Monsters on the Couch: The Real Psychological Disorders Behind Your Favorite Horror Movies

Chicago Review. Oct. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781641607919. pap. $19.99. FILM
Trading silver bullets and wooden stakes for antipsychotics and psychotherapy, psychologist Sharpless (Psychodynamic Therapy Techniques) analyzes classic movie monsters (and other cinematic menaces) and matches them to real-life psychological conditions and their treatments. Enter in Renfield’s syndrome, for example, as well as clinical zoanthropy, delusional misidentification syndromes, and more. The book also explores the folkloric and literary origins of monsters and explains why ancient evils resonate with modern audiences. The result is a fascinating book that reveals Freddy Krueger’s connection to Asian folklore, how a sleep disorder can feel like an alien abduction, and why some people think they are the walking dead. Sharpless draws from extensive research, but his science writing is geared toward a general audience. He also lightens some of the heavier sections with self-deprecating anecdotes and humorous asides. The author’s knowledge of horror films allows him to ably discuss a wide variety of titles and offer recommendations.
VERDICT From its deeper dives into classic horror archetypes to its spotlights on niche neurological disorders, this book will likely appeal to a variety of readers.
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