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Author Night: Cinema’s Sinister Psychiatrists – From Caligari to Hannibal

On January 9, NYAM’s Author Night Series featured NYAM Fellow Sharon Packer, MD, presenting her book Cinema’s Sinister Psychiatrists – From Caligari to Hannibal to an attentive audience of 85 psychiatrists, other members of the medical profession, social workers, researchers, and the lay public.

Using film clips and passages from her book, Dr. Packer traced the history of the “mad doctor” characterization in film that dates back to early cinema. Bad depictions of mind doctors occurred long before Hannibal Lecter burst upon the scene; some of the most memorable characterizations can be seen in the 1920s German silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which launched the stereotype of screen psychiatrists who are sicker than their patients, and the three films by Fritz Lang focused on the scheming hypnotist Dr. Mabuse.

Dr. Packer explained that many film psychiatrists function as political metaphors, while many more reflect real life clinical controversies. Her book discusses films with diabolical drugging, unethical experimentation, involuntary incarceration, sexual exploitation, lobotomies, "shock schlock," conspiracy theories, and military medicine, to show how fact informs fantasy, and when fantasy trumps reality.

Sharon Packer, MD, is a New York City psychiatrist in private practice. Dr. Packer is a Fellow of The New York Academy of Medicine and Executive Committee member of NYAM’s History of Medicine and Public Health Section.

Contact NYAM Experts

Reporters: to arrange interviews with NYAM medical and urban health experts, contact
Gina Ravosa, Director of Marketing & Communications

(212) 822-7285 / gravosa@nyam.org

The 2013 Duncan Clark Lecture - The Affordable Care Act on the Verge of Final Success ... and a Nervous Breakdown

The 2013 Duncan Clark Lecture - The Affordable Care Act on the Verge of Final Success ... and a Nervous Breakdown

Featured Speaker: John E. McDonough, DPH, MPA, Professor of the Practice of Public Health and Director of the Center for Public Health Leadership 
Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health

December 9, 2013 - On December 2, 2013 NYAM welcomed Dr. John E. McDonough, one of the leading experts on health care reform in the United States, to deliver the 2013 Duncan Clark Lecture at NYAM on “The Affordable Care Act on the Verge of Final Success ... and a Nervous Breakdown.”
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NYAM Report - Federal Health Care Reform in New York State: A Population Health Perspective

The New York Academy of Medicine with support from the New York State Heath Foundation released a new report, Federal Health Care Reform in New York State: A Population Health Perspective.

This report identifies opportunities that build on both the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) and New York’s ongoing efforts toward improving the health of its 19 million residents.

Read press release

Read report

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