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Lecture One - Psychoanalysis

Simon Jones


A: The development of the psyche from birth

Was developed as a form of theropy. They tried to establish an understanding of the human physce. The mind the subject and the person from birth. 

B: The development and role of the Unconscious in our everyday lives

They developed an understand of the Unconscious and they way that the role of the unconscious has in our everyday lifes. 

C: The development of gender identity (psycho-sexual identity) 

D: Understanding the complexities of human subjectivity 

The subject is us. We are human subjects within the world. It creates our identities, how we think and what we are motivated by. 

Not only a form of therapy (‘the talking cure’)…a theory of the mind (psyche) and a model-based theory that can be applied to other objects and processes.

A way of categorising and understanding desire, motivation, dreams. 

That we are not entirely controlled by logical and reasonable thought. Our unconscious plays a part in our day-to-day goings-on. 

Sigmund Freud

- Conceived of the idea in late 1890s.

-Treated hysteria patients using psychoanalysis by guiding them to discover and accept repressed thoughts/events. They are generally patients who suffer from pyschological issues such as depression. 
They developed physical symptoms that were related to their metal issues. 

- Freud asked how a mental problem can transfer to physical?


- He Analysed his own and other’s dreams in terms of their hidden associations and ‘wish-fulfillment’ or in terms of how they referred to what was happening in their conscious lives. 

- He also Observed infants in their habits and associations with parental figures. 

Edapus is form Greek Mythology. He seduced his mother and killed his father and Freud used this as a metaphor for something else. 

Established the psychoanalytic theory that allowed for a ‘dynamic unconscious’ part of the mind.

The Dynamic Unconcious

- Created through infancy to protect our conscious selves from events, ideas and thoughts that are not acceptable to consciousness.

- Continues to affect our conscious selves in SOME* ways. 

The unconscious is chaotic, without order and without language. 

Makes itself present through ticks, slips and symptoms (e.g. Freudian slip) 
This is something that you don't plan to say but it just happens. Sometimes it can be found in a sexual context but most of the time it's not. 

Freud’s hysteria patients developed debilitating symptoms as a result of experiences or feelings that had become repressed. 

This tells us something about us as subjects, that we are not entirely in control of ourselves. 

Stages of Development 

- Our development into willful, conscious beings is full of confusing, contradictory and misapprehended thoughts and ideas. 

- An attempt to make sense of both our biological/instinctual self and our logical/thinking self.
We create associations and assumptions through sense data…often incorrectly.

- Freud said.. The developing child goes through stages: oral, anal and phallic. More interstingly for us when it comes to sexuality and identity are these following stages...

- Also, the child develops preconceptions that must be dealt with in order to develop successfully – oedipus complex, castration complex, penis envy. 

The attempt to try and understand how we are physically as well as consious, thinking human being.

Psyco-sexual Identity 

Psyco-sexual Identity is our assumed identity through our development through infantcy. This development provides us with so many inappropriate ideas. 

- Oedipus complex – sexual/love feelings towards mother and resentment of father…through childhood dependence and self-centered world view.

Oedipus complex – feelings of love, rivalry, jealousy all mixed…confusing feelings ‘to want’ vs. ‘to be wanted’. 

- People try to dress it us as incest ideas but this is not the case. It is a mixture of different emotions that get misunderstood. The infant in no way understands the feelings he is having. Inside the inseparable link between mother and child, he places these feelings of affection and inappropriateness towards his mother and therefore resents the father for the position that he is in, in relation to the mother. It's a misunderstanding of emotiion when wanting to be wanted. 

He also tells us the the development of both masculine and feminine identities is in relation to the penis/phallus. When young infants experiences the other sex...

Castration complex – the boy fears castration while the girl accepts that she has already been castrated. (the phallus as a symbol of power) 

- At the same time the girl has Penis-envy – the girl experiences this when she begins to realise she does not have a penis…not as a sexual organ but a way of relating to the father-figure. She assumes that she has been castrated and as a result develops similar feeling towards the father. This comes from the realisation that some people have a penis and some people don't. 

Feminists have hit out at Freud for backing this theory up, but this does provide somewhat of an explanation of why men are placed higher than women in historic societies. 
- Presence/absence – both create possible negative feelings: the boy fears his castration (his powerlessness) while the girl feels that she is missing something.

- The penis is seen as a positive symbol of power and tells us what our identity is. Life for the boy is just as difficult as life for the girl. 

- The child must experience and overcome these mixed feelings and misconceptions in order to gain a sexual identity and a speaking position within the order of language and society. Freud found that self consiousness and paranoia are born from not being able to overcome these situations properly. We can see that the building of our identity is not as logical as we might of thought.

- Misconceived/contradictory ideas of gender, power and identity continue to work unconsciously throughout our lives.

The Uncanny

- This is the only thing that Freud wrote about which related to the visual world. The direct translation for this is  ‘Unhomely’ but we use Uncanny. 

- Something that is simultaneously unnatural yet familiar. We generally experience the uncanny is an uncomfortable fashion. Some people in horror films have used the feeling of uncanny to create unease within viewers. 
- Something that was supposed to remain hidden which has come to the open. 

- Surrealist artist use the uncanny a lot. 

Where the boundary between fantasy and reality break down. 

Analogies between the unconscious (psychology) and the uncanny (aesthetics)

 Freudian Models

Id, ego and superego

Unconscious, preconscious and conscious 

Unconscious Preconscious and Conscious

- Unconscious – Hidden, repressed, chaos. Where things are stored that are unacceptable to our conscious selves.

Preconscious – Unconscious yet not repressed. Where memories, word associations, etc. are stored and are thus recalled from. 

Conscious – Our outward self, personality, identity.

Id, ego and super ego 

- We are bio-socio-individual beings. 

Id (unconscious) – represents the biological/instinctual part of ourselves. 

- Ego (conscious) – represents the individual/personality of ourselves. 

- Super-Ego (social order) – represents the part of ourselves in relation to others, to social order and to language. This is slightly outside of oursleves. This is the space where we understand what we need to know to sit in a social culture. We have to abide by certain rules in order to maintain our position. This is not part of our own individuality, it is placed on us by society. 

Psychic information is distributed into these ‘spaces’, exist differently and may come into conflict with each other. Artist and designers become interested when 'spaces' is introduced. 

Jacques Lacan

Lacan comes form a background that uses. he was difficult to read because he gave opputunties for multiple meanings and contradictory. By this he was suggesting that human life is contradictory. 

- In the 1960s and 1970s Lacan presented his own brand of psychoanalysis claiming a ‘return to Freud’.
- He reconceptualised Freud’s findings through the theoretical model of structural linguistics. Signification. 

- Lacan posited that the development of the psyche is entwined within the structures of language…language molds us as much as we mold it

- After Freud had died, Psychoanalysis has diverged into different areas and got confused. He reconceptioulises Freud's ideas through  the use of semiotics, forming analogies through the structure of the physce and who we are as human beings. 

He tells us that we are inescapable unless we get rid of language. 

The Mirror Stage 

- This is the stage in infancy when the child recognises his own reflection of himself outside of his own body. Wether this be within friends, siblings or parents. 

- It throws the infant into a state of alienation. Before this the child sees himself as the centre of the universe, selfishly. 

- This causes the eruption of the ego in the infant and also a sense of rivaly and loss. He's lost this idea that he's the centre of the universe. The ego is creates as a means to fill this gap. Our concious selves are constantly trying to fill this gap by creating an identity for ourselves. What morales we live by and what kind of person we are going to be 

- Captation - the process by which the child is at once absorbed and repelled by the image of itself. 

 - We are all facianted by our own relflection. This is our body but is it our personality? This is called "The Spectacular Image".

- Some of us might have had these awkward feelings about, is this me in the mirror?

Lacanian Unconscious 

- ‘The unconscious is structured like a language’ 

- That’s not to say that the unconscious has a language but its structure is LIKE a language.
The unconscious is the discourse of the Other. What this means is that the other with a capital 'O' refers to the Super-Ego, outside of yourself. Language is the Other because it is outside of ourselves. We have to assume this language in order to become a human being.

- Highlighting the ways in which meaning in encoded within linguistic signs – written or spoken words.
Unconscious details are encoded in various ways as they slip into consciousness. 



•Metaphor – a word is used to represent something else which possess similar characteristics.
•Symptoms are translated elements of unconscious material adopting a metaphor-style coding.


•Metonymy – a part of something used to represent the whole or the whole used to represent a small part. Meaning is displaced along a series of associations – a signifying chain. 

An example would be refereing to my car as 'my wheels'. It pushing meaning along a chain of signified elements. 

•Desire for objects (including people) are displaced desire for what cannot be attained…unconscious desire. He tells us that desire can never be fulfilled because it cannot replace a hidden desire that we once felt in our infancy. 

Lacanian Phallus

- Not the biological penis but a symbol of power/order attained through its associated LACK – the potential of lack (male) and the actual lack (female). So when we experience our sexual identity in realtion to the phallus, we all experience LACK.

Masculinity/femininity are not biological definitions but symbolic positions 

Our interactions/relations to the symbolic phallus provides a ‘speaking position in culture’ / within the symbolic order
a: relating to the signifying nature of the phallus
b: our sexual identity informed through the phallus. 

Feminist kicked off about this again but it is very hard to argue against. 

The role of the symbolic phallus is diverse and complex (to have, to be, to possess, to lack)…far too much to discuss in this session! 

The 'orders' of reality 

- The Real
That which cannot be symbolised/signified
Where our most basic, animal selves exist

- The Imaginary
The order which exists before symbols and signification.
Where the Ego is born and continues to develop.
No clear distinctions between self and others/subject and object. 

The Symbolic
‘The order of the Other’
Exists outside ourselves – language exists before and outside of us.
The order that allows us to exist within a culture of others.

Lacan tells us that all three of these are at work within our physic analogy. 

Physoanalysis and art criticism/theory

- Subjectivity – what it is to be human, motivations, desires, the unconscious.
To help us understand why things are as they are.
To help us understand artists/designers motivations for creating. 

We are concerned with human subjectivity as designers. We might want to create work that references physocanalsis. David Lynch's films constantly refer to this. We need to understand how we were created as individuals before we create something. 

- Model-based theory/paradigm – Models provide a tool for categorising or breaking down individual and groups of art/design works.

It allows us to think deeper into stuff. The model can help us understand what is conscious, unconscious and sub-concious to help us see where our work fits within this. 

Edward Bernays

- Edward Bernays – ‘The godfather of PR’, Freud’s nephew.

- Applied knowledge of psychoanlysis, unconscious desire to advertising and PR campaigns. 

- Revolutionised advertising by applying manipulation techniques. 

Promoting lifestyle rather than the product. Embedding desire within products. 

"If you buy this product, all your desires will be fulfilled."

- If we read on about Bernays, we realise he is a sketchy character. Teh Freud family is a family who didn't like people. Thinking that people were sheep who needed to be controlled in order to sustain a society. The case study below shows how he used this in order to increase the sales of cigarettes. 

Case-Study – ‘Torches of freedom’

Max Ernst – 'Collages'1930 

He didn't think of this idea of a weird fish on a head, but he allowed the objects to inform the collage itself. which provided this automatic unconscious element. 

Victor Burgin - 'The Bridge' 1984

In this series of photographs he uses the bride as a symbol for sexual. He combines it to certain references for example to hitchcock's vertigo. The whole series brings up certain characters and situations that appears in vertigo. 

Louise Bourgeois - 'Spiral Woman' 1952

She explored the relations between males and females. The struggles and desires of femininity and masculinity. 


- We've looked at different aspects of physoanalysis. It is worth looking at and considering how we can use this in our own practice. 

- How can we embed these ideas within our own work. 

- It can be a tool for understanding why we are motivated by certain things and where our desires and ideas come from. 

- It can also let us understand how we are effected by design or advertising. Why do we have certain reactions?

Personal Research/Reflection 

I decided to look further into examples of artists and designers referencing to Psychoanalysis in their work so it could give me a better understanding and outlook on the subject within context. I initially did a quick google search on the subject after the lecture and found some interesting websites and information...

Intro Video

The first thing I came across was this video on youtube entitled 'What is Psychoanalysis?'. I really like the illustration and animation of the video which is why I have included it here although it doesn't really further my knowledge, it's more of a video to make people curious on the subject in an advertising sense rather than educating. The main character uses his psychoanalytic session to work through a perceived slight at work, with the use of free associations and dreams. The film tries to show visually some essential components of the psychoanalytic process including the analytic function, transference, dreams, repetitions and the Oedipal conflict. Blink and you’ll miss them!

Freud Video 

VERY INTERESTING video following Freud's developments of psychoanalysis treatment. This basically touched on some of the points raised in the lecture but is more visual and is easier for me to understand more clearly and also quite humorous when it talks about his patient coming onto him and him leaving it because he realised that the patients were letting out feelings towards their parents that had been suppressed as a child...


I came across this Psychoanalysis Test online and thought it would be funny to give it a go to see my results. I'm not sure how accurate this will be but you can have a go here if you like -

Here's my results. It's made me feel good about myself so i'll just pretend thats it's 100% accurate! haha

You GOT a score of 47 out of 64

Your rating: Others see you as fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical, and always interesting; someone who's constantly in the center of attention, but sufficiently well-balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.

This is based on the Gerald Koe (Ed.D., R. Psych) score rating system.

Carl Gustav Jung

I decided to look into Carl Gustav Jung's “Collective Unconscious” theory as I came across it being mentioned a few times when researching the topic outside of the lecture...

I was going to generalise the basic outline of his theories but this documentary I found to be much more interesting and easier to understand. This is the first part, but you can find the second part in the videos at the side. Very interesting watch! It outlines initially Freud's findings then when Jung met Freud and worked with him, also adding his own theories and ideologies to Freud's initial work as well as showing Jung's background as a child growing up. It also hits on the fact that Jung was a much more open person who had doubts on everything whereas Freud was much more narrow-minded and the the end just plain weird and from a reclusive family.

Psychoanalysis in Design

I further looked into how modern design can relate to the subject. The first thing I found was a series of book covers designed by portugese agency FBA. Here is what they said about the brief and the cover designs...

Psychoanalysis Book Covers

"This is the Portuguese edition of a book series on psychoanalysis themes written for professionals but with the broader public in mind.The client requested a series of low budget covers with graphic impact that would differentiate themselves from the other books available on the subject. Although the design should differentiate these books from the self-help category they intentionally look accessible for the majority of the audience – professional or non professional.Each book in the series is dedicated to a specific subject and the cover reflects the subject matter by using simple typographic illustrations that communicate symbolically with letters but not necessarily with words.These books are aimed to sell as a series and so the design was developed also to trigger a collector attitude."

Psychoanalysis Booklet

By Asli Caglar

A booklet focussing on typography using psychoanalysis as the content. The artist wanted to reflect the darkness and the duality of psychoanalysis by using only black and white and tracing paper. The tracing paper also refers to the repressed memory. The texts can't be read clearly when you turn the page and the citations complete each other. This shows how sub-conscience and conscious complete and form an individual.

Really nice idea and interesting way of tackling the subject through design...

Human Complementation

This next piece of design that I found, directly references the different stages of Freud's theories which we covered in the lecture. The first being Super-Ego, Then ID and Ego and eventually Harmony.

"Obeying the Icon as the false way. Blindfolding self in order to get into formal restrictions. Dogmatism. Absolution of Moral. Denial of Creativity."

"Tearing off the skin as the act of denial of disambiguation. Blindfolding self in order to get maximum Power. Teachings of Nietzsche. Immorality. Bestial dominance. Denial of God"

"God as the part of identity through genetics, Human as the part of God and Universe through consciousness. Interaction with Universe with all accessible tools. Creativity. Harmony. Enlightenment. True Complementation."

Private Spaces

I really like this project based primarily on psychoanalysis. 'Private Spaces' is a visual commentary on human condition, bridging photography and illustration. It investigates a thin border between the safety a confined space provides and a claustrophobic feeling of imprisonment.

The Dream Book

“The Dream Book” is an experiential text book. It’s designed to help its readers to dive into their own subconscious and better understand and perhaps even resolve some issues of his or hers personal life.
The book covers basic ideas in psychoanalysis and focus especially on the works of Carl Gustav Jung and his “Collective Unconscious” theory. The book uses pop-up and cut-outs to enrich the reading experience and assimilate the images into the reader subconscious, there by altering his dreams according to his will.

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