2023 Abstracts Stage 2

To what extent does asexuality occupy a space of resistance in relation to Western culture and adjacent values?

This essay tackles the question as to what the function asexuality embodies within or against Western culture. In recent years, the sexual orientation of asexuality, characterised by a lack of sexual attraction towards others, has been increasingly made aware, leading to a deeper understanding of human sexuality. Yet, it remains to be concluded whether this new understanding of sexuality can be incorporated into the Western perception of asexuality. Or whether it inadvertently functions as a challenge to Western culture and adjacent values. Utilising both academic and philosophical works- such as Bogaert, Plato, and Freud- providing a range of varying views directly or indirectly dealing with the object of asexuality. By analysing these sources, asexuality is demonstrated to have expanded one’s understanding of human sexuality, the progression of attraction and arousal. This immediately stands in opposition to the high value and pushing of sexual relations of the Western world as the path to happiness, validating the argument of asexuality’s function as an enlightening, inoffensive resistance to Western culture.

2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Major Depressive Disorder: An investigation into causation, treatment, and support structures within the UK

Within this project, an investigation occurred which looked at the genealogy of the causation of depression and the potential treatments that result from the theories. This investigation look at studies ranging from Ancient Greece to the medieval ages, to the 1920’s, to the 1950’s and finally the modern age. This was done by researching studies, journal articles and books by both scientists and philosophers about what depression was understood to be. The discussion involved Hippocrates, Bogdan Popoveniuc, Sigmund Freud, B. F. Skinner to name a few. An interview with CAMHS also took place where a deeper understanding of support structures which offer help to children with both the diagnosis and treatment of depression. The rationale behind the project is because the author has struggled with depression for a lot of their life, and they want to understand what the potential causes could have been and what treatments might be available to the author. The author has found that depression is often caused through genetic malfunctions within a human, and is maintained through unhealthy circumstances in the environment. Also the author also found that CAMHS was a struggling system, that it was severely underfunded and understaffed, and the staff that worked there were up against immense workloads. Studies pointed to a holistic approach to treatment that takes into account both childhood, genetics and how the individual behaves at the current point in their lives. This means that therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Psychoanalysis, and treatments like medication, often fail as the disease is approached in a way that must be nipped in the bud as soon as possible. The implication of this conclusion is that a new therapy needs to be created which takes into account all of the previously mentioned circumstances, and that CAMHS needs to be reorganised in a way where children should see councillors within school that are trained in mental health specifically. These new councillors should allow for children to understand their own situations, and it should remove the cessation of social interaction that is typically seen in mental illness of children.

2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Third Time’s a Charm: Reconciling Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence and Freud’s Repetition Compulsion in the Context of Nonlinear Time Within Film

Third Time’s a Charm: Reconciling Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence and Freud’s Repetition Compulsion in the Context of Nonlinear Time Within Film.

OBJECT: Time loops, nonlinear time and repetition
CONCEPTS: Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence of the same
CONTEXT: Ethical (using eternal recurrence as a thought experiment), Psychoanalysis.

In this project I am looking to apply the Nietzschean approach to ressentiment (of amor fati!) to Freud’s repetition compulsion as a means of working through trauma. Through this I will be looking to reconcile aspects of Freud and Nietzsche’s writing through a framework of film, taking inspiration from the way in which Nietzsche uses metaphor to present eternal recurrence and linking this to representation within the scene of transference. I will be owing the popularity of nonlinear time within fiction to this repetition compulsion and ultimately, the death drive, hoping to unravel elements of the ethical within repetition compulsion.

2022 Abstracts Stage 2

An investigation into the portrayal of ‘perfection’ on social media.

This project shall investigate the premises of social media to explore how perfection can be portrayed online, alongside the effect that it can have on individuals and society as a whole. Using the concepts the ego, the id and the superego, from the work of Freud, The Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real from Lacanian psychoanalysis and the notion of shame from Sartre, this project seeks to understand how these concepts can be used to understand why an idealised online persona is desired.

2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Adam, Eve, Freud

For my object I have chosen the story of humanity’s fall from grace found in the third chapter of Genesis. I will be investigating my object in the territories of theological anthropology and Psychoanalysis. In Saint Paul (1997), Alain Badiou notes a conceptual similarity between the apostle Paul’s description of sin as found in the book of Romans and the psychoanalytic concept of the substantive unconscious. The apostle laments; ‘I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… so that it is no longer I who do it, but sin which dwells in me’ (Rom 7: 15-17). The subject or ‘I’ of the statement is decentred by ‘sin’ which now assumes the ‘seat of agency’ as kind of foreign object lodged in the heart of subjectivity (Badiou 1997, 79). ‘All kinds of covetousness’ (Rom 7:8) which once lay dead and inactive have become autonomous, occupying the place structurally appropriate to the living subject (who now lies in the place of the dead), giving rise to a new subjective configuration with respect to agency which can be called ‘sin’. With this structural understanding of sin, a topographic and economic picture of the Christian subject becomes possible, one subject to the demands and pressures of an impersonal primary process. However, it must be remembered that Badiou’s analysis concerns the book of Romans and not Genesis where the originality of the first sin would be at issue. A reading of sin as desire that is ‘revived’ and awoken into autonomy by the negative naming of the law (Badiou 1997, 80) lends itself easily enough to the story of Genesis where there is likewise a prohibition; ‘but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.’ (Gen 2.17) However, a purely psychological reading of Genesis would neglect the metaphysical aspect of the first original sin, which for Saint Augustine is essential to a faithful interpretation of Genesis. Therefore Badiou’s insights, while helpful, must be built upon. I now turn to discuss my objectives in the investigation of my object.

2022 Abstracts Stage 2

A Discussion of the Representation of Women in Horror

This project seeks to explore the film genre of horror, and within that, its representation of women. With a territory surroudning the representation of women in horror, the objects of this project consist of a selection of horror films, most notably slashers from the 1970’s and 80’s. These include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre I & II, Halloween, Aliens, and the non-slasher Videodrome. The overall aim of the projects was to discover how a genre so fixated on producing an atmosphere of fear from the physical mutilation and sexual assault of women could be anything but negative representation. However, through the researching and writing of the project, it was discovered that, through the exploitation of cultural taboos, the horror provides space for concepts of female agency, inverted male-female dynamic, and critiques of existing gendered issues of domestic violence and the sexual exploitation industry, to be explored in ways which other film genres do not allow. Moreover, horror has always existed as a medium for representation, specifically for women, compared to more commercially and critically successful films have not.
Through utilizing Freudian psychoanalysis, and screen theory, this project dives into the aforementioned films, as to derive how female characters within the films are represented, through their costuming, framing, and overall qualities. In addition, Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex allows an application of feminist philosophy to the project, providing depth to the politically/culturally systemic nature to the representation of women in the broader sense. Furthermore, her reference to the Hegelian Slave-Master dialectic assisted in the analysis of the discussed films.
Other texts used within the project include Laura Mulvey’s ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, Coral J. Clover’s Men, Women and Chainsaws, and Erin Harrington’s ‘Gyneohorror: Women, Monstrosity & Horror Film’.

2022 Abstracts Stage 2

A Discussion of the Psychic Mechanisms Within Cinematic Catharsis

The emotional release that is often felt by spectators when observing cinema is an interesting focus in the context for Freud’s catharsis, as early cinema was still developing as an art form when he wrote his various works. He extensively discussed the psychic mechanisms at play during dreams, fantasy and even when telling jokes yet applying his theories of repression and the unconscious to cinema specifically has produced insight into the unique experience of being a spectator to cinema.

This dissertation explores the role of catharsis in cinema, focusing on the 2016 television series ‘Fleabag’ and analysing the psychic mechanisms at play during such catharsis. My object therefore is Cinema and Fleabag and the territory is catharsis.
Cinema is referenced through a variety of secondary sources and Fleabag is referenced through Phoebe Waller- Bridge’s original scripts- The Scriptures (2020).
Aristotelian Catharsis is reference through his Poetics (1995) which influenced Freudian catharsis as demonstrated in Breuer and Freud’s Studies in Hysteria (2004) which describe a therapeutic technique which harnesses the process of catharsis to treat neurotic patients. Finally, I discuss the feminine experience of catharsis with reference to the popular culture term dissociative feminism, relating it to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (2011).

By the above primary thinkers, my project demonstrates that the process of cinematic catharsis is purgative because it facilitates a processing of unconscious conflict, even if we are unaware of it.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Reconciling Both Sides of Oneself: Using Freudian & Lacanian Psychoanalytic Theory to Deconstruct Tony Soprano.

This essay explores and deconstructs the inner psyche of Anthony Soprano, the protagonist of the TV show ‘The Sopranos’ (1999-2007). This essay puts an explicit focus on the work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan and their work on subjectivity and the formation of selfhood. The broader aim of this essay is to better understand how a personality is formed, and the ways in which our experiences – even the ones forgotten over time – have a permanent effect on our self-esteem, our behaviour and our response to certain situations. Tony Soprano was chosen for analysis because of the extreme dichotomy between the side of him that wants to be good and the side of him that is demonstrably bad. This essay also discusses whether or not Tony’s inner conflict can be resolved, coming to the conclusion that this is impossible for him. This essay also seeks to avoid an ethical discussion and look objectively at character-forming from a purely psychoanalytic perspective to avoid a discussion of moral relativism, instead hoping to understand the notion of morality as being formed through experience.

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

What is Horror? A Psychoanalytic Perspective

This project aims to explore the territory of horror fiction,
investigating the question of ‘what is horror?’ through a
psychoanalytic perspective. This investigation is focused on H.P.
Lovecraft’s novella At the Mountains of Madness, published in 1936;
this constitutes the object of the project. The psychoanalytic thought
that will be drawn upon is, primarily, that of Sigmund Freud and
Jacques Lacan, with Slavoj Žižek used as secondary theorist
throughout. The philosophical concepts employed in this project are
Freud’s notion of the unheimlich and Lacan’s order of the Real,
though the latter is streamlined through the Žižekian reading of the
Real as horrifying.
An application of these psychoanalytic frameworks to the material
provided by Lovecraft’s novella will offer two contrasting accounts
concerning what constitutes the notion of horror. The Freudian
approach rationalises the image of horror by tracing it back to certain
repressed content, whilst the Žižekian-Lacanian approach
understands the phenomena of horror as an interruption of the Real
into our social reality. This project argues for the salience of the latter,
on account of the reductive tendency of the Freudian framework that,
ultimately, fails to capture the philosophical richness of the material
with which it is dealing.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

How has Tarot reading continued to thrive in a post-metaphysical world where rationality is paramount?​

Tarot reading has gained a notable amount of popularity in recent years, but this does not align with the increasingly rational, post-metaphysical society of the West. Perhaps this new age scientific rationalism has proven too harsh for humanity, and there are calls to return to a more spiritual path. The individualistic nature of Tarot reading is much more appealing than the previous demands of traditional religion that once dominated society. Tarot reading may also be used as a therapeutic tool that can reveal unconscious desires for the future that have been repressed by the psyche, and through an act of projection onto the Tarot cards, we can reveal these true desires that are usually hidden from the surface.​

The concepts that I will use to explore this question are Mele’s self-deception, Freud’s psychoanalysis, Jungian archetypes, Semetsky’s therapeutic hypothesis and the rationality of logical positivists.​

2021 Abstracts Stage 3

The development of Sadomasochistic understanding through the application of Psychoanalysis

Sadism and masochism coupled together as sadomasochism is a compound term which denotes a pair of opposites, adopted by psychoanalysis. The development of sadism and masochism began from the literary contributions of Sade and Masoch, which later contributed to the psychoanalytical analysis of the relationship in perversion between opposites. This project focuses on psychoanalysis being useful in the developed understanding of sadomasochistic relations, specifically in terms of how, why they are formed and are able to function despite being structurally separate. As a result, psychoanalysis claims a necessary reliance on each other present in sadomasochist relations, despite being the opposite of each other. The common psychoanalytic reading of sadism and masochism will be used, as a challenge to sadism and masochism being defined without being sourced from a process of reversal. In addition, there is focus on role of fantasy and if whether sadism and masochism can exist as a pure example without elements of the other, with perversions always existing as a pair of opposites in a relation of an exchange of power. The objects of sadism and masochism are applied to the territory of psychoanalysis with psychoanalysis providing depth into these concepts as they are of a paradoxical nature. A historical methodology will be used to follow the progression of the understanding of sadism and masochism, as developed over time with psychoanalytical understanding as such provided by Freud, Deleuze and Lacan.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

What can Louise Bourgeois tell us about art criticism?’: a meta-critique of philosophico-psychoanalytic readings of the artist.

Object: The art criticism of works in Louise Bourgeois’ Cells series
Territory: Contemporary art criticism
Concepts: Subjectivity, intention, Freudian psychoanalysis, the artist and their relation to works of art, authority of criticism
Philosophy: Nietzsche, Foucault, Wimsatt and Beardsley, Bal.

In my project, the work of Louise Bourgeois in her Cells series is utilised as a case study to explore wider issues in art criticism and how works of art are interpreted in relation to the artist. An examination of the reception of Louise Bourgeois’ work shows largely the same approach in psychoanalysing Louise Bourgeois and relating this back to her work and perceived intended meaning. Conversely, the position in the project argues that such a reading of her work, as well as that of other artists and authors, carries problems related to the importance of artistic intention, the public sphere of a work of art compared to the private sphere of the artist, as well as to what extent such readings are not only valid, but in the case of Louise Bourgeois count as genuine criticism rather than uncritically accepting her own statements.

Philosophy from the course included use of material from modules PHI2002 and PHI2006.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Hooliganism Project

Object/Territory: Football hooliganism is organised violence between football supporters and this will be used as a case study to assess whether violence can ever be seen as justifiable.

Philosophy: Sigmund Freud provides a basis for why humans are so interested in violence through his Narcissism of Minor Differences and the Human Inclination for Aggression. This will be used to assess whether this violence is truly inevitable and thus immoral for Kant, or whether the life of a hooligan could possibly provide the affirmative life that Nietzsche preaches is needed.

Outline: If violence is inevitable then it is surely justifiable. However why must this manifest as football hooliganism? And even if violence is taken as inevitable, does this make its morally permissible. Using the contemporary studies in football hooliganism to assess the physical cost, and combining this with the idealisation that hooliganism has, will create an answer to whether this activity is morally acceptable. If the modern conception fails, can a future one succeed?

2014 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Discussion of Comedy and Laughter and an Analysis of the Potential Benefits They Offer Society

Thesis: Absolute freedom of comic expression is a prerequisite for a fair and functional society and can provide a form of abstract social mobility. Some forms of comic performances can be considered artistic.

Objective: To explain the philosophical theories concerning why we laugh, to demonstrate these theories through contemporary and historical comedy, and to determine the extent at which comedy is relevant today.

The Superiority Theory: Do we enjoy laughter because we enjoy the suffering of others? Is it just a method for self-elevation? Plato, Hobbes, and Descartes think so.

The Relief Theory: ‘laughter does in the nervous system what a pressure-relief valve does in a steam boiler.’ Nervous energy from insecurities can be released through laughter, according to Freud and Spencer.

The Incongruity Theory: When something seems out of the ordinary, or incongruous, we laugh. Aristotle, Kant and Kierkegaard agreed.

2014 Abstracts Stage 3

Can We Ever Truly Escape Our Past Or Is it a Precondition for Selfhood?

The concept of past is intimately connected to our perceptions of identity and the question of whether we can ever escape this often intrusive and suffocating hold on our person is central to my thesis of whether or not the past of an individual defines who they are and who they will become.

Object: Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby will be applied to both psychology and philosophy.

Beginning with Psychology, specifically the work of Sigmund Freud to show how our identity is determined.

Turning to philosophy with Jean Paul Sartre, exploring his views on freedom which oppose those of Freud.

Finally Friedrich Nietzsche’s work on ‘becoming’ and ‘overcoming’, discussing the ability to overcome our pasts and celebrate them.

2013 Abstracts Stage 2

The Church of Scientology

One of the fastest growing new religious movements in history, The Church of Scientology claim they possess the ultimate answer to existence, inviting the individual to sign a billion year contract to aid L Ron Hubbard and his missionaries on the road to total freedom. Scientology is a highly controversial movement, labelled by many as a dangerous and abusive religious cult. What is it about Scientology that attracts the masses? Psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung posited a clinical viewpoint on religious belief and practice.

Philosophers in their own right, their psychological theories of religious belief can be applied to religious cults such as Scientology. Freud judged religious faith to be a neurotic need, with belief bringing some comfort to our search for a father figure. In contrast Jung posited religious belief has underlying therapeutic value, giving the agent a chance to achieve emotional closure and human ‘wholeness.’ Nietzsche and Dawkins argue such benefits come at the cost of delusion. Cults appear to bring contentment – at a cost.

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Breaking the Festival Barriers: Is the music festival an exercise in liberation and expression, or simply another mode of social constraint?

Aim: To discuss the relevance of the music festival as an arena for transgression and excess, and as an escape from the constraints of society. Using a variety of music festivals from past and present to construct a coherent argument.

Discussion: It is felt that music festivals provide a much needed release from the strains and pressures of society; one is permitted a degree of excess within a shared environment. The use of drugs and alcohol during a festival is representative of the need to cast off one’s inhibitions and to partake in unrestrained celebration. However, the music festival is still influenced by social rules and regulations. It is a temporary letting-loose, and therefore may be regarded as another form of social constraint.

Philosophy: – Freud; Civilisation and its Discontents, Totem and Taboo – Bataille; Inner Experience – Hegel; Elements of the Philosophy of Right, The Phenomenology of Mind

“Long may the expression of free-thinking people reign over this land!” -Michael Eavis

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Depression on the Increase in Britain! Is “Affluenza” a Contributor?

We are truly in a bad way emotionally …Selfish Capitalism is not a good way to run things, if you care about people’s emotional well-being. [Affluenza, 2007]

These are the words spoken by Oliver James in his book Affluenza. In his book James suggests that the virus he names Affluenzais a set of standards which boost our defencelessness against psychological distress: we are now placing a high value on needing money and possessions, we want to look good in front of our fellow man and are coveting fame. James suggests that the studies he has made in his book show not only is the epidemic at pandemic proportions but is also on the increase.

My aim within this project is too show that depression has risen in Britain since the 1970’s. My hypothesis’ will be that because of the “Affluenza”, we are ignoring our natural instincts and desires, we are constantly feeding our ‘Id’ and because we cannot always feed our ‘Id’ we become dissatisfied and depressed.

In 1905 Freud published three essays on the theory of sexuality; these essays were where Freud developed his sexuality theories and also where he put forth his psychosexual development theory. It is important that we understand these theories as we will have a clearer view of how when we are not allowed to develop as Freud said was necessary, that we lose ourpersonal identity and also our social evolution as individuals.If this is correct then the problem is greater than just a rise in depression since the 70’s it also shows us that the future will be very bleak for our future generations as if we now are wrapped up in ‘selfish capitalism’and susceptible to Affluenza, how will we help our future generations to develop?, when we ourselves have been stunted

When James talks of people in his book we notice that these people have many of the above habits which can eventually lead to depression, but the correlation between Freud and Olive’s Affluenzais that by wanting to satisfy our ‘id’constantly because of such things as consumerism we are indeed destroying our personalities and our mental health. We are not meant to constantly satisfy our ‘id’ the ‘id’ works in conjuncture with the ‘ego’ and ‘super id’ according to Freud.

I will Be using Freud, and looking at his psychosexual development theory, to show how when we can become warped as humans if we do not satisfy our needs and are well rounded. I will be using Freud in conjunction with the writer Oliver James and will be referring to the problem named in his book as “Affluenza”. In my Project I will include statistical data to show that depression has risen in Britain. I will also be talking about the impact that “Affluenza” will have on our future generations. We must satisfy our needs and self-reflect, replacing our intrinsic needs with possessions will ultimately lead to our downfall!

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

How Deceived Are We by Our Own Mind?

The aim of my project is to explore the tricks (problems) the mind plays on us and how a technique can overcome that problem. I would use Freud to explain the problem of the mind and use a Derren Brown technique which could overcome that problem. I will also show how they both share some similar views in certain areas. So do you know how deceived you are by your own mind?

Here are a few areas I will explore.
• I will explain Freud’s theory on forgetting ‘Proper Names’. I will then suggest a technique by Derren Brown which could overcome this. In this case, a technique called ‘Remembering Names’.
• ‘Forgetting Names and Sequence of Words’ by Freud can be related to the ‘Linking System’ by Derren Brown. This technique allows you to move onto the next word without any worries.
• A view which Freud and Derren Brown share is on superstition and the supernatural. They both disapprove of it. Derren Brown’s controversial programme, the Séance showed his rejection of the supernatural through psychological experiments which shows the illusions of it.

I shall use Freud’s book Psychopathology of Everyday Life to explore the problems of the mind. For Derren Brown, I shall use his book, Tricks of the Mind, and include his programmes as well, such as Trick of the Mind, Trick or Treat, and the Séance.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

The Strange Case of Dr Ego and Mr Shadow

For this project I’m investigating views on the unconscious. I think that it is important to learn as much as we can about ourselves in order to better ourselves and the society in which we live. Philosophers who I have looked at are Freud and Jung. I have used Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ to parallel with the idea of hidden aspects of our personality in our unconscious. The novel also reflects upon the notion of drugs unlocking these hidden, repressed aspects of self; a topic in which I am also interested.