Psychoanalysis (4):
The Return of the Repressed
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
Structure of the Mind, Child Development
& Love
Dream and Sexual Symbols
Lacan – Desire & Split Identity
Psychological Disorders & Edgar Allan
Poe
Outline
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Q & A on Freud and Lacan
Art and psychoanalysis
Kinds of Psychological Reactions and
Disorder
Edgar Allan Poe (2): (his bio review)
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“Tell-Tale Heart”
“Ligeia”
Some psy. Interpretations
Q & A on Freud and Lacan
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Why is Dream the royal road to our
unconscious?
Why is the unconscious structured like
language? What’s the significance of this
view?
What is Symbolic Order for Lacan? Is it all
powerful?
How do we analyze a lit. text from a
psychoanalytic point of view?
1. Repression and Civilization
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Repression & Displacement (alternative paths
to satisfy instinctual desires) 
1.
2.
Civilization: The result of our
transformation/sublimation of unconscious desires.
E.g. “Mona Lisa” –two images of L’s first mother:
one tender and reserved, and the other sensual and
seductive.
Symptoms: the return of the repressed  Behaviors
or bodily abnormalities.
Psychological
reactions and disorders
Psychoanalysis and Literature
For Freud, dream is like art because both
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1.
2.
Interpretation of Dream//Art:
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Fulfill wishes;
Use strategies to overcome the resistance of
consciousness.
detect conflicts of meanings (where wish is
confronted by resistance)
Ask the patient to make free association (decoding
figurative language and symbol through contextual
reading)
Is literature, then, to be treated as merely
patients to be analyzed?
Psychological reactions &
disorders
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Reactions:
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Fixation  Regression
Compulsion to Repeat
Sexual deviance & Perversion
Disorders:
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Neurosis
Psychosis
Fixation and regression
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The psychic reversion to childhood desires.
When normally functioning desire meets with
powerful external obstacles, which prevent
satisfaction of those desires, the subject
sometimes regresses to an earlier phase (eg.
the mouth, the anus) in normal psychosexual
development. (source)
Compulsion to Repeat
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A lot of symptoms are repetitive in nature;
Freud sees it as the most general
character of our instinct;
What’s repeated is not just desire or the
desirable; sometimes it is fear or
unpleasant experience.
Perversion: 5 forms
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1.
2.
3.
Freud: The pursuit of "abnormal" sexual objects (or
non-sexual organs) without repression.
five forms of perversion
disregarding the barrier of species (the gulf
between men and animals),
secondly, by overstepping the barrier against
disgust,  e.g. voyeur and exhibitionist
against incest (the prohibition against seeking
sexual satisfaction from near blood-relations),
Perversion: 5 forms
4. That against members of one's own sex
5. the transferring of the part played by the
genitals to other organs and areas of the
body" (Introductory Lectures 15.208)
(Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud.
Trans. James Strachey. 24 vols. London: Hogarth, 1953-74. )
Perversion: examples
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Desire satisfied through being looked at or looking
 2. Exhibitionist: seeks a perfect confirmation of
his desire in the desire of the other; the voyeur
finds all of his desire in his looking.
5. a young child will not recognize any of these five
points as abnormal—and only does so through the
process of education. For this reason, he calls
children "polymorphously perverse" (Introductory
Lectures15.209). (Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete
Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Trans. James Strachey. 24 vols. London: Hogarth, 1953-74. )
Neurosis
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Definition: the symbolic expression of a psychical
conflict whose origin lies in the subject’s childhood
memory (Laplanche 266);  quite common among
us!
symptoms: an exaggeration of normal patterns of
behaviour.
e.g. constantly checking the time or that doors are
locked. Or other obsession rituals;
e.g. anxiety disorder  phobia; hysteria (now called
conversion disorder)
e.g. over-eating (bulimia); stopping eating (anorexia)
For reference:
http://www.sla.purdue.edu/academic/engl/theory/psychoanalysis/freud4.html
Psychosis
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Definition: The inability of a person to distinguish
between what is real and what is imaginary.
(Primary distance of the libidinal relation to
reality.)
Symptoms: hallucination, self-delusions
E.g. schizophrenia and manic depression (躁鬱
症).
Freud: “in neurosis the ego suppresses part of
the id out of allegiance to reality, whereas in
psychosis it lets itself be carried away by the id
and detached from a part of reality” (5.202).
Fetishism
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falls between neurosis and psychosis.
An erotic attachment to an inanimate object or
an ordinarily asexual part of the human body.
"The fetishist is the adult who, because of his
attachment to the fetish, is 'saved‘ from
psychosis (which is the more typical
consequence of disavowal in adults). . . .
(Elizabeth Grosz Jacque Lacan: A Feminist Introduction p. 118)
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Freud: the fetish is able to “become the vehicle both of
denying and of asseverating the fact of castration”
(5.203).
Fetishism (2) –for reference
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from Lacan Ecrit p. 197-98
The whole problem of the perversions consists in
conceiving how the child, in his relation to the
mother, in his relation to the mother, a relation
constituted in analysis not by his vital
dependence on her but by his dependence on her
love, that is to say, by the desire for her
desire,. . .identifies himself with the imaginary
object of this desire in so far as the mother
herself symbolizes it in the phallus.
Edgar Allan Poe
An Artist with a
Keen Awareness of
Conflicting Desires
Edgar Allan Poe
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Bio: born in 1809;
Father disappeared when he was 18 months
old;
Pretty and childlike mother died of
consumption a year later;
Married Virginia at the age of 26, when
Virginia was 13 and already sickening.
Virginia died of consumption 10 years later.
Allan & the Women in Poe’s Life
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“Tell-Tale Heart”: Questions
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Why does the narrator want to kill the old man?
Why is he upset by the latter’s eye?
How does the narrator do it?
Why does the narrator speak to “you” until the
arrival of the three policemen? Why is the
distinction between madness and acute hearing
ability important for him? Is he mad?
What makes him confess at the end? What
does the title mean? Whose heart?
Does the story convey Poe’s repressed Oedipal
desire?
The Eye and “I” narrator
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The old man’s eye
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par 2 -- "Object there was none. Passion
there was none . . . It was his eye! . . .pale
blue eye, with a film over it.“
Called Evil Eye; vulture eye;
Climax: “It was open — wide, wide open —
and I grew furious as I gazed upon it."
The Eye and “I” narrator
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“I” being formed in the mirror stage; enpowering
Visual Perception: pleasurable; Induces fantasy 
one basis for filmic theories on spectatorship.
Lacan: the fantasy (of the presence of a lost
phallus) is always missing from what is seen;
ref. “When, in love, I solicit a look, what is profoundly
unsatisfying and always missing is that—You never look at me
from the place from which I see you” “What I look at is never
what I wish to see” (Lacan 1977b. P. 103 qtd Wright 108)
The “Father’s” Eye & “I” narrator
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Sympathy for the old man – p. 46 – par. 3;
the old man’s heartbeat // his own.
Entrance into the primal scene and hating
the “father’s” lack of power.
His hearing ability & what he
hears
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The narrator’s hearing:
The disease “had sharpened [his]
senses — not destroyed — not dulled
them. Above all was the sense of hearing
acute"
His hearing abilities & what he
hears
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“a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch
makes when enveloped in cotton"
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-- hallucination; his own heart beat  sense of guilt;
-- the old man's heart, first heard in fact and then
imagined to be heard;
-- that of deathwatch beetles (see p. 46 par 2) -called so because “it emits a sound resembling the
ticking of a watch, supposed to predict the death of
some one of the family in the house in which it is
heard" (qtd Reilly)
His hearing abilities & what he
hears
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Whatever he actually hears, it shows that
he is gradually dissociated from reality;
Is he mad?
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Does the story convey Poe’s repressed Oedipal
desire?
Reilly: paranoid schizophrenia.
Two sides of the narrator:
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"very, very dreadfully nervous," impulsive;
Careful, understanding and scheming; (e.g. p. 45)
Self-justifying all the way through
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Claims that he is not mad;
Feels “power” and “triumph” on the eighth night;
Gets the support of Death
Agony of being laughed at drives him to confess
Is he mad? Conclusion
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It is still his sense/delusion of the
overpowering “social” that brings him to
first kill, to confess to the police himself
and then tell the story to “you.”
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The old man is not the only representative
of social authorities. (neighbors, the
policemen, God, Death)
“Ligeia”: Plot Summary
1.
Ligeia remembered and described:
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her family (last name forgotten), her outer
appearance, her behavior and her character
traits. (pp. 74-76)
compared to figures of Greek mythology
(Apollo,...), Egyptian Gods (Ashtophet) ,
animals (gazelle) and refers to other popular
men (Homer, Lord Verulam, ...). He gets more
and more excited about it, and says her beauty
is:" the beauty of beings either above or apart
from the earth".
their relationship -- She leads him through his
studies of `the mysteries of the
transcendentalism in which [they] were
immersed
“Ligeia”: Plot Summary
2. Ligeia’s illness, her reading of `Conqueror
Worm’ and her death;
3. The narrator wanders around in grief, purchases an old
abbey `in one of the wildest and least frequented portions
of fair England,’ and then marries Rowena. The Chamber
described, also the fearful relationship between the
husband and the wife;
4. Rowena gets sicker and more and more
tortured by visions;
5. The night she is dying, the narrator tries to
resuscitate her. . . .
“Ligeia”: Questions
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How is Ligeia described and characterized?
How is she a contrast to Rowena?
What are the gothic elements which prepares us
for the final return of Ligeia in Rowena’s body?
What is the importance of the bridal chamber (p.
78)?
What does the final scene mean?
Why is the story composed of so many
descriptive details, but not as much dialogue or
action?
Contradictory Descriptions of
Ligeia
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Fairy-like and emaciated beauty, but strong will
and life force
Vividly present in the narrator’s mind, though he
claims to have a feeble memory, but not a
speaking subject.
Her eyes – his mirror image? Illegible? A
symbol of natural force?
Her learning—a medium to transport him to a
place transcendental but also forbidden
Ligeia vs. Rowena
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Black tresses vs Fair-haired
Unfathomable eyes vs. blue eyes
No last name vs. clear background.
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Pp. 78- 79
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“Ligeia”: Some Other
Interpretations
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a philosophical tale about the nature and limits of
the mind, the human body, thought, and the will
(Dayan);
as a satirical take on the contrast between German
idealism and English Romanticism (Griffith);
as a tale that exemplifies Poe's famous dictum
from "The Philosophy of Composition" (1846) that
"the death, then, of a beautiful woman is,
unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the
world" (201).
Comparison: “Tell-Tale Heart,”
“Ligeia” & “City in the Sea”
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A narrator attracted to and entranced by
death;
Frequent images of Poe: cave, castle,
dungeon, eyes.
Marie Bonarparte’s work on Poe
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another example of psycho-biography;
Her basic point:
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Fixated on his love for his mother a
necrophiliac
Physically loyal to her, he married an ailing
cousin and thus spares himself the need to
consummate the marriage.
Marie Bonarparte’s work on Poe
(2)
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Compulsion to repeat in “Tales of the
Mother” and “Tales of the father”
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desire to be united with the dead mother
Desire to kill the father figure
Both desires are repressed and thus they
cause anxiety.
Bonarparte sees Poe’s tales as the
manifest part of his dream/desire, through
which she recovers the latent part.
Lacan on Poe
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Repetition of a structure
Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” is for Lacan
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a symbolic repetition of a structuring fantasy.’
an allegory of the supremacy of the signifier
over the subject.
D. H. Lawrence on Poe
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Studies in Classic American Literature
major argument—the very instrument of
repression can become the vehicle by
which the repressed desire returns.
His target: the Pilgrim Fathers, the artists
who build myth (Poe, for instance), and
the reader who accepted these myths.
D. H. Lawrence on Poe
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“false myth” e.g. Hawthorne and Poe
Poe: the murderous impulse to destroy that
which cannot be mentally possessed and
mastered. e.g. the heroines of Ligeia and The
Fall of the House of Usher
Lawrence: “To try to know any living being is to
try to suck the life out of that being. You know
your woman darkly, in the blood. To try to know
her mentally is to try to kill her” (76 qtd Wright
45)
Reference
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Psychoanalytic Criticism: A Reappraisal. Elizabeth Wright.
Polity,1998.
Types of Psychological Disorder
http://www.health.nsysu.edu.tw/drpan/bookmark/out_dx.htm
John E. Reilly, "The Lesser Death-Watch and 'The Tell-Tale Heart',"
revised from The American Transcendental Quarterly, II (2nd
Quarter), 1969, pp. 3-9.
http://www.eapoe.org/papers/misc1990/jer19691.htm#n01
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Psychological Diseases