Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To see translations of this article…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

When there are translations of the current article, you will see a flag/pennant icon next to the title, like this: 2015-11-06_11h14_24 For example:


Click on it and you will see a bibliographic list of papers that are published translations of the current article. Note that when no published translations are available, you can also translate an article on the fly using Google translate.


For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Grant, M. (1995). Psychoanalysis and the horror film. Free Associations, 5(4):483-491.

(1995). Free Associations, 5(4):483-491

Psychoanalysis and the horror film

Michael Grant


An approach to some of the questions posed by the relation between popular culture and psychoanalysis is suggested by Barbara Creed's article “Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection,” first published in Screen in 1986. Creed turns to Ridley Scott's film Alien in an attempt to clarify issues of otherness and the monstrous-feminine. By “monstrous-feminine” she refers to woman seen from the point of view of Freud's understanding of castration—as shocking, terrifying, horrific, as the site of abjection. Her theoretical underpinnings derive from Julia Kristeva's Powers of Horror, a book whose project is to establish the abject as a new theoretical entity beyond meaning, beyond the confines of the human (as understood within patriarchal society), but which nonetheless can be given significance within a psychoanalytic understanding of the formation of the subject. Creed's aim is to show the inescapable relevance of this to an analysis of dominant culture and the subordination of women within that culture.

Kristeva pictures the abject as a place where meaning collapses, where I, the subject, am not. The abject is thus to be identified with what threatens life, and it must, therefore, be radically excluded from the place of the living subject. The abject, in other words, is all that the subject excludes in order to be what it is, to have the identity that it does. The abject is, for Kristeva, what in Judaism is characterised as “abomination”: sexual perversion, murder, the corpse, incest and the feminine body. In effect, the abject concerns everything that figures in the archaic relation to the mother. Hence, the equation between what is abject and the “monstrous-feminine.”

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.