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Profs & Pints: The Horror Within
October 31, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0$2 – $12.
Profs and Pints presents: “The Horror Within,” a look at the real-life psychological disorders behind your favorite movie monsters, with Brian A. Sharpless, clinical psychologist, visiting research fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London, author of Sleep Paralysis, and editor of Unusual and Rare Psychological Disorders.
[Under current District of Columbia regulations attendees will be required to wear a mask except while eating or drinking. The Bier Baron will be requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test from the previous 72 hours for entry. It also will be requiring ticketed event attendees to purchase a minimum of two items, which can be food or beverages, including soft drinks.]
What’s a better than watching a good horror flick on Halloween? However, what happens in real life can be stranger – or even more disturbing – than what happens in the movies. Prepare to learn about what gives rise to your fears as Brian Sharpless – a regular on the Profs & Pints stage – discusses the psychological disorders associated with horror movie monsters.
Some disorders directly inspired movies. For instance, Wes Craven’s classic film A Nightmare on Elm Street was derived from a recognized sleep disorder as well as “sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome.” The latter is just as scary as it sounds and took years of research to understand. You may also find yourself surprised to learn that “Freddy Krueger” bears a strong resemblance to a traditional character from Laotian folklore.
With other characters in horror films, it’s hard to tell whether life inspired art or art inspired life. Consider tales about Dracula and other vampires. Although most filmgoers are familiar with the Eastern European folklore, many do not realize that there is a corresponding psychological condition called “clinical vampirism” or “Renfield’s syndrome,” which leaves people feeling the need to feed on human blood and prompted some to resort to murder to quench their bloody thirst.
“Clinical lycanthropy” corresponds to European werewolf beliefs. This is a real and fascinating psychological condition that people still suffer from today. You will see the many ways that Hollywood doesn’t always go along with folklore.
Further, our modern zombie is very different from the famous figure of Haitian legend. The latter is far more tragic, and more in line with sufferers of “Cotard’s syndrome” who believe themselves to be walking corpses rotting from the inside.
Attendees may very well be shocked to learn how many famous movies (e.g., Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Goodnight Mommy, The Thing) incorporate symptoms of the “delusional misidentification syndromes.” Sufferers of one subtype, “Capgras,” believe that the important people in their life are not actually real, but instead are identical-looking imposters. They may even believe that the “real” people are dead or have been kidnapped.
Last, but not least, Dr. Sharpless will briefly discuss a common horror movie behavior not often spoken of in polite society: necrophilia. Interestingly, necrophilia has found its way into many comedy movies and has been written about in many ancient and modern cultures.
The talk will not only summarize the scientific and treatment literatures for these horror-related disorders but will also place them in broader historical and cultural contexts. You’ll end up looking at horror movies differently and, perhaps, wondering about that person you see staring that the moon or ordering their beef extra rare. (Advance tickets: $12. Doors: $15, or $13 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in.)