MEDIA INFLUENCES AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT: THE INNER IMAGE AND THE OUTER WORLD
Clinical Psychologist, Philadelphia
Why are television and movies so powerful? What is it about TV that motivates people to watch it 3, 4, 5 even 6 hours each day? What makes it so compelling? Why is it referred to as the "plug-in drug" ( Winn, 1985)? Why are so many negative effects associated with it? Can it "cause" violence? Can it affect the personality in a profound way so as to cause ill? Why are we so enthralled when watching movies? What causes us to be transported and transfixed into stuperous and trancelike states by the images and sounds experienced within the movie theater?
The argument advanced here is that visual media (TV and movies), in and of themselves, are not powerful. They are simply technologies for the delivery of images on flat screens. What is powerful are those aspects of mind and emotion that respond with such total attention and surrender to the experience of watching and, as importantly, feeling those images projected onto to those screens.
This chapter utilizes psychoanalytic developmental psychology to study some aspects of mind and imagination that may shed light on some of the more pressing questions confronting us regarding the impact of visual