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Farmington Hills: 248 851-3380 |  Ann Arbor: 734 213-3399

Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society


Reel Deal I - Birdman and Whiplash

When ambition and ruthlessness impel the performing arts


Sunday, Sept 27

1-3 pm
Bloomfield Township Library
1099 Lone Pine Road (corner of Telegraph & Lone Pine Road)

Join us for a lively discussion. Film clips will be shown.

Featured Speakers:
From a music performance perspective: Brian Murphy, Ph.D.
From a psychoanalytic perspective: Loretta Polish, Ph.D.
From the Director’s Chair: Diane Geiger TenHoopen

Exploring how the drive to achieve exceptional artistic performance unleashes passions characterized by desperation and obsession, the Reel Deal Fall program highlights two 2014 acclaimed films, Birdman and Whiplash. Taking their place in a panoply of films from All About Eve to Tootsie both films portray the fine line between ambition and ruthlessness that informs not only the performing arts but is mirrored in our current zeitgeist.

“Do not go to Birdman to relax ..... Birdman, all two hours of it, unrolls—or appears to unroll—in a single take, with sequences spliced together so cunningly that we cannot see the joins.”

“Whiplash ..... is insane; or, rather, it’s about driving yourself to the crumbling brink of insanity, and to hell with everyone else.” Actor J.K.Simmons, who received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in his role as music instructor Fletcher, “... is clad in black, like a gravedigger. He likes to cut off the band, after a couple of bars, not with a swipe of the hand but with a shudder of his clenched fist. He thinks nothing of telling a student to show up at six in the morning, although rehearsal starts at nine. And God preserve you if you’re off the note, or dragging behind the beat.” - Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

Practice Gap: Psychotherapists may be unaware of the extent to which the current cultural emphasis on competition generally, and the drive to achieve exceptional artistic performance specifically, can contribute to pathological narcissism, aggression and ruthlessness.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:
1. Articulate how the current cultural emphasis on competition, and the drive to achieve exceptional artistic performance, impacts pathological narcissism, aggression and ruthlessness.
2. Examine and evaluate cultural impacts on narcissism, aggression and potentially unhealthy manifestations in the desire for achievement.
3. Apply the insights gained from the program to make culturally informed inferences and, as a consequence, formulate alternative interpretations in their work with patients.