Inception explained from a Freudian POV


Who is Sigmund Freud?

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis. His tremendous contribution to the neuroscience world is undoubted. If we inspect Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ from a Freudian point of view, we will be able to understand the story more thoroughly.


Rough Plot

Dominick Cobb (Leonardo Dicaprio) is an ‘extractor’ who enters people’s subconsciousness to steal their secrets. He assembled a team consisting of members specializing in different areas to approach an extremely challenging mission to plant an idea in Robert Fisher’s (Cillian Murphy) mind.


Why is extraction possible?

Freud first came up with the concept of ‘unconsciousness’ in 1895. This concept is also the premise behind why ‘extraction’ is possible. He found out that people sometimes lapses unconsciously, and this is the act of unconsciousness. The contents of our dreams are basically the result of unconsciousness. As Cobb said in the movie ‘When we dream, we create and perceive our world simultaneously’. The two forms reciprocal causation simultaneously. This is shown when Cobb was pushed into the bathtub and his unconsciousness proactively transformed the perception into splashing waves of water in the dream.


The plan and premise of the mission, how can it succeed?

Freud suggested that the main function of dreams is to fulfill the suppressed wishes deep down in our hearts. Which in Cobb’s case, to reunite with his family. Our wishes are always fulfilled in dreams no matter how inconceivable it seems in real life. This is exactly the premise of the whole extraction mission and Cobb’s team put up a spectacular breathless and thrilling show utilising this premise. The focal point was placed on the relationship between Robert Fisher and his father when the extraction team launched the mission. Freud suggested that early parent and child relationships will have a drastic impact on the mental development phase of their children, this impact can even last after the child develops his own perception of the world and his own consciousness. Understanding Robert Fisher’s early parent and child relationship phase will allow the extraction team to build a bridge straight to the deepest unconsciousness of Fisher, leading to the success of the mission.


What did the extractors do to succeed?

The final goal is to implant the message ‘I will split up my father’s empire’ into Fisher’s mind. Cobb suggested that they need to find a way to translate this into an emotional concept. Freud indicated that when the unconsciousness is building up a dream, they tend to disguise our real feelings with Dreamwork (a process to keep unconscious thoughts hidden) to avoid the censor from consciousness. So the extraction team is basically playing the role of Dreamwork, disguising their true purpose, creating multiple levels of dreams to break down, tackle and sneak into the unconsciousness of Fisher and finally implant the message.


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