Original thesis ideas in the field of psychology are as vast as the human mind itself. When formulating ideas for topics, a good place to start is to identify those scholars and thinkers who have shaped the discipline and then see what implications can be squeezed out of their theories. In this fashion, four original thesis ideas arise from the separate works of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Pierre Bourdieu and Carl Jung.
Freud's "Uncanny" and the Acceptance of Death
In his essay “The Uncanny,” Sigmund Freud describes an emotional phenomenon of strangeness and fear that undermines the comfortable consciousness of familiar everyday life. “Many people experience the feeling in the highest degree in relation to death and dead bodies, to the return of the dead, and to spirits and ghosts,” Freud wrote. He explained how repressing thoughts of death can lead to such manifestations of this feeling. In what way, then, could Freud’s “uncanny” and its origins be used in a clinical setting to help patients confront and ultimately accept their own mortality?
Lacan's "Ideal-I" and the Purpose of Self-identity
French psychologist Jacques Lacan changed the world when he asserted that selfhood is a fiction created in infancy. In his writings on “The Mirror Stage,” Lacan argued that when a young child, incapable of speech, sees himself in the mirror, he identifies with the reflected image and assumes the “mental permanence of the I.” If Lacan’s theory is true, and the self is a mistaken assumption of permanence drawn from transitory forms, then how does an individual confidently proceed in civil society? What is the pragmatic function of the Lacanian self in social development?
Bourdieu’s “Cultural Competence” and Psychological Warfare
French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu had a profound impact on both social psychology and aesthetic theory. In “Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste,” he posited that taste in art and music is not the product of any superior independent judgment but rather the effect of complex social and psychological factors. To have good taste, he argued, one needed “cultural competence,” or the “conscious or unconscious implementation of explicit and implicit schemes of perception and appreciation.” As a thesis, you could further explore how these schemes create psychological classes in society and corresponding feelings of superiority and inferiority.
Jung’s “Psychic Associations” and the Digital Age
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung chased the meaning of unconscious symbolism in “Man and His Symbols.” Jung described the “fantastic psychic associations that every object or idea possesses.” He argued that modern rational society had stripped these associations and thus necessitated a vibrant dream life in which human beings could reconnect with the primordial imaginative language of the unconscious. Following Jung’s premise, one could explore psychic associations in the digital age of video games, iPhones and the relative dream life of those captivated by such gadgetry. Does 21st Century technology enrich or further displace the imaginative unconscious?
- The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism; ed. Vincent B. Leitch et al.
- Man and His Symbols; ed. Carl G. Jung
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