Freud’s defensive stance toward female psychosexual development has two clear sources: one, his sensitivity to feminist critiques; and two, his awareness that female sexuality remained slippery despite his sustained effort to incorporate it into his major theories. Like the psychoanalytic process, which brings patients into direct contact with areas of psychic tension, Freud’s writings on female sexuality expose the theoretical ambiguities that continue to complicate cultural analyses oriented by gender. This essay reads Freud in conjunction with representations of the mother-daughter relationship in several films by Chantal Akerman, which affectively render the ambiguity Freud diagnosed in that often-fraught familial bond. In the process, I employ an analytical approach that integrates aesthetic and psychoanalytic theories, a combination I consider productive in relation to 21st century culture, which defines itself as sexually progressive while avoiding significant blind spots that make widely-circulated notions of gender equality ring hollow.
Carl Jung writes in Psychology and Religion: West and East that “It is not I who create myself, rather I happen to myself.” This surprisingly Taoist statement is perhaps a perfect way to define the distinction between spirituality and religion in children’s picture books. While religious children’s books can be easily identified and classified based on the religious system to which they ascribe, spirituality in children’s picture books is much harder to pin down, and can be extended to any book that provides an imaginative mental playground with enough freedom to allow a child to “happen” to itself. This article seeks to further explicate Jung’s theory of individuation by looking at Taoism and Zen Buddhism in children’s literature. Specifically, it examines Edward Gorey’s The Object Lesson and Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece as exemplary texts for this explication.
The definition of ‘Archetype’ typically refers to an original which has been imitated. The origin of the concept of Archetype in the traditional sense of the term refers to the primitive, universal perceptual imprint – a theory that dates back to Plato. The idea of the archetypal image is conceptually integrated with the aesthetics of visual arts and discussed under the guise of widely researched equivalent terms. The philosophical and scientific propositions on the concept of Archetype with reference to visual arts tended to have a neurological constitution even from ancient times. Starting from the 1990s, a radical outlook emerged in the field of cognitive aesthetics in the form of ‘neuroaesthetics’ which shows a significant potential in dealing with the problem of construction of the symbolic system in visual arts. Does the represented image of an aesthetically appealing artwork have structured within it the roots of an archetype? Is it innately constructed? And finally, is there at all any difference between pattern recognition among humans and other animals and the philosophical descriptions of Ideal, Form and Archetype? The review tries to interpret the development.
R. D. Laing’s critically neglected verse volume Knots (1970) is treated as a literary text and related to games, game theory and Cold War politics. The main focus is Laing’s use and view of language. He attempts, Zen-like, to reveal its conventionality and point towards another order of being. Knots participates in several genres and Laing – someone who sought to dissolve the doctor-patient distinction – transgresses what, he implies, are merely categories existing in language’s zone of illusion. His view of language relates, I argue, to his movement away from the speaking cure and towards greater interest in the body and pre-linguistic experience. While the countercultural Laing looks forward to the complete untangling of psychic, somatic and social knots, his presentation of such knots also suggests their unavoidability. If unavoidable, this text could help readers relate differently to their own knots and perhaps tie some more interesting ones.
This paper explores the repetitive nature of the flashback and discusses Cathy Caruth’s notion of the flashback as a traumatic event from outside that has moved inside without any mediation. Freud writes about Nachtraglichkeit – or deferred action trauma constituted by the relationship between two-events or experiences of two competing impulses. Included is a discussion of Gerhard Richter’s painting ‘September’, a gesture towards the integration of the flashback. The intensity of the traumatic experience makes it difficult to remember but impossible to forget, and any form of recollection seem inadequate. Mediation in this instance becomes a tool of integration, a bodily or physical lens that brings fragments together into a coherent whole for filing away into the past. Trauma is an unfinished, un-integrated experience in search of a witness where the flashback functions as the haunting reminder.
This essay presents contrasting psychosexual profiles of Shakespeare’s heroines Isabella, in Measure for Measure, and Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra. Isabella, a classic Freudian hysteric, has no conscious awareness of her desire or her seductiveness, and protects her chastity. Cleopatra is fully cognizant of her powerful and playful sexuality, and joins her lover Antony in a passionate intersubjective relationship. We also look at the patriarchal social order in these two plays, as it affects comedic and tragic form, and raise the possibility that the assumption of sexual subjectivity in women may diminish the impact of misogyny.
We all know what psychoanalysis is about ; a simple formula sums it up quite well : « Conscious Stroke Unconscious ». It all started towards the end of the XIXth Century and definitely acquired a « scientific » status in 1900 with the publication of Freud’s Die Traumdeutung. That this, however, was only the beginning of a very long « analysis » is also well known: the original formula–a structure in fact–, because of the radical change in our conception of human desire it implied, received various and sometimes contradictory interpretations, and the debate is still going on today. One of these interpretations, the latest I think, can be found in the works of Jacques Lacan. In this paper, I would like to clarify two particular notions–illustrations–which Lacan used to present his own reading of Freud’s model, a representation in fact which amounts to a development of psychoanalytical theory along what I take to be very freudian lines : the object and the law.
Abdellatif Kechiche is an actor, screenwriter, and film director of Tunisian origin with several works produced in France. Recently, a lot has been written about him, not only because, as a director, he won cinema awards, but also because he directed debatable films such as The Secret of the Grain (La graine et le mulet, 2007), Black Venus (Vénus noire, 2010), and especially Blue Is the Warmest Colour (La vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 et 2, 2013). If we view these films in terms of their manifest content, we see that they pose controversial issues related to cultural and/or sexual otherness. However, if we do a closer reading of some of these films from a psychoanalytic perspective, which seeks to find other idioms contained in the visual narratives, we find a consistent pattern of images organized around the mouth. In this paper, I shall try to show this close relationship between images and mouth in the movie The Secret of the Grain, and I will argue that the oral stage, as Freud and other psychoanalysts have shown, can act as a mental organizer, as a “strange attractor” of ideas, on which are founded several artistic discourses and imagery.
This paper offers an analysis of the FX television series Sons of Anarchy (SOA) through the lenses of Terror Management Theory (TMT) and Moral Foundations Theory (MFT). TMT asserts that, in order to mitigate death anxiety, people merge their identities with something larger and more powerful than their corporeal selves. The violent behaviors of the shows’ protagonists are presented as illustrative of the kind of death denying defense described in TMT. In addition to graphic violence and pervasive death imagery, another central element of the show is its complex and ambiguous portrayal of morality. The moral ambivalence created by SOA is explored from the perspective of MFT, which asserts that morality is influenced by the interaction of six distinct moral senses. The behaviors of various SOA characters and the reactions of viewers are presented as a function of the reciprocal influence of these central elements of mortality and morality.
Drawing on Lacanian psychoanalysis, this article considers writer/director Christopher Nolan’s treatment of trauma in the context of The Prestige (2006) by analysing the film’s narrative structure and thematic content. I argue that the film communicates trauma through a process of thematic, technical and visual repetition that is linked to the subject of the unconscious that Jacques Lacan (1977) defines as being a ‘lack’ or gap that emerges in the field of the Other (XI, 211). I also claim that the film exhibits the marks of a traumatic experience which manifest themselves in the spectator’s apparent compulsion to repeat and replay the trauma, and thus the film in an attempt to master the subject. Cutter: You wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back.
In this article I argue for new meaning and critical importance to be given to Dahl’s short story in his most successful collections Someone Like You, Kiss, Kiss and Switch Bitch by systematising and accounting for its portrayed violence. I first outline the history, importance and contemporary significance of Dahl’s short stories. I then show that a strange puzzle attaches itself to these stories: that a number of inconsistent accounts have been attempted in order to explain the tantalisingly meaningful violence within them. I see such attempts to account for the violence and meanings of Dahl’s adult writing as failures and argue that they do not critically engage with the recurring contexts and forms of the violence or Dahl’s own suggestions for its occurrence. I then remedy such critical deficiencies through an application of the psychoanalytical method and more adequately reformulate the violence by uncovering its relation to unconscious processes which repress innate desires, demonstrating that psychoanalytical theories of repression can engage with and contribute to understanding the significance of the violence, which is predicated on taboo relations between son and mother. I thus rethink the meaning and architecture of the stories psychoanalytically, suggesting for them a new claim for attention.
This essay explores intergenerational transmission of trauma as evidenced in the body. Specifically the somatic experiences of two white South African women, one historical (Olive Schreiner, author of The Story of an African Farm, 1883) and one fictional/contemporary (Lucy, a character in J.M. Coetzee’s novel Disgrace) are considered in order to elaborate the legacy of white colonial psychic disavowals in post-colonial South Africa. Using feminist and relational psychodynamic theories, this article addresses the alexithymia of the colonial predicament via an assertion that unwitnessed somatic distress as a result of disavowed trauma in individuals is potentially transmitted to subsequent generations and requires nuanced clinical attention. Jessica Benjamin argues that in attending to the psychic wounds of the doer, the done-to and those parts in each of us, we can interrupt the ongoing violent resonances of collective traumas. Curiosity about somatic distress is one avenue for this attending.
Married Life, by the Austrian Jewish author and poet David Vogel, was a provocative novel for Hebrew literature at the time of its publication in 1929. The story is one of sexual pathology in a relationship between a masochistic victimized Jewish man, a writer at the start of his career, and a willful Christian baroness who beats and mentally abuses him, until the inevitable tragic end. This essay analyzes the novel’s structure both poetically and thematically, through representations from the contrasting art movements of Impressionism and Expressionism. They are dominant influences that function not only as stylistic modes, but aesthetic cloaks behind which many of the novel’s problematical issues hide. The main concern is the complicated relationship between the married couple, viewed here through Freud’s concept of the “uncanny.” This prompts an additional reading of the influences of the above mentioned art movements through the “uncanny.”
It is well known that in Plato’s utopian ideal state there is no room for free artistic expression: artists are mistrusted and art works heavily censored. Less known is that, once they are properly selected and purified, art works are particularly valued by Plato. However, Plato completely disapproves of a certain category of art, which he defines as ‘mimetic’. ‘Mimetic art’ is a priori disqualified by him as morally bad, misleading and dangerous. It is therefore categorically forbidden in the ideal state. In practice, Plato identifies ‘mimetic art’ chiefly with Greek tragedy. We will go into a Jungian explanation of why this is the case. I hope to show that psychologically speaking Plato’s ideal state is an unstable construction. It is built on the repression of unconscious powers that may erupt any time. Tragedy is threatening to this construction because it undermines the unrealistic Platonic conception of man as an autonomous, rational being.
This article positions William Godwin’s 1794 novel Things as They Are; Or The Adventures of Caleb Williams as anticipating a modern theory of consciousness (the “self”) found in psychoanalysis, philosophy, and cognitive psychology that argues that we do not have reliable access to the workings of our own minds (let alone another’s mind) and that our notion of the “self” is largely a fiction mediated and created through narrative (i.e., language). I argue that Godwin’s novel explores the peculiar nature of the human “self” as it exists at the unfathomable crossroads of rational contemplation and emotional impulse, or the “paroxysms of the mind.” Godwin does this through a complex construction of multiple narratives where acts of narration in both the public and private spheres compete to create a sense of a “self” (our character, our past, our self-consciousness), and is our only access to a self which is ultimately unknowable.
Identity formations inscribed in language are rhetorical constructions. A cultural artifact exemplifying this idea is the movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and its main character, Lisbeth Salander. She displays evidence of “difference” in her on-screen behaviors, although in many instances her difference is a strength, not a weakness. Recently, there has been a proliferation of movie and television characters indicating popular culture’s attempts to define neuro-atypicality. Close analysis shows that the interactions of these characters illustrate a unique emphasis on specific rhetorical phenomena, such as invention, memory, and repetition. The rhetorical phenomena surrounds the idea of difference — and is encoded with the “different” person both in literature and film. The nature of the coding essentializes characteristics of identity not accurately reflective of difference, but there has been some progression in recent artistic endeavors. This is seen in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Lisbeth exemplifies some of the concerns people have about representation, either filmic or descriptive that rely on specific rhetorical strategies to either compensate or survive. In addition, Lisbeth is a new breed of character where the difference is not a deficit but also strength. Studying these particular strategies is informative and relevant to both audience notions of difference as well as creation of identity.
This article explores views of the mother-infant relationship and how it reveals conceptions of the self in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. William Wordsworth’s theory of the development of the self and mind in infancy in his 1799 Prelude (published 1850) is very much ahead of its time, anticipating twentieth century psychoanalytic and attachment relations theories. Through a thorough investigation of baby diaries and childcare advice literature during the two centuries, my findings indicate that it was only until the 1830s that two other writers’ ideas about infancy and the self began to resemble Wordsworth’s. I have identified three general trends in thinking during my period of investigation: before the 1830s, maternal attention was generally considered to be important to the development of the infant, but her importance did not go far beyond ensuring the physical well-being of her offspring. By the 1830s, advances in science as well as increasing evangelisation demanded the mother play a greater role in the spiritual and moral development of her children. By the 1870s, with Darwin’s theory of evolution and the formalised scientific study of infancy, understandings of the development of the infant focused on the biological and evolutionary rather than the internal and subjective.
In addressing this topic, the article will firstly give an introduction to the life and work of Francis Bacon, this is followed by a discussion of the meaning of distortion in a general sense, and then with specific reference to Bacon’s art. Prior to analyzing Bacon’s motivation to distort it is necessary to outline the effect which distortion has on observers of his art. Both Bacon’s conscious and subconscious motivations to distort are then theorized and discussed.
Pedro Almodóvar creates a cinematography that represents the sacrifice of the subject in its becoming a subject-of-language. Having been labeled the representative of Spanish idiosyncrasies, Almodóvar´s films also express universal post-modern concerns. The director makes use of destabilizing, dissonant, and dissident discourses that question the illusory coherence of the supposedly unified subject. Using as theoretical background explanations by Jacques Lacan and Julia Kristeva regarding the formation of the speaking subject, in this work I analyze the relation between the subject-of-language psychological processes and the techniques that inform the construction of plot, set, and character in Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón (1980), and Matador (1986). This research highlights the importance of the discourses of psychology and psychoanalysis to understand the artistic representations of universal post-modern sensibilities.
The Book of Thel concerns an adolescent girl, whose voyage to adulthood is cut short by a flood of new sensations that sends her fleeing back to a protected world. This article studies her experience in the light of Freud’s stimulus barrier, its revisions by Mahler, Shapiro and Stern, Esman, and Anzieu, and such ideas as the parental supplement of the stimulus barrier, stimulus-seeking in the neonate, the screening rather than blocking of stimuli, and the psychic envelope, as well as Winnicott’s “holding mother.” Thel’s trauma at the end of her voyage shows the delayed impact of a trauma at the poem’s beginning that prompts her search for some helping authority, but she finds no functioning parental supplement and develops no psychic envelope within which she might pursue a quest beyond childhood that did not end with a panicked return into the kind of neonate’s stimulus barrier that Freud described.
The first idea, the first words that occur to me when asked to express my appreciation for Almodovar’s movie is a plain exclamation about the beauty of the heroine : « Quelle est belle ! » And since one of the rules of psychoanalysis is to let one’s associations run freely, this outburst of admiration leads me to wonder whether Almodovar hasn’t caught me in his trap, inciting me torecognize that it is much better to be a woman than a man, which leaves me with the only comment I could think of : that I was considering the young lady as an object of admiration and desire therefore probably not identifying with her.
This article examines how Swedenborgianism linked the conscious and unconscious mind through the literary symbol. It has long warranted critical attention that Swedenborg, nearly two centuries before Jung, launched an exploration of archetypal images. What I will attempt below is a study of the reception history of Swedenborg, or, more precisely, an examination of how the psychological and literary dimensions of Swedenborg’s writing have been a significant attraction to readers.
Zone of the Interior is a satirical novel by an American, Clancy Sigal, about 1960s British anti-psychiatry, in particular, R. D. Laing, the radical Scottish psychiatrist and his idea (shared most notably by David Cooper, another existential therapist working in England) that schizophrenic breakdown might be a natural, healing process. Sigal’s little-known novel can help us think about the nature of anti-psychiatry and contribute to the resurgence of interest in it as we approach the 25th anniversary of Laing’s death. While Sigal, who was a patient and collaborator of Laing and worked in a democratized hospital unit set up by Cooper, lampoons anti-psychiatric doctors, the novel is a fundamentally sympathetic critique of anti-psychiatry: patients and nurses are the heroes, ordinariness wins out over madness as self-discovery, and anti-psychiatry is skillfully linked to issues of class, gender and New Left politics.
Drawing on Freud’s three aspects of the psyche, this paper explores the two character-triangles in John Fowles’s “The Ebony Tower.” Henry Breasley, Anne and Diana on one hand and David Williams, Beth and Diana on the other are respectively tied up to the Ego, Super ego and Id. The paper negotiates how the novella can be seen as a fictionalization of the quest of the ego to satisfy the artist’s urge for creativity which can potentially be realized by romancing the id drive. The artist’s innovative elocution can either be hindered or helped by its inevitable contact with realm of the id where repressed desires restlessly reside. In effect, not only does the Freudian conceptualization better illustrate the triangle character relationships but it uncovers the anxieties of the artist’s psyche.