Bridging the Gap Between the Light and Dark Side of the Force: A Contemporary Kleinian View of Star Wars

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  • 1 Harvard Medical School jdean2@partners.org
  • 2 Harvard Medical School graynor@partners.org
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Abstract

Star Wars is a series of films that depicts an epic galactic battle between good and evil. The interplay of love and hate is also central to the psychoanalytic theories of Melanie Klein. This article suggests that the presentation of the plot in the films follows a pattern from Klein’s paranoid-schizoid position, in which love and hate are kept separate, to the depressive position, in which they are integrated. Initially, the Jedi and Sith, corresponding to the light and dark side of the force, are depicted as purely good and purely evil, in line with the paranoid-schizoid position. Gradually, the films progress to the depressive position, in which Luke and Anakin Skywalker engage in an internal struggle of good and evil. The authors also discuss the specific contribution of film to the presentation of these themes that could not be accomplished by other media.

Contributor Notes

Jason Dean received a bachelor of arts from the University of Pennsylvania before receiving his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is currently a resident in the Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program. His clinical interests include child psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and the integration of biological psychiatry with psychoanalysis. He plans to train as a child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

Geoffrey Raynor received his undergraduate degree from Union College before receiving his medical degree from Stony Brook University College of Medicine. He is currently a resident in the Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program. His clinical interests include neurology and its integration with psychiatry. He is also interested in psychodynamic theory and its interaction with biological psychiatry. He plans to train and to practice as a neuropsychiatrist.

Projections

The Journal for Movies and Mind

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