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Psychoanalysis (4): The Return of the Repressed. Structure of the Mind, Child Development & Love Dream and Sexual Symbols Lacan – Desire & Split Identity Psychological Disorders & Edgar Allan Poe. Outline. Q & A on Freud and Lacan Art and psychoanalysis

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Psychoanalysis (4): The Return of the Repressed

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Psychoanalysis (4): The Return of the Repressed

Structure of the Mind, Child Development & Love

Dream and Sexual Symbols

Lacan – Desire & Split Identity

Psychological Disorders & Edgar Allan Poe


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Outline

  • Q & A on Freud and Lacan

  • Art and psychoanalysis

  • Kinds of Psychological Reactions and Disorder

  • Edgar Allan Poe (2): (his bio review)

    • “Tell-Tale Heart”

    • “Ligeia”

    • Some psy. Interpretations


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Q & A on Freud and Lacan

  • Why is Dream the royal road to our unconscious?

  • Why is the unconscious structured like language? What’s the significance of this view?

  • What is Symbolic Order for Lacan? Is it all powerful?

  • How do we analyze a lit. text from a psychoanalytic point of view?


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1. Repression and Civilization

  • Repression & Displacement (alternative paths to satisfy instinctual desires) 

    • Civilization: The result of our transformation/sublimation of unconscious desires. E.g. “Mona Lisa”–two images of L’s first mother: one tender and reserved, and the other sensual and seductive.

    • Symptoms: the return of the repressed  Behaviors or bodily abnormalities. Psychological reactions and disorders


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Psychoanalysis and Literature

  • For Freud, dream is like art because both

    • Fulfill wishes;

    • Use strategies to overcome the resistance of consciousness.

  • Interpretation of Dream//Art:

    • detect conflicts of meanings (where wish is confronted by resistance)

    • Ask the patient to make free association (decoding figurative language and symbol through contextual reading)

  • Is literature, then, to be treated as merely patients to be analyzed?


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Psychological reactions & disorders

  • Reactions:

    • Fixation  Regression

    • Compulsion to Repeat

    • Sexual deviance & Perversion

  • Disorders:

    • Neurosis

    • Psychosis


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Fixation and regression

  • The psychic reversion to childhood desires. When normally functioning desire meets with powerful external obstacles, which prevent satisfaction of those desires, the subject sometimes regresses to an earlier phase (eg. the mouth, the anus) in normal psychosexual development. (source)


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Compulsion to Repeat

  • A lot of symptoms are repetitive in nature;

  • Freud sees it as the most general character of our instinct;

  • What’s repeated is not just desire or the desirable; sometimes it is fear or unpleasant experience.


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Perversion: 5 forms

  • Freud: The pursuit of "abnormal" sexual objects (or non-sexual organs) without repression.

  • five forms of perversion

  • disregarding the barrier of species (the gulf between men and animals),

  • secondly, by overstepping the barrier against disgust,  e.g. voyeur and exhibitionist

  • against incest (the prohibition against seeking sexual satisfaction from near blood-relations),


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Perversion: 5 forms

4. That against members of one's own sex

5. the transferring of the part played by the genitals to other organs and areas of the body" (Introductory Lectures 15.208)

(Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Trans. James Strachey. 24 vols. London: Hogarth, 1953-74. )


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Perversion: examples

  • Desire satisfied through being looked at or looking  2. Exhibitionist: seeks a perfect confirmation of his desire in the desire of the other; the voyeur finds all of his desire in his looking.

  • 5. a young child will not recognize any of these five points as abnormal—and only does so through the process of education. For this reason, he calls children "polymorphously perverse" (Introductory Lectures15.209). (Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Trans. James Strachey. 24 vols. London: Hogarth, 1953-74. )


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Neurosis

  • Definition: the symbolic expression of a psychical conflict whose origin lies in the subject’s childhood memory (Laplanche 266);  quite common among us!

  • symptoms: an exaggeration of normal patterns of behaviour.

  • e.g. constantly checking the time or that doors are locked. Or other obsession rituals;

  • e.g. anxiety disorder  phobia; hysteria (now called conversion disorder)

  • e.g. over-eating (bulimia); stopping eating (anorexia)

  • For reference: http://www.sla.purdue.edu/academic/engl/theory/psychoanalysis/freud4.html


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Psychosis

  • Definition: The inability of a person to distinguish between what is real and what is imaginary. (Primary distance of the libidinal relation to reality.)

  • Symptoms: hallucination, self-delusions

  • E.g. schizophrenia and manic depression (躁鬱症).

  • Freud: “in neurosis the ego suppressespart of the id out of allegiance to reality, whereas in psychosis it lets itself be carried away by the id and detached from a part of reality” (5.202).


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Fetishism

  • falls between neurosis and psychosis.

  • An erotic attachment to an inanimate object or an ordinarily asexual part of the human body.

  • "The fetishist is the adult who, because of his attachment to the fetish, is 'saved‘ from psychosis (which is the more typical consequence of disavowal in adults). . . . (Elizabeth Grosz Jacque Lacan: A Feminist Introduction p. 118)

  • Freud: the fetish is able to “become the vehicle both of denying and of asseverating the fact of castration” (5.203).


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Fetishism (2) –for reference

  • from Lacan Ecrit p. 197-98

  • The whole problem of the perversions consists in conceiving how the child, in his relation to the mother, in his relation to the mother, a relation constituted in analysis not by his vital dependence on her but by his dependence on her love, that is to say, bythe desire for her desire,. . .identifies himself with the imaginary object of this desire in so far as the mother herself symbolizes it in the phallus.


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Edgar Allan Poe

An Artist with a

Keen Awareness of

Conflicting Desires


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Edgar Allan Poe

  • Bio: born in 1809;

  • Father disappeared when he was 18 months old;

  • Pretty and childlike mother died of consumption a year later;

  • Married Virginia at the age of 26, when Virginia was 13 and already sickening.

  • Virginia died of consumption 10 years later.


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Allan & the Women in Poe’s Life


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“Tell-Tale Heart”: Questions

  • Why does the narrator want to kill the old man? Why is he upset by the latter’s eye?

  • How does the narrator do it?

  • Why does the narrator speak to “you” until the arrival of the three policemen? Why is the distinction between madness and acute hearing ability important for him? Is he mad?

  • What makes him confess at the end? What does the title mean? Whose heart?

  • Does the story convey Poe’s repressed Oedipal desire?


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The Eye and “I” narrator

  • The old man’s eye

    • par 2 -- "Object there was none. Passion there was none . . . It was his eye! . . .pale blue eye, with a film over it.“

    • Called Evil Eye; vulture eye;

    • Climax: “It was open — wide, wide open — and I grew furious as I gazed upon it."


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The Eye and “I” narrator

  • “I” being formed in the mirror stage; enpowering

  • Visual Perception: pleasurable; Induces fantasy  one basis for filmic theories on spectatorship.

  • Lacan: the fantasy (of the presence of a lost phallus) is always missing from what is seen;

  • ref. “When, in love, I solicit a look, what is profoundly unsatisfying and always missing is that—You never look at me from the place from which I see you” “What I look at is never what I wish to see” (Lacan 1977b. P. 103 qtd Wright 108)


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The “Father’s” Eye & “I” narrator

  • Sympathy for the old man – p. 46 – par. 3; the old man’s heartbeat // his own.

  • Entrance into the primal scene and hating the “father’s” lack of power.


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His hearing ability & what he hears

  • The narrator’s hearing:

  • The disease “had sharpened [his] senses — not destroyed — not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute"


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His hearing abilities & what he hears

  • “a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton"

    • -- hallucination; his own heart beat  sense of guilt;

    • -- the old man's heart, first heard in fact and then imagined to be heard;

    • -- that of deathwatch beetles (see p. 46 par 2) -- called so because “it emits a sound resembling the ticking of a watch, supposed to predict the death of some one of the family in the house in which it is heard" (qtd Reilly)


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His hearing abilities & what he hears

  • Whatever he actually hears, it shows that he is gradually dissociated from reality;


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Is he mad?

  • Does the story convey Poe’s repressed Oedipal desire?

  • Reilly: paranoid schizophrenia.

  • Two sides of the narrator:

    • "very, very dreadfully nervous," impulsive;

    • Careful, understanding and scheming; (e.g. p. 45)

  • Self-justifying all the way through

    • Claims that he is not mad;

    • Feels “power” and “triumph” on the eighth night;

    • Gets the support of Death

    • Agony of being laughed at drives him to confess


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Is he mad? Conclusion

  • It is still his sense/delusion of the overpowering “social” that brings him to first kill, to confess to the police himself and then tell the story to “you.”

  • The old man is not the only representative of social authorities. (neighbors, the policemen, God, Death)


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“Ligeia”: Plot Summary

  • Ligeia remembered and described:

    • her family (last name forgotten), her outer appearance, her behavior and her character traits. (pp. 74-76)

    • compared to figures of Greek mythology (Apollo,...), Egyptian Gods (Ashtophet) , animals (gazelle) and refers to other popular men (Homer, Lord Verulam, ...). He gets more and more excited about it, and says her beauty is:" the beauty of beings either above or apart from the earth".

    • their relationship -- She leads him through his studies of `the mysteries of the transcendentalism in which [they] were immersed


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“Ligeia”: Plot Summary

2. Ligeia’s illness, her reading of `Conqueror Worm’ and her death;

3. The narrator wanders around in grief, purchases an old abbey `in one of the wildest and least frequented portions of fair England,’ and then marries Rowena. The Chamber described, also the fearful relationship between the husband and the wife;

4. Rowena gets sicker and more and more tortured by visions;

5. The night she is dying, the narrator tries to resuscitate her. . . .


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“Ligeia”: Questions

  • How is Ligeia described and characterized?

  • How is she a contrast to Rowena?

  • What are the gothic elements which prepares us for the final return of Ligeia in Rowena’s body? What is the importance of the bridal chamber (p. 78)?

  • What does the final scene mean?

  • Why is the story composed of so many descriptive details, but not as much dialogue or action?


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Contradictory Descriptions of Ligeia

  • Fairy-like and emaciated beauty, but strong will and life force

  • Vividly present in the narrator’s mind, though he claims to have a feeble memory, but not a speaking subject.

  • Her eyes – his mirror image? Illegible? A symbol of natural force?

  • Her learning—a medium to transport him to a place transcendental but also forbidden


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Ligeia vs. Rowena

  • Black tresses vs Fair-haired

  • Unfathomable eyes vs. blue eyes

  • No last name vs. clear background.

  • Pp. 78- 79


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“Ligeia”: Some Other Interpretations

  • a philosophical tale about the nature and limits of the mind, the human body, thought, and the will (Dayan);

  • as a satirical take on the contrast between German idealism and English Romanticism (Griffith);

  • as a tale that exemplifies Poe's famous dictum from "The Philosophy of Composition" (1846) that "the death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world" (201).


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Comparison: “Tell-Tale Heart,”“Ligeia” & “City in the Sea”

  • A narrator attracted to and entranced by death;

  • Frequent images of Poe: cave, castle, dungeon, eyes.


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Marie Bonarparte’s work on Poe

  • another example of psycho-biography;

  • Her basic point:

    • Fixated on his love for his mother a necrophiliac

    • Physically loyal to her, he married an ailing cousin and thus spares himself the need to consummate the marriage.


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Marie Bonarparte’s work on Poe (2)

  • Compulsion to repeat in “Tales of the Mother” and “Tales of the father”

    • desire to be united with the dead mother

    • Desire to kill the father figure

    • Both desires are repressed and thus they cause anxiety.

  • Bonarparte sees Poe’s tales as the manifest part of his dream/desire, through which she recovers the latent part.


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Lacan on Poe

  • Repetition of a structure

  • Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” is for Lacan

    • a symbolic repetition of a structuring fantasy.’

    • an allegory of the supremacy of the signifier over the subject.


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D. H. Lawrence on Poe

  • Studies in Classic American Literature

  • major argument—the very instrument of repression can become the vehicle by which the repressed desire returns.

  • His target: the Pilgrim Fathers, the artists who build myth (Poe, for instance), and the reader who accepted these myths.


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D. H. Lawrence on Poe

  • “false myth” e.g. Hawthorne and Poe

  • Poe: the murderous impulse to destroy that which cannot be mentally possessed and mastered. e.g. the heroines of Ligeia and The Fall of the House of Usher

  • Lawrence: “To try to know any living being is to try to suck the life out of that being. You know your woman darkly, in the blood. To try to know her mentally is to try to kill her” (76 qtd Wright 45)


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Reference

  • Psychoanalytic Criticism: A Reappraisal. Elizabeth Wright. Polity,1998.

  • Types of Psychological Disorder http://www.health.nsysu.edu.tw/drpan/bookmark/out_dx.htm

  • John E. Reilly, "The Lesser Death-Watch and 'The Tell-Tale Heart'," revised from The American Transcendental Quarterly, II (2nd Quarter), 1969, pp. 3-9.http://www.eapoe.org/papers/misc1990/jer19691.htm#n01


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