Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Tommy

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e1170 (Published 22 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1170
  1. David Ingle, specialty doctor, psychiatry, forensic learning disability, Fieldhead Hospital, Wakefield WF1 3SP, UK
  1. davingle{at}doctors.org.uk

Tommy provides an education in psychiatric trauma, abuse, and the psychology of inadequate parenting. This musical film and rock opera is one of the key artistic works responsible for helping to move these often intentionally hidden issues into public consciousness. As a boy, the protagonist Tommy sees his father killed by his mother’s lover, Frank. The trauma is compounded when his mother and Frank instruct Tommy that he did not hear or see the murder, and forbid him from telling anyone about it. The intrapsychic conflicts of the loss of one parent, the need to love the culpable other, and the abandonment by the mother in favour of the lover cause an immediate onset of conversion disorder (dissociative …

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