BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Psychoanalysis and Ethics in Documentary Film

    Piotrowska, Agnieszka (2012) Psychoanalysis and Ethics in Documentary Film. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

    Agnieszka Piotrowska's Thesis.pdf - Public Version

    Download (4MB) | Preview


    Psychoanalysis has been used extensively in film studies from the late 1960s and 1970s onwards. Inspired by Jacques Lacan, the work of Metz and Baudry in France and Mulvey and McCabe in the United Kingdom laid the foundations for film theory that explored the relationship between cinematic systems such as the apparatus and the screen on the one hand and the spectator on the other. The objects of these examinations were exclusively fictional texts. I use psychoanalysis differently through an interrogation of a largely untheorised embodied relationship between the documentary filmmaker and the subject of her or his film from a psychoanalytical perspective. There are many types of documentary film. I focus in this work on films in which a testimony, sometimes dealing with trauma, or an autobiographical account of the other, is gathered by the filmmaker. To this end I work with a number of documentary texts, including my own practice. I look at the potential tensions that these encounters might create between the need to gain as full a disclosure as possible, often fuelled by the filmmaker’s unconscious desire (which may or may not coincide with the consciously stated aim), and the ethical responsibility for the subject of the film. I suggest that a variety of unconscious mechanisms known from clinical psychoanalytical practice might be operating in the process of documentary filmmaking. These unconscious ‘hidden’ factors, notably transference, have a major influence on the decisions made in the creation of the final texts and therefore also have an impact on the future audiences of these films, which is why it is important to bring them to light. The thesis deals also with ethics of the documentary encounter. Apart from mainly Lacanian psychoanalytical thought, I draw on post-Second World War philosophy dealing with the relationship of the ‘I’ to the Other, led by Emmanuel Lévinas, but including Althusser, Badiou, Butler, Derrida and others.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2014 14:28
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 12:00


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item