The Hypnotic Screen: The Early Soviet Experiment with Film Psychotherapy 

A new open-access piece in Social History of Medicine may interest AHP readers: “The Hypnotic Screen: The Early Soviet Experiment with Film Psychotherapy,” by Anna Toropova. Abstract:

The early Soviet period witnessed a number of experiments in ‘film psychotherapy’—the attempt to deploy the cinematic medium in hypnotherapeutic treatment. Exploring this pivotal, yet virtually unknown, moment in the history of cinema’s intertwinement with medicine, the article seeks to understand Soviet film psychotherapy as a response to transnational anxieties over cinema’s ‘powers of influence’, as well as a distinctively ‘Soviet’ experiment. An exploration of the project’s origins in Soviet psychophysiological studies of spectators and experiments in group hypnotherapeutic treatment is used to demonstrate the unique context that shaped Soviet doctors’ emergence as film therapy pioneers. After examining the medical and political hopes pinned on the project, the article tries to understand the reasons why film psychotherapy’s considerable potential remained largely unrealised. The project that promised to be a major boon to Soviet social medicine, it is argued, also brought the scientific premises of Soviet psychotherapy into question.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.