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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

NYAM Report - Resilient Communities: Empowering Older Adults in Disasters in Daily Life

Drawing on the lessons of Superstorm Sandy, a new report from The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM), “Resilient Communities: Empowering Older Adults in Disasters and Daily Life,” presents an innovative set of recommendations to strengthen and connect formal and informal support systems to keep older adults safe during future disasters.

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NYAM Report - Achieving the Triple Aim in New York State: The Potential Role of Hospital Community Benefit

A new issue brief from NYAM, “Achieving the Triple Aim in New York State: the Potential Role of Hospital Community Benefit,” is the first in a series related to promoting a better understanding of Community Benefit in New York State and how it can advance population health.

NYAM commissioned an analysis of hospital community benefit investments by New York State hospitals. The new issue brief analyzes the reported expenditures of NYS hospitals in the categories of the IRS Schedule H report.

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