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Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME)

New Publication: Tobias Eichinger published "Psychotherapy Ethics in Film"

Tobias Eichinger published "Psychotherapy Ethics in Film"
in The Oxford Handbook of Psychotherapy Ethics, Edited by Manuel Trachsel, Jens Gaab, Nikola Biller-Andorno, Şerife Tekin, and John Z. Sadler
Online Publication Date: Oct 2020

Cinematic depictions of psychotherapy and its practitioners have been very popular since the beginning of film history. Most of these portrayals are not realistic or commendable, but rather obey the laws of film narration, entertainment, and pleasure of spectatorship. Regarding psychotherapy ethics, the quartet of stereotypical images of the crazy (“Dr. Dippy”), the bad (“Dr. Evil”), the good (“Dr. Wonderful”), and the sexually suggestive (“Dr. Horny”) therapist refers to the ethical requirements of the profession and constitutes an index of ethical misconduct. Nevertheless, cinematic depictions of psychotherapeutic work may serve as an ideal tool for teaching psychotherapy ethics, where learning objectives as developing moral sensitivity, the competence to identify, articulate, reflect upon, and handle the moral dimensions and questions arising from therapeutic work, may be targeted very well, especially in view of not so ideal filmic examples.