English 216: Notes for Chapter 5

Chapter 5: Psychoanalysis

variations and derivations of Freudian psychology

Sigmund Freud

  • Conscious: what we’re aware of, outward-facing
  • Unconscious: what we’re not aware of, inward-facing
    • sublimation: base instincts that are suppressed by socialization
    • repression: shunting traumas from the conscious to the unconscious
  • the Psyche: continuous struggle of conscious/unconscious, pleasure/reality
    • id: instinctive desires, pleasure principle, and libido
    • ego: intellectual response desire, reality principle
    • superego: internalization of authority, develops through Oedipal Compex
  • Oedipal Complex
    • boys: desire mother, resent father, fear authority, realize they’ll be fathers
    • girls: desire father, resent mother, realize they’ll be mothers/have babies
  • Dreams: indirect access to repressed feelings, analyze to integrate into ego
  • Literary Analysis: treat the “text” like a dream
    • author-centric: the artist’s dream, some audience might share it
    • reader-centric: reader gets pleasure without shame & is context of meaning


Jacque Lacan: structuralism + Freudianism

  • Lack: “lost object,” desire for the Real that can never be fulfilled
  • the Real: unity with mother, no separate identity (i.e., subjectivity)
  • Mirror Phase: recognize self in mirror, become both subject and object
    • the imaginary: build identify by identifying with objects
  • fort-da game: find objects that substitute for lack of the Real/mother
    • the Symbolic: entry into language, ever-receding identity: castration
  • Oedipal Complex: realize we can never have the Real/mother


Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”

  • Male Gaze: mode of looking at women’s bodies movies, a form of pleasure
    • Scopophilic: watching women anonymously, objectification/separation
    • Narcissistic: identifying with men, splits identity (like the mirror stage)
  • the Look: men look at men looking at women (identification)
    • men look at men having sex with women (separation)
    • To-be-looked-at-ness: women as objects of visual pleasure
  • Threat of Castration (i.e, the female body): entry into language, loss of the Real,
    • Investigate: devalue, punish, and/or save women
    • Fetishization of specific women’s bodies as objects


Slavoj Žižek and Lacanian Fantasy

  • Lacan as organizing principle of Marxist critique of culture industry
  • Culture Industry: acts like Lacanian language, produces fantasies of desire
  • Fantasy: depicts the lost objects of desire (i.e., the Real)
  • Desire: unfulfillable (because it’s gone if you fulfil it) & retroactively constructed
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