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Chapter 7-11

mdsa01h3 Chapter 7-11: Chapter 7 - ... Notes by FanBing.docx

Media Studies
Course Code
Michael Petit

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Chapter 7. Psychoanalytic Analysis
A. Introduction
-Scholars who utilize Psychoanalytic, approach to study the media, for the idea of an unsettling drive that
seeks satisfaction without regard to safety or reality forms the theoretical core of psychoanalytic theory
-The approach is grounded in the genesis of individual psychology, the psychology of the media text, and
the ways in which the two interact in the process of media consumption.
B. Psychoanalytic theory: an overview
-The drives = somatic (what related to body, not mind) demands upon the mind
-Psychoanalysis begins with a consideration of how the mind registers the body’s internal, biological
needs for nutrition, comfort, sex…and transforms them into motivating forces or drives; instead of
external behaviourism
-Different people seek out from different sources and objects to achieve satisfaction.
- Pleasure principle of Freud = uncontrollable human drive to satisfy desire including libido, sex desire
-When there are realistic limits, called reality principle, on how to find those objects, the human mental
structure is born
-Freud proposes 2 topographies
1. In his book The Interpretation of Dreams: the unconscious, conscious, and pre-conscious
+ When a drive cannot achieve its object, the mind copes with this frustration by repressing
(temporarily relieves the sense of frustration) or submerging the wish into the unconscious. The drive
however waits for an opportunity to make itself known again in pre-conscious (in form of dream) or
consciousness or slips of tongue
+ Unconscious and conscious has permeable boundary
2. Id, ego, and superego
+ The id is the part of the mind from birth, the source of the drives regulated by the pleasure principle
+ The ego is an outcropping of the id, closest to consciousness that develops individual be aware of
reality, responsible for curb/restrain the drives in the reality principle
Ego must settle to channel the drive into more acceptable objects
+ Superego is the borrowed force, part of ego that functions as the representative of reality. It is part
of the mind that understand common sense, shame and redirect the drive; according to law and social
These two topographies are not interchangeable
Technology and media texts function as objects of these drives
C. Freudian development
-Freud believes the human motivation results from the two basic drives: sexual (Eros) and death drive
(Thanatos), with sex plays a more prominent role

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-Theory of human mental development: Humans are born “polumorphously perverse” – the ability to
experience sexual pleasure in many different ways
-Three development stages:
1. The oral stage: the mouth and the act of sucking
For ex: The baby sucking is for eating to satisfy a biological need of nutrition, but also gives itself
2. Anal
3. Phallic = erect penis
The mother is an important objects, provider of many other satisfying objects for the child.
Oedipus complex = where the father intervenes and forbid the child from taking the mother as an
object through the threats of “castration”.
Critical because it makes way for the development of moralizing superego. Failure of give up the
mother as an object results in a troubled or psychotic mental states.
D. Lacanian development
-Once a drive achieves its object, it is not satisfied forever
-Ask: is this something about the death drive that encourages individual to always move on to new objects
- Conceptual trio of need, demand and desire
-Drives is the result of one’s biological needs meeting the symbolic demands that are placed by the
caregiver to satisfy those needs
-It is the power of language and communication in the formation of mental motivation. Or the media
symbols and images engage our mind. For ex: crying for food
-Desire = yearning for love and recognition that cannot perfectly fill. Desire in the drives keep them from
over settling
-Three orders of human experience transform the need into desire:
1. The real = part of life cannot be put into language. A state of nature in which there is nothing but need
Once we move out of the pure state of need, we can never go back to it.
It is impossible to have a bridge in our psyche, which is the lack that drives us
2. The imaginary = The child learn to recognize and identify with its own image as an immensely
pleasurable impression of perfection that the child will incorporate as the basis of its later ego.
The mirror stage is a key moment of recognition in our development. It is also a moment of
In theatre, see myself in the screen. I have my desire fulfilled and overcome the lack/gap because
we cannot get back to the real.
3. The symbolic = the cultural order of meaning maintained through words and symbols
Lacan uses language instead of sex to explain the infant’s development and subsequent mental
structure of individuals
Key similarity between Freud and Lacan: “the phallus” as a symbol of power in the creation of the
human psyche. Result in Phallocentrism (penis is connotation of power)

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E. Psychoanalytic studies of media
-A few overriding principles of films and media
1. Films are structured in such a way that they activate the desires of the unconscious
2. American media pertain to cultural Phallocentrism, where images of the penis carry connotations of
power and dominance => men are powerful and women are powerless in society
Ex: Candice fragrance, Sky blue, Burger King blowjob.
Burger King intention does not matter, according to Psychoanalytic, because the sexual desire will
sneak out anyways. The symbolic order allows us to think about sex in 1-2 sec.
Ex: Codpiece picture – accentuate the genetal area. Other examples: Batman costume, necktie shaped
like an arrow pointing down like a penis, Gun, Shower heads…are all symbols of power
Figure 7.1 Diesel advertisement – desirability of the penis
F. Three major areas of psychoanalytic film studies
1. Apparatus theory
-The actual environment and machinery of the cinema activates a number of psychoanalytic motivations
within spectators
-The conventions of theatre such as giant images on the screen, and passive seated audience -> create a
sense of visual dominance and restricted movement -> cause viewers to unconsciously rejoice in mirror
stage feelings of wholeness, mastery, and control while watching the film
-Christian Metz – viewers know they are not seeing themselves in the screen but they perceive and
identify with images outside of themselves by aligning themselves with the scope of the camera and the
looks of characters
+ Scopophilia = the passion of perceiving, pleasure coming from looking
+ Voyeurism = pleasure by watching a desired object or person from a distance
+ Our desire for an object is stronger when we are at a distance before we achieve the object and discover
its imperfection
+ In cinema, actually there is no object behind the flat screen, which increases the possibility of
scopophilic pleasure
- Fetishism = psychic structuring of an object/person as a source of sexual pleasure
2. The male gaze
-Men are the main characters of many films, are the presence of the powerful phallus, masculinity.
-Laura Mulvey:
+ Theory of cinema associated desire and looking with gendered power.
+ Structure of filmic narrative: male/subject/looker and female/object/looked at
Figure 7.2 Nikon S60 Ads – frames the ability to look as masculine and ability to draw the look as
Ex: Movie The fifth element -> the way camera focuses suggest that the male is looking at the female, the
make is the subject looking and the woman is the object looked at.
Figure 7.3 Jimmy Choo shoes.
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