Literary Theory Assignment: Psychoanalysis
23 May 2014
Lecturer: Dr. Bridget Grogan.
Summary of Psychoanalysis 3
Critique of theory 7
Reference List 18
Summary of Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is fundamentally based on the understandings of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), a scientist and neurologist who was intrigued by various aspects of the human and social psyche, and additionally, in issues such as madness, myths, the unconscious, dreams and so forth. Freud disagreed with the popular Enlightenment postulation that "the human mind" is "unified whole that can achieve full awareness of itself"; and as a result, humans are superior beings - to animals - as they are capable of reason (Rivkin and Ryan, 1998. 299). Conversely Freud, in his book The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) proposed that the human mind consists of an inaccessible stratum, which he labelled the "unconscious", which is "a repository of repressed desires, feelings, memories, and instinctual drives, many of which [Ã¢ÂÂ¦] have to do with sexuality and violence" (Rivkin and Ryan, 1998.
299, emphasis added). The unconscious can be accessed through elements such as Freudian slips - parapraxes - jokes, lapses in one's memory and in dreams, which are "a working out of repressed materials that have emerged as fantasy in dream narratives" (Freud, 1916-17: 51). In other words, one's dreams reveal repressed and unfulfilled desires; however, these fantasies or desires are disguised in the dream, or appear in the form of euphemises. Therefore, they are symbolic or representative of something else (Freud, 1916-17: 52). With reference to literature, psychoanalysis suggests that the text is similar to the dream in the sense that it reflects the writer's desires and ambitions; these unfulfilled wishes are compensated for by being placed in the text "and so resolved - but only in the imagination...