Making “Black Psychoanalysts Speak”

by Basia Winograd

[Note: Director Basia Winograd’s 2014 documentary, Black Psychoanalysts Speak (which can be screened via YouTube, here), is required viewing in many of the undergraduate courses that I and my colleagues teach in the Psychoanalytic Studies program here at the University of Pennsylvania and in many such courses at other colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Whether our students are interested in psychoanalytic theory or in the history of psychoanalytic practice, they find that this splendid film answers many of their questions about the changing face of the profession and the changing terms of clinical and metapsychological discourse. What is the place of race in analytic thought and practice? Why are there still so few African American psychoanalysts? And what do they have to say about their own professional formation and about the extent to which discussions of race and related sociopolitical, cultural, and intergenerational experiences have been, until recently, virtually excluded from the analytic consulting room? My own students continue to be both dismayed and encouraged by the stories they hear from the analysts Winograd interviews in the film—stories of institutional and personal racism, stories of patients whose experiences as African Americans are routinely ignored or dismissed, and stories of gradual but meaningful change. Because Black Psychoanalysts Speak features in so many contemporary undergraduate courses on psychoanalysis, I’ve asked Basia Winograd to tell the readers of Psyche on Campus a bit about the making of the film and about the relation between cinema and psychoanalysis from the filmmaker’s perspective. Happily, she’s agreed!  —Max Cavitch, editor]

As a documentarian, I’m often approached by someone convinced they know what my next film needs to be. Almost invariably, the project they have in mind is the moving portrait of an organization grappling with one of our civilization’s most pressing problems: climate change, poverty, gender inequality, racism, etc. I hate to sound cynical, but I’ve learned over time that such “films” rarely turn out to be more than vanity projects: fundraising videos disguised as art. I understand the need for fundraising, and I’m as terrified as anyone about all the world’s current and impending cataclysms. But let’s keep our categories clear. I went to film school. I know what a film is.

Thus, when I was approached in 2013 by a group of Black psychoanalysts searching for a filmmaker, I had my doubts about getting involved. At the time, I had only the vaguest notion of what a psychoanalyst was. Kind of like a psychologist, I thought, but maybe more eccentric? Maybe even a little perverse? I have plenty of admiration for mental health practitioners, but also a strong suspicion of anything that smacks of eurocentrism…like a universal theory of human behavior developed by a cigar-smoking middle-class doctor in turn-of-the-century Vienna.

Then again, these were Black psychoanalysts. Those two words, Black and psychoanalyst, suddenly so intimate with each other, intrigued me. I requested more information and a few days later got a note from Dr. Anton Hart, a member of the professional organization, Black Psychoanalysts Speak (BPS), in which he told me:

…this [documentary] will feature a good group of distinguished (and, I might add, charismatic) black psychoanalysts…Psychoanalysis has historically been viewed as a primarily white (and Jewish) discipline. Yet these analysts represent counter examples in a number of ways. [One] issue has to do with elitism. What does this expensive treatment modality have to offer those who might be in positions of economic struggle? Then there are issues pertaining to the various tensions that have arisen in the (racially diverse) group planning the conference: who is a black psychoanalyst? Who is black enough? Are there problems with white people presiding over a conference called “Black Psychoanalysts Speak”? And then there are the diversities that exist within the group of black psychoanalysts: some have dedicated their professional lives to work with underserved, largely black populations; others have practices and interests that might be found among non-black analysts…

This didn’t sound anything like a fundraising video. And there was a challenge implicit in the very nature of the proposed collaboration: Dr. Hart had mentioned that the role of white people in his organization was a matter of serious debate. I’m a white person, which meant that the very structure of the production would also be interrogated—the kind of meta-project that I could not turn down. It promised to be uncomfortable in a productive and unusual way.

Let me try to explain. The filmmaker on nearly any documentary production is safely ensconced behind the camera, while the subject is exposed, vulnerable, scrutinized. This lack of parity is exacerbated by the fact that so many of the documentaries that get funded in the United States treat social issues. So the filmmaker, who nearly always comes from a position of relative privilege, ends up acting as a sort of ambassador to the world of her subjects, whose misfortunes—whatever they may be—are precisely what makes them camera-worthy This dynamic feels increasingly uncomfortable as the important question of “who gets to make art about what” gets asked with increasing frequency and urgency.  The truth is that documentary filmmaking poses ethical challenges I’ve struggled with for a long time.

But having BPS approach me to film them changed the nature of the collaboration in an important way. The tables were, if not exactly turned, then at least angled slightly differently. I would still be behind the camera, but this time not quite as safely, not quite as comfortably, because my subjects had creative power. This kind of partnership would have been an anathema to me in my film school years, but now it seemed a promising way to resolve some of the ethical quandaries inherent in the work that I love.

A few days before production started, a question came up among the members of Black Psychoanalysts Speak: should one of them be on set to oversee me as I conducted the interviews? Or, better yet, should an analyst be the one conducting the interviews, leaving me to direct the technical and aesthetic matters? I didn’t like this line of questioning one bit. “My practice,” I told my collaborators, “is to keep my crew small.” More to the point, I was scared that Black Psychoanalysts Speak had discovered how ignorant of psychoanalysis their filmmaker actually was—that she didn’t even know what transference was, not to mention its shadowy sidekick, countertransference, and that while she’d certainly heard of projection she secretly thought it a rather baroque explanation for why people are sometimes assholes. But the analysts agreed to let me conduct the first interview on my own, and I must have passed muster, because the question of whether I was equal to the task didn’t come up again, and  I conducted all the interviews myself.

I felt many things as we filmed—above all, lucky. Several of the people I was interviewing had been active in the Civil Rights era; all had dedicated their lives to studying human behavior; and race continued to be a central issue in the analytic work they did. I’d been given free license to explore an issue that, as Dr. Kirkland Vaughans puts it in the film, “so prompts excessive anxiety that it blocks off our capacity to think.” The interviews took place in 2014, and in some important ways the conversation around race has evolved since then. For example, many people seem less hesitant to admit that race is “a thing.” I also think that part of my pluck in 2014 was due to the fact that there were fewer rules governing such conversations than there are today.

Whenever the camera starts rolling on an interview, one experiences an exhilarating departure from the banality of everyday discourse. In this case, the dialogue was also a kind of balm—a reprieve from the stress and frustration of tip-toeing around the elephant in liberal America’s room. Nevertheless, despite my excitement and relief during those first days of filming, a form of imposter syndrome overtook me. One analyst expressed dismay upon realizing I didn’t know what she meant by “psychodynamic.” I stayed up late, Googling “transference,” Franz Fanon, and Winnicott. What kind of hubris was this, thinking I was the right person to be asking these questions? I liked the idea of venturing beyond my comfort zone, but what if I said something glaringly wrong? Maybe, after all, they should have found a Black filmmaker—or one of those brainiacs I remember from film school, always going on and on about Lacan this, Guattari that.

Some documentary directors describe good interviews as being “full of usable sound bites.” And it’s true: well-formulated, short snippets simplify the editing process and give the final project a polished feel. But the interviews for this film were not full of “usable sound bites.” My questions were often long-winded and halting, and some of the answers were several minutes long. I didn’t feel I knew enough to cut in, or to skillfully redirect my subjects’ replies. I worried that the material wouldn’t come together in a meaningful way, that I was missing something vital, that there was something important I’d forgotten to ask. Indeed, as it turned out, I was missing a lot. Much of what the analysts were telling me was going right over my head. Luckily, everything I would need was there in the footage. But it would take months, as I read the transcripts and edited the project, for the full import of the interviews to take shape for me.

The primary question with which I began was at once simple and formidable: why are people racist?  And, by “people,” I meant chiefly liberal white folks like me who often have a tremendous amount at stake in seeing themselves as non-racist. (Self-proclaimed racists are horrifying, but less confusing.) What, I wanted to know, is this terrible trap we’re caught in? As I worked with the interview footage, I had some mini-epiphanies about the subtle ways in which well-meaning white people fall into racist behaviors despite their best intentions.

One came while I was editing Kirkland Vaughans’ interview. Dr. Vaughans described using a psychoanalytic approach in his work as a school psychologist. He spoke of teachers in an inner-city school, who complained to him about a student who was so aggressive and intractable that “it takes four of us to hold him down.” Pointing out that this was just a little kid they were talking about, Dr. Vaughans translated the teachers’ statement: “four of you to hold your fantasy of him down.” Vaughans elaborated: “Sometimes [the teachers] can’t think about the kid because they’re enraged, and then they defend against the rage. I let them know: rage is normal. Anger is normal…Right? So once we can normalize that, they don’t have to defend against it. And we can get into their fantasies of who this kid is.”

I’d always thought fantasies were like pleasant dreams—me on a beach right now holding a fruity cocktail instead of sweating over my keyboard in a grimy Queens apartment. Could “fantasy” also mean something ugly and insidious, a preconceived notion that distorts the way I see and behave toward another person? Old news to psychoanalysts, certainly; but, to me, a novel concept! Dr. Vaughans went on to say that “most whites see black boys as four or five years older than what they actually are,” which tells us a lot about why little black boys are treated as if they were adolescents, even by those whose job it is to care for and educate them.

I also learned that psychoanalysts do, in fact, spend a lot of time poking around in their patients’ dreams. I never doubted that dreams could be interesting. But, before I considered this anecdote, provided by the late Dr. Cheryl Thompson, I had no idea how revealing of racial attitudes our dreams could be:

One of my favorite analysands, whenever she was angry with me, she would have a dream about taking me to look for real estate on Long Island. Race was very much a part of our conversations. She had great difficulty with conflict. But she said, “you know, I had a dream that we were in Roslyn Heights, and you were looking for a house. And no one would sell you a house, and I was your realtor.” So I would say, “Gee, it sounds like you’re a bit annoyed.” And she’d say, “Well, you know what you said yesterday…” And she was willing to work.

In the United States, we often talk about our own “brand” of racism, indelibly marked by our history of slavery. Longstanding forms of institutional racism are part of our national inheritance, yet it’s an inheritance than many Americans still refuse to acknowledge (viz. the pushback against the New York Times’s recent “1619 Project”). Yet, as someone who has lived in six countries on three different continents, I’ve seen firsthand that vile racial attitudes and systemic racial inequalities are by no means confined to the U.S.

In a sequence twenty minutes into Black Psychoanalysts Speak, under the title-heading “Othering,” the psychoanalysts begin to pull back the curtain on what it may be in the human psyche that makes us so fear “the other.” Dr. Kathleen Pogue White begins:

Forever, it seems to me, we’ve had a problem about self and other. When you think about really back in the day, when we lived in family groups in the caves, others were people who could take your food, or take your whatever, space…

The analysts tend to speak more softly in this part of the film, and they don’t make as much eye contact with me:

ANTON HART: Human beings are inherently insecure and have reasons to be anxious in the world. We start from a position of absolute dependency. Safety is a project that every human being is engaged in.

JAMA ADAMS: We’re all afraid of dying. I mean the ultimate human fear is that I will not be here. So I’m here for a short while. And how do I make myself special? And therefore you create an “other” who you project into it all your fears, all your anxieties.

CHERYL THOMPSON: If the group, even though they look odd to you, can function and be competitive with you, then what power does that leave you with? So it really becomes an issue of the person who has the power needing desperately to hold onto it. Because it’s that power that is the pretense of immortality.

DOROTHY E. HOLMES: There’s a tendency for people to cast outside of oneself those things you do not like and put them into other people. That’s what I mean, in general, by “othering.”

ANTON HART: Freud talked about it in terms of projections.

And there it was, that word I’d originally scorned—projections—proving itself more useful than I’d suspected in explaining why people with a lot at stake in seeing themselves as liberal, enlightened, and non-racist can so easily slip into racist attitudes and behaviors.

Looking back now on the making of Black Psychoanalysts Speak, I’m struck by the fact that my ignorance of psychoanalysis was, at least in some ways, beneficial to the project. My naïveté, my not-yet-knowing, lent urgency to the dialogues. The interviewees, consciously or not (ha! I’m getting the hang of this now!), sensed how little I knew, and that motivated them to slow down and simplify, to push past psychoanalytic terminology and out of the realm of abstraction, and to adopt the kind of concrete language that evokes both emotional and intellectual responses and that gives stories heft and form. Had I been an analyst in full possession of the field’s conceptual language, the interviews might have been more polished—full of those “usable sound bites”—but I suspect they’d have lacked some vitality. In a similar way, my being white—my not having the lived experience of being Black in racist America—compelled the analysts to break their experiences down for me in a way they wouldn’t have needed to for an interviewer more like themselves.

I’ve gone on to work with psychoanalysts on a handful of other projects in the seven years since we made Black Psychoanalysts Speak. There’s always a moment of doubt as a new collaboration begins. What can someone without psychoanalytic training bring to the project? How will she know what questions to ask? But I continue to believe that the world at large would be well served by the wider dissemination of psychoanalytic ideas and techniques, and have come to see my role as that of a translator. I use my skills as a documentarian to help new audiences understand psychoanalytic concepts and their often complex social contexts.

Loving Yourself Workshop: A Poem

by Susan M. Schultz

According to a JED Foundation Survey published October 22, 2020, eighty-two percent of college students deal with anxiety, sixty-eight percent with depression, and one in five (nineteen percent) of students have had suicidal thoughts in the past month. In bold print, the report asserts, “Mental health should be a top priority for schools.” I have spent the past seven years advocating at the University of Hawai`i-Mānoa for better campus mental-health services. If you read recent press releases from UHM, you would think these services had improved dramatically. But if you pay closer attention, you will hear the hollowness of the language of care. In fact, even as the rhetoric improves, the level of care diminishes.

Thus begins my essay, “The Language of Care in (My) Neo-liberal University,” which is based on a talk I gave at the recent Webinar Colloquium, “Poetics and the University in Crisis” (March 3-5, 2021). My argument—based on many years of activism at the University of Hawai`i-Mānoa (UHM)—was that the university, in its response to demands for better mental health care, gave only the semblance of actually caring. Communicating a public message of ‘care’ fulfills the university’s public relations priorities while downplaying its unwillingness to spend the money that would be needed to strengthen the Counseling and Student Development Center. It was one more sign, sad to say, of the university’s overall unwillingness to revive the notion of the university as a community of care.

Continue reading “Loving Yourself Workshop: A Poem”

Discovering Psychoanalysis as a Business School Student

by Ryan Collins

My exploration of psychoanalysis began with philosophy. Like many people my age, I was seeking answers to certain existential questions: “Who or what governs our behaviors, and are they rational?” Philosophers—from Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius to Descartes, Hume, Kant, and beyond—have been asking similar questions for millennia. Although he was not a philosopher, Freud’s founding of psychoanalysis tackled such questions as well. While many of his theories have been challenged and revised, his discovery that our behaviors are often governed by unconscious conflicts between our desires and internalized societal demands remains relevant today. Although Freud continues to be a controversial figure, he critically challenged our belief in human rationality by demonstrating the unconscious and “irrational” nature of most of our behavioral tendencies.

Before realizing any of this, I’d entered Wharton’s undergraduate program with dreams of a job in investment banking. My father had introduced me to the stock market in my freshman year of high school, and in those boom years I became hooked. However, my interests began to change after finishing my initial undergraduate finance and accounting courses. I found little interest in corporate valuations and balance sheets. Instead, I was drawn towards management and operations and their more varied career paths. My courses in these fields felt excitingly exploratory rather than dully scripted. Investment banking seemed increasingly uncreative to me, whereas I sought opportunities for more independent thinking.

On a personal level, I’ve always been introspective. Ironically, however, I’ve always had a difficult time understanding the motivations of others. I’ve also never been very emotional, and I struggle to understand others’ affects. My brother and I are both very logical people with strong wills, and we’ve struggled to understand why so many others don’t share these qualities. So, it was fitting when he gave me a copy of John Bargh’s Before You Know It for Christmas two years ago. Bargh’s book explores our unconscious motivations from three perspectives: past, present, and future. It’s full of anecdotes, stories, and studies that shed light on our hidden motivations. For example, Bargh describes a study by Jennifer Lerner that demonstrates how our purchasing decisions are influenced by recent emotional experiences. Experiences of disgust often lead us to buy low and sell low. Experiences of sadness often cause us to buy high and sell low. As it turns out, the “endowment effect” (our tendency to value an object more if we own it than we would value the same object if we didn’t) is unconsciously influenced by recent experiences of disgust or sadness. As a business student, this piqued my interest by helping more fully to explain the famous correlation between sunshine and stock market performance.

Early in my college career, I front-loaded my Wharton courses because I planned to go abroad. Then COVID-19 hit. With an abundance of electives to fulfill, I decided it would be a good idea to pursue a minor. But which one? I scrolled through the list of minors alphabetically, looking into each minor and its requirements. When I got to “Psychoanalytic Studies,” I thought to myself: “I know what psychology is, and I like to analyze, so I’ll probably like this.” After further research, I found that psychoanalysis is centrally concerned with the unconscious, which was my new-found interest thanks to Bargh’s book. I called Dr. Larry Blum, Co-director of  Penn’s Psychoanalytic Studies program, who offered to set me up with a mentor who was more familiar with the intersection between business and psychoanalysis. I figured it was worth a try.

Since then, I’ve taken three courses on psychoanalysis. In “Introduction to Psychoanalysis,” I was introduced to prominent early theorists such as Freud, Erikson, Winnicott, and Bowlby. Concurrently, I took “Psychoanalysis and Anthropology,” in which I conducted a study on the effects of social media on young adults’ “sense of self.” And, this past spring, I took “Psychodynamic Theory in Clinical Practice,” in which I learned about the clinical implementation of psychoanalytic theory with aspiring social workers in Penn’s Master of Social Work program.

These courses gave me an important grounding in the field. But it’s my business-focused mentorship with Dr. Steven Rolfe that I’ve found most valuable. Dr. Rolfe is an Executive Coach for Wharton’s McNulty Leadership Program and applies a psychoanalytic perspective in his work as a psychodynamic management consultant for the Boswell Group. He introduced me to the work of Harry Levinson, Michael Maccoby, Manfred Kets de Vries, and other pioneers in the application of psychoanalytic concepts to the world of business. They’ve found links between psychoanalytic theories and organizational change or crisis situations. For example, Harry Levinson found that “the fundamental psychological conflict in family business is rivalry” (2). The company’s founding entrepreneur sees the business as a psychological extension of themselves, which can make giving up power feel like a loss of self. The expected successor desires power and feels hostility towards the founder who stands in their way, yet simultaneously might feel guilty for that hostility. In his work, Michael Maccoby analyzed why many great leaders have what some psychoanalysts would diagnose as a “narcissistic personality type,” and why some of these leaders lose their effectiveness over time (2004a: 2). Narcissists may have great vision and command large groups of followers due to their excessive confidence, but they can also be overly sensitive to criticism and often lack empathy. A narcissistic leader might refuse to accept sound advice from others because it threatens his ego, and this could have disastrous effects on the business. Since Levinson, Maccoby, and Kets de Vries were all practicing psychoanalysts and esteemed management consultants, their insights have added validity to the idea of using a psychoanalytic perspective to identify problems in the world of business.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, my decision to minor in psychoanalysis has been met with some skepticism. After telling a mentor of mine of my newfound interest, he responded: “I wish you had told me earlier, so I could’ve talked you out of it.” Indeed, there are many misconceptions about psychoanalysis. Some of these include: that psychoanalytic concepts aren’t supported empirically; that every concept is sexual, or aggression-based; and that everything psychoanalytic must also be “Freudian.” I can’t address all these misconceptions, but I’ve been successful at demonstrating to various interviewers and business school peers how psychoanalytic ideas can explain interpersonal and group dynamics in the business world. For example, a manager’s subordinates might see them as a parental figure, via the phenomenon Freud called “transference” (Maccoby 2004b: 2). Subordinates will work particularly hard to please their manager if they see them as a caring and protective parental figure. If, however, they see the manager as a merciless or combative parental figure, workplace conflicts are likely to ensue. Studying psychoanalysis has helped me appreciate these workplace dynamics.

In what feels like a capstone to my undergraduate study of psychoanalysis, I will be helping with the creation of a course on “Psychoanalysis and Money” with Dr. Sudev Sheth and Dr. Behdad Bozorgnia, which will be taught at Penn the year after I graduate. I will be reviewing possible reading assignments and providing an undergraduate perspective as we determine how to best structure the course and maximize comprehension. The first half of the course will focus on the history of money, while the second half will connect the idea of money to psychoanalytic concepts including envy, disgust, greed, and desire. This course is exciting because it explores and promotes the practical applications of psychoanalysis, and places less emphasis on its controversial founder. I hope that this upcoming course will lay the groundwork for other courses to come. I also hope that my example will encourage other undergraduates to explore the Psychoanalytic Studies minor and the many cross-disciplinary applications waiting to be discovered.

 

Works cited

Bargh, John A. 2019. Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do. New York: Atria Paperback.

Levinson, Harry. 1971. “Conflicts That Plague Family Businesses.” Harvard Business Review 49.2: 90-98.

Maccoby, Michael. 2004a. “Narcissistic Leaders: The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons.” Harvard Business Review 82.1: 92-101.

—. 2004b. “The Power of Transference.” Harvard Business Review 82.9: 76-85.

 

“Psyche on Campus” Named One of the Top Ten Psychoanalysis Blogs to Follow in 2021!

Thanks to our thousands of readers and subscribers around the world, “Psyche on Campus” has been chosen as one of the “Top 10 Psychoanalysis Blogs You Must Follow in 2021” by Feedspot. You can see the full list here: https://blog.feedspot.com/psychoanalysis_blogs/

Subscribing to the blog is free–just click the “Subscribe” button in the bottom right corner of your screen.

And remember: If you have an idea for a post of your own, just let us know by writing to: cavitch@english.upenn.edu.

 

Psychoanalysis as Argo: A Podcast Setting Sail in the Virtual Classroom

by Anneleen Masschelein and Yael Segalovitz

It was June 2020, about two months into the whirlpool, which—we then had no way of knowing—would swallow up our lives for many more months to come. In Israel, Yael was at home with her two young boys (who couldn’t fathom why the playgrounds were empty and cordoned off by yellow tape), rushing to meet the deadline for an article on autotheory and psychoanalysis. In Belgium, Anneleen was in a similar situation: torn between the demands of her child, her teaching, and her research during the early stages of what would become a seemingly endless lockdown.

Continue reading “Psychoanalysis as Argo: A Podcast Setting Sail in the Virtual Classroom”

Teaching Psychoanalysis with Children’s Literature *

by Lawrence D. Blum

I’ve designed a syllabus for a novel way to teach basic psychoanalytic principles and child development. Although originally developed with undergraduates in mind, a course based on this syllabus has been taught with great success to candidates at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia by my friend and colleague, Dr. Susan Adelman. I’m posting here about the course both to encourage others to use it as the basis for possible courses of their own and to solicit from readers (students and teachers alike!) suggestions for improving or expanding it.

Continue reading “Teaching Psychoanalysis with Children’s Literature *”

Teaching Winnicott: On Listening and More Than Listening

by Jordan Alexander Stein

We teachers don’t always know how to walk the line separating the pedagogical from the extra-pedagogical.  Years ago, when I was fairly new to the job, I found myself in office hours listening to a student in some amount of pain.  I gave her a hearing, brokered an accommodation, and sent her on her way.  But as the day went on, I began to fret that I hadn’t done enough––that I could and should have been more encouraging, or at least told her I recognized the bravery that comes with asking for help.  So I turned to friends for advice, and one memorably emailed to say “Therapy is 95% listening and 5% things you’re not qualified to do.”  Their point was that, in doing no more than listening, it may well be that I’d done enough.

Continue reading “Teaching Winnicott: On Listening and More Than Listening”

Impossible Professions: Teaching Literature and Psychoanalysis

by Emma Lieber

In “Analysis Terminable and Interminable,” Freud famously claimed that psychoanalysis is one of the three “impossible professions”—the others being education and government. The recent political environment in America certainly gives us a lens onto the impossibility of the latter, and perhaps what “impossible” means in these contexts, though the high drama of the Trump administration may also obscure what’s at stake. What is the aporia—the irreducible, unassimilable gap—at the heart of these vocations? What are their desires and aims, and what within them challenges, not so much the achievement of those aims, but any conventional notion of what achievement means? In what way do these pursuits underscore what Lacan for one designates as the impossibility of desire? And how might recognizing the impossibility of these endeavors influence the aims and techniques of their practitioners?

Continue reading “Impossible Professions: Teaching Literature and Psychoanalysis”

The Use of a (Cinematic) Object: Emotional Experience with Film

by Kelli Fuery

Psychoanalysis and the field of cinema and media studies have shared a long, if turbulent, history. From the mid 1970s to the late 1980s, both Freudian and Lacanian approaches contributed to the method that became known as psychoanalytic film theory, serving as the cornerstone of cinematic apparatus theory as developed by Jean-Louis Baudry (1974) and Christian Metz (1974, 1982). Cinematic apparatus theory sought specifically to examine the interrelated structures of cinematic space, screen, and spectacle within the predominantly linguistic frame of Lacanian psychoanalysis. During the same period, psychoanalytic film theory expanded to include theories of spectatorship, feminist film theory (de Lauretis 1984, 1987; Doane, 1987, 1991; Mulvey 1975; Penley 1989), and cinematic textual analysis.

Continue reading “The Use of a (Cinematic) Object: Emotional Experience with Film”

How Psychoanalysis Helped Me Rethink Police Brutality

by H. N.

This article addresses sensitive political matters regarding the Hong Kong/mainland China relationship. The author has decided to not provide their full name or contact information to avoid running afoul of Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong.

“Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time!” “Five demands, not one less!” “Corrupted cops, may your whole family die!” These chants of protestors penetrated me as I marched with a million peaceful demonstrators. I was initially hesitant to join in the cursing of the families of corrupted cops, wondering how spreading further hatred could be helpful at all. But the urgent cries for justice brought back images of police brutality; rage seemed to infiltrate and spur me, and I found myself, too, chanting fiercely the words of hatred: “Corrupted cops, may your whole family die!”

Continue reading “How Psychoanalysis Helped Me Rethink Police Brutality”