Psychiatry for Actors: Building a CharactersUsing Psychiatric Principles is a textbook for helping actors, directors, and playwrights in creating characters in plays and films.

The textbook is based upon Donald Fidler’s 30 years of experience of teaching medical students, teaching psychiatry residents, teaching acting students, coaching actors, and writing and directing plays and films.

The textbook is available through Fate Publishing Inc. and can be ordered from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Indie Bound, and Lulu. Price $25.00.


The table of contents are listed below.

• Knowing What Our Characters Do Not Know: Building Preconscious Memories to Substitute for Characters’ Unconscious Influences
• The Unconscious as the Actor’s Friend
• How Body Movements Reveal Unconscious Wish Fulfillment and Psychopathology

o Storytelling Bodies
o Kissing Hands
o Uncomfortable Hands
o Sexual Hands
o Depressed, Anxious, Manic, Psychotic Hands
o Shuffling Feet
o Other Foot Movements
o Head Movements

• A Few Basic Acting Concepts

o Entrances Are Not Simple
o People Work to Hide Psychopathology
o There Are No Pure Angels and Devils
o Do Not Perform Psychotherapy on Characters
o Moods Can Be Lies
o Anger and Whining are Not Profound Choices
o Guns and Swords Kill
o Mental Illnesses Are Real

• Normal Psychological Phenomena

o Imaginary Audience
o Confessions
o Family Romance
o Triangulation
o Revenge
o Imitative Magic (Sympathetic Magic)
o Identification with the Aggressor
o Talking to Self

• Personality Expression

o Inherited Traits
o Culturally Influenced Phenomena
o Upstairs-Downstairs Class Differences

• Humans Connections: Emotions, Language, and Attachment
• Emotions

o Thinking in Emotions: A Normal Trait
o Impact of Mental Illnesses Upon Emotions
o Challenges of Unhealthy Emotions
o Impact of Environments Upon Emotions
o Actors’ Physiology Interfering with Performances

• Language: How Emotions Come First
• Attachment

• Coping and Defenses
• Simple Defenses

o Suppression
o Denial
o Acting Out
o Displacement
o Splitting
o Repression
o Intellectualization
o Humor
o Sublimation

• Complex Defenses and Component Acting

o Projection
o Reaction Formation
o Repetition Compulsion

• Human Development
• Erik Erikson Stages
• Jean Piaget Stages
• Margaret Mahler Stages
• Sigmund Freud Stages
• Lawrence Kohlberg Stages
• Developmental Regression and Arrest

• Psychiatric Symptoms and Disorders
• Moods, Depressive Disorders, and Bipolar Disorders

o Sadness
o Normal Grief
o Pathological Grief
o Depressive Disorders

• Major Depressive Disorder
• Persistent Depressive Disorder

o Bipolar Disorders (Depression and Mania)

•  Anxiety Disorders

o Common Anxiety Symptoms
o Generalized Anxiety Disorder
o Panic Disorder
o Specific Phobia
o Agoraphobia

• Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders

o Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
o Body Dysmorphic Disorder

• Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders

o Psychosis
o Hallucinations
o Delusions
o Schizophrenia

• Positive Symptoms
• Negative Symptoms

o Catatonia in Schizophrenia
o Hebephrenia in Schizophrenia
o Emotions in Psychoses
o Directions for Actors Portraying Psychoses

• Delusions
• Auditory Hallucinations
• Visual Hallucinations and Illusions
• Other Types of Hallucinations
• Ambivalence
• Negative Symptoms

• Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders

o Ruling Out Malingering and Factitious Disorder
o Somatic Symptom Disorder
o Illness Anxiety Disorder
o Conversion Disorder (Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder)
o Factitious Disorder

• Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders

o Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
o Adjustment Disorder

• Dissociative Disorders
• Personality Disorders

o Paranoid
o Schizoid
o Schizotypal
o Narcissistic
o Histrionic
o Borderline
o Antisocial
o Obsessive-Compulsive
o Dependent
o Avoidant
o Other Personality Disorders Considerations: Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder

• Mild and Major Neurocognitive Disorders and Intellectual Disabilities

o Mild and Major Neurocognitive Disorders

• Etiologies (Alzheimer’s, Strokes, HIV, etc.)
• Delirium
•  Mild and Major Neurocognitive Disorder Due to Traumatic Brain Injury
•  Acute Symptoms from Mild Head Injuries
• Acute Symptoms from Serious Head Injuries

• Intellectual Disabilities (also called Intellectual Development Disorder)
• Chronic Symptoms of Prolonged Neurocognitive Disorders and Intellectual Disabilities

o Personality Changes and Emotional Symptoms
o Word-Finding Difficulty and Retrieval Failure

• Substance Use

o Introduction
o Ethanol (Alcohol)
o Tobacco
o Marijuana (Cannabis)
o Cocaine
o Opiates and Opioids
o Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD or “Acid”)
o A Fascinating Case of Infamous LSD Research
o Club Drugs/Party Pills/Rave Drugs/Designer Drugs
o Final Thoughts about Actors Portraying Substance Use

• Treatment
• A Brief History of Treatments for Mental Illness

o Pre-Professional Psychiatry
o The Professionalism of Psychiatry and Evolution of Treatments
o Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
o Psychiatric Medications (Psychopharmacology)
o Magnetic Stimulation

• Treatment Side Effects

o Antipsychotic Medications
o Antidepressant Medications
o Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT)