Thursday, February 28, 2013

Letters from a Stoic

“You should be extending your stay among writers whose genius is unquestionable, deriving constant nourishment from them if you wish to gain anything from your reading that will find a lasting place in your mind. To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”

Or, as Henry David Thoreau said, “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."

Today's recommendation is Seneca's Letters from a Stoic. The title is a bit off-putting, I admit, but you will be surprised at how accessible the book is, and how useful. The book consists of a series of letters from Seneca to a younger colleague, so the tone is informal, friendly, offering guidance and advice, not lectures or abstract discourses. In Seneca's time, philosophy was presumed to be practical -- a guide to help one lead a good life (and, by the way, die a good death).

More quotes are below the cover image, to give a sense of the book. The Robin Campbell translation from the Latin is the standard, by the way, seemingly for good reason. As a general rule, when choosing from among various translation options, it is best to read a few pages from each version (e.g., The Iliad translated by Fagles, Lattimore, or Lombroso) and see which one you would prefer to continue reading.

“In a single day there lies open to men of learning more than there ever does to the unenlightened in the longest of lifetimes.”

“No one is so ignorant as not to know that some day he must die. Nevertheless when death draws near he turns, wailing and trembling, looking for a way out. Wouldn’t you think a man an utter fool if he burst into tears because he didn’t live a thousand years ago? A man is as much a fool for shedding tears because he isn’t going to be alive a thousand years from now.”

"Make yourself everyday a better man."

"Avoid shabby attire, long hair, an unkempt beard...and all other misguided means of self-advertisement."

"No one confines his unhappiness to the present." (i.e., we are tormented by foresight and memory)

"It is in the times of security that the spirit should be preparing itself to deal with difficult times."

"God is near you, is with you, is inside you...there resides within us a divine spirit, which guards us and watches us in the evil and the good that we do."

"Treat your inferiors as you would have your superiors treat you."

Philosophers are "called in to help the unhappy."

"Every life without exception is a short one."

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, statesman, philosopher, advocate and man of letters, was born at Cordoba in Spain around 4 BC. He rose to prominence in Rome, pursuing a career in the courts and political life, for which he had been trained, while also acquiring celebrity as an author of tragedies and essays. Falling foul of successive emperors (Caligula in AD 39 and Claudius in AD 41), he spent eight years in exile, allegedly for an affair with Caligula’s sister. Recalled in AD 49, he was made praetor and was appointed tutor to the boy who was to become, in AD 54, the emperor Nero. On Nero’s succession, Seneca acted for some eight years as an unofficial chief minister. The early part of this reign was remembered as a period of sound government, for which the main credit seems due to Seneca. His control over Nero declined as enemies turned the emperor against him with representations that his popularity made him a danger, or with accusations of immorality or excessive wealth. Retiring from public life he devoted his last three years to philosophy and writing, particularly the Letters to Lucilius. In AD 65 following the discovery of a plot against the emperor, in which he was thought to be implicated, he and many others were compelled by Nero to commit suicide. His fame as an essayist and dramatist lasted until two or three centuries ago, when he passed into literary oblivion, from which the twentieth century has seen a considerable recovery.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Edvard Munch

Two women on the shore (1898)

Edvard Munch, Norwegian painter and printmaker.

Born: December 12, 1863
Died: January 23, 1944

Evening on Karl Johan Strasse (1892)

"A Norwegian born expressionist painter, Edvard Munch lived a tumultuous life, which was represented in his paintings. As a child, he was often ill in the winter, and kept out of school. To pass the time, he spent his days drawing. He also had a troubled childhood, as his mother died of tuberculosis after the birth of his youngest sister, and his favorite sister died of the same illness nine years later. His father was also a bit of a religious fanatic, who would read Edvard and his sisters ghost stories and the stories of Edgar Allen Poe. The vivid ghastly tales, combined with his poor health, the young Munch was plagued by nightmares and paranoid visions of death, which he would later incorporate into his artwork."

The Murderer (1910)

"In his teens, he moved from drawing and dabbling with watercolors to painting with oils, and he only spent one year in technical college before he left to follow his dream of being a painter. His early paintings brought much unfavorable criticism, and his father rebuked him for his artworks, but continued to give him a living allowance. Later, unhappy with Munch’s paintings, he destroyed one of his nudes, and refused to grant him any more money for his art supplies.

Munch lived much of his life in a nihilistic, bohemian lifestyle, in which binge drinking and brawling were the favorite pastimes, to his father’s constant disapproval. After his father’s death, which left the Munch family destitute, Munch, felt that everyone around him had died, and was plagued by suicidal thoughts. His personal tragedies and psychological idiosyncrasies evolved into a symbolic art form that expressed more internal emotion and feeling than projected an image of outside reality. He often refused to sell his paintings, calling them his children, and so would create reproductions of them to sell."

Friedrich Nietzsche (1906)
"His critical reception improved by the 1890s, and the attendance to his exhibitions increased, although reviews remained bleak. In 1898, he began a relationship with Tulla Larsen, who wanted to get married. Munch, fearing marriage as much as sexual relationships, fled Tulla a year later. In a later reconciliation attempt, there was an argument in which a gun went off, injuring two of Munch’s fingers. He never married.
In 1908, Munch had an acute break with reality, seeing hallucinations and suffering feelings of persecution, as if he was on the brink of insanity. He began therapy, including a controlled diet and electrification, which stabilized his personality. Thus began a more financially and professionally successful phase in his life, where he received many commissions and was able to provide well for his family. He spent the last two decades of his life in relative isolation, painting at one of his many estates. Today his legacy, once smeared with rumors that he was a Nazi sympathizer, includes many robberies of his works, high prices at auction, and his face now being featured on the Norwegian currency."

Edvard Munch (1863-1944)

The text of this post was lifted from Wikipaintings, which I encourage you to explore.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Story of Psychology

I recently read a review of The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics, which was hailed as a pre-requisite text for high school graduates interested in studying physics in college. Does psychology have an equivalent text? Is there a book you could read that will help you get more out of your undergraduate psychology courses? To put it empirically, and pragmatically, is there a book you could read that would increase your grades in psychology courses?

One candidate is The Story of Psychology by Morton Hunt. There is a lot to recommend this book, first and foremost that it is a gracefully written narrative, not a textbook. This is important because Hunt tells his stories well and makes them meaningful, and homo sapiens remember meaningful stories a lot better than they do lists of "key terms."

Hunt starts at the beginning, grounding the history of psychology with the history of philosophy. Becoming conversant with Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle is a duty of aspiring psychologists, I believe, and too many programs neglect this aspect of psychology training. The chapter on Sigmund Freud ("Explorer of the Depths") is fair but not fawning; most of all, it is exciting. There is a great chapter on William James, the oft-neglected prince of American psychologists (if you want a preview of the book, this chapter is available here). Here also pays attention to the contributions of Francis Galton, another seriously neglected genius.

I haven't read the "revised and updated" 2nd edition (2007), but I don't suppose it is terribly different from the 1993 edition I own (see cover below). Hunt will have had to grapple with behavioral genetics (which wasn't even a topic of consideration back in the 90s). In any case, I would strongly recommend any psychology major (or other interested person) to purchase and read this book (and several chapters more than once) as early as possible in his or her academic career. I cannot guarantee that it will help, but it is very unlikely that it will hurt.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Working Memory Training

I was asked in Intro Psych the other day if working memory training actually worked, and I had to defer my response because I didn't know. I did say that I had never recommended such a program to a patient with ADHD because 1) they cost money, and 2) I don't know that they work. I would add, 3) they seem incredibly tedious. I had seen products and programs which make claims in that direction, and which cite research (usually their own) that purports to establish its efficacy. But, with very nearly perfect timing, here is the fullest possible answer from the journal Developmental Psychology(Melby-Lervag & Hulme, 2013). From the abstract:

"Meta-analyses indicated that the programs produced reliable short-term improvements in working memory skills. For verbal working memory, these near-transfer effects were not sustained at follow-up, whereas for visuospatial working memory, limited evidence suggested that such effects might be maintained. More importantly, there was no convincing evidence of the generalization of working memory training to other skills (nonverbal and verbal ability, inhibitory processes in attention, word decoding, and arithmetic). The authors conclude that memory training programs appear to produce short-term, specific training effects that do not generalize."

So spending a few hours practicing memorizing and repeating increasingly longer chains of random digits will probably improve your ability to memorize and repeat chains of digits, at least for a while. But that improvement, such as it is, won't translate into any useful gains in any other tasks requiring working memory.

An article from Wired magazine in 2008 fueled the hype machine on this sort of stuff. Claims to increase IQ should make any reasonable person skeptical, but most of us seem to be willing to suspend disbelief on this issue because we all secretly want to be as smart as we pretend to be. If you really need to try the dual n-back working memory training, here is a site that doesn't look like a blatant scam.

This seems like a good opportunity to recommend Neuroskeptic, a particularly reliable blog on matters neurosciency, psychiatric, psychological, etc. The author has a good sense of humor and probably knows as much as anyone about the problems intrinsic to brain imaging (e.g., fMRI) studies. The mysterious author of Neuroskeptic appears to be a British brain imaging researcher. He also reports being a long-time sufferer of clinical depression, managed with antidepressants. If you spend some time browsing through his blogpost archives, you can't help but to learn a lot.

Anyway, Neuroskeptic recently criticized a fellow for "profiteering from anxiety" for offering for sale an online anxiety retraining program. Part of the criticism is that the training program wasn't entirely original, so there's that. But I have no problem with anyone making a profit selling a product or service that alleviates anxiety (as long as it works). And neither does the pharmaceutical industry, or the alcohol industry. If a psychologist develops a web-training that actually alleviates the suffering associated with a mental health problem, I utterly fail to see a problem with monetizing that innovation.

Now here's a program that I have recommended, and that my patients seem to benefit from: If you know anyone suffering from insomnia and want to make them indebted to you for life, treat them to the $34.95 price of the program. From the website:

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  • Includes weekly individualized guidelines and feedback from Dr. Jacobs on CBT sleep techniques.

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Key Features of the online CONQUERING INSOMNIA program …

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  • No other CBT for insomnia program provides weekly personalized feedback and CBT guidelines directly from a recognized CBT for insomnia sleep expert, contains techniques for reducing sleep medications, and offers a simple, easy-to-use format for a nominal price of $34.95.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Mower -- Philip Larkin

The Mower

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
Philip Larkin (1922–1985)
People who know far more about it than me, say that this is the best collection of his poems (Anthony Thwaite, editor; 1989):
Collected Poems Philip Larkin (ISBN10: 0374522758; ISBN13: 9780374522759)
And here's another by Mr. Larkin, Poetry of Departures, read by the poet.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Nothing for a man to do but sit around and think."

For a Saturday post, I think a music video might be altogether fitting and proper. The song's a bit dark, you might say, but if you are interested in forensic psychology, you had ought to accustom yourself to examining the motives of apparently "motiveless malignity." [For the supreme example, read this.] This amateur video was made by an extraordinarily talented fan of the Violent Femmes, who warn us of the hazards of the contemplative life:

Contemplation doesn't always have to end badly, of course, as shown by the saga of Larry ("A man can't just sit around") Walters (except that it eventually did end badly, for Mr. Walters).

Finally, here's a friendly warning about your interest in forensic psychology:

He who fights monsters should take care that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.

That's Friedrich Nietzsche, of course (Beyond Good and Evil, 1886, Aphorism 146). If you haven't had the pleasure of his company, this book can't be beat, for both selection and value. And if you liked the Femmes, this is their best album (1983):

Friday, February 22, 2013

Charles Murray

“Tact and diplomacy are fine in international relations, in politics, perhaps even in business; in science only one thing matters, and that is the facts…. If the truth contradicts deeply held beliefs, that is too bad.”
Hans Eysenck (1916-1997)

I have been thinking about the books that I read as an undergraduate that I found particularly thought-provoking, enlightening, entertaining, or inspiring. Oh, or disturbing -- disturbing is good.

A lot of people were disturbed by The Bell Curve when it appeared in 1994. Central to the furor was that the authors, Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, had the bad taste to note, as part of some general truth-telling about intelligence, some things that are still best not spoken of above a whisper. The fact that the book wasn't subject to public bonfires, or that the authors themselves were not subject to the agony of auto-de-fe, is rather remarkable, given that publication coincided with the the emotional climax of the Politically Correct era. (I think the Monica Lewinsky hubbub eventually helped calm people down a bit -- it was hard to be too moralistic in that climate.)

 "Burn, you g-factor hereditarians!"

The controversy around the book was such that a group of intelligence researchers felt compelled to create and endorse a collective statement so that public discussion of the topic might occasionally touch upon an actual fact. (It didn't work.) The statement was signed by the best and the brightest in the business, doesn't include anything controversial from a scientific point-of-view, and essentially confirms that The Bell Curve has its facts straight. The statement is well worth reading (just search for Mainstream Science on Intelligence and you will find a pdf; the primary author is Linda Gottfredson). A year or so later, the American Psychological Association published an article titled Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns that reviewed the scientific literature and said basically the same things as the Mainstream statement.

What's interesting is that getting all hot and bothered about certain facts presented in The Bell Curve caused the critics to neglect the authors' main thesis, which was the increasing cognitive stratification in American society, which they provocatively labelled the emergence of the Cognitive Elite. The authors present a thought experiment, asking their readers to think about their 12 closest friends or colleagues. They note that the odds that even half of any 12 randomly selected Americans have (or soon will have, in the case of undergraduates) college degrees is about 99.4% against (i.e., it will happen only 6 out of 1,000 times). The odds that half or more of any 12 randomly selected Americans have (or eventually will have) advanced degrees is about a million to one. Who are your closest friends or colleagues?

The Bell Curve is fun to read in part because the authors cleverly invite you to think of yourself as a member of the Cognitive Elite (signalled by your reading the book!). It is well written and contains very useful explanations of the normal distribution curve, standard deviations, correlational statistics and their interpretation, etc. that any undergraduate would benefit from. Just don't let your professors see you reading it or else you might get labelled a reactionary deviant with a penchant for eating welfare babies.

Anyway, it says a lot about the lack of free discourse in this country when you cannot even present scientific facts without risk of torture and excommunication. I refer you to these modern witch hunting cases: 1) Dr. James Watson (yeah, the guy who discovered the double helix structure of DNA); and, 2) Dr. Larry Summers (former President of Harvard University). [These slides from Steven Pinker are informative with regard to the Summers debacle.]

Charles Murray soldiers on, most recently taking on President Obama's assertions regarding the scientific evidence supporting Pre-K education programs. The entire article is worth reading. Here is an excerpt (with emphases added):

"So what should we make of all this? The take-away from the story of early childhood education is that the very best programs probably do a modest amount of good in the long run, while the early education program that can feasibly be deployed on a national scale, Head Start, has never proved long-term results in half a century of existence. In the most rigorous evaluation ever conducted, Head Start doesn’t show results that persist even until the third grade.


Is there anything that money can buy for these children? I am sure that Head Start buys some of them a few hours a day in a safer, warmer and more nurturing environment than the one they have at home. Whenever that’s true, I don’t care about long-term outcomes. Accomplishing just that much is a good in itself. But how often is it true? To what extent does Head Start systematically fail to serve the children who need those few hours of refuge the most?

Asking those questions forces us to confront a reality that politicians and other opinion leaders have ducked for decades: America has far too many children born to men and women who do not provide safe, warm and nurturing environments for their offspring -- not because there’s no money to be found for food, clothing and shelter, but because they are not committed to fulfilling the obligations that child-bearing brings with it.

This head-in-the-sand attitude has to change. If we don’t know how to substitute for absent, uncaring or incompetent parenting with outside interventions, then we have to think about how we increase the odds that children are born to present, caring and competent parents."

End excerpt

Most of Murray's books in recent years seem to have grown out of his op-ed articles, or to have been adequately condensed in articles like this. You might wish to read the article, and then decide if you want to read the associated book (Coming Apart, in this case). His book Real Education grew out of this, and this, and this. The best thing is that you don't have to share his libertarian views in order to benefit from exposure to his work. His writing is clear, well argued, and, to my mind, the public policy proposals he suggests are arrived at honestly.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cultural Literacy

The intent of this blog is to serve as a resource for undergraduates in psychology who are interested in graduate study (and for those already in doctoral training, or even those who are in the field) and who would like to explore more than is typically found on the Required Reading list on a course syllabus. I taught a Forensic psychology course a couple of years ago and I gradually realized that my references to Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver (1976) were not striking home as I anticipated (we were studying stalking and political assassination). The reason for this became painfully evident-- the vast majority of the class had never seen the movie, and many of them had never even heard of it.

The question to consider is: How much can you know about a subject without possession of prerequisite cultural background knowledge? Could you possibly understand John Hinckley's attempted assassination of President Reagan without have seen Taxi Driver? What other books or films or poems or historical figures do you need to be familiar with in order to be a first-rate clinical psychologist?

E.D. Hirsch has devoted much of his professional life to promulgating the centrality of "cultural literacy" in learning, and I find his arguments (and his data) quite compelling. At the risk of wildly distorting his views, I would offer this summary: You can't become a good reader if you don't have the prerequisite background knowledge about your culture. Being able to decode a passage on the financial world is futile unless you already know what a stock market is, the difference between bulls and bears, and the relationship between supply and demand. American schools think they are teaching literacy, but reading comprehension involves background knowledge, and imparting this knowledge is not made a priority. Indeed, the idea of core knowledge is disparaged (I suppose in preference to the view that it doesn't matter what you learn, only that you "learn how to learn").

I believe that the cultural literacy argument holds for the advanced study of clinical psychology. The ideal clinical psychologist should be a broadly educated person with a wide range of interests, both intellectual and "worldly." Diligent, engaged, enthusiastic reading is the surest path to this education. (The right movies can help, too.) An aspiring clinical psychologist should read at least an hour a day, preferably two hours. This doesn't include assigned reading for class. You should read every day. You should quit reading crap (this blog will steer in the right direction). You should keep a reading journal, in which you record what you read that day, how long you read, and what you learned from your reading.

And instead of going to see Fast and Furious, Part 6 (seriously?), you should watch something like Taxi Driver, Lawrence of Arabia, or Bridge on the River Kwai. Even Black Swan (with Natalie Portman, who has a psychology degree from Harvard) or Girl, Interrupted (with Winona Ryder, who apparently is a bit of a kleptomaniac) will deepen your understanding of clinical psychology and human behavior much more than the typical entertainment that most people mindlessly consume. Black Swan, by the way, was a great depiction of what it must be like to gradually go insane. It reminded me of the under-appreciated mind-bender, Jacob's Ladder.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a safe and tremendously effective intervention for severe major depressive disorder. It is terribly under-utilized in the United States (well, in most countries, actually), resulting in needless suffering and deaths by suicide. A whole generation of psychiatrists opted not to receive training in the technique, which was introduced in 1938 by Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini at the University of Rome, in part because of this scene from the Oscar-winning film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975):

Nothing against the movie, by the way, which you should watch if you are interested in the field (it is just $4.99 on Amazon). The book by Ken Kesey is a must read.

Video clips such as these, which are often included in Instructors' Media DVDs that accompany Abnormal Psychology textbooks, don't help (the action starts around 1:06 -- seizure-inducing electrical shock without muscle relaxants):

The following clip is far more representative of "modern" ECT. I remember it made a big impression on me in grad school. "Mary" is an excellent case study in psychotic depression, the condition for which ECT is most effective. After observing my first "live" ECT, the attending psychiatrist asked for my impressions: "Uh...pretty boring, actually." "Exactly!" he replied. Psychiatrist, surgeon, pilot, etc. -- always opt for boring versus the alternative.

Shock Therapy by Edward Shorter and David Healy is excellent, and is probably the most authoritative word on the history of the convulsive therapies (there's insulin shock, as seen in A Beautiful Mind, and Metrazol shock as well). The book might be a bit more than the typical undergraduate psych major is looking for, but, as Lincoln said, "People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like."

 And finally, here's Sherwin Nuland, MD speaking about his personal experience with ECT:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Annual Edge Question

Every year The Edge poses a single question to a variety of intellectually influential folks. The question for 2013 was, "What should we be worried about?" Many of the responses are thought-provoking, and it is time well spent (or at least better spent than many alternatives) to browse the responses to this question and the questions from prior years.

The lead-off response from evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller is closest to my own concerns, as anyone who has taken a course with me in the past few years would know. His response is Chinese Eugenics, and he makes his points well. An excerpt:

"China has been running the world's largest and most successful eugenics program for more than thirty years, driving China's ever-faster rise as the global superpower. I worry that this poses some existential threat to Western civilization. Yet the most likely result is that America and Europe linger around a few hundred more years as also-rans on the world-historical stage, nursing our anti-hereditarian political correctness to the bitter end.
But then Deng Xiaoping took power after Mao's death. Deng had long understood that China would succeed only if the Communist Party shifted its attention from economic policy to population policy. He liberalized markets, but implemented the one-child policy —partly to curtail China's population explosion, but also to reduce dysgenic fertility among rural peasants. Throughout the 1980s, Chinese propaganda urges couples to have children "later, longer, fewer, better"—at a later age, with a longer interval between birth, resulting in fewer children of higher quality. With the 1995 Maternal and Infant Health Law (known as the Eugenic Law until Western opposition forced a name change), China forbade people carrying heritable mental or physical disorders from marrying, and promoted mass prenatal ultrasound testing for birth defects. Deng also encouraged assortative mating through promoting urbanization and higher education, so bright, hard-working young people could meet each other more easily, increasing the proportion of children who would be at the upper extremes of intelligence and conscientiousness.
Chinese eugenics will quickly become even more effective, given its massive investment in genomic research on human mental and physical traits. BGI-Shenzhen employs more than 4,000 researchers. It has far more "next-generation" DNA sequencers that anywhere else in the world, and is sequencing more than 50,000 genomes per year. It recently acquired the California firm Complete Genomics to become a major rival to Illumina.
The BGI Cognitive Genomics Project is currently doing whole-genome sequencing of 1,000 very-high-IQ people around the world, hunting for sets of sets of IQ-predicting alleles. I know because I recently contributed my DNA to the project, not fully understanding the implications. These IQ gene-sets will be found eventually—but will probably be used mostly in China, for China. Potentially, the results would allow all Chinese couples to maximize the intelligence of their offspring by selecting among their own fertilized eggs for the one or two that include the highest likelihood of the highest intelligence. Given the Mendelian genetic lottery, the kids produced by any one couple typically differ by 5 to 15 IQ points. So this method of "preimplantation embryo selection" might allow IQ within every Chinese family to increase by 5 to 15 IQ points per generation. After a couple of generations, it would be game over for Western global competitiveness."

[End excerpt]

For a particularly effective (and disarming) explanation of the BGI project, see the video of the talk at Google given by Steve Hsu in 2011. Dr. Hsu's blog, Information Processing, is also worth checking out regularly, even when he is writing about theoretical physics and theoretical physicists. For example, the blog is where I first saw this video of Edward Teller (father of the hydrogen bomb) reminiscing about fellow physicist John von Neumann. Teller's observation that "for most people, thinking is painful" can be quite useful in understanding the behaviors of those around us. Teller notes that some people are "addicted" to thinking and some find it a "necessity." However, every once in a while there comes along someone for whom thinking is a pleasure, even the greatest pleasure.

A Dangerous Method

Just viewed for the second time David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method (2011). The film brings the era alive in a way that texts cannot (although the book from which the film is drawn seems worth reading). The Oedipal tension between Freud and Jung is extraordinarily well done. Both men are portrayed as the flawed geniuses they were and their skills as psychologists are well displayed. We even get to witness an administration of Jung's Word Association Test (and learn why one should never administer a psychological test to one's spouse).

Vincent Cassell plays Otto Gross, who I admit I had never heard of before but who apparently was quite an interesting fellow. Keira Knightly is very convincing as Jung's disturbed young patient, Sabrina Spielrein. It is interesting to consider to what extent the victimized Sabrina is also a manipulative "danger to others."

After discovering a movie that I like, I have found it very useful to "follow the director" as a guide of what to watch next. But if you liked A Dangerous Method, be aware that David Cronenburg's sobriquet is the "King of Venereal Horror" (I'm guessing from the Jeremy Irons "mad identical twin gynecologists" movie, Dead Ringers). The Fly included some of the most revolting scenes I have ever witnessed. Naked Lunch doesn't exactly have "mass appeal" (although it does have the late, great Roy Scheider). But I recall History of Violence as being good, with an excellent cameo by William Hurt. I will probably try to see Eastern Promises sometime soon.