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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Sideways: Hysteria in Wine Country.

The film, Sideways, has been critically acclaimed for its screenplay, cinematography,and acting. Criticism from some quarters centered on the implausibilityof the story, notably regarding the attractiveness of the two male lead rolesto the two female supporting characters. Miles, the schoolteacher/writer, representsan individual with the hysterical (shy, effeminate, oppish) subtype ofhistrionic personality disorder; and Jack, the actor, depicts the histrionic (hypermasculine,'Don Juan') subtype. Similarly, Stephanie, the barmaid, and Maya, the waitress/student, may be seen as even more polar representations along thespectrum of the female hysteric. These characters were blocked in various stagesof psychosexual development, most notably seen in the adolescent behaviors of Miles and Jack. The wine country setting, the exposition of wine culture, andassociated bacchanalian drama juxtaposed to developmental metaphors lendtexture and depth to the superficial, comedic aspects of the film.