7 min readApr 26, 2021


“Images of the Unconscious” by Zulfiqar Awan — Lesson 1

In that lecture series, we will be analyzing the films which are the mirrors of the unconscious. Hitchcock is a director who understood the human psyche and the psyche of frightening. So his films will be analyzed in that lecture. “Spellbound” and “Psycho” are important movies of Hitchcock.We will use the psychoanalytical approach of Dr. Freud.

“Like Freud, Hitchcock diagnosed the discontents that chafe and rankle beneath the decorum of civilization” (Peter Conrad, The Hitchcock Murders) Civilization increases repression. According to John Bacon , civilization is like a thin cross. It can collapse very easily.

Dr. Sigmund Freud

● He was born in 1865 in Freiberg which was full of great intellectuals and great pieces of art.

● He moved to Vienna. It was a city of intellectuals. In 1867, Jews granted political rights and accepted into society there.

● He lived in the middle of Germany. So he understood the German philosophy relying on the ancient Greeks.

● He was a cultural Jew. It was a time of anti-semitism.

● He published well received scholarly papers on neurological disorders.

● because of WWII, he fled to London.

● He had mouth cancer on the last days of his life. So he ended his pain with high dose morphine and said goodbye to life in 1939.

● His theories were complex because he modified his opinions with time. There are early

Freud, middle Freud, end Freud stages in his opinions.

● As Hegel and Kant had a comprehensive system of philosophy, Freud had a comprehensive system of psychology.

His theories

● Theory of motivation: an individual’s behavior is shaped by hidden desires and unconscious motives.

● A theory of thinking (which includes dreaming, etc.) He believed that dreams must be

interpreted in scientific modern Europe. It was an age of rational enlightenment. Therefore this idea was too difficult to accept for a society who started to measure everything. They could not measure dreams.

● A theory of personality development (psychosexual theory). According to Freud, childhood sexuality and unconscious motivations influence personality. Freud took the word “psyche” from ancient Greek. It meant soul and breathing.

● A theory of mental structures (id, ego,superego)

● A theory of psychopathology and symptom formation. We repress some traumatic memories and they emerge with symptoms such as biting nails. “Enjoy your symptom”book by Lacan can help with that issue.

● A theory of psychotherapy: It is a therapy type in which you lie on a couch, your thoughts are flowing. Freud believed language is very important. Words are like magic, they unlock what is in the psyche. But language no longer matches reality in our modern day.

“Time spent with cats is never wasted” said Freud. Cats are very important to learn a lot about you, human beings and the animal kingdom. Observe cats.

Personality Theory According to Freud

● Personality is our characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting.

● Freud called his theory and associated techniques psychoanalysis.

● Unconscious-large below the surface area which contains thoughts, wishes, feelings and memories, of which we are unaware.

● Free association: Patients become relaxed and say whatever comes to their minds even if it is embarrassing. There is a voice after silence. They give clues about the unconscious. And patients feel lighter when they open themselves to somebody else. So language is very important at that point. Lacan says “ unconscious is structured like a language.”

Personality Structure:

● Conscious level: ego- it has the executive seat between superego and id. It decides the average. It is based on the reality principle.

● Pre-conscious level : superego- it stores the information you do not need. You can remember when it is necessary. And also it is based on the value system, judgement standard and internalized ideals. For example, In the Pinocchio tale, Pinoccio gains superego with time. The rules of the society are imposed on him. So superego shapes from family and the society. With WWII, completely moral reevaluation appeared. Everything blurred in modernity.

According to David Courtwright, This capitalist culture is designed to make us sick.

● Unconscious level: It is the primitive desires and basic impulses of people. A new born baby consists of pure id because he acts according to his instincts and wants his needs to be satisfied immediately. There are two basic instincts of people; Procreation(Eros) which is a life drive and Aggression(Thanatos) which is a death drive. In ancient Greece, the human being was a loving animal. So Eros’ name comes from ancient Greece. And Thanatos is god of death in ancient Greece. The id based on the pleasure principle. Unconscious constantly seeks pleasure. We are living in an id dominant culture right now and people want to be satisfied right away. Technologic devices started to give us a quick satisfaction. For example, with the emergence of the microwave oven in 1980, nobody wants to wait anymore.

● Akira Kurosawa is a Japan film director who is one of the most effective and important directors. He loved Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky. Thus, he used basically the themes of Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky’s themes. And also his last movie was his dream. He reflected the nature of the dream world.

● Nietzsche- Genealogy of morals- book- western morals come from it.

● Ovid is very important for psychoanalysis. It includes myths including the human psyche. Using mythic symbols, he expressed the unconscious.

● INCEPTION MOVİE : it shows that in order to change something in outward, you should go into the depths of the unconscious.

● BATES MOTEL: Series about the conscious.

Freud’s Five Psychosexual Stages of Development: It is significant to complete each stage successfully. Otherwise, we cannot be mentally healthy and will be fixated in one stage.

1. Oral Stage( Birth to 12 month): Infant’s pleasure centers on “mouth” suckling. When it is not successfully completed, it can lead to some fixation such as smoking. Bernay, Freud’s niece, used Freud’s theories to manipulate people with advertising. He advertised cigarettes.

2. Anal Stage(1–3 years): Child’s pleasure focuses on anus and from elimination. Toilet training is significant at that stage. It can determine the child’s rigidness, meanness and generosity.

3. Phallic Stage(3–6 years): Child’s pleasure focuses on genitals. It can lead to oedipus complex for boys, electra complex for girls and also penis envy.

4. Latency age(7–11): Child represses sexual interests and develops social and intellectual skills. It is an interlude for sexuality.

5. Genital Stage(Puberty Onward): A time for sexual re-awakening, explosion of energy; source of sexual pleasure becomes someone outside the family.

Important Psychosexual Stage Theory Vocabulary

● Oedipus complex-a boy’s sexual desires toward his mother and feelings of jealousy and hatred for the rival father. You can see this complex in “Hamlet”.

● Castration anxiety — Fear from boys struggling to deal with his love for mother while knowing he cannot overcome his father physically.

● Identification-the process by which, children incorporate their parents’ values into their developing superegos. Imposition of societal and familial norms to the child.

● Fixation-a lingering focus of pleasure-seeking energies at an earlier psychosexual stage,

where conflicts were unresolved.

● Penis envy- Desire for male dominated advantages.

● Freudian Slips: Errors in speaking reveal things repressed in the unconscious.

● Free recall/free association- Concept of a person having one word and freely associating any word with it.


● “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” said Dr.Jung. So there are ways to change your destiny. The key point is knowing yourself which is missing in modern education. The highest knowledge is self knowledge. Ancient Greek understood that.

● According to Freud, unconscious is a store for socially unacceptable ideas, wishes or desires, traumatic memories, and painful emotion. The psychological repression mechanism put them out of mind.

● However, the contents did not necessarily have to be solely negative. In the psychoanalytic

view, the unconscious is a force that can only be recognised by its effects — it expresses itself in the symptom. So, ask yourself what your symptoms are.

● In a sense, this view places the conscious self as an adversary to its unconscious, warring to keep the unconscious hidden.

● Unconscious thoughts are not directly accessible to ordinary introspection, but are supposed to be capable of being “tapped” and “interpreted” by special methods and techniques such as meditation, free association (a method largely introduced by Freud), dream analysis, and verbal slips(commonly known as a Freudian slip). Also jokes hide many truths in it. They are not coincidental things. (Zizek’s jokes)

Defense Mechanisms

Defense mechanisms reduce anxiety arising from unpleasant events, actions or thoughts. They generally distort reality. Dr. Freud stated 10, however Anna Freud concentrated on five:

1. Repression: We repress some feelings from conscious to unconscious because it is not socially acceptable.

2. Regression: Falling back into an early state of mental/physical development seen as “less demanding and safer” We will look at Polanski’s movies about that topic.

3. Projection: Instead of accepting your unacceptable feelings, you attribute unacceptable desires to others.

4. Reaction Formation: People behave in an opposite way of how you feel in reality. And they behave in a way which is exaggerated and obsessed.

5. Sublimation: It is seen as the most acceptable of the mechanisms, an expression of anxiety in socially acceptable ways. You transfer your energy to different points rather than anxiety. Some artists transform their energies into their art. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci was a sex addict but he transformed his energy into his works.

6. Denial: Refusing to accept the real events because they are unpleasant.

7. Displacement: You transfer your inappropriate urges into less problematic targets.

8. Rationalization: Finding some acceptable reasons for unacceptable actions.


Jaques Lacan(1901–1981): The mirror stage : French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan was a follower of Freud. According to Lacan, the mirror stage occurs in infants between six and eighteen months of age, when they recognise themselves while looking in the mirror and this forms the basis for the development of the infant’s ego. We will take this as our point of departure.

Films will be our mirrors in that journey because they have a cathartic effect. It removes excess emotions and makes us feel much lighter.

Rabia Aysu Taşkın




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