film comment: the ethics of Inception’s psychotherapy

So an aspect of Inception that hasn’t seemed to get much play is the fraudulent psychotherapy that Leo and friends are forcing on Cillian Murphy’s character.  They’re trying to get him to get over his issues with his father, through whatever lies necessary, so he can do what they need him to do.  In the end, it seems that he’s personally the better for it, but the fact remains that he was brought to this new mindset through deceitful means.  What do we think about that?  Given how quickly Nolan’s last film (The Dark Knight) was branded right wing propaganda because of its morally questionable use of technological surveillance, I’m surprised that no one has accused Nolan of more right wing propaganda; after all, is Nolan saying that lies are okay if it gets you what you need?  Is he saying we shouldn’t really be mad about going into war on false pretense, since some good seems to have come out of it (“at least they got Saddam”)?  And furthermore, when it comes to psychotherapy in general, could one argue that its very essence is a subtle form of deceit, that the therapist is trying to get the patient to get his act together and think it was all his own idea?  What about education?  Do teachers have to trick students into believing they’re intelligent beings worthy of a fulfilling career and livelihood?  At what point is education not a form of inception?  Is there a point where it’s positive, until it becomes brainwashing?  I’m personally still sitting with these questions, but it’s interesting, no?


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