From mechanical objectivity to narrative turn: how film has inspired science on trauma

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This essay discusses the relationship between film and psychological trauma from the perspective of the history of science. It examines how the psychological sciences were influenced by image technology, primarily after the two world wars. Taking a closer look at the development of film production and mental imagery experiments as cultural and scientific institutions, this essay examines the challenges psychologists began to face when the paradigm of the trauma film was established in the pursuit of positivist evidence informed by mechanical objectivity. Over the past century, psychological trauma have been explained through the lens of psychiatric sciences and literary critics. However, they were not evenly emphasized and experimental psychology became the mainstream institution to manage trauma in clinical settings. This essay argues that explanations of trauma in the past century have been interdisciplinary. The limitations of trauma-related brain sciences could be ameliorated by re-emphasizing narratives explored in films produced for artistic or moral, rather than scientific, purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-451
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Trauma and Dissociation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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