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Psychoanalytical Approach to Analyzing Literature a.k.a. “Finding Sigmund Freud Wherever you Look”

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Presentation on theme: "Psychoanalytical Approach to Analyzing Literature a.k.a. “Finding Sigmund Freud Wherever you Look”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Psychoanalytical Approach to Analyzing Literature a.k.a. “Finding Sigmund Freud Wherever you Look”

2 Interpretation of Dreams: 1900 In the following pages, I shall demonstrate that there is a psychological technique which makes it possible to interpret dreams, and that on the application of this technique, every dream will reveal itself as a psychological structure, full of significance, and one which may be assigned to a specific place in the psychic activities of the waking state. Further, I shall endeavour to elucidate the processes which underlie the strangeness and obscurity of dreams, and to deduce from these processes the nature of the psychic forces whose conflict or co-operation is responsible for our dreams.

3 Dreams = Wish Fulfillment Dreams are a function of the brain intended to solve problems the waking brain cannot handle Strange, unexplainable features of dreams are symbolic, and hold meanings that can be traced through patterns of the mind Dream Work = the conscious mind’s “translation” of the raw dream material

4 Freud Divided the Brain into 3 ID – original state of mind – uninhibited by boundaries, rules, or responsibilities. The subconscious part of the brain focused on Impulses: Pleasure, aggression, instinct SUPEREGO – the mature version of the self, imposes limitations from external sources on the ID: shaped by societal rules which checks the ID

5 EGO – “I” in Latin – the “self” – limited by separation of self from others. Negotiates between the desires of the ID and the demands of the SUPEREGO. Basically balances our impulses within our social settings and rules.

6 Repression  The key to psychoanalysis is to release hidden fears, anxieties, impulses that are hidden. Despite denial, they do not go away.  Ex: A son who cannot please a parent will double efforts to appear perfect or A woman who feels unable to control social expectations of beauty will seek to control her beauty leading to anorexia, etc.

7  A behavior that comes from survival (repress painful issues to deal) can wreak more havoc on the person. Ironic isn’t it!  Individual and Society Characters may repress impulses known to be socially unacceptable: Holden Caulfield, Gulliver, Macbeth, Blanche DuBois

8 Mirror stage At about six months, infants go through the “mirror stage” This fascination with one’s own image (whether literally in a mirror, or “reflected” in others) rules our conscious lives We are in a continual search to define our selves, to uphold our visions of our selves, and to extend our selves into others’ reflections. This determines the “symbolic order,” in other words, humans’ tendencies to see things symbolically

9 So Why are We Studying this in English Class? Symbols. Remember the Mirror Stage? We are hard- wired to see the world in “Analogical” terms (remember the Puritans?) Literature is filled with symbols and interpretable meanings that help us understand the conflict of the novel, and ultimately, of the outside world (like symbols in dreams reveal the conflicts of the conscious minds)

10 How to read between the lines Understanding the core Freudian patterns can provide additional insights into the author or characters of a story. Every detail counts (that’s from Interpretation of Dreams) “Organic Unity” of a text is when all of the symbolic details are crafted to build into a coherent interpretation

11 BASIC FREUDIAN SYMBOLS Phallic Symbols (swords, missiles, trees, tulips, guns, …) Yanic Symbols (flowers, caves, cups…) Escape Symbols (flight, birds, wings, running…) Security Symbols (beds, pillows, maternal associations,…) Fear Symbols (walls closing in, weapons, jagged edges…)

12 Example Ring around the Rosy A pocket full of posey Ashes, Ashes, We all fall down Historical Interpretation:  Medieval Plague Freudian Interpretation:  We fear, and therefore destroy the flowers within ourselves

13 The end.

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