Freudian psychoanalysis
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Freudian Psychoanalysis. Summary Fetishism as an Example. Outline. Sigmund Freud Jacque Lacan Fetishism Continuations ego psychology & object-relations theory Connections with Marxism Video References. Freudian Psychoanalysis: General Comment --Deconstruction.

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Freudian Psychoanalysis

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Freudian Psychoanalysis


Fetishism as an Example


  • Sigmund Freud

  • Jacque Lacan

  • Fetishism

  • Continuations

    • ego psychology & object-relations theory

    • Connections with Marxism

  • Video References

Freudian Psychoanalysis: General Comment --Deconstruction

  • Freud begins with a series of hierarchical oppositions:

    • normal/pathological,

    • Sanity/insanity,

    • Experience/dream,

    • Conscious/unconscious,

    • Life/death.

      The first –prior and richer;The second–negation or complication;

  • Freud: the first –”a special case of the fundamentals designated by the second term.”(Jonathan Culler qud in Wright 124)

Freudian Psychoanalysis: Major Concepts & Terms

  • [Beginning Theory]

  • The Unconscious (taking a large part of our mind),

  • Repression & Sublimation (the other defense mechanisms– screen memory, projection, transference, Freudian slip; see here )

  • e.g. Psychology of Everyday Life; Forgetting, slips of the tongue, bungled actions, superstitions and errors'

  • Freud’s Interpretations of Dreams

    • Dream work (see here; 4:11~6:30) –condensation and displacement  sexual symbols (Note: Freud: 'Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar‘)

      • E.g. a woman dreaming of a bete noire  Schwartz.

      • e.g. significant omission of the word 'aliquis' (which means 'somebody') in a young man’s statement

    • e.g. Dora’s dreams (of a fire, in which her father said: “father said 'I refuse to let myself and my two children be burnt for the sake of your jewel-case'.

    Freudian Psychoanalysis: Major Concepts & Terms

    • [Beginning Theory]

  • Sexuality Development, libido, and Oedipus Complex

  • e.g. Hamlet – “Hamlet cannot avenge this crime because he is guilty of wanting to commit the same crime himself. He has an Oedipus complex, that is, a repressed sexual desire for his own mother, and a consequent wish to do away with his father”

  • e.g. Sons and Lovers

  • e.g. Homecoming, American Beauty [challenging the Father]

  • Freudian Psychoanalysis: possible functions & criticism

    A. Psyche, Id psychology & Child development: The theory of Oedipus complex and penis envy

    -- helps explain gendering processes in patriarchal society.

    -- Freud's limitations or our misunderstanding?

    -- inability to explain female sexuality--"What do women want?"

    -- its focus on infantile psychology. "Between ordinary adult personality traits and infantile psychology thereare layers upon layers of relationships, experiences, values and meanings."

    Freudian Psychoanalysis: possible functions & criticism

    B. Psychobiography and Art as Dream work.

    -- psychobiography (treating artists as patients, art as dream work, and explaining art in terms of his/her life) can be reductive, ignoring art’s aesthetic aspects on the conscious level. (e.g. E. Bishop’s objectification/distantiation of her loss )

    -- We can examine our own transference in reading.

    -- interpretation of dream: helps us understand the languages of dream.

    Freudian Psychoanalysis: possible functions & criticism

    C. Psychological Pattern & Disorders

    1) Patterns in Psychic Processes :

    repression  displacement/sublimation or fixation/regression

    2) Disorder -- the return of the repressed through symptoms.

    repetition compulsion, defense mechanism, death/life instincts

    -- Helpful for character and self analysis;

    -- entering the symbolic order means having reality checks; otherwise, we may become psychotic.

    Freudian Psychoanalysis: Lacan

    The Imaginary

    • Add linguistic elements to Freud’s analysis. (Evidence: dream work)

    • Ego – a mirror image, an illusion.

    • Barred subject: S-ier/S-ied; or S; 'I am where I think not'

    • [Beginning Theory] There is a perpetual barrier between signifier (the word) and signified (the referent). … Hence, “we are forced to accept the notion of an incessant sliding of the signified under the signifer” (Lodge, p. 87).

    • Sliding beneath—the signified, is our desire.

    Freudian Psychoanalysis: Lacan

    • The three orders of human existence: constant antagonism between the Real and the Symbolic, our mirror images and the need to “look.” -- The Symbolic, The Imaginary, and the Real (black hole, return as absences  the semiotic for Kristeva)

    • Entering the Symbolic Order, we follow the Name of the Father (its power and logic)

    • Desire as lack --

      • The differences between need, demand (with language) and desire.

      • The mother as feminine Other, our needs for the “others” (objet a).

    --Is this another fiction?


    An example of controversies and continuation

    Fetishism – of Different Kinds

    • (Religious fetishism: body, object, god and charm 拜物教--人體、物體、神像和護身符四大類);

    • Erotic/Sexual fetishism;

    • Commodity fetishism and Colonial fetishism

    FETISHISM—general def.

    • Erotic fetishism-- the dependence on particular objects (part of a body or an inanimate object) to obtain sexual arousal.

    • Most common fetish objects are Female underwear, Leatherwear, and Rubber. Using female underwear for fetishistic purposes is one reason for partial cross-dressing.

    Erotic fetishism- Examples

    • Clothing Fetishism- underwear- uniforms (e.g. Exotica)- gloves - shoes/boots/pantyhose

    • (Body) Modification- tattoos- piercing

    • Material Fetishism- leather- fur- velvet (e.g. Blue Velvet)

    Erotic fetishism- Examples

    • Body Fetishism- legs/feet - hair- nails/claws - belly buttons

    • Other Fetishism- manaquins/robots- cross dressing

      - cigarette

    Erotic fetishism- Freud’s analysis

    • Disavowal: The little boy sees the mother’s genitals and simultaneously denies his perception of her castration.

      //his castration fear

      Solution -- denial/acceptance of her castration, and by extension his own, by finding a substitute.

    • Fetish:

      • A substitute for the mother’s missing penis;

      • Linked metonymically to the female genitalia;

      • Never the same as the original, which is a fiction. (imaginary phallus or phallic mother)

    Erotic fetishism- Reasons

    • Fetishization:

      • eroticizes an object or a non-genital part of one’s body;

      • allows the boy to remain intimate with the “phallic mother” while at the same time enter the symbolic, accepting the father’s law and developing his masculinity.

    • Lacan’s example: Little Harry (Grosz 119-20)

    • Is fetishism all about need for power and identification?

    • Are we all fetishists, one way or another

    • Prosperine, 1877

    Fetishism: example

    • Fazio's Mistress, 1863.D.G.Rossetti 

    Erotic fetishism- Extention

    • Visual Pleasures in Hollywood films

    • –the camera takes a male perspective, watching female stars as passive object of look

    • Satisfy two kinds of desire:

    • Male voyeurism –peeping in order to possess

    • Fetishism --look and identify with the glamorized female stars;

      -- fetishizing women’s body on the screen; in order to project them as “phallic mother”(//e.g. film noire: the woman has to be a lack, losing memory of her identity.)

    Erotic fetishism- Criticism

    • Reflects Freud’s emphasis of--

      • Female castration, male castration anxiety

      • Freud’s privileging the phallus

    • Feminist responses

      1. Rejection –fetishism coincides with the norm of phallocentrism.

      2. Female fetishism: e.g. collection of memorabilia; self-fetishization;

      3. Rewriting: female disavowal—women disavow their own castration through narcissism or hysteria. It also explains female development of lesbianism.

    Examples for analysis: Mulholland Dr. –its “Narcissistic” Elements

    • As a revision of film noire, it has a woman, but not a man, in pursuit of a femme fatale (who is mysterious and amnesiac).

    • The fetishistic images in the film turn to be those of herself.

    • Mirror/reality forms a vicious circle, and there is no outlet for her.

    Greta Garbo vs. Diane

    Rene Magritte, The Dangerous Liaison

    • The woman hides behind a projected “phallic” image of herself.  contradiction between soliciting gaze with the gesture of modesty and self-projection.

    • (Cf. Wright 185)

    Fetishism: Literary Examples

    • Hemingway

    • his male heroes – all amputees. (Jake Barnes is missing his penis. Harry Morgan is missing his arm. Harry Walden has a gangrenous leg. Colonel Cantwell has been shot "twice through the hand.“)

      • a fear of castration  envy of masculine grace.

      • an unsettling identification with the "castrated" woman, which paradoxically intensifies castration anxiety. e.g.

    Fetishism: Literary Examples

    “問金庸情是何物:禮物、信物、證物”– by 張小虹;

    -- Some fetishes may not be sexual in nature


    -- green light in The Great Gatsby (national fetish)

    -- commodity fetish (e.g. The commodities in such realist novels as Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath or Sister Carrie)

    Fetishism of Other Kinds: Colonial Fetish

    • sexual fetish the sexualized "fetish of colonial discourse" (Homi Bhabha)

    • colonial fetish:

      • in the ambivalent space "in between“

        • an imposed identity and the reality of their humanity for the colonized

        • between the recognized and the disavowed,

        • between fear and desire for the colonizers.

    • The tropes of the sexual fetish are present in the colonial fetish, but syncretized with certain tropes of colonialist experience and identity to embody the larger socio-political context of colonial relations.

    Fetishism of Other Kinds: Colonial Fetish

    • e.g.1. the image of the submissive and sweet Oriental woman (Madame Butterfly);

    • 2. Jimmie Durham Self-Portrait (1986) Sexually powerful aborigine. -- sea shells for ears, bits of animal hide hair; one turquoise eye is just to show a little "Indianness," and the feathers revealed by an open chest cavity imply a certain "light-heartedness." and defiantly "large and colorful" genitals.

    Fetishism of Other Kinds: Commodity Fetish

    • The charming and enigmatic nature of commodity

       Exchange values added to it;

    • relations between the products // relations between men

      e.g. Cell phone, Hello Kitty, etc.

    • More next time.



    ego psychology & object-relations theory

    • Ego psychology – deal with the management of fantasies for the maintenance of identity;

    • (id psychology– instinctual drives and private fantasies)

    • Object-relations:

      • feelings about the mother projected to an external object;  multiple interactions with the object  establish one’s relations with reality.

    Combined with Marxism

    • The symbolic order – filled with signs of ideologies;

    • Commodity –as a sublime object of our desire (to hide the inner split in us).

    • Analyzing cultural symptoms. e.g. the need for stigmatization when SARRS occurs.

    • Treating Psychoanalysis as a discourse that gets form when traditional families are challenged. (e.g. Foucault)

    Online References

    • Defense Mechanisms


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

    • Elizabeth Grosz Jacque Lacan: A Feminist Introduction

    Video References


    • Freud (Biography) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

    • Jacques Lacan By Marcus Pond

    • Texts:

      • all of Hitchcock’s films

      • A Dangerous Method (2011) [about Freud, Jung and Sabina Spielrein]

      • Muholland Dr.; The Piano, The Piano Teacher, American Beauty, etc.

      • Mindscape (link)

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