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Marty, F. (2002). Tell Me Who is Haunting You and I'll Tell You Who You Are. A Reading of the film Sixth Sense dir. M. Night Shyamalan (1999). Am. J. Psychoanal., 62(3):301-305.

(2002). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 62(3):301-305

Film Review

Tell Me Who is Haunting You and I'll Tell You Who You Are. A Reading of the film Sixth Sense dir. M. Night Shyamalan (1999)

Review by:
François Marty

Sixth Sense presents itself like a series of stories within stories that mix reality with fantasy. But, the tangle of registers and problematics called up is there to serve a deeper meaning, this at least is our interpretation, as if the director had wanted to make us aware of an invisible reality, of psychic reality. The story starts with a psychiatrist (psychologist?) who has been honored by his town for the excellence of his therapeutic work with children. Just as he prepares to celebrate the event with his wife, he is confronted by a former patient who, having broken into his house, comes to remind him that for the patient, things have not worked out; he is still as sick as ever. More than that, he is desperate, and in a gesture of rage he produces a handgun and shoots the psychiatrist before killing himself in front of the horrified psychiatrist and his wife.

We find the psychiatrist several months later, waiting in front of a house. A child comes out. The psychiatrist follows him and thereby lets us enter into the life of an eight-year-old boy, Cole Sear, whose life is haunted by terrifying ghosts. The psychiatrist tries to help this child on the edge of psychosis by giving him the strength to confront the terror. For the psychiatrist, this help will be like a reparation of the wrong committed by the crazy patient who came to shoot him in the stomach. It will also be a revenge, a way of rehabilitating himself in his own eyes, in order to rid himself of this haunting wrong.

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