Neurocinema: When Film Meets Neurology, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


When Film Meets Neurology, 1st Edition

By Eelco F. M. Wijdicks

CRC Press

313 pages | 258 Color Illus.

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Film directors recognize that neurologic disease impacts mind and motility and often use it in a plot or defining scene. It should be informative and educational to deconstruct neurologic representation in film. Neurocinema: When Film Meets Neurology is a collection of film essays that summarize the portrayal of major neurologic syndromes and clinical signs in cinema. Many films approach the reality of disease quite closely, and as a result, are deeply moving and memorable. Equally important, these films say as much about consequences as they say about the disorder. Therefore, the main themes include sudden confrontation with a major neurologic illness, disability from chronic neurologic disease, and failure to lead a normal life.

More than 100 fiction films and documentaries are discussed in this completely original and definitive work on how film meets neurology. The book includes nearly 50 neurology topics, explains them, and places them in a broader context. The book is accessible for all health care workers and general readership.

Eelco Wijdicks is a professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. He is the chair of the Division of Critical Care Neurology and an attending neurointensivist at Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus. He has written numerous books and scientific articles on the clinical practice of neurocritical care. He is enamored with cinema and neurologic representation in fiction and documentary films. Dr. Wijdicks has written film reviews for Neurology Today and THE LANCET Neurology. He is the author of a major publication on the portrayal of coma in film and its potential effect on the viewing public.


"…should be required reading for all neurologists."

—Howard S. Kirshner, MD, Department of Neurology, Vanderbilt University in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology

"This volume is written with passion, and the author’s real affection for the cinema seeps from every page. This book is not just for film buffs … We should all watch and learn."

—Sallie Baxendale, UCL Institute of Neurology in The Lancet Neurology

Table of Contents

Medicine in Film

Portrayal of Hospitals

Portrayal of Doctors

Portrayal of Diseases


The Neurologist in Film

The Founder of Neurology—Charcot —in Film

Modern Neurologists in Film


Neurologic Disorders in Film

Introducing Main Themes

Coma in Film

Traumatic Brain Injury in Film

Stroke in Film

Locked-In Syndrome in Film

Brain Tumor in Film

Meningitis in Film

Encephalitis Lethargica in Film

Spinal Cord Injury in Film

Poliomyelitis in Film

Multiple Sclerosis in Film

Motor Neuron Disease in Film

Leprosy in Film

Amnesia in Film

Headache in Film

Sleep Disorders in Film

Seizures in Film

Cerebral Palsy in Film

Autism Spectrum Disorders in Film

Tourette’s Syndrome in Film

Dementia in Film

Parkinson’s Disease in Film

Neurogenetics in Film

Neuroethics in Film

Introducing Main Themes

Physician-Assisted Suicide in Film

Self-Determination in Film

Withdrawal of Support from Brain Injury in Film

Family Conflicts on Level of Care in Film

Brain Death and Organ Donation in Film

Institutionalizing in Film

Experimentation in Film

Compassion Failure in Film

Neurologic Disorders in Documentary Film

Introduction of Main Themes

Dementia in Documentary Film

Huntington’s Disease in Documentary Film

Multiple Sclerosis in Documentary

Motor Neuron Disease in Documentary Film

Aphasia after Stroke in Documentary Film

Poliomyelitis in Documentary Film

Traumatic Brain Injury in Film

Rehabilitation in Film

Neurofollies in Film

Introducing Main Themes

Enter the Mind

Psychic after Coma

Total Amnesia

Enhancing Brain Function

Intellectual Disability to Genius


Violent Seizures

Computer-Assisted Neuronal Activity

Mind Control

Brain Preservation

A Final Word

Epilogue: The Neurology of Cinema

Neurocinema and Actors

The Book and What It Means

How To Watch and Read a Neuro Film


Appendix: Neurofilmography

About the Originator

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / General
MEDICAL / Administration
MEDICAL / Neurology
MEDICAL / Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation