Good Afternoon, Dr. Freud

Now, I’ve always been something of a sceptic when it comes to psychoanalysis. I don’t really buy into brain-dwellers, and I think that ferreting around in the subconscious is sometimes like digging around a landmine; sometimes, things are buried for a reason. However, our American cousins seem to have a lot of faith in the practice, and since I have to revise the subject anyway, I thought I’d embrace it and see what all the fuss is about.

Freudian psychoanalysis is a method of literary interpretation that places heavy emphasis on the nature of the mind, and how the unconscious influences of the super-ego, ego and id affect the way we conduct our literary and everyday lives. Freud wrote a number of important essays on various topics of literary interpretation. These include his thoughts on narcissism, the short comings of the pleasure principle, the issues surrounding proposed infantile sexuality, and the importance of dream analysis.

A Formidable Man… (1)

Psychoanalysis as a discipline focusses on the talking cure as a way of establishing and tackling the root behind one’s neuroses. This approach can be applied to literature in so far as one searches for one’s neuroses hidden behind imagery that can be found in a text. Freud suggests that everything we do is the result of impulses and therefore to look for these impulses can be conducive to providing a literary analysis of the subject.

All of Freud’s literature is based around the concept of the unconscious, which is deemed as having three levels. The first is the super-ego, which represents the expectations of society and is widely considered as being the voice of morality. The ego represents desires, and attempts to mediate between the id and the superego, whilst the id represents the base human instincts; it is something that is inaccessible.

Freud’s theory of dreams tends to relate back to the content of the id, and the process of establishing the dream-work is perhaps the most important in terms of psychoanalysis. Latent content is the fundamental basis of analysis, made all the more obscure by way of the fact that it is hidden deep inside the content of the dream.

Condensation is the Freudian understanding that one object in a dream represents a number of complex ideas, therefore the content of the dream is deceptively small. Alongside condensation is the concept of displacement, where the dream object’s emotional significance is separated from it’s real object or content and attached to an entirely different one, in order to not arouse the suspicions of the dreamer. Dreams are never simple and represent a huge amount of latent content.

The pleasure principle is something that is always sublimated to something else; the human psyche is more complex than simply the pursuit of pleasure. Other pursuits, such as repeating a certain action, are repeated in order to fulfil the unfulfilled wish. The converse principle, or the reality principle, counters the pleasure principle, when people choose to defer fulfilling a certain desire on the basis that circumstantial reality is opposed to this desire. Society therefore intervenes, creating the reality principle. Freud defines maturity as an ability to tolerate continual deferred pleasure, in favour of conforming with social expectations and understanding. Therefore the ego has become reasonable, and obeys the reality principle in favour of understanding only the pleasure principle. The reality principle does also seek to fulfil desires; however it does so whilst taking into account the problems of circumstantial reality.

This concludes my elementary understanding of Freudian theory, and also proved a very useful revision task.

Thank you for reading!

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(1) http://specularimage.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/freud12.jpg?w=640

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A Friendly Face In A Doctor’s Surgery Is As Rare As A Cuddly Great White Shark

I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been recently trampled by a pack of wild dogs, whilst being forced to ingest razors. My head was pounding, and my throat was on fire. And I sighed, and resigned myself to the usual amount of pre-exam viral infection, and went about trying to do all those things that make you feel better. One of the worst things about living alone when you are ill however is that there’s no one to look after you, and make cups of tea. And this means that really, if I’d like tea, well, I’ll have to scrape myself off my mattress, and go and make some.

I often fantasize about having a robot precisely for this sort of thing. Doing stuff you can’t quite manage to do yourself, or indeed cannot be bothered to do yourself. I wish I had a robot who could book appointments to the doctors. I promised my mum that I’d go tomorrow, if I wasn’t feeling any better, which isn’t a problem in itself, however in order to actually get an appointment, you have to phone as soon as the radio beeps at eight in the morning, and then you spend some time doing battle with the elderly people and the babies, trying to get a slot that isn’t at an entirely preposterous time of day, like ten past eight, or six twenty.

A Standard Day At the Surgery… (1)

Doing battle with the irritable receptionist is also an exercise in patience; I’m not even offered a ‘good morning’ anymore, but instead I’m barked a time, usually something ridiculously inconvenient, at the precise time that the heavens open and I have to walk there in the rain.

Students, unfortunately, alongside middle-aged adults, are at the bottom of the healthcare food chain; we’re too old to be considered children, and our immune systems are reaching their peak. The elderly always seem to fill up the waiting room, and yet seem perfectly healthy whilst they chat to their friends at high volume, because none of them have their hearing aids switched on. When my friends and I are in attendance, we’re usually bleeding, coughing, or expelling some kind of bodily fluid. One could say that we at least have the decency to look as though we need medical attention.

So now I’m definitely feeling as though exam season is approaching. I’ll probably miraculously recover about twenty minutes after the end of my last exam, but up until then the only exciting thing I shall be doing is taking regular paracetamol, and taking in lots of fluids. I shall probably spend too much time watching Sex and the City and revising from my bed, with a book. I like the circulatory nature of university life; we begin the year with Fresher’s Flu, and end it with something I like to refer to as “exam fever”. Living together is like a breeding ground for viral infection, especially if you’re frequenting the nightclubs and bars on a regular basis too. It’s days like today when I start to think Sheldon Cooper is on to something about avoiding people and infection…

I must dash anyhow. I need to slump and make some more tea. (Or text my flatmate to see if she’ll do it…)

(:

(1) http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/jdi/lowres/jdin31l.jpg

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On Excellence

I’ve been busy revising incessantly this week, and so I got to thinking, as I often do at this time of year, about the nature of ignorance, by way of the fact that every time I revise, I realise how little I know about my course. Admittedly, I’m only a lowly fresher, bottom of the higher education food chain, however, it is daunting to realise that you know relatively little. I think it also makes you realise how good your lecturers really are; they’re the best, and to be the best, you have to dedicate your life to your chosen specialty.

I don’t know yet, if I will ever become an expert in the field of English, however I’d like to think I’ll become an expert in my chosen field, whatever that may be. I don’t think it makes you ignorant to not know everything about something. It makes you ignorant if you don’t want to know. And I do want to know, however I’m just not sure if I’m able to dedicate my life completely to academia, at this point. I think I’d love to be working in the city in a few years, perhaps acquiring some more vocational qualifications, ready to make my way in the world as a professional in a field that I have yet to choose. Although, I’m not so worried about choosing yet; I still have two years in which to live in my university bubble. That safe place, where all you have to do is learn, and attend weekly parties.

It’s this revision you see; it makes me all contemplative and strangely perceptive about the world. An unfortunate side effect of exams for me is illness. Stress brings me out in ear infections, viral infections, stomach bugs, anything really. My body seems to decide to hate me on the exact week where a fully functioning ear and clear sinuses would be an added bonus. But I suppose beggars can’t be choosers, and I hope that this year will prove an exception to a time-honoured tradition.

Anyway, I must be off. There’s ecocriticism to revise, and critical theory essays to trawl through…

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