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The Cambridge History of the Gothic The Cambridge History of the Gothic
Volume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
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3.9 - Psychoanalysis and the American Popular Gothic, 1954–1980

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2021

Catherine Spooner
Affiliation:
Lancaster University
Dale Townshend
Affiliation:
Manchester Metropolitan University
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Summary

This chapter discusses the ways in which psychoanalytic concepts influenced the American popular Gothic during the post-war era. The 1950s and 1960s were what Nathan G. Hale has described as the ‘Golden Age of Popularization’ for psychoanalytic thought in the United States. The historical underpinnings of this psychoanalytic ‘boom’ period are discussed, with a focus upon the prominent place occupied by American ego psychology during this period. As argued, this influence soon permeated the ‘popular Gothic’ fiction of the era, which was characterised by texts which revolved around tensions rooted in the dysfunctional nuclear family, sexual and emotional repression, and unresolved childhood trauma. The work of authors such as Robert Bloch, Charles Beaumont, William March and Ira Levin is considered. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the ways in which the late 1970s ‘Satanic Panic’ scare, which drew upon both core psychoanalytic principles and the most lurid elements found in works of horror fiction such as Rosemary’s Baby (1967) and The Exorcist (1971), severely damaged the movement’s reputation in the United States.

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The Cambridge History of the Gothic
Volume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
, pp. 180 - 198
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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