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Freuds Concept of the Uncanny When a person experiences chills or goose bumps as a reaction to something strange or unusual they are being affected by a sense of uncanniness The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud endeavored to explain this feeling of uncanniness in his essay entitled The Uncanny Freuds theory focuses around two different causes for this reaction Freud attributes the feeling of uncanniness to repressed infantile complexes that have been revived by some impression or when primitive beliefs that have been surmounted seem once more to be confirmed The first point of his theory that Freud discusses in the essay is the repression of infantile complexes that cause an uncanny experience Freud uses ETA Hoffmans short story The Sandman to explain the idea of repression of infantile complexes The story centers around the character of the Sandman who steals the eyes of children Freud states that the fear that the character Nathaniel feels towards the Sandman has more to due with an infantile castration complex than with the actual fear of losing his eyes In Freuds theory he states that the Study of dreams phantasies and myths has taught us that a morbid anxiety connected with the eyes and with going blind is often enough a substitute for the dread of castrationFreud 383 If Freuds belief is true than it is Nathaniels fear of castration that causes him in the end to go mad and throw himself from parapet Nathaniels fear is embodied in the character of the Sandman whom Freud says represents Nathaniels father and thus is the cause of his fear of castration The Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex would also be affected by Freuds theory When examining Oedipus action of blinding himself once he hears the truth about his parentage it would have to be determined that he blinds himself as a symbolic castration This statement is supported by the laws of ancient Greek society which would have called for his castration due
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