Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Deeper Meaning of The Matrix

Academic Psychiatry 28:71-77, March 2004
© 2004 Academic Psychiatry

Media Column

"The Matrix": An Allegory of the Psychoanalytic Journey

David Mischoulon, M.D., Ph.D. and Eugene V. Beresin, M.D.

Dr. Mischoulon is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, and Assistant in Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Beresin is Director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program at Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Beresin is also Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Director of Mental Health and Media at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, and serves as Media Column Editor for Academic Psychiatry. Address correspondence to Dr. Mischoulon, WAC-812, 15 Parkman St., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114; dmischoulon@partners.org (E-mail).

Objective: "The Matrix" has been a huge commercial and critical success and has spawned a series of books and essays exploring the philosophical and religious themes in the story. Methods: The authors propose is that "The Matrix" can be interpreted as an allegory for an individual’s journey into spiritual and mental health, achieved by overcoming one’s intrapsychic conflicts with the help of psychodynamic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. Results: Neo’s story parallels the journey undertaken by the individual who chooses to enter psychotherapy and illustrates several themes of analytic psychotherapy, its benefits, and liabilities. Conclusion: The movie may therefore serve as a teaching tool for psychiatric residents about the goals, functions, and intricacies of psychodynamic psychotherapy.