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MINDGAMES: Mulholland Drive

By Jeremiah Tessier and William Sharp. Freud’s discovery of the unconscious and its impact on our daily lives brought the science of dreams into popular discussion beyond simply the spiritual and mystical.

In the book, Down the Rabbit Hole, Gregory (2016) writes, “As we move downward [from consciousness to unconsciousness] we experience an affective charge—thoughts become feelings. We approach the dream in its own realm. Here the surety of signs gives way to the ambiguity of symbols. Literalism gives way to metaphorical thinking. The rational, causal view of the world breaks down, and we are left to experience the awe of uncertainty, ambiguity, and doubt. We have begun the journey. The dream is the ticket. The price of the ticket is uncertainty” (p. ix). Nowhere in my recent experience do we get a chance to see the dream work as clearly as we do in David Lynch’s (2001) Mulholland Drive. [Read More]

Avatar: The Last Airbender: A Psychoanalytic Review Or How a Kids’ Show Can Teach Analysis

By Dr. Carol Panetta.

“It’s time for you to look inward, and begin asking yourself the big questions: who are you, and what do you want?” It’s not exactly the stuff of your average American cartoon program, but this quote captures the essence of Avatar: The Last Airbender, an animated TV series aimed at 6-to-11 year olds that aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. The series wonderfully combines elements of Chinese martial arts such as kung fu and tai chi, which provide the action and excitement, with Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. More surprisingly, it presents the audience with an unexpected level of character development, revealing a psychoanalytic process of unconscious conflict, repetition, and emotional resolution through relationship. [Read More]

What Use is Free Speech If Nobody Listens?

By Dr. Carol Panetta. I was perusing a recent copy of the Chronicle of Higher Education over lunch, as I often do, and I stumbled on Jason Stanley’s article, “The Free Speech Fallacy.” Stanley is responding to a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece that, in criticizing a controversial critique of Israeli policy towards Palestinians, in his view, portrays “left-wing social justice as a threat to free speech.” According to Stanley, this theme “dates back to the fall, when nationwide campus protests calling for racial justice were represented as threats to free speech.” [Read More]

Freud, Trump, and the Terrible Deliciousness of Hate

By Dr. Mary Shepherd. I had dinner the other night with an 87-year-old friend of mine, a poet and member of the Hungarian aristocracy, who had fled in 1987 with her husband, who had survived three years in the Gulag, and landed here with only the clothes on her back. “I like to watch my Trumpy on TV,” she said with a wry grin. “Why?” I asked. “Because in Hungary I couldn’t say “I hate”. I couldn’t say I hate Stalin, I hate Lenin, I hate the Communists. I would have gone to jail.” “So, ‘Trumpy’ can say everything that political correctness prohibits, and it’s fun?” “Right,” she says. “Hitler was elected by popular vote you know.” Like the poet she is, my friend quickly juxtaposed her admission of a profound truth about human nature with her abhorrence of demagogy, vulgarity, and xenophobia. Human nature elected Hitler and may elect Trump: it’s really fun to just let fly with all our most destructive, primitive urges; out of fear of the unknown, out of our terror of the “other”, or out of our wishes to be superior and omnipotent. Nobody wants to admit that this is really how we are. But now a candidate for president legitimizes this, celebrates it, even glories in it. Now we can hate ’til our hearts content. [Read More]