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Psychoanalytic Criticism

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Leigh Keleher

on 11 December 2013

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Transcript of Psychoanalytic Criticism

Valerie, John, Danielle & Leigh
Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory
Freud's ideas have influenced the entire Western world of thought.
Freud's theories are concerned with the unconscious mind and that our mind is only rational/sane only at times and on a certain level.
Freud's Theory of Repression
The thoughts in our unconscious mind have been censored and put there by our consciousness, are often infantile sexual desires
What Is Psychoanalytic Criticism
Psychoanalytic & Literature
Literature and dreams are similar; both have truth to tell but must be interpreted first.
Psychoanalytic criticism originated in Sigmund Freud's 'Interpretation of Dreams' (1900)
People are aware of Freudian ideas, even if they have never read his work
Freudian ideas are present even in works
that were written before Freud, like
'Oedipus' and 'Hamlet.'
Powers motivating us are MAINLY and NORMALLY unconscious
Believes that the human mind is dual in nature.
Id= "it" the irrational, passionate part of the mind

Ego= "I" the rational, logical part of the mind

Superego= projection of ego, is outside of self,
tells us how to act in accordance
with society, moral judgements,
& self-sacrifice
Repressed thoughts only emerge in dreams, Freudian slips, art such as literature, and neurotic behavior
Freud said most common unconscious desire in childhood is to take place of parent of our own sex and get affection from the parent of the opposite sex is the Oedipus complex
Freud believed that thinking taboo ideas was a natural part of development but it is frowned upon by society because acting on these thoughts is 'wrong;' thus these taboo thoughts become repressed and are symbolic in dreams
Psychoanalysts & Psychotherapists
Otto Rank- Psychoanalyst. One of the closest colleagues to Sigmund Freud for twenty years. Rank wrote that the artist takes a secret repressed wish and turns into a literary fantasy

Alfred Adler- Psychotherapist. He believed writers wrote out of inferiority
Carl Jung: Psychotherapist. He believed in collective unconscious which states that literature is actually a representation of desires held by the entire human race which were repressed because of civilization's formation
Famous writers such as William Faulkner, Henry James, and Toni Morrison all rely on psychoanalytic ideas in their writing

The original "psychological" criticism attempted to either: study the writer, study the creative process, generalize the types and laws in the literature or theorize on the effect of literature on the reader
Writers were usually psychoanalytically analyzed first as writing to either indulge in repressed fantasies or protect themselves from anxieties

Later generations of critics then analyzed the characters, saying the characters were unconscious representations of author's psyches and true selves

Psychoanalytic literary criticism is very similar to techniques used to analyze dreams

Writers write to express a secret
Initial literature surface of literary surface is called manifest content and critic tries to find the underlying "hidden" content of it.
Freud said there were two mental processes that people use to disguise their wishes/fears in dreams
CONDENSATION: several thoughts or people can be condensed into one manifestation or image

DISPLACEMENT: an anxiety, wish, or person can be displaced onto an image of another that is loosely connected to the original anxiety, wish or person
Literary metaphors are treated like dream condensations
Literary metonyms (figures of speech based on loose, arbitrary associations) are treated like dream displacements
Literary figurative language is treated like something that happens when the writer's conscious mind resists what the unconscious mind tells it to picture or describe
"a meaningful concealment of truth as the truth promises to emerge as some frightening or forbidden idea"
A Literary Symbol
Critic Norman Holland stated that psychoanalytic criticism actually analyzes the author's mindset as opposed to the actual piece of writing
Focus is on the stages of childhood development
Robert Frost's poem, "Mending Wall," about breaking down a wall to reunite with another person actually suggests returning back to a nursing mother
Jacques Lacan
Lacan said we should study dreams to learn about literature and study literature to study dreams (the unconscious)
Lacan added the theory of language to Freud's theories of psyche and gender
Said that children go through stages:
1. Preverbal Stage
2. Mirror Stage
3. Oedipal Stage
Mirror Stage
child views itself and others as independent selves, learns to fear another person's aggression, recognize what is beyond the self and want to compete with people for a desired object, child first feels sympathy, cries when others cry, constructs one's ego

Lacan says that the constructed ego is only produced to hide one's lack of being, the ego is actually fictional
Oedipal Stage
child views itself and parents as individuals, perceive gender and gender differences in themselves and others, the knowledge that their fathers also have penises makes boys recognize as their fathers as older and powerful rivals and are jealous
Oedipal stage coincides with child language learning
Words are using to represent "Symbolic order" and the "Law of the Father" which bans boys from craving desire for their mother
Because of the father-son conflict, Lacan says boys enter the world of symbolic order more easily than girls, who never really part with the strong desire for the mother
Power of Words
child will always know who their mothers are but the father is based on the mother's WORD that he is indeed the father of the child
Child is raised by taking the father's name, another example of Lacan's theory of language and its power on the psyche
Feminists reject Lacan's theory of language because he states that women cannot enter easily into the world of Symbolic order
People who follow deconstruction criticism are interested in Lacan's theory because he claims the ego isn't real
The Forbidden Forest: Harry Potter
(Added for fun just to represent a frightening and forbidden place in a particular literature)
Preverbal Stage
child does not know language yet so it communicates using literal sounds and doesn't realize its own independence away from the mother
Psychoanalytic criticism moved on to analyzing the reader's psyche
Author's write to express what they think their readers' unconscious wishes are, thus kind of being like reader-response criticism
Critic R.D. Laing said we have double/schizoid selves and that we're afraid of becoming a thing in the world of another without our own life
Critic D.W. Winnicott formed the idea of "object relations" making the reader/text interaction be viewed as a relationship
Reader/text is similar to a psychoanalyst and a patient or mother and child
Freud saw mother/son relationship as repressed Oedipus complex and saw patient/psychoanalyst relationships as the analyst scientifically extracting the repressed truth from the patient
Object Relations
People who follow "object relations" believe the mother/son and patient/psychoanalyst relationships to be dyadic, dynamic in both directions
Both objects in a situation influence one another
French structuralist theorist Jacques Lacan viewed the unconscious as a language and dreams a form of discourse
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