Starts with Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Argues that “the creation of civilization has resulted in the suppression of basic human instincts”
As we become civilized we develop more and more codes which prevent us from behaving in an
Those basic human instincts revealed by Freud’s conception of three levels of the mind and his
deconstruction of the elements of the psyche
Freud divides the minds into three levels. (iceberg)
1. Conscious Level: Thoughts and perceptions
2. Preconscious Level: Memories and Stored
3. Unconscious Level: Fears, irrational wishes,
shameful experiences, selfish needs, violent
motives and unacceptable sexual desires.
Three key elements: Id, Ego and Super Ego
Id is the Primitive self, the inner self, driven by basic instincts and passions (the pleasure
The Ego is the social self which evolves to allow one to exist in society (the reality principle), in
part by mediating between id and super ego
The Super-Ego is the conscience, the representative of authority Repression and Dreams
To allow us to function in society, ego often has to repress basic instincts of the id.
Basic instincts and drives surface in other ways-often in our dreams
Dreams are a “compromised structure” – a compromise between the demands of the id and the
censorship by the ego (responding to the super-ego)
Dreams incorporate manifest (remembered) content and latent (repressed) content
Freud and Sex
Dreams are full of symbols which may be read. Many of these may be interpreted as sexual in
nature (caves, hollows, pockets, trees, spears…airships?)
Note: Freud warns against the outsider imposing meaning on these symbols (only the dreamer
could do this)
Freud famous for the Oedipus complex, his theory of psychosexual development
Named after character in greek drama by Sophocles. Oedipus unknowlingly, first kills his father
and then marries his mother. When he discovers what he has done, he blinds himself Freud argued that all boys in an early development stage wishes to kill their father and have
sexual desires about his mother’s until he matures and out grows those feelings.
Freud struggled over time to apply a similar model to the psychosexual development of girls (the
Jocasta complex) but revised his thinking on a number of occasions.
What does any of this have to do with Pop Culture?
Freudian psychoanalysis has been widely used as a method to understand texts by
1. “author-centered” approach, viewing the text as the authors dream’s (the author here
may ne novelist, poet, film-maker, singer-songwriter, ect.)
Surface of the text (words, images etc.) is