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3. Psychoanalytic Criticism: Freud & Lacan Cheat Sheet by


Sigmund Freud (1856-­1939)

The Interp­ret­ation of Dreams: The Oedipus Complex

- We detach our sexual impulses from our mothers and forget our jealousy of our fathers
- He compels us to recognize ourselves, our own (albeit suppre­ssed) impulses
- We are like Oedipus in that we live in ignorance of these immoral wishes
- In Hamlet the wishful fantasy remains repressed

The Dream-Work

The motivation of all dream content is wish-f­ulf­ill­ment, and the instig­ation of a dream is often to be found in the events of the day preceding the dream, which he called the "day residu­e." The dreamwork is a person's forbidden and repressed desires are distorted in dreams, so they appear in disguised forms. The distorting processes in operation can take various form but are referred to, generally, as dreamwork.

Latent content: the underl­ying, uncons­cious feelings and thoughts from which we can disent­angle meanings.
Manifest content: a combin­ation of the latent thoughts and it is what is actually being seen in the dream.
Dream-­tho­ught: immedi­ately compre­hen­sible
Dream-­con­tent: a pictog­raphic script that must be transposed indivi­dually into the language of the dream-­tho­ughts

The Work of Conden­sation

Conden­sation: one dream object stands for several associ­ations and ideas; thus "­dreams are brief, meagre and laconic in comparison with the range and wealth of the dream-­tho­ugh­ts."­

“If a dream is written out it may perhaps fill half a page” (819)
“The analysis setting out the dream-­tho­ughts underlying it may occupy six, eight or a dozen times as much space” (819) – and maybe more!
“It is impossible to determine the amount of conden­sation” (819)

The Work of Displa­cement

Displa­cement: a dream object's emotional signif­icance is separated from its real object or content and attached to an entirely different one that does not raise the censor's suspic­ions.

• “a transf­erence and displa­cement of psychical intens­ities occurs in the process of dream formation” (820)
• Results in the dream-­content no longer resembling the core of the dream-­tho­ughts
• This causes the dream to distort the dream-wish which exists in the uncons­cious
• Linked to censorship in the mind – a means of defense (within the mind)

Jacques Lacan (1901-­1981)


The Mirror Stage

The “mirror stage” is, according to Lacan, a stage of psycho­logical develo­pment in which a child recognizes himself or herself in the mirror and becomes conscious of selfhood. Lacan maintained that this stage occurs sometime before the child is 18 months old and it is the first time the child recognizes that he or she is separate from others. It begins the process of developing an identity distinct from others and yet, at the same time, dependent on the images of others to determine itself. This stage also marks the end of psycho­logical develo­pment; from this point forward, the individual will primarily use language to form identity.

• Historical value: the transf­orm­ation that takes place in the subject when he assumes an image (Imago­/st­atue)
• Structural value: establ­ishes a libidinal relati­onship with the body image
• Establ­ishes a relati­onship between the organism and its reality (Innen­wel­t/inner world and Umwelt­/outer world) that is fragmented

Permanent structure of subjec­tivity

Imaginary order: the realm of social intera­ction in which language is the medium through which identity is further developed (18 months). The formation of the ego (ident­ifi­cation, aliena­tion, narcis­sism); it is the product of self + image, a self-image if you will, that is not unreal but is a fictive assumption of wholeness
Symbolic order: when the imaginary order is put into speech, a structure of relati­ons­/ar­tic­ula­tions
The Real: the easiest to unders­tand, but cannot be talked about (if it is, it becomes truth, not the real); it is fragmented
• Fraud, Absence, and Imposs­ibility


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