Free «Movie Black Swan, (The Daughter) from Psychoanalytic Eye» Essay

Movie Black Swan, (The Daughter) from Psychoanalytic Eye


The psycho analytic theory is a psychological theory developed by the great Austrian neurologist, Sigmund Freud which refers to the definitions and dynamics of personality development which underline and guide psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy. Freud ceased his analysis of the brain to focus his studies on the mind and the related psychological traits that make up the mind. In this paper, the motion film the black swan is utilized as a reference to indicate the applications of the theory and its effects on personality.

About the movie

According to the vigilante citizen,’ “Black Swan” is an intense psychological thriller describing a ballet dancer’s metamorphosis into the “Black Swan”. The movie focuses on the tale of a virginal girl, pure and sweet, trapped in the body of a swan. She desires to be free, but only true love can rescue her. She is nearly freed by a prince however, before he can show his love for her, he is tricked and seduced by the lustful twin, the black swan. Devastated, the white swan commits suicide by jumping off a cliff and in death, she finds the freedom she so desires. It follows the shy ballet dancer, Nina, in the demanding world of professional ballet along her path to success (Laverty, 2011). 

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Nina, a fragile and shy young woman is chosen to play the role of the swan queen, which implies that she must play both the pure white swan and her evil twin, the black swan. Nina’s quest for perfection leads her to experience the transformation experienced by the white swan in the story in her real life. The events of her everyday life therefore reflects the story of the character she takes on as a ballet dancer, which leads to confusion and as the line between fiction and reality fades and finally vanishes, It leads to apparent insanity.

Britannica encyclopedia definition of psychoanalysis “Freud and Breuer observed that, when the sources of patients’ ideas and impulses were brought into consciousness during the hypnotic state a psychological state, which resembles sleep and is depicted by a operational of the personal at the level of consciousness rather than the normal conscious state, the patients showed improvement.” In the movie Nina was constantly going out of consciousness and a hypnotic state. It was like the opposite of the quote as she slowly began to realize her ideas and impulses as she drifted from a sort of hypnotic state where they were apparent, back into normal consciousness (Farley, 2011). 

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In this movie Nina slayers is still a child, this is illustrated by; her comments that the pink slice of grape fruit that her mother serves for breakfast is pretty, the fact that she is a grown woman who needs her mother to help her dress up in the morning and undress in the evening and the fact that her bedroom looks like that of an adolescent (Lilian, 2009).  It is filled pink ruffle trimmings and stuffed animals. The doubling motif is seen throughout the film, and Nina feels pressure from her various pairings: from her former ballerina mother who exists viciously vicariously although her daughter's prosperity. The pressures also well up from within Nina, and it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish reality from fantasy, for Nina or for those of us watching in the theater. The confusions come within Nina's body as the flesh and mind compete, the stress pulsing within her neck. However, whether the swan song willingly sutures it all is left to the participators (Laverty, 2011). 

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The character of Nina is a classic case of numerous defense mechanisms, among which are bulimia’s, hallucinations, obsessive-compulsive syndrome, more primitive defensive mechanisms like denial or regression. As to the last two ones, they are pretty obvious: Nina denies she has serious psychosomatic problems and claims she would be able to perform at the premiere, she even denies the symptoms to herself. Regressive is her behavior applicably to her authoritative mother: at the age of mid-twenties, Nina is still childishly scared of her mother and subjective to the will of the latter. An authoritative mother is a classic Freudian scenario, which is being aggravated by the fact that the father figure is absent as such. Instead of it the impresario’s personality takes the niche. Also, such defense mechanisms as compartmentalization and projection of personality take place. Nina uses Lily’s identity to construct an elaborate duality of her own person, with the “dark side” dominating occasionally. Natalie Portman's trait was intricate in a highly complicated competition, she had disputed associations with her understudy and her mother, and she was a purpose of sexual evolves by her commander. Ecstasy, a strong hallucinogen that Lily and Nina take in the same libidinous site also evokes a psychotic occasion.  The recurrent vomiting and loss of weight leading up to her last performance might have instigated an electrolyte imbalance that can be attributed to psychosis. The film resembles liberties with a owner of anxiety syndromes: bulimia, anorexia, obsessive and cutting compulsive disorder. Most of which cannot appear the same way, say psychiatrists.

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Nina also agonizes from anorexia, which is an eating ailment of added weight loss and usually undue concerning body shape, inspired no uncertainty by her urge to retain children and avoid her mothers’ body. To indicate this, her desire to persist a child, she selects to be a ballerina, a vocation in which she acquires to be a child- adult where she would have adult’s scenery high quality for her accomplishment, similar to parents does to their children. The career also gives the opportunity to wear dress clothes that are revered by little girls and the opportunity to mimic other people rather than live life in the real world. Nina is careful about arranging her slippers, lining up a make-up in a dressing room and washing her body at each chance. Viewers see opportunities of anorexia as she gapes at a pink grapefruit to take as a breakfast and errands away the cake her mother purchases to celebrate acquiring the desired role (Laverty, 2011). 

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The anorexia theory sees the relationship with her mother as a problem though the mother may no be intentionally standing on her way. The issue comes from within. The anorexic girl does not want the body of an adult because in her mind, it means acquiring her mother’s body, which she is afraid of. This problem would of course not arise unless there was a relationship which existed before that makes the relationship with her mother and her mother’s body confusing. The girl, who is in the process of maturity fells that there is a deficiency of distance between her and the mother, both physically and emotionally, for her to develop a private relationship with herself and her maturing body. This is illustrated in the film when Nina, sexually awakened by her choreographer, tries masturbating in the morning and is interrupted when she discovers her mother sleeping beside her (Farley, 2011). 

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Emotions are the complex psychological and physiological characteristics of person’s state that are induced by the certain environmental factors. It is impossible to imagine the person without emotions as they depend directly on our characters, mood, temperament type and the degree of motivation in some specific occasions. Our emotions are the integral part of our life as they provide the contrast between positive and negative so that the life is generally balanced. Moreover, cognitive emotions are based upon reasoning and thinking that tend to be the unconditional and natural processes of each individual. However, the instinctual emotions are mostly connected with reaction and perception of the reality. If they are uncontrolled, it means that are the huge threat to danger and anger. Sometimes our emotions can be the cause of different violence. If to talk only about anger, we consider and distinguish two groups: anger as a normal state and the uncontrolled anger (Plate, 2009). If the bad and unpleasant occasion happens the person can survive the different state, ranging from minor irritation to rage and hatred. As a rule, irritation leads to domestic violence and misunderstandings and hate often results into wars and serious conflicts. On the more violent level our emotions can provoke anger and cause the physical arousal. However, responding aggressively is in some cases even necessary (Farley, 2010). The constant anger outbursts are useful, because they prevent us from accumulation of anger inside, which can lead to the more serious stages of anger release. According to the psychologists views the most dangerous are the emotions with anxiety disorders and repressed anger. If the person does not express the emotions directly when the incident happens, he is more likely to get angrier later each time after he recalls this incident. The results can be the worst.

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Nina does not move out immediately or get rid of the childish thing in her room because she is afraid of becoming an independent woman, standing on her own two feet, she still wants to be her mothers little girl. She does not fell psychologically well equipped for an adult life; she relies on her mother’s guidance to overcome life’s small everyday difficulties. The unconscious solution is the want of distance from her mother, yet still needing her. Efforts to harmonize these conflicting feelings and needs are part of the reason why she looses her sanity after her dance as the black swan.

Nina wants to dance Swan Lake, which shows her desire to mature. In playing a role that represents the dark side, which represents things that she is afraid of, such as jealousy, sexuality and the power of a woman, along with the white side which represent what she is embracing, such as innocence, she aspires to play an adult role and get recognition for it. But though she is capable of doing the dance both technically and physically, she has no idea how to handle the parts psychologically, and unfortunately for her there is no one to give her guidance.

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Her protagonist in Swan Lake comprises alterations from the white swan that represents guiltiness and all that she is, to the black swan, which symbolizes her fears in life. To do this Nina has to let the darkness in, something that she fears will destroy her. The very crux of the dance entails that she leaves means of living that creates her feel sound. Nina is however unable to manage the darkness. The black swan is finally released after being repressed for so long. In a bold and flawless dance, which her body manages perfectly but the mind fails to keep up, which is similar to the dissociate identity disorder. This is a condition in which the self is divided in to two parts. It is suffered by people who are unable to handle two opposing points of view at once for instance a murderer who unable to deal with his guilt copes by assuming another personality, which is innocent of the crime (Laverty, 2011). 











Nina is obliterated by the force of the finally released black swan. The angry force kills the white swan destroying the vessel that hold both of them. Sigmund Freud proposed that the human conscience comprises of the id, the ego and the super ego. These three must exist in a balanced state, if not the person is likely to experience a state of neurosis. The ego, which seeks gratification of needs in a socially acceptable manner, seeks to balance out the id, which seeks immediate gratification regardless of the circumstances and the consequences, and the superego, which mainly seeks to gratify needs that are in line with moral values. According to Freud, the ego is present both in the conscious and the unconscious states. In the film, it is clear that Nina was moving forwards and backwards between a conscious state and an unconscious state. In accordance with the psychoanalytic theory, due to the lack of balance between her ego, superego and id, Nina experiences a state of deep neurosis (Laverty, 2011). 

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Nina’s case can also be compared to the case of Anna, who was a pseudonym patient Josef Breuer, a friend and colleague of Sigmund Freud. Anna suffered from among many other things disturbances of vision, hearing and speech as well as hallucinations and loss of consciousness. Breuer diagnosed her with hysteria. Breuer also observed that Anna also experienced absences (a change of personality accompanied by confusion, such as the ones experienced by Nina) in this state as well as the hypnotized states she would mutter words, which were profoundly melancholy fantasies, sometimes characterized by poetic beauty, in other words she lived in the world as she wanted it to be in this state (Lilian, 2009). Freud implied that her illness was as a result of a resentment she felt over her father’s illness, which later caused his death.

Application of Anna’s case to that of Nina in the movie would imply that Nina is also suffering from hysteria, which is as a result of her fear for competition; it took her a long time and a lot of hard work for her to land her dream role and even then she was under some kind of probation to bring out the black swan or be replaced, as well as her obsession for perfection. In the film we see examples of this throughout Nina’s character development. In the beginning, we see her need for perfection as she is practicing in front of the mirror. She just had finished a hard day where she finally had an opportunity to turn her dream come real, the lead part, and failed. Instead of getting defeated she is seen practicing and the camera zoom on the floor. Here we can see the floor is literally warped from all of the practicing she has done away from the company. This shows us that she has been at this for a while and her need for perfection in her form has enveloped her for a long time. There are many other instances that show this desire for perfection but the one that stood out the most to me was her constant problem with her nails. She is always picking at them and in the scene where Thomas Leroy announces her to their supporters she is shown running to the bathroom after thinking her nails were bleeding (Lilian, 2009). She peels back her skin trying to fix the imperfection until she finally snaps back into consciousness and to the fact she was not bleeding at all. Nina’s id, ego and superego are conflicting throughout the film, we see many examples of this but her need for perfection seems to dominant the conflict as she snaps in and out of reality.

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In conclusion the film is a good illustration of a good number of psychoanalytic theory and their effects on personality. The following concept and any other I might not have captured have been illustrated. Some of them include:

  1. The concept of the psychosexual development theory and the effect of stalled development on personality
  2. The anorexia theory and its psychological effects
  3. The human psyche theory of Sigmund Freud and the importance of the harmonization of its various components.

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