Neuroscience in Science Fiction Films

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About the Book

As the gap between science fiction and science fact has narrowed, films that were intended as pure fantasy at the time of their premier have taken on deeper meaning. This volume explores neuroscience in science fiction films, focusing on neuroscience and psychiatry as running themes in SF and finding correlations between turning points in “neuroscience fiction” and advances in the scientific field. The films covered include The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Robocop, The Stepford Wives, The Mind Snatchers and iconic franchises like Terminator, Ironman and Planet of the Apes. Examining the parallel histories of psychiatry, neuroscience and cinema, this book shows how science fiction films offer insightful commentary on the scientific and philosophical developments of their times.

About the Author(s)

Sharon Packer, M.D., is a New York City psychiatrist and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Bibliographic Details

Sharon Packer, M.D.
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 300
Bibliographic Info: 50 photos, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7234-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1800-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgements  ix

Preface  1

Introduction  5

One. Neuroscience Fiction Film in ­Post-Psychoanalytic Society  13

Two. Movies and the Mind (and the Rebirth of the Brain)  22

Three. The Legacy of 19th Century Literature  46

Four. Automatons, Androids, Replicants and RoboCops  61

Five. Human-Ape Brain Exchanges, Darwinian Debates and the “Monkey Gland Man”  80

Six. Sputnik, Space Aliens and Brains from Outer Space  98

Seven. Science Fiction in Social Problem Films  125

Eight. Brain Drains, Brain Chips and Brain Machines  141

Nine. Flashbacks, ­Flash-Forwards and Flash Drives  164

Ten. Memory, Mentation and Medication: Before Birth and After Alzheimer’s  177

Eleven. Dream Scenes: From Silent Cinema to Salvador Dalí to CGI  191

Twelve. Video Games, Virtual Reality and “Reality Testing”  206

Thirteen. Drugs, Dystopias and Utopias  216

Fourteen. Computers, Consciousness and Control  233

Conclusion: Hive Minds, Herds and Jung’s Collective Unconscious  239

Afterword  241

Filmography  245

Chapter Notes  249

Bibliography  259

Index  271


Book Reviews & Awards

“a treasure of interesting information awaits the curious and committed reader!”—Metapsychology Online Reviews; “contributes important new ideas and analyses to the study of brain-centric, neuroscience-focused SF film…interesting and insightful…recommended”—SRFA Review.