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The psychoanalytic structure of trauma: Spellbound

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2004
JournalJournal for Cultural Research
Journal number3
Volume8
Number of pages14
Pages371-384
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This essay engages in a close analysis of two films, Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) and Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003), in order to examine their approaches to trauma, especially in relation to the psychoanalytic notion of Nachträglichkeit (“afterwardsness”). A complex notion of afterwardsness is proposed whereby it is predicated on a relationship between two events, but where the importance of afterwardsness is not seen to lie in the nature of the events but rather on what determines the relationship between the two events. This determining relation thus leads to a notion of the structure of trauma and the argument that the crucial factor in a psychoanalytic approach to trauma lies not in an uncovering of traumatic events, but rather on the structure that retrospectively makes events traumatic.