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Gullestad, S.E. (2011). Crippled Feet: Sadism in Lars von Trier's Antichrist. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 34(2):79-84.

(2011). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 34(2):79-84

Crippled Feet: Sadism in Lars von Trier's Antichrist

Siri Erika Gullestad

Critics of Lars von Trier's film Antichrist have regarded the depicted woman's destructive fury as difficult to understand. In this paper, separation anxiety is discussed as a central unconscious motivation behind the aggressive interaction between husband and wife, and the child is discussed as an obstacle to the mother's exclusive relationship with her husband. The film powerfully conveys how sadistic aggression is unconsciously acted out between mother and son, as symbolized by the mother's crippling of her son's feet. The woman's violence is also a reaction to a her husband “therapist” who, wishing to correct her, fails to understand and contain her inner world, wherefore the therapeutic dialogue itself, disguised as help, is experienced as violently aggressive. This in turn engenders a wish for revenge. Against this background, the film is seen as a critique of cognitively oriented therapy.

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