Forum 1 – Humanities (Fall 2018)
Respond to ONE of the following questions. You must provide concrete examples from the psychoanalytic readings and the film to back up your analysis. Putting concepts in your own words is crucial, but you'll also want to integrate at least one relevant quotation from the texts in your response (include the page number in brackets). You are encouraged to both apply the concepts and look for ways to go beyond them: in what ways are they productive for reading the film, but in what ways may they fail to provide the entire story? Finally, while this is an opportunity for you to try out ideas, keep your response as well-argued, focused, and clear as possible. There is no word count, but it would be difficult to answer any of these questions in under 250 words. Please identify at the beginning of your post which question you are answering in parentheses. For example: “(Question #2).” Good luck!
1) In "Dissection of the Personality," Freud provides a complex picture of the psyche as an invariable site of conflict. The ego is weak and frail, the superego is pitiless and terrifying, and repressed thoughts within the id are "virtually immortal." Human identity itself, based around cannibalistic incorporation of lost objects, is inherently unstable and ambivalent. Analyze a scene, space, or character in Psycho for the ways they embody concepts outlined in "Dissection of the Personality."
2) According to Melanie Klein, from infancy onwards, human beings are terrified by their vulnerability, dependency, and capacity for self-destruction. In response, two defensive positions are developed to make life more tolerable. The first, the paranoid-schizoid position, divides the world into absolute "good" and "bad," which allows the person to project all of their self-hatred and aggression onto the "bad" object, while keeping the "good" object safe from harm. The more developmentally advanced "depressive position" recognizes that the same object may be experienced as both "good" and "bad"--loving and withholding; caring and hostile. The depressive position, however, entails the fear that in a state of rage, the subject may destroy the object they rely upon, eliminating all goodness in the process. For Klein, we address what we hate in ourselves by projecting these hatreds outwards through processes such envious spoiling and projective identification. To heal our relationships from our destructive capacities, we then engage in reparations to try to keep "goodness" alive in our world. Analyze a character, or relationships between characters in Psycho, employing concepts drawn from Melanie Klein.
3) Near the end of Psycho, a psychiatrist provides a "psychoanalytic" explanation for Norman's behavior. Write a response to this "expert" that challenges some of his aspirations to certainty. That is, you should provide your own psychoanalytic reading of the case, but one that acknowledges the possibility of uncertainty and "opens up" the issues rather than closing them down. What do you think this psychiatrist may have got right, but what might he have missed? Your response may employ concepts drawn from any of the readings we have completed this term (Tyson through to Freud and Klein). As an alternative, write a psychoanalytic "case study" of any one character in the film (from Norman and Marion through to Sam, Lila, or even the psychiatrist himself). Again, try to open things up with your interpretation, rather than forcing them into a neat diagnostic box; you want to keep the complexity of the subjects at play in your reading. In your response, please consider psychic issues first and foremost, but also note how the psychic may be informed by the social such as conventions related to gender, sexuality, class, and power.
Please respond in the Comments section. To see this section, just click the red "comments" line). To create a new response, use the "Leave a Reply" box.