Peeping-Psycho Paths

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Since the 1980s people have always been fascinated by animated, motion pictures and movies. There were many directors who were able to capture the audience’s attention and interest with the script, plot, music, shooting techniques and even the star system which put an emphasis on the image rather than the acting. A popular topic which was the basic ground of many highly acknowledged directors had a psychological attribute, and it dealt with repressed desires, the unconscious and collective as well as individual madness. These directors took the inspiration from those psychoanalysts who considered as a holy order to prove their theories. They wanted to find out the method by which they could cure insanity as well as to find the core to access the unconscious. In this essay I will examine two movies, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom. I will argue about the representation of male madness in the two films based on the psychoanalytical theories of Freud and Lacan. I will also explore the sexual violence, voyeurism as well as the unconscious with its duality and repressed desires. The representation of women will be examined as well, the way they are depicted on the screen as well as their status as love objects for the male gaze. In the first pages, I would like to offer a brief overview on psychoanalyses, especially on the works of Freud and Lacan, and their connection to film theory and cinema. The body of the thesis will comprise the analyses of the two films based on the representation of male madness as well as the importance of the “gaze” in establishing a psychological abnormality. Finally, there will be the conclusion which will refer back to the earlier discussed topics.
The two important psychoanalysts dealing with topics mentioned above are the Austrian neurologist Sigismund Schlomo Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939), and the French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Jacques Marie Émile Lacan (April 13, 1901 – September 9, 1981). Freud has always been concerned in psychosis and neuroses. He held that every repressed desire is part of the unconscious and in order to be cured, one has to encounter the past and face the unconscious. He distinguished three elements of personality, the Id, the ego and the superego. “The Id is portrayed slightly mad: the law of contradiction does not hold, common sense does not hold, and space and time collapse, reverse and turn inside. For Freud the ego begins quite mad, as a hallucinatory organ. In this sense the ego is a wish-fulfilling organ, it can temporarily hallucinate pain away, pain as not there, and substitute pleasure with pain. This is one way the human race is mad – a fundamental tendency, according to Freud. To state that one’s desire is fulfilled in order to make the pain of unfulfillment disappear. The third personality type, the superego goes mad very smoothly and over- persecutes the rest of the personality.” (Eigen 2,3)
In his works, Freud highlights many different aspects which were used by theorists in analyzing images, visuals and films. For instance, “in his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (published originally in 1905), Freud treated the pleasure in looking, scopophilia, as a normal aspect of sexuality. He contemplates on the development of children, whose sexual instincts are present but not yet directed to a sexual object, in their case, looking is one of several sexualized activities that is situated in the eye, one of many active erotogenic zones. At the time of puberty, the genital area emerges as the primary erotogenic zone, a sexual object is developed, and sexuality is experienced differently according to gender. Freud discussed scopophilia at this stage of sexuality – a sexuality now unified and organized under genital control – in terms of normalcy and perversion. Measured by a standard of sexuality based in one’s own genitals and directed towards the genitals of a gendered other, looking is a normal prelude to heterosexual intercourse and genital release. However, when scopophilia becomes itself an act of sex Frued labeled it as perverse “perversion (a) if it is restricted exclusively to the genitals, or (b) if it is connected with the overriding of disgust (as in the case of voyeurs or people who look on at excretory functions), or (c) if, instead of being preparatory to the normal sexual aim, it supplants it.” (Freud 157)

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