02-21-13 Levers and Sherman

Center for Interpretive and Qualitative Research
(CIQR, "seeker" - http://www.duq.edu/ciqr )*


NEXT MEETING: Thursday, February 21, 2013, 4:30-6:00 p.m., College Hall #207 (Berger Gallery), Duquesne University.

Title: Depictions of Psychiatric Disorders in 80 Years of Hollywood Films

Presenters: Lisa Lopez Levers, Ph.D. and Catherine Sherman, Ph.D.

Presenter Bios

Levers: Dr. Lisa Lopez Levers is a Professor of Counselor Education and Supervision in the School of Education at Duquesne University and recently was appointed as the Francis Philben, C.S.Sp., Endowed Chair in African Studies. Prior to her work in academia, she worked for 15 years in the community mental health and private practice sectors, with a clinical emphasis on trauma recovery, the impact of violence, and psychiatric disabilities. She has worked internationally and was awarded as a Fulbright Scholar (2003-2004), working at the University of Botswana. Her scholarly projects involve exploring the lived experiences of marginalized populations. Dr. Levers has published in numerous peer-reviewed national and international professional journals and authored a number of chapters for scholarly books. Her edited textbook, Trauma Counseling: Theories and Interventions, which represents the spectrum of trauma issues pertinent to counseling survivors of trauma and emphasizing trauma-informed care, was published in March 2012. Dr. Levers currently is working with colleagues in Africa to initiate a university-based Centre for Trauma Counselling and Healing.

Sherman: Dr. Catherine Sherman is the Assistant Dean for Academic Advising in the Office of Academic Affairs at Washington & Jefferson College. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision at Duquesne University. Her dissertation, "Depictions of Mental Disorder in Mainstream American Film from 1988-2010" was the School of Education's nominee for an Annual Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Social Sciences. Dr. Sherman's scholarly presentations and publications have focused on aspects of confidentiality and the law, teaching in a first-year seminar, and mental illness depiction in the media. She is a contributing author in Counseling Ethics: Philosophical and Professional Foundations (2012). Dr. Sherman, who holds an M.Ed. in Counselor Education from the University of Virginia and an M.F.A. in Writing and Literature from Bennington College, is also a published poet.


This presentation reviews long-held cultural stereotypes of, and iconography associated with, persons who have psychiatric disabilities as depicted in Hollywood films. Scholars have asserted that film is one of the most powerful and pervasive forms of media in today's society. The media, our modern-day storytellers, depict and shape viewers' social attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs about the world and the people within it. Following the work of art historian Sander Gilman, the researchers have identified an "iconography of madness" in Hollywood films, from the earliest sound films to the most contemporary movies. They also explicate stereotypes and positive portrayals of mental disorder in film, based on earlier disability-related media research. Specifically, the researchers employed qualitative methodologies, including the unobtrusive measures of observation, ethnographic content analysis, and filmographies, to uncover stereotypes, positive portrayals, and visual representation of psychiatric disability in eighty years of mainstream American film. After a brief overview of the methodologies, the researchers will show and discuss illustrative film clips and conclude by discussing the results from their investigations.

All interested faculty, graduate students, and other parties are invited.

For inquiries concerning CIQR, please contact the Center Coordinator, Fred Evans, Dept. of Philosophy, evansf@duq.edu, 396-6507, or access the CIQR website, http://www.duq.edu/ciqr/

*The Center has been officially approved by the Dean of the College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, The Graduate Council of the College, and the Council of Deans for the University. It is based in the College but open to members of all the schools of the University. It includes interpretive and qualitative research in both the humanities and the social and behavioral sciences (including the practice of the latter in Nursing, Education, Occupational Therapy and other professional schools).