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Harris, A. Sklar, R. (1998). Wild Film Theory, Wild Film Analysis. Psychoanal. Inq., 18(2):222-237.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18(2):222-237

Wild Film Theory, Wild Film Analysis

Adrienne Harris, Ph.D. and Robert Sklar, Ph.D.

Why should clinicians be interested in psychoanalytic approaches to cinema? This is perhaps a special case of the more general question of the mutual interests of applied and clinical psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysts have a long history of forays and imaginative interventions into social, cultural and aesthetic analyses. It is a history that takes Freud's own work, both as social theorist and as aesthetician (in his essays on Leonardo and on Gravida, for example), as foundational. Furthermore, psychoanalytic ideas and concepts have so thoroughly entered our collective discourses that a psychoanalytic “take” appears both in intellectual and popular criticism of movies. There is, however, a specialist group of film scholars who have been, for the past 20 years, engaged in an energetic and creative application of psychoanalytic theory to the study of the practices and aesthetic forms of cinema. In this essay we (a film historian and a psychoanalyst) want to introduce clinicians to this domain of psychoanalytic film theory and examine the basis on which psychoanalysis is brought to bear on cinema by reviewing the history of its use in that field.

It is a not infrequent complaint that psychoanalysis operates in an overly magisterial fashion in relation to other disciplines.

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