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Profs and Pints DC presents: “It Came from Within,” a look at the real-life psychological disorders behind some of your favorite movie frights, with Brian A. Sharpless, visiting research fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London, editor of Unusual and Rare Psychological Disorders, and author of the forthcoming book Monsters on the Couch.
Celebrate Halloween with something that will leave you even more rattled by your favorite horror films: A look at real-life psychological conditions connected to movie monsters.
Clinical psychology has a lot to teach us about horror, and horror movies reveal a lot about both psychological distress and some of the fundamental fears that go along with being human. Join Brian Sharpless, a clinical psychologist with a big following among Profs and Pints fans, for talk that will give new meaning to the phrase “It’s all in your mind.”
In a talk that also draws from history, folklore, and film studies, Dr. Sharpless will discuss what clinical psychology and psychiatry have to say about various movie monsters. Starting with those from the golden age of cinema, he’ll discuss famous fiends such as Dracula, and why some people today seek to drink others’ blood. You’ll learn how professionals can detect Renfield’s syndrome in people who try to conceal having it, as well as how real vampires behave differently according to sex.
Moving ahead to more recent films such as The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and It Follows, he’ll talk about the delusional misidentification disorders, surprisingly common in certain elderly populations, which involves the belief that loved ones have been kidnapped and replaced with imposters. You’ll learn about the relationship between sleep paralysis and films such as Mara or Dead Awake, and how movies depicting alien abduction or “shadow people” are tied to psychological conditions.
Finally, Dr. Sharpless will look at what drives certain monstrous behaviors, such as cannibalism. Just in case you might someday be unlucky enough to find yourself in a “survival cannibalism” situation, Dr. Sharpless will give you practical tips for not becoming someone’s next meal.
You’ll end up watching horror movies differently and, perhaps, wondering what might be going on in the heads of people seated in the theater near you. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: An 1810 engraving by Jean-Pierre Simon depicts a vision like those often associated with sleep paralysis (Wellcome Trust / Wikimedia Commons.)