Todd’s Review of The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Edited by Robin Rosenberg, Ph.D. and Shannon O’Neill

If you’re like me, then the thought of psychological analysis makes you a little confused.  It’s not that I don’t understand the basic tenants of psychology (I did fairly well in psych 101 in college!), but the finer points of psychoanalysis make me glad that I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist.  I’m used to hard data, such as percent oxygen, protein yields, and absorbance values.  To observe one’s character and make a complete analysis just based on personality traits or familial history alone is pretty cool.  I just have no idea how it’s done.  Hence, my decision to tackle this interesting field segued well into reading The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Edited by Robin Rosenberg (also a contributor) and Shannon O’Neill, The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo compiles the analyses of many experts on the subjects of psychology, psychiatry, medicine, and various other subjects to study the inner workings of the characters within Steig Larsson’s amazing The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. (You can read my joint reviews with Kim on Larsson’s books here, here, and here)  Chiefly, this focus on Lisbeth Salander, the main protagonist of the work, is a huge psychoanalytical undertaking.  Due to her troubled past and history of clashes with a society that attempts to subdue her, Lisbeth has trouble finding herself and finding peace.  The expert analysis begins with Lisbeth’s exterior, examining first why people alter their appearance, whether it be through dress, tattoos, piercings, or other modifications.  Then, the authors focused on Lisbeth, examining why her appearance is radically different than most “normal” individuals, encompassing images that are aimed at provoking others rather than trying to fit in.  After exploring Lisbeth’s appearance, the essays delve deeper into her personality, examining her past and focusing on those around her, both good and bad.  A good deal of work is put into analyzing the relationships that Lisbeth creates with those around her, especially Bloomkvist.  Finally, the work ends on a more positive note, outlining Salander’s achievements, and examining her as a sort of superhero.

Through reading this book I’ve found that there are a series of these works dedicated to analyzing the “psychology of … (insert popular book title here)”.  Although I think it’s an interesting idea, out of all the titles available I feel that this one has the most merit.  The subject material is ripe for psychoanalysis; just judging by appearance alone one can tell that Salander is different, and the types of people she has dealt with in her life are just as psychologically damaged and complex as she is.  A whole book could have been written for each major character, but I’m glad that the editors put most of the focus on Lisbeth, and after reading this work I definitely saw her in a new light.  I never considered her to be an exceptionally strong character (at least in the first book), and I viewed her more as a loaner who finally lets someone (Bloomkvist) in to her personal life.  However, after reading this book and finally elucidating the parts of Lisbeth’s childhood that made her the person she is in the first novel, it’s plain to see that she is an amazingly strong and resilient character who is several times smarter than the average individual.  I definitely have a new respect for her character, and in addition a new respect for Larsson’s work, in that he could create such an innovative and amazingly complex story that integrates all of these multi-layered characters.  In all, it’s definitely an educational read that would benefit those who are having a hard time understanding the motives behind the characters in the Millenium Trilogy.  Definitely give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo edited by Robin Rosenburg, Ph.D. and Shannon O’Neill
Smart Pop (2011)
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN: 1936661349

Special thanks to Smart Pop books for my review copy!

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Interested in a dark tale of murder and mystery?  If so, look no further than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher and staring Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara (yummy) as Lisbeth Salander. This is the second film to be adapted from The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, but the first to be done in English.  Larsson’s work has already been adapted to the screen in Swedish, his native language and the original publication language.

In a nutshell, the film follows a man’s mission to find out what has happened to his niece, who has been missing for 36 years and is feared to have been murdered. The man is Henrik Vanger, the patriarch and longtime CEO of The Vanger Corporation, a Swedish conglomerate that has a large presence in the country.  His niece, Harriet, went missing on a small island that many of the Vanger family members owned homes on. Due to jealousy, money, and evil that permeate the Vanger family, Henrik has very little doubt that Harriet’s killer is still alive, and he thinks a family member is to blame.  It is up to Mikael Blomkvist, who has been hired by Henrik to investigate the cold case, to reexamine the evidence and breathe new life into the disappearance that occurred so many years ago.  Unfortunately for Mikael, however, there are those who do not want the past dragged to the surface again, and this puts him in mortal danger.  Can he escape with his life?

Larsson’s The Millennium Trilogy, upon which the film is based, has become one of the most popular series in the world of literature in quite some time. The Swedish film adaptations have even helped to launch the American career of Noomi Rapace (who I want to tap). But despite all this the most amazing thing about this series is that all the books were published after Stieg Larsson passed away.  He never even got the chance to see what a phenomenon his work has become!

Some were a little upset about the news of American remakes, especially since they happened so soon, but I’m happy about it. I am a fan of foreign film, but this remake is going to allow a broader audience to enjoy these intense stories. Very serious subject matter (both sexual and violent) is portrayed in the film, which may make audiences a little uneasy. However, in order to stay true to the original work it was something that needed to be done.

David Fincher was the perfect person to bring this story to life on the American big screen, and it may be one of his best works to date. I really love the look and feel of his films, and this is a great follow-up to The Social Network. Daniel Craig is good as usual, and he gives us a performance that isn’t exactly what we are used to from him. However on the other hand, the sexy Rooney Mara’s transformation into Lisbeth is what everyone is buzzing about! This is clearly a career role for her, in which she beat out many other Hollywood superstars for the role including Scarlett Johansson, who was the studio favorite. David Fincher fought for Rooney, who he just used in a minor role in The Social Network. All I have to say is she better be eternally grateful for his clout with the studio because he just made her a very in demand actress.

I will leave you with this: I highly suggest you check this film out if you are a fan of the books, want to see an entertaining piece of work, or want to know what all the fuss is about since you are too lazy to read. The film is very long, clocking in at almost 3 hours, so be aware and plan accordingly. Additionally, like I said earlier, the story deals with numerous MATURE story lines that may be hard for some people to see depicted on-screen, so consider yourselves warned.

PS…Word on the Street is both the films sequels, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, will be filmed back to back, so be ready!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2010)
Columbia Pictures
R, 158 Minutes
Kim and Todd have reviewed all three books this year.  Their reviews are: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest

#64 A Review of The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

Cover Image

Todd and I are back to review Stieg Larsson’s second novel in his critically acclaimed series, The Millennium Trilogy: The Girl Who Played With Fire.  We decided that to continue with the tradition started with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (check out the review here), we should listen to this novel as an audiobook.  Again we had the pleasure of listening to Simon Vance’s melodic voice as he impersonated all the characters and make us feel more involved with the storyline.  As expected, Larsson’s work definitely did not disappoint, as this novel was more harrowing and nail-biting as the first.

Mikael Blomkvist, now restored to his rightful position as editor of the magazine Millennium, is excited to publish an expose on sex trafficking by a young journalist named Dag Svensson.  Mia, Svensson’s girlfriend, recently finished writing a thesis for her doctoral program much along the lines of Dag’s work, as she outlines the plight of prostitution and the exploitation of women in Sweden for sexual purposes.  Together, they provide enough information for Millennium to publish a bombshell of an article, yet just a few weeks before going to press Mikael finds them dead in their apartment, shot by an unknown assassin.  Later, Mikael finds out that Lisbeth Salander, his love interest and partner from the first book, has been named the main suspect in the murders, as well as the murder of her state-appointed guardian.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, as Mikael must work tirelessly to prove his innocence in the affair as well as Lisbeth’s.  He must also undercover the real source of the killing, and work to stop this force from acting again before it’s too late.  Can he accomplish this in time?  What will become of Lisbeth?

Kim: I have to start out by saying that Larsson is a genius when it comes to weaving story-lines.  In both Tattoo and Fire he has a wide array of characters that ultimately all play an important role in the story.  Whether they’re there to help move another characters development along or play a role in the “crime plot” of the novel, he gives them each a time to share their story and for the reader to get to know them.  There aren’t many authors (at least in my opinion) that can do this well and keep the reader from being confused.  It’s even more difficult to achieve all of the above and STILL accomplish a shock ending.

Todd:  I definitely agree.  It was a bit overwhelming at first to be introduced to so many characters in this story.  It was almost as if you had to keep a family tree in your head to keep all their different relations to each other straight, but once this was accomplished, the multitude of background characters only added to the complexity and texture of Larsson’s work.  I know when most people think of this series they immediately think of Mikael and Lisbeth, especially since the commercials for the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo have exploded onto the scene recently, but really this series highlights how others perceive them, and how they must work to change preconceived notions of themselves in order to find the real killer.

Kim: Good point, Todd, about the preconceived notions.  In relation to this I enjoyed how Larsson essentially mocked the media and how ridiculous and false the stories in it can be.  When it’s found out that Lisbeth is the main suspect in the case, the media starts digging into her past and trying to find out as much as they can about her.  Suddenly her face is on every newspaper with headlines that she’s a lesbian and part of a Satanist cult, all because she is friends with an all girl rock group with a questionable name.  I like how Larsson uses things like this to make statements about the social and political climate of Sweden.  It’s the little details like this that give Larsson’s work texture and deeper meaning.

Todd: That’s true.  Larsson’s work existed to be more than just a story, he wanted it to be part of a greater commentary on the plight of women and the political obstacles that they and other working class people had to overcome to achieve any change in Sweden.  It’s no wonder than Larsson himself was a journalist, and worked as an editor of a magazine called Expo, which shares some similarities with Millennium.  I give Larsson a ton of credit for tackling these difficult issues and standing up against the status quo.  I can see a lot of him in Lisbeth, as she does whatever it takes to achieve her goals, and doesn’t let anything get in her way to stop her.  We could all use a little Lisbeth in our own lives!

Kim: Very true Todd.  Lisbeth is one of the most kick-ass lead characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  She tells it like she sees it, sticks up for herself and the ones she cares for, and makes sure that those who do wrong get their fair comeuppance.

Kim: 5 out of 5 Stars

Todd: 5 out of 5 Stars

This is my eighteenth completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge
This is my eighth completed review for the Chunkster Challenge
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (2009)
Paperback 752 pages
ISBN:  9780307476159