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COURSE TWO – Cinema and Psychoanalysis, Lies, Lies and Damned Lies: A Cinematic View on the Meaning of Lying

Course Two - Cinema and Psychoanalysis, Lies, Lies and Damned Lies: A Cinematic View on the Meaning of Lying

Course Coordinator: Julio Szmuilowicz

Course Leaders: see below

Friday, 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm: October 27, November 24, 2017; January 26, February 23, March 23, April 27, May 25, 2018

Fees: $340

Preregistration is required.

Registration limited to 50 participants.

Lying increases the creative faculties, expands the ego and lessens the frictions of social contact.
Claire Boothe Luce

I was not lying. I said things that later on seemed to be untrue.
Richard Nixon

Advertising is legalized lying.
H.G. Wells

Surprisingly, not much has been written in Psychoanalysis regarding the act of prevaricating even when we know from experience how common fibbing is. Most people, according to researchers, lie once or twice a day, almost as often as they snack from the refrigerator or brush their teeth. Perhaps this is why there are over 19 synonyms to the word “lying” in the Merriam Webster Thesaurus.

Leaving aside the relativity of the concept of truth, Psychologists in general ignored lying until recently. Dissembling became rather the fodder for Ethicists and Theologians. Whether it be a complete lie, (the opposite of “the truth”), a lie by omission (the opposite of “the whole truth”) or a fragment of a lie embedded in truth (the opposite of “nothing but the truth”) fibbing is common.

The meaning behind and the functions of a lie are as numerous and varied as people. Freud hypothesized that the children lie when they deny the possibility of castration and its consequences. A lie then is a denial of a painful or dangerous reality. It is a misrepresentation of a fact that renders it (or its consequences) more acceptable.

There may be lies and white lies, denoting a difference between morally condemnable and socially acceptable untruths. We may lie to cover shame and guilt and “get away” with a misdeed. However, lies may have more to do with the defense of the integrity of our self, its sense of value and relative standing among our peers and as such, may have more to do with our self-esteem.

Cinema is an ideal way to explore the phenomenon of lying since we, as the audience, can witness, at one and the same time, the truth and the lie with their consequences. To illustrate and understand the topic, seven films will be screened on a Friday, commencing promptly at 7:30 pm at the Toronto Psychoanalytic Society, 40 St. Clair East, Suite 203. After a short break, the Film’s Discussant will present a formal paper that will lead the group into a general Discussion.


Date Discussant Film and Director
October 27, 2017 Rex Collins Leviathan (2014, 140 min)
Andrey Zvyaginstev (Director)
November 24, 2017 Betty Kershner The Clouds of Sils Maria (2014, 124 min)
Oliver Assayas (Director)
January 26, 2018 Julio Szmuilowicz Frantz (2016, 113 min)
Francois Ozon (Director)
February 23, 2018 Barrie Wilson The Debt (2010, 113 min)
John Madden (Director)
March 23, 2018 Peter Herschman Le Concert (2009, 119 min)
Radu Mihaileanu (Director)
April 27, 2018 Arthur Caspary Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989, 100 min)
Steven Soderbergh (Director)
May 25, 2018 Robert Winer The Light Between Oceans (2016, 133 min)
Derek Cianfrance (Director)

Learning Objectives:

At the end of the course the participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the different conscious and unconscious motives for lying.
  2. Appreciate the complex symbolism of different lies and the way in which subjects defend their lies and their lying.
  3. Define the way lying is a symptom like any other with its compromise formation partaking of a wish and a defence against it.
  4. Grasp the ubiquity of lying and its vicissitudes in everyday life and especially in the cinema.
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Julio Szmuilowicz

Julio Szmuilowicz, MD, Psychoanalyst in Private Practice. Faculty, TPS&I.

Rex Collins

Rex Collins, PhD, RP, Private Practice Child and Adolescent Therapy, Graduate of the Toronto Child Psychotherapy Program. Guest of the TPS.

Betty Kershner*

Betty Kershner, PhD, Registered Psychologist in private practice, assessment and treatment of children, adults and families – for the courts, for schools, for insurance, and for personal growth and satisfaction. Member, New Directions Program, Washington Psychoanalytic Institute.

Barrie Wilson*

Barrie Wilson, PhD, Professor, Humanities and Religious Studies York University.

Peter Herschman

Peter Herschman, Psychoanalyst in private practice, Member and Faculty Toronto Psychoanalytic Society & Institute.

Arthur Caspary

Arthur C. Caspary, PhD, C.Psych. Psychoanalyst in Private Practice. Faculty, Toronto Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis; Faculty, TPS&I.

Robert Winer*

Robert Winer, MD, Teaching Analyst and Chair of the Faculty Committee, Washington Psychoanalytic Institute; Chair of New Directions and of the Modern Perspectives on Psychotherapy Program, Washington Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanalyst in Private Practice, Bethesda, MD.

*By Invitation

The Extension Courses are eligible for Section 1 CME credits.

Full-time students in universities and colleges, and mental-health trainees are eligible for a 25% reduction in course fees. Proof of 2017/2018 status needs to be provided. Please contact the tps&i directly to register at a discount.

Refunds must be requested in writing two weeks prior to the beginning of a course. A handling fee of $30 will be retained. After these two weeks, fees cannot be returned.

For more information about and for registration in the tps&i Extension Programs, Scientific Meetings, Training Programs, Study and Supervision groups and Special Presentations, please visit our website: or email

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