Hitchcock’s Conscious Use of Freud’s Unconscious


  • Constantine Sandis


This paper explores Alfred Hitchcock’s use of Freudian psychoanalysis in a number of his films, with particular emphasis on Spellbound (1945), Psycho (1960), and Marnie (1964). I argue that the films (and related primary source material) demonstrate that Hitchcock was largely unconvinced of the validity of psychoanalytic theory and practice which he frequently mocked, both on-screen and off. Nonetheless, he greatly appreciated the magnetism of the psychoanalytic process and general charm of Freud’s conceptual world. It is for this reason that he kept returning to Freudian aesthetics throughout his cinematic career. Indeed, understanding how Hitch came to master this love/hate relationship is the key to understanding when and why the films succeed as well as where and how they fail. The paper ends with an analogy between Hitchcock’s attitude to Freud and that of Ludwig Wittgenstein with the further aim of evaluating some of Freud’s most significant ideas.