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MDSA01H3 (310)
Chapter 7


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Media Studies
Michael Petit

CHAPTER 7 – PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY  Basic human desire for emotional wholeness o Why do we as a culture tend to describe ideas of love and emotional satisfaction in terms of completion? o How might we understand the association between our desires and feelings of personal wholeness?  Psychoanalytic theory -> Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud o Attempts to understand the psychic structure of the mind  Psychoanalytic scholars o How media texts reflect human mental drives toward unity, pleasure and desire o Individual psychology and the psychology of media and how these two interact Psychoanalytic Theory: An Overview  Sigmund Freud o Notions of individual subjectivity, identity, and consciousness are born out of an essential opposition between the pleasure principle and the reality principle o Pleasure is associated with the id: the inherited, instinctual part of the psyche, because “the one and only urge of these instincts is towards satisfaction Pleasure Principle  Pleasure principle: the uncontrollable human drive to satisfy desire: an appetite for something that promises enjoyment, satisfaction, and pleasure in its attainment o Unrestricted satisfaction or every possible desire  Commonly recognized desires o Sex o Power o Food o Can also include things like fine art.  Psychoanalytic scholars o Can experience pleasure through: urination, horror or shock o Pleasure can come from things that we don’t even associate it with  Example: Life-threatening situation (rollercoasters, bungee jumping)  Example: appalling or gruesome spectacles (slowing down to see a car accident) o Pleasure is something that momentarily allows us to transcend everyday existence and reality  Ecstasy (original definition): literally being beside oneself with powerful emotion  Pleasure is what takes us outside of ourselves Reality Principle  Some of the desires or socially unacceptable or unhealthy -> reality principle comes in and regulates the individual’s experience of pleasure o Reality principle: represents the constant curbing of desire according to possibility, law, or social convention  Infants -> Pure uncontrolled gratification of desire  Older: Learn to control ourselves and integrate ourselves into society  Without the reality principle, one would continuously pursue desires without any concern for anything which would dissolve society  Keeps pleasure principle in check o When we eat o Urinating when appropriate  Reality and society controls when and how we may experience desire and pleasure  Associated with ego: the regulatory part of the conscious mind that “comes to a decision on whether the attempt to obtain satisfaction is to be carried out or postponed or whether it may not be necessary for the demand by the instinct t9o be suppressed altogether as being dangerous” o Reason why we may find pleasure in shocking, thrilling or upsetting aspects of life  Loosen the constraints of reality principle and allow the pleasure principle a bit more reign o Disturbing art o Sexual taboos Link between Pleasure and Reality Principles  The relationship of pleasure and reality principles o Two major ways to consider this relationship: Repression and Lack  Repression: Proposed by Freud, is the [process of mentally containing or desires below conscious recognition or expression o Reality principle forbidding certain desires and pleasures by repressing those thoughts into the unconscious as a way to manage the tension between pleasure and reality  The unconscious: the part of the mind that acts as a reservoir for desire, and it always attempts to make repressed desires felt again by interjecting them into conscious life  “Freudian slip” (misspeaking) -> a moment where repressed desires broke through the conscious ones  Lack: Based of the theories of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan; there is not so much a struggle between pleasure and reality as there is a gap that separates them o We desire and wish for pleasure o Trapped in a reality in which social order and language keeps us from knowing or expressing pleasure completely o Experience ‘lack’ because we are divided from pleasures that cannot be captured or expressed in what we have in our everyday reality o Unconscious is where there are pleasures and desires that are beyond or access o It is beyond our access because we don’t actually know of those pleasures Media Theorists  Repressed or lost desires influences the creation of media texts and the mentality of people when they experience these media texts  Psychoanalytic theory sees all individuals as the same o Better at analyzing the psyche of media texts than the psyche of the audience Freudian Psychoanalysis  Sigmund Freud: Founder of modern Psychoanalytic theory o Austrian psychiatrist o Psychosis and how sexual experiences and drives direct human action o An individual’s identity is the result of outside forces encountered early in life  “Polymorphously perverse” o Infants are born with the ability to experience pleasure in infinite number of ways because they have no self-control and are not restricted by social conventions  Have a desire and fulfilling it is a distinction that much be learned  Learning this distinction and forming a conscious self is tied with developing sexuality  Sexual Pleasure -> Oral Stage o Union between mother and child in the act of breastfeeding o Mouth: first erotogenic zone  All physical activity is to satisfy the needs of that zone o Breastfeeding may at first satisfy the child’s need for nourishment, eventually other desires will be formed from it as well which may be sexual  Two other stages of sexual development o Anal Stage  Retention and expulsion of waste o Phallic Stage  Shifting libidinal concentration to the genitals  Anthony Elliot: Each stage comes with certain fantasies that go into developing sexual identity o Oral Stage: Comforting o Anal Stage: Sadistic o Phallic: Control and self sufficiency o Through these stages, child establishes an emotional relation to its own body, to other people and to the wider world o Ability to fantasize about the self -> identification with the outside world  Identification occurs when father disrupts the mother/child union and takes away the infant’s pleasurable and sexual desire for the mother o Father -> Reality Principle o Oedipus complex: Child undergoes a mental structuring and takes the raw libidinal materials of the oral, anal, and phallic stages and splits them into conscious and unconscious desires o Young boys: Father signals a threat to the sexual and pleasurable union between the child and mother  Father’s phallus has more sexual power  Represses desires for the mother into unconsciously under the fear of “castration” by the father figure o Young girl: Process of recognition and lacking  Penis envy  Rejects the penis-less mother and forms a desire for the father  Forever shifting between maternal and paternal identifications  Critique o Sexual reductionism o Ignorance of gender constructs o Feminists: female sexuality and subjectivity as a reverse of after-effect of male sexuality  Basis of modern psychoanalytic theory o Our subjectivity is the result of identification with outside forces and contact with those outside forces results in the formation of the conscious/unconscious divide Lacanian Psychoanalysis  Extends Freud’s work -> Jacques Lacan  Interested in causes of mental disorders and psychosis  The ways that the individual mind interacted with the culture at large  The mind does a fracture into conscious and unconscious aspects upon the infant’s realization of reality. The process is a result of the individual’s induction into systems of language rather than sexual development  Three orders/realms of human existence o Real: Made up of things in the world that cannot be consciously known or put into words o Imaginary: The pre-linguistic realm, where the infant feels whole and connected to everything via the bond to the mother.  Similar to the Freudian pre-Oedipal, pleasurable stage where the infant feels whole and connected to everything via the bond to the mother.  Somewhat synonymous to pleasure principle  Site of an important development referred to as the “mirror stage”  Child misrecognizes self as complete and in control; lays basis for eventual ego formation  Linking the outside world to oneself o Symbolic: the realm of the cultural plan of language, social meanings, and relationships.  Linguistic order. Subjectivity arises from attempts to represent self in language  Language structures, orders, and constrains the impulse for the Imaginary desire that continues to exist in the individual  The father’s phallus is referred to “the Law of the Father”  Not threatening to the child sexually, functions to give knowledge of social convention and taboo for the child -> rejection of incest towards mother  Subjectivity and consciousness is fiction, and is born out of misrecognizing individual wholeness, and this misrecognition is solidified in the symbolic system of language where subjects only attempt to represent themselves.  Cannot fully express desires and pleasures using language or symbols because many of these desires are in the imaginary. o Experienced before language and therefore is beyond linguistic expression  The unconscious isn’t a personal q
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