Screening and Discussion of The Piano Teacher "La pianiste" (2001) with Christopher Christian, Ph.D.
Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher is an intensely evocative movie, based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Nobel Prize laureate and Austrian author Elfriede Jelinek, that provides an unusual glimpse at female sadomasochistic perversions. The novel and movie make an incidental contribution to psychoanalysis as a case study insofar as women with severe sadomasochistic perversions rarely come to psychoanalysis and when they do they represent, as Bernhard Berliner (1940) once wrote, “one of the most complicated subjects in psychoanalytic theory and one of the most difficult problems in our therapeutic work” (p. 322). The main thesis to be presented is that in certain cases where the father by his absence has not facilitated the daughter’s differentiation and separation from an all-engulfing mother, the child attempts such differentiation by becoming the father vis-à-vis the mother, and embracing the realm of the paternal symbolic order.
New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute
247 East 82nd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
The Marianne & Nicholas Young Auditorium