2000), p. 39.
[16] John Phillips, Transgender on Screen, (Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006), 92; Michael Rogin, ‘“Kiss Me Deadly:” Communism, Motherhood and Cold War Movies’, Representations, vol. 6 (1984), 1-36; Philip Wylie, Generation of Vipers (New York: Rinehart, 1942).
[17] David Sterritt, “Murdered Souls, Conspiratorial Cabals: Frankenheimer’s Paranoia Films”, in Murray Pomerance and R. Barton Palmer (eds), A Little Solitaire: John Frankenheimer and American Film (USA: Rutgers University Press, 2011), N. Pag.
[18] Leo Braudy,”Hitchcock, Truffaut, and the Irresponsible Audience”, Film Quarterly vol. 21, no. 4 (1968), p. 27.
[19] Heath A. Diehl, “Reading Hitchcock/Reading Queer: Adaptation, Narrativity and a Queer Mode of Address in Rope, Strangers on a Train and Psycho”, in Mark Osteen, (ed), Hitchcock and Adaptation: On the Page and Screen (Lanham: Roman and Littlefield, 2014), p. 123; Walter Raubicheck and Walter Srebnick, Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, the Birds, and Marnie, (Urbana, Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2011), p. 37; Peter Richards, ‘”The Ten Greatest One-Scene Performances in the History of the Cinema’”, Film Comment, vol. 29, no. 5 (1993), p. 78; Stephen Tifft,‘Mrs. Bates’s Smile’, in Jonathan Freedman (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Alfred Hitchcock (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), p. 169; Robin Wood, Hitchcock’s Films, [1966] (South Brunswick and New York: A.S. Barnes, 1977), p. 112.
[20] Donald Fredericksen, “Remarks on the Functions of the Psychiatrist in Hitchcock’s Psycho and Bergman’s Persona”, in Lucy Huskinson and Terry Waddell (eds), Eavesdropping: The Psychotherapist in Film and Television (London: Routledge, 2015), p. 156
[21] I am aware that the source of some of this humour may be the passage of time. A perfectly sincere performance in the 1960s may now appear impossibly over the top. However, this performance was available for reading against the grain in its contemporary context of reception. Wood’s unflattering assessment of this section of Psycho was originally published in 1966.
[22] Brian Baker, Masculinity in Fiction and Film: Representing Men in Popular Genres 1945-2000 (New York: Continuum, 2006), pp. 7-8; .Robert J. Corber, In the Name of National Security: Hitchcock, Homophobia and the Political Construction of Gender in Postwar America (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), pp. 172-73.
[23] Bell, p. 102.
[24] Ibid., p. 101.
[25] Greil Marcus, The Manchurian Candidate (London: BFI, 2002), p. 26.
[26] Cyndy Hendershot, Anti-Communism and Popular Culture in Mid-Century America (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2003).
[27] Gabbard and Gabbard, p. 78. In another casting note, Gabbard and Gabbard acknowledge that Bissell played no fewer than four psychiatrists during the 1950s and 1960s, but they fail to notice that he also played the Army medical officer who dismisses Ben Marco’s conspiracy theories in The Manchurian Candidate where, as it turns out, he is completely wrong.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Mark Gallagher, “Tripped Out: The Psychedelic Film and Masculinity’”, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, vol. 21 (2004), p. 78.
[30] Joy McEntee, “Trauma, Shame and Men’s Tears in The Manchurian Candidate (1962)”, Camera Obscura, forthcoming.
[31] Fabio Cleto, Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999), p. 304.
[32] Gabbard and Gabbard, p. 110.
[33] Ibid. pp. 110-11.
[34] Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media (Cambridge, Massachussetts and London: MIT Press, 2000), p. 5; Sonja Georgi, “Cyber-noia? Remaking The Manchurian Candidate in a Global Age”, in Kathleen Loock and Constantine Verevis (eds), Film Remakes: Adaptations and Fan Productions: Remake/Remodel (Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012), pp. 145-58.
[35] James Naremore, More Than Night: Film Noir and Its Contexts (Berkeley: U of California P, 2008), p. 133.
[36] Nico Lang, “The problem with how Split handles sexual abuse: Surviving rape doesn’t always make you stronger”. Salon. Uploaded 13 February 2017. Accessed 14 February 2017 at , N. Pag.
[37] Lang, N. Pag; Sarah Rose, ”Boycott Split for it’s [sic] Backwards Representations of Gender Identity and Mental Illness!” Accessed 12 Feb, 2017 at , N. Pag
[38] Quoted in Claire Slattery, “M Night Shyamalan Film Condemned, Labelled ‘Gross Parody’ of Mental Illness”. ABC News. Uploaded 20 January 2017. Accessed 12 February 2017 at , N.Pag.
[39] Steve Rose, “From Split to Psycho: Why Cinema Fails Dissociative Identity Disorder”. The Guardian. Uploaded 13 January 2016. Accessed 12 February 2017 at, N. Pag.
[40] Corber, p. 169.

About the Author

Joy McEntee

About the Author

Joy Mcentee

Joy McEntee teaches American film, American literature and Adaptation in the Department of English and Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide. She has published in Adaptation, Literature/Film Quarterly, Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance, and Camera Obscura. Her research interests include cinematic masculinities.View all posts by Joy McEntee →