Psychology Meets History in 'Lincoln'

Lincoln: the man, the president, the movie

Posted Nov 15, 2012

With phenomenal performances by Daniel Day Lewis and an entourage of stars such as Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, and David Strathairn, director Steven Spielberg elevates political process to the heights of Shakespearean drama in the new film Lincoln.

Chronicling the 16th president’s efforts to abolish slavery by passing the 13th Amendment through a cantankerous and obstructive House of Representatives, the film shows us the rough and tumble work of influential leadership, the delicate balance of family and career concerns, and how individual morality shapes our decisions and our history.  

But before your head hits the desk for a slobbering snooze like a student in study hall, rest assured that Lincoln is actually very, very funny. He pulls more jokes out of his stovepipe hat than a vaudeville magician pulls fluffy bunnies.

In the latest installment of Popcorn Therapy, host Gene Kansas talks with Georgia Public Broadcasting’s News Director and resident Civil War buff Rickey Bevington and me about the heady mix of politics, psychology, and history in the film which opens tomorrow nationwide.

We talk about the film’s Oscar potential performances, the vast difference between campaigning and legislating, how Lincoln directs the powers of psychological persuasion into political action, and why looking at our past is vital to illuminate our present and future paths.

Follow the link now to listen to Popcorn Therapy: Lincoln.

More nuanced than "thumbs up/thumbs down" and more intellectually nourishing than a tomato-based rating system, Popcorn Therapy is a podcast bursting with insight about the latest movie releases. Each session, urban explorer and host Gene Kansas leads a discussion of art and life with a psychologist passionate for film and a unique guest with special expertise and tie-in life experience.  Check out the blog or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You’ll be glad you did.

Jared DeFife, Ph.D.

About the Author

Jared DeFife, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine.

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