Movies Psychological: Wizard of Oz, 1939. Intense scenes and characters of neighbors who became enemies can be confusing to children, especially those who do not have stable emotional or family attachments. (Neubauer, P., Ph.D.)
History of the development of films and movies in the United States
Films and movies as a way of life first were first to be developed in the United States around the turn of the century. The first movie, from Thomas Edison studios in New Jersey was in 1896. Previous to that photograph had been created through technology developed through the 1800s.
Additionally, history indicates that prior to the development of photography and movies, and before baseball became a popular sport in the United States, the "national pastime," which became "the national pastime, during and after the civil war, drawing was a way of life for most children and young adults.
The average child and teen during the early to mid-1800s had a skill in drawing which was close to being professional by today's standards. Because you couldn't yet take a photograph and because there were so few serious distractions, pianos in the parlor and drawing were very common in the United States and elsewhere.
Because through photography, you can produce a lifelike replica, as its commercial appeal grew, it displaced drawing as a pastime. Movies furthered that trend, and baseball filled up the free-time of millions of children, fathers and adolescents, that used to be spent in drawing or, especially for females, learning to play piano.
Movies began to develop as a genuine medium of communication between 1893 and 1896. The first American film to be displayed in the United States to the public was by Thomas Edison in 1896. The content of this early film When we think of the year 1896, quaint Victorian imagery comes to our minds. However, Thomas Edison in Orange, New Jersey, came up with a subject, based on a play, which shocked America.
The Widow's Kiss
featured the first passionate kiss ever seen on screen. They kissed, and kissed, and kissed.... Nothing like that had ever been seen before by audiences.
At first there was protest. However, the passionate kiss remained a part of films from that early date in 1896, through the Silent Films and into the Hollywood era, on until today.
Passionate kissing in film, such as in Dances With Wolves
, My Big Fat Greek Wedding
, even children-oriented movies like Big
, with Tom Hanks, are accepted as a normal part of family entertainment. The protestors of 1896 quieted and the passionate kiss remained a Hollywood standard.
Movie History: First Movie With a Plot - Violence in Movies - Horror Movies
The first movie with a plot was in 1903, The Great Train Robbery, which, true to its theme, included robbery, and in the end a bloody massacre. It is considered to be the root of violent movies in the 20th century.
From 1897 through 1914, thousands of movies were produced. The first horror movies began to appear during this time period. Horror movies are described as "unsettling" movies, movies that endeavor to elicit response of fear, disgust, repugnance and horror from the viewer. Darkness is the backdrop and terror the emotion of choice.
Dracula, and Dracula-like characters, was the first horror figure to develop in cinema. Frankenstein, a novel from Mary Shelly in 1818, became the first Frankenstein movie produced by Edison Studios in the Bronx, New York in 1910. The Silent era saw several adaptations of this theme, including Life Without Soul, a sequel by Edison Studios. The most famous adaptation of the film was in 1931 by Universal Studios and Boris Karloff as the monster. In the 1930s and 40s there were approximately eight Frankenstein-themed movies, and from 1957 to 1974 seven. Movies revolving around the theme of the Frankenstein monster appear in children's cartoons, films, comedies and parodies until this day.
The first actual horror movie, however, was in 1896, a two-minute vampire flick that audiences loved, directed by French magician Georges Mèliès. It was entitled, Le Manoir du Diable. Mèliès by 1920, he went on to produce 500 films, many of them giving audiences a glimpse of the world of devils, demons and the macabre. Horror movies, then are as old as movies themselves, 1896 marking the approximate year when movies began to be shown to the public in general.
One of the other famous early horror movies was produced prior to World War I in 1913 by German filmmakers, and featured the theme of a Jewish legend and was titled, "Der Golem." A Golem is a solidly built clay man that is created to save the ghetto. However, when his job is accomplished, he refuses to cease existing, and runs amok, eventually to be defeated by a little girl. A sequel was produced in 1920.
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari was an early horror film created in 1919 and which is dubbed "the grandaddy of all horror films" and which depicted puppet humans controlled by a sadistic madman.
The first true vampire movie is Nosferatu
produced in 1922 in Germany, with the grotesque Max Schreck, representing the Count Orlok of Transylvanian history and legend, becomes the most frightening vampire and vampire film to date, curling his long fingernails around the limbs of a series of hapless victims.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1923, starred Lon Chaney, who was the first American horror-film movie star. Universal Studios became the most successful film-company to produce horror movies, and in the 1930s it created the American horror movie genre, with Frankenstein at the forefront (1931), Dracula (1931), and the Mummy (1932).
The 1960s brought a new type of horror movie to the screen, that of reprehensible deeds developed in a menacing plot, with violence and terror. Peeping Tom by Michael Powell, and Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, spawned the psychological thrillers, which became Hitchcock's claim to fame during the 1960s. Hitchcock delighted in building suspense, presenting impossible choices, hiding the true nature of characters, Hitchcock deliberately attempted to capture and twist the mind of the audience, even as he was twisting the mind of his characters.
He successfully hid the true evil nature of well-developed and likable characters, until the last possible moment, created a tension by a technique similar to putting a glass of water in front of a thirsty man, just out his the reach of his fingers, and allowing him to strain to grope for the water, while the audience looks on trying to strain along to help them victim, but unable physically to do so.
The 1970s saw the creation of truly demonic movies such as The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen, preceded by Rosemary's Baby in the 1960s. Jaws in 1975 was a true horror movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, which adults and children could enjoy together, with a happy ending as the monster-shark is finally destroyed against-all-odds by a an average-guy hero. Mainstream Hollywood produced disaster/horror movies in the 1970s such as The Towering Inferno, which proved to be premoniscient to the actual towering inferno on September 11, 2001, less than 20 years later, when 3,000 were killed in the World Trade Center bombing in downtown New York.
The 1980s brought movies popular with teens and children such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street series, which have had broad appeal among young people and children until this day. Most children, in fact, at least in the inner cities, but most likely across the board, indulge in these horror movies.
Disney actually introduced horror movies to children. One of his first flicks was a horror-spoof of dancing skeletons, 1929 The Skeleton Dance, a Silly Symphonies animated short, voted one of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time, by the animation industry, in 1994. A clip from the movie-short was later used for a movie with Mickey Mouse, Haunted House, in which Mickey, sheltered in the haunted house, is forced to play music for the dancing skeletons. Bambi (1942) is listed by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 Horror Movies
. (off-site) Other Disney movies such as The Little Mermaid and Sleeping Beauty feature terrifying scenes or scenes of spirit-horror and violence. Disney simply took a genre of film-making which had been developed for decades and incorporated these elements into his children's cartoons and animated fairy tale children's movies.
Why Horror Movies are So Appealing
Why are horror movies of such broad appeal? The theme of nightmares, the psychological thrillers and terror, raise the dopamine level of our mind, it focuses or rivets our attention and captures our, albeit, base instinct, and forces us to undivided attention.
Horror movies and the characters therein, are etched, then, upon our conscious and subconscious. While watching the horror movie, our fear level is raised, our sense of revulsion of the demonic, at the same time a fascination with the idea that it somehow might have a basis in reality, we can contemplate and absorb, all from the comfort and safety of a movie theatre chair with soda and popcorn, where we put ourselves in dire danger, and walk away feeling as if we accomplished something brave and daring.
Hollywood and India Bollywood Movies
Hollywood and Bollywood were twins, and movie viewing has become, a way of life in the Western world and India, where Bollywood puts out twice as many movies as Hollywood.
India culture, up until the present, has always had a underlying sensuality, with sensual gods such as Krishna, who came down from the heavens and cohabited with a virtual harem of women, and who is revered, worshipped by millions of adherents to the Hindu religion. Some of the stone reliefs, sculptures of India Hindu legends feature exaggerated breasts and accentuate the sexuality of women, some of the Hindu religious-based art also features sexually provocative Indian women.
While the Asian-Indian culture is typically modest about sexual things, Bollywood movies from the 1960s and previous, have always featured the sensual, the provocative, the sexy-dance, albeit, under raps. The frisky government official feeling up the knee of the heroin, the theme of prostitution, provocative dancing, and love triangles have been a part of the Bollywood film genre for decades.
Bollywood dance sets are extremely visual, filmed against backdrops of breathtaking Himalayan mountains, and Kashmir. They are a visual feast. Today's Bollywood has taken the traditional to extreme levels of sexuality, where what was once hinted at, is now very close to being explicit, in mainstream films and videos, even more explicit than that of mainstream Hollywood.
Emotionally-charged films of painful emotion and violence have also exploited by Bollywood of the 1970s until today.
Psychology and Emotions, Films and Movies
Films and movies for entertainment, send our minds into a fantasy zone whether it be that of tension and suspense, horror, action violence, sexual titillation, or comedy. it is a retreat, an escape, at times, an intellectual experience. At times we feel as if we have been enlightened, both intellectually, and even spiritually. For youths
who lack a solid foundation in spirituality, movies become a pseudo-religion, forming the basis of their questions about life, their ideas about life's purpose, about the spiritual world
, and their connection to it.
Movies which offer spiritual enlightenment, or pseudo-spiritual themes, are viewed by the youngest of children. Disney's Lion King is one example of a children's movie, with a distinct religious character, embracing the animistic spirit world of the African tribe-peoples which inhabit East Africa, and which provides the setting for this children's cartoon feature. The father of the Lion King, dies in a tragic accident, but his spirit lives on and guides his lion-son, eventually reaching immense and benevolent god-like proportions.
Star Wars is another movie which, like the Trilogy series created by Tolkien in the earlier part of the 20th century, creates its own religious-like mythology. Star Wars is like a religion within itself, "The Force" parallels the Christian "Holy Spirit" in guiding the heroes to conquest over evil. The supremely cute warrior-teacher Yoda, is master of the religion of the good-side of The Force, more than a teacher, Yoda is a priest, who guides the young Luke Skywalker on his sacred mission against the evil.
Darth Vadar turns out to be a powerful Judas Iscariot-like character who has given into to the Dark Side of The Force, Luke's own father, but who, unlike Judas, continues to work loyally now for his new evil cause. Luke doesn't succumb to his father's attempt to woo him to the Dark Side, even as the master of the Dark Side of the Force, the supremely evil Emperor, whose is a Satan-persona, whose evil is through and through, unlike Darth Vadar whose evil is tempered by some misgivings, and who is controlled through terror by The Emperor.
The fantasy Star Wars, then, owes its popular appeal to a mixture of swashbuckling action, science fiction mystery, and life and death terror, as well as a religious sub-theme which captures our hearts and its passion for the unknown and our search for deeper meaning than our day to day, sometimes mundane, existence. It taps into our yearning for a higher purpose.
For some, movies are viewed somewhat objectively, analytically, from a distance, as it were. For some, deep emotionally bonding and identity forms as it relates to movies. This is true of both adults and children, and girls especially can become bonded to movie characters. Movies can have a deep impact onto the personality and subconscious of certain groups of persons, especially those who tend to internalize the plots and bond with the characters.
While some might view a movie in the same way that some might look at fireworks, others become deeply involved, disturbed or enraptured, and it is for these types of persons that movies have the greatest emotional impact and for whom movies may be a contributing factor in mood disorders or other mental health and even autism spectrum disorders.
G Rated Movies, Children, Separation Anxiety and Childhood Depression
For some children, G-rated movies
, designed for children, can contribute to depression
. Strong emotions and cartoon violence that exist in many G-rated movies, can open and close the heart and emotions of a child. For some this can stir emotions such as that of separation anxiety, which is evident in many household movies for children, such as Bambi, Dumbo, Pinocchio, Lion King, Wizard of Oz, and many others, not only Disney movies
, and not only cartoons. The anxiety level that rises and falls with children's movies can stir the emotions which children might find difficult to address.
Separation Anxiety is a common element exploited by Disney and others in children's movies. Every child fears being separated from their parents. Popular Disney films such as Bambi, Dumbo and Lion King, and a number of others capitalize on separation anxiety. Every child experiences a bit of separation anxiety on their first day of school, some more so than others. Disney movies make a business out of capturing the heart of children's worst fear, and then gently putting them back to safety.
Some children can take in much violence on the television and movies
, with apparently little outward effect. For others, the slightest amount of violence can be overwhelming. Additionally, it is possible that years of watching violence can weaken the emotional and even physical structure of the mind and its delicate brain cells and chemical balance, which can lead to emotional and psychological disorders later in life. Children who don't learn to cope emotionally as they reach teen years, can find themselves retreating into NeverNeverLand as a life-pattern into adulthood and even into old age, rather than facing problems and dealing with them successfully. The plethora of fantasy films from childhood until adulthood as a way of life, becomes a safe emotional retreat from even life's most serious problems.
Additionally, some of the most enculturalized movies mentioned such Bambi and Dumbo, even Pinocchio, have been described in terms of "horror movies for children". "Disney had the most cunning formula, create the highest illustrative art to make horror movies for children," commented Newsweek.
Other movies such as the Disney Princess Films such as Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White and The Littlest Mermaid, along with Barbie Princess movies, are said to have a deep psychological impact on children, especially girls, and may provide the psychological foundation for future eating disorders
and marital discontent.
Because children deeply bond with such well-developed characters over a period of one or two hours, in each film, sometimes viewing such movies on a daily basis, patterns of thinking and emotions are established. This can weaken the emotional fiber of some children, especially those with poor family structure, subsequently contributing to mental health difficulties later in childhood or as teens
and adults. It weakens the fiber of children
. When a minor or major tragedy occurs in the child life, which is so very different from the knight-in-shining-armor victory that they have become accustomed to, their life may be the antithesis of that idealistic fantasy, some more easily give in to suicidal despair.
Some clinical studies have established a link with excesses in such programming and childhood depression.
Dr. Peter B. Neubauer was a noted Austrian child psychologist who raised the alarm about violence on television and children, and who noted that for children who come from unstable backgrounds, broken homes, single parent families, violent movies and TV can be particularly unsettling. The movie that he felt was most unsettling for children was the Wizard of Oz, because of its use of neighbors in roles of terror or in unsettling situations, the familiarity one develops with Dorothy, and the tenseness and horror in some of the scenes.
, (March 3, 2008). New York Times
The history and background of Peter Pan
Children, Violence, Sex, TV and Movies:
The entertainment that is available to children today in the form of TV
, movies and video games
, is exposing young children to violence and sex as never before. Some of the cutest of G rated movies
for children have disturbingly violent scenes. Many of the PG movies marketed to children today are exposing children to themes that children were innocent to not too many years ago.
The same could be said of common
that most children regularly watch. Many
as young as 1st grade are regularly watching
of the most grotesque and frightening kind. In some communities, up to 50% of children watch such programming. Many parents allow it, others watch when no one is at home, others watch with older brothers and sisters. Some of these children complain of nightmares.
Children, Movies, and Sexual Education, Introduction to Pornography through Movies
Around 30% of children and teenagers
are educated about sex through TV and movies. By the age of 17, 50% of teenagers have had sexual intercourse, and 9% have had intercourse before the age of 13. All of this is part of the social fabric that is lays seeds of mental unrest in the minds of children and contributing to the tremendous increase in the numbers of children and teenagers experiencing problems with mental and mood disorders. Many children at a young age have psychological wounds as a result of what they have seen on television and the movies. They speak about such disturbing thoughts with teachers.
So protecting children from the television and movies that might have such an effect on them is of utmost concern. One young teen candidly asked a teacher with confusion and concern, "What would happen if a women 'made it' with a dog?" She had seen it (not graphically, but within a broader story), in a TV movie, and it was troubling her.
Introduction to pornography
in films is often times a gradual process. Disney
introduces children to kissing from an early age through cartoon fantasies, and Disney
, Nicolodeon and similar television programs for children water the seed, from five years old onward. Experimenting with kissing from pre-teen years is a matter of course, as children have been taught romantic and experimental kissing from infancy, even with Miley Cyrus
episodes and iCarly shows
for pre-teens. Pre-teens from the best families are making out and dating at younger ages. This can release a premature interest in sex which can also contribute to interest in pornography
at an early age. Parents who are not careful and allow children to watch R-rated movies with sexual content, might find their children engaging in sexual activity before they are ready to handle it emotionally and physically.
Occult and Spiritistic Themes in Movies for Children
Nightmare on ElmStreet Photo:Wikipedia.com
Occult themes can also have an affect on children's minds and these things worry them. It can make it difficult for them to concentrate in school affect on a child's mental health. The new Scooby Doo movie, for children, as one example, can have a disturbing affect on children, with intense and long scenes of VooDoo chants.
At What Age do Children Discern Between Fantasy and Reality?
Another consideration is that children often do not discern the difference between fantasy and reality. The Santa Claus fantasy doesn't fully get decoded by some children until they are in the fourth grade, about nine-years old. It is difficult for most boys in Kindergarten to second grade to discern that Spiderman and sometimes Superman, are fantasy and not reality, and usually they do not fully catch on until they reach about nine or ten years old. It is around that time that most children get a fuller grasp on the reality-fantasy concept, although some do at an earlier age.
Education, Ethical and Responsible Teachers, Use of Movies in School
If a child watches movies, he should do so with a parent, and not alone, and the parent should explain concepts to him or her, include the concept of reality and fantasy. If a teacher uses any fantasy-genre movies in class, the teacher should always explain the concept of fantasy and reality to young children, up until the fourth grade, and that includes Disney
and classic Disney movies
as well. Even after the fourth grade, films used in class should never be used as passive entertainment, as they often are by teachers and administrators who often use films as babysitters while they catch up on paperwork.
Rather, films should be analyzed, decoded, so that children and youth can gain insight into the subtleties of the use of film-making as a reflection of the ideas or ideals of the film-maker, or the film as a reference point in history, with background and analysis. This can prove to be a valuable critical thinking skill for youth
as they enter adulthood and start to develop their own value system.
Passivity, Films and movies, and Causes of Depression
Similarly, the passive nature
of the medium of television
itself, as well as the pastime of regularly watching movies, lends itself well to depression
. Watching films is a passive, rather than active form of entertainment. We do not entertain ourselves, but allow ourselves to be entertained. How many children and teenagers complain, "I'm bored". One of the reasons so many feel bored is because they have become used to turning on the electric current in the form of video games, ipod-music
, TV and movies in order to entertain themselves, but without that extraneous stimulation, there is little that captures their attention and interest, outside of forced-studies, such as in required assignments in school.
Watching movies ia passive, rather than active, and can be considered to be mind-dulling activity as a way of life. Movies as a way of life is buying into the commercial system to entertain you and influence your mind and way of thinking. Deliberate efforts are made by directors to add elements of violence (including Disney cartoon movies
), and sex (not in Disney cartoons, unless you considering kissing sex), to capture the interest of the viewer and add to box-office receipts.
For some children, it is possible that ADHD can affected from watching too much television, along with other contributing factors. The amount of time that a child spends watching television
or other forms of the media in his or her early years is said to be directly proportional to the incidence of
later in life, according to some well documented and controlled studies. (See CHADD website, under the section of clinical studies.)
Anxiety Disorders, Panic Attacks, Media Violence, Films and Movies.
in children may often be linked with television and movie habits. It can also have a link with adult anxiety disorders
and for some, can contribute to panic attacks
. In adults, a history of abuse or serious trauma raises the odds that one will suffer with anxiety disorders or depression
. Watching movies of violence, horror, action and suspense, as a weekly or even daily habit, as a lifestyle, might contribute to added mental health difficulties, including contributing to a raised anxiety level, either in the present or future for many children, teens and adults.
Conclusion of the Psychology of Movies
------------Positive and Pro-Active Activities for Children, Teens and Adults
By replacing passive or mind and emotionally dulling activities with time spent in the outdoors or engaging regularly in such mind strengthening activities as reading, creating artwork, learning a language, or learning to play a musical instrument, it can do much to strengthen one's mind as well as the mind of a child, and help a child to develop self-respect, as well as to maintain emotional and mental balance.
Art for children and adults is a better choice than violent or horror / scary movies.
, get outside, encourage your child to play, make sure he or she has good association, friends, is not isolated in his or her room all day. Make provisions for good recreation, ice skating, parks, sledding, art, association with other youngsters, costume parties. Keep your child active. Encourage him or her to read. Take him or her to the library. Read with your children.
Art is a good replacement for television, movies and
video games and is a natural mood stabilizer. In the classroom, many children prefer art to movies. In one 6th grade class, 75% of the children chose art over movies. In one 1st Grade Class, 85% chose art over a popular children's movies, without any prompting. Children enjoy art, doing something with their hands and seeing the results of their work.
Additionally, there are a lot of nice nature films out there now, that are so well made, that they are as entertaining as Disney
for kids. Parents need to swim upstream a little, put some thought into what they are giving their children for entertainment, and give thought to what they are putting regularly into their minds as well, as it does make a difference in both childhood, adult and adolescent mental health
and psychological profile.
Rather than popping in a CD week after week, why not plan day trips to art and historical museums, both locally and out of state. Widen out your interests and tastes beyond the commercial-culture which is economically-driven rather than based on higher values.
Movies and films do have a strong psychology and psychological impact on the mind and deepest emotions. Movies and films can be, and should be, a part of the study of child psychology, child psychiatry, emotions psychology and abnormal psychology.
References for the Psychology of Movies
1. Bambi. Time Magazine's Top 25 Horror Movies
2. Monsters And Demons: A Short History Of The Horror Film
, Astrid Bullen. Classic Movies - Everything for the Fan of Classic Hollywood.
(Retrieved November 7, 2010).
3. First Kiss in Cinematic History
. (April 11, 2010). Classic Movie Gab.
4. Horror Film History
- 1920s. Horror Film History: A Decade by Decade Guide to the Horror Movie Genre
Pages Related to Movies Psychological Effects
Media Effects on Children
Children's movies, kid's horror movies effects.
Ways to help children
- Children and Art
Bipolar Disorder Self Help
Resources for the Psychology of Movies
classic movies (and others) with a powerful emotional punch for children, (May 2, 2010). NewsVine
. (off-site link)