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Documenting interiority: visual research and representation in psychoanalysis

Isserow, Jonathan; (2017) Documenting interiority: visual research and representation in psychoanalysis. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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On first consideration, documentary film and psychoanalysis seem incompatible. Historically, documentary film has privileged the visual in exploring the social world, whilst psychoanalysis has privileged the aural in apprehending the internal world. Despite this apparent incompatibility, documentary film was productively employed in psychoanalytic research in the 1950s and 1960s by a handful of ocularcentric psychoanalysts. In an attempt to address the gap between looking from the outside while seeing on the inside, this investigation examines the synthesis of both fields by evaluating the genre’s capacity to document interiority. It asks: how can documentary film function as a visual methodology in the psychoanalytic production of knowledge of interiority? Through an innovative methodological approach, this is addressed from the filmmaker’s perspective, in which psychoanalytic epistemological debates are transposed onto three documentary film forms. These include the polemical discussions between clinical and observational research in psychoanalysis, explored through the essay film; the use of linear temporality, examined in observational film; and the notion of après coup, or afterwardsness, that attends to memory and meaning through the compilation film. From this theoretical and practice-based enquiry, this research develops the notion of the temporalised gaze that may produce psychoanalytically informed constructions of subjectivities in documentary film. In making this gaze visible, it argues that documentary filmmakers and psychoanalytic visual researchers require greater reflexivity of how temporal ways of looking construct interiority. Therefore, this investigation establishes a psychoanalytic methodological base on which a plurality of visual subjectivities may be developed. It calls for the revival of the ethical and reflexive use of documentary film in psychoanalytic research.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Documenting interiority: visual research and representation in psychoanalysis
Event: UCL
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > CMII
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10028047
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