Psychoanalytical criticism, which emerged in the first half of the nineteenth century, is a type of literary criticism which uses some of the techniques of psychoanalysis in the interpretation of literature. It is a type of literary criticism that explores and analyzes both literature in general and specific literary texts in term of mental processes. Psychological critics generally focus on the mental processes of the author, analyzes works with an eye to their authors’ personalities. Some psychological critics use literary works to reconstruct and understand the personalities of authors-or to understand their modes of consciousness and thinking.
It is a widely excepted notion that Sigmund Freud is the psychologist of the 19th and 20th century; you seldom hear the word "psychology" without people immediately thinking of Freud. His theories of psychosexual development; the stages, Oedipal crisis, and character, include some of the most renowned psychiatric research, as well as some of the most controversial. To Freud the sex drive is the most motivating force, not only for adults, but for children and infants as well.
Freud focused on the ambiguities of language as reflections of mental processes, particularly as they manifest themselves in dreams, symptoms, slips of the tongue, and puns.
Freud powerfully developed an old idea: that the human mind is essentially dual in nature, operating both consciously and unconsciously. He also identified three components of the human psyche. He called the predominantly passionate, irrational, unknown, and unconscious part of the psyche the ‘id,’ or ‘it.’ Freud viewed the id- insatiable and pleasure-seeking – as the source of our instinctual physical (especially libidinal) desires. Freud opposed the id to the superego, the part of the psyche that has internalized the norm and mores of society. Since the superego reflects social beliefs, behaviors, and even pressures, it almost seems to be outside the self, making moral judgments and telling us to make sacrifices even when such sacrifices may not be in our best interests. The third aspect of the psyche identified by Freud id the ego, or the ‘I,’ which is predominantly rational, logical, and conscious, the ego must constantly mediate between the often competing demands of the id and the superego; roughly speaking, it must choose between (or balance) liberation and self-gratification on one hand and censorship and conformity on the other.
Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan (April 13, 1901 – September 9, 1981) was a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist who made prominent contributions to psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literary theory. He gave yearly seminars, in Paris, from 1953 to 1981, mostly influencing France's intellectuals in the 1960s and the 1970s, especially the post-structuralist philosophers. His interdisciplinary work is Freudian, featuring the unconscious, the castration complex, the ego; identification; and language as subjective perception, and thus he figures in critical theory, literary studies, twentieth-century French philosophy, and clinical psychoanalysis.
The mirror stage (le stade du miroir):
Lacan's first official contribution to psychoanalysis was the mirror stage which he described " as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience". By the early fifties, he no longer considered the mirror stage as only a moment in the life of the infant, but as the permanent structure of subjectivity. In the paradigm of The Imaginary order, the subject is permanently caught and captivated by his own image. Lacan writes, "[T]he mirror stage is a phenomenon to which I assign a twofold value. In the first place, it has historical value as it marks a decisive turning-point in the mental development of the child. In the second place, it typifies an essential libidinal relationship with the body-image".
As he further develops the concept, the stress falls less on its historical value and more on its structural value. In his fourth Seminar, La relation d'objet, Lacan states that "the mirror stage is far from a mere phenomenon which occurs in the development of the child. It illustrates the conflictual nature of the dual relationship".
The mirror stage describes the formation of the Ego via the process of objectification, the Ego being the result of feeling dissension between one's perceived visual appearance and one's perceived emotional reality. This identification is what Lacan called alienation. At six months the baby still lacks coordination. However, he can recognize himself in the mirror before attaining control over his bodily movements. He sees his image as a whole, and the synthesis of this image produces a sense of contrast with the uncoordination of the body, which is perceived as a fragmented body. This contrast is first felt by the infant as a rivalry with his own image, because the wholeness of the image threatens him with fragmentation, and thus the mirror stage gives rise to an aggressive tension between the subject and the image. To resolve this aggressive tension, the subject identifies with the image: this primary identification with the counterpart is what forms the Ego. The moment of identification is to Lacan a moment of jubilation since it leads to an imaginary sense of mastery, yet the jubilation may also be accompanied by a depressive reaction, when the infant compares his own precarious sense of mastery with the omnipotence of the mother. This identification also involves the ideal ego which functions as a promise of future wholeness sustaining the Ego in anticipation.
In the Mirror stage a misunderstanding - "méconnaissance" - constitutes the Ego—the 'moi' becomes alienated from himself through the introduction of the Imaginary order subject. It must be said that the mirror stage has also a significant symbolic dimension. The Symbolic order is present in the figure of the adult who is carrying the infant: the moment after the subject has jubilantly assumed his image as his own, he turns his head towards this adult who represents the big Other, as if to call on him to ratify this image.
You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.
Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time---
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal
And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off the beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend
Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.
It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene
An engine, an engine,
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.
The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.
I have always been sacred of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You----
Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.
You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who
Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.
But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look
And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.
If I've killed one man, I've killed two---
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.
There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.