Cinema, Suffering and Psychoanalysis: The Mechanism of Self

15 February 2024 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
University of Westminster (Room: UG04)
309 Regent St.
London W1B 2HW
Cinema, Suffering and Psychoanalysis: The Mechanism of Self @ University of Westminster (Room: UG04) | England | United Kingdom

Laura Stephenson (University of Westminster)


This event is part of the CAMRI Seminar series. The current event is an in person/on campus event only.

Cinema, Suffering and Psychoanalysis explores psychological disorder as common to the human condition using a unique three-angled approach: psychoanalysis recognises the inherent suffering encountered by each subject due to developmental phases; psychology applies specific categorisation to how this suffering manifests; cinema depicts suffering through a combination of video and aural elements.

Functioning as a culturally reflexive medium, the six feature films analysed, including Black Swan (2010) and The Machinist (2004), represent some of the most common psychological disorders and lived experiences of the contemporary era. This book enters unchartered terrain in cinema scholarship by combining clinical psychology’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Five (DSM-V) to organise and diagnose each character, and psychoanalysis to track the origin, mechanism and affect of the psychological disorder within the narrative trajectory of each film. Lacan’s theories on the infantile mirror phase, the Imaginary, and the Symbolic, Žižek’s theories on the Real, the big Other and the Event, and Kristeva’s theories on abjection and melancholia work in combination with the DSM’s classification of symptoms to interpret six contemporary pieces of cinema.


Originally training as an editor for film post-production in New Zealand, Laura Stephenson went on to post-graduate study where she specialised in gender theory at Honours and Masters level. She moved away from gender theory at Doctoral level to focus on psychoanalysis, examining a series of cinematic characters through a psychoanalytic lens to explore mental suffering as an inherent aspect of the human condition, securing her research niche in the medical humanities.

During the completion of her Doctoral research Laura continued to work part time in the screen industries in pre-production roles including concept developer, ethics adviser, script editor and writer. She also serves as an adjudicator for film festivals in New Zealand and England.

Over the last 15 years Laura has taught at 4 Universities on numerous media modules including film theory and production, advertising analysis, screen writing, gender studies, and psychoanalytic trauma studies. She seeks to bridge the gap between screen industries theory and practice in her pedagogical content.



Photo by Edurne Tx on Unsplash