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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Freud and Gibson: A child is being beaten and The Passion of the Christ

The film, 'The Passion of the Christ' by Mel Gibson, recalls the paper, 'A child is being beaten.' In 1919, Freud described a tri-phasic progression to the phantasy of witnessing an adult administering corporal punishment: father beating another child, the reporter-child being beaten by the father, and, ultimately, a father surrogate beating other children, usually boys. Reactions to witnessing the unrelenting tortures endured by Jesus in 'The Passion of the Christ' led to a psychoanalytic examination of the metaphors conveyed by its images, plot, and characters. This film contains unconscious themes of sexual identification and dis-identification, incest, guilt-induced masochism and the convergence of pain and love in the parent-child relationship.