Main Characteristics: The unconscious governs our behavior, the unconscious is the ultimate source and explanation of human thought and behavior The idea of the unconscious has problematized all of the notions on which philosophy, theology, and even literary criticism have conventionally rested: the ideal of self-knowledge, the ability to know others, the capacity to make moral judgments, the belief that we can act according to reason, that we can overcome our passions and instincts, the ideas of moral and political agency, intentionality, and the notion – held for centuries – that literary creation can be a rational process.
Main Characteristics: Freud postulated that we bear a form of “otherness” within ourselves: we cannot claim fully to comprehend even ourselves, why we act as we do, why we make certain moral and political decisions, why we harbor given religious dispositions and intellectual orientations. Even when we think we are acting from a given motive, we may be deluding ourselves; and much of our thought and action is not freely determined by us but driven by unconscious forces which we can barely fathom. Far from being based on reason, our thinking is intimately dependent upon the body, upon its instincts of survival and aggression.
Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) We can obtain a sense of Freud’s psychoanalytic “literary-critical” procedure by looking at his paper “Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming.” Freud presented very important concepts like: The Unconscious, The Oedipus Complex, The Theory of the Instincts, and The Interpretation of Dreams He analyzed many famous literary texts notably Oedipus Rex and Hamlet Freud admits at the outset that the creative writer is a “strange being” who himself cannot explain his power to arouse new and intense emotions in us.
Jacques Lacan (1901–1981) The work of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan centers around his extensive re-reading of Freud in the light of insights furnished by linguistics and structuralism. Lacan effectively reformulates in linguistic terms Freud’s account of the Oedipus complex. Lacan posits three orders or states of human mental disposition: the imaginary order, the symbolic order, and the real. Lacan elaborates his most renowned concept in the “mirror stage,” (1949).