Is there hidden meaning to the use of Violence in the Movies?

01 May 2018

In this podcast, psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud talks to Professor David Humbert about his new book on Violence in the Films of Alfred Hitchcock, and uses a depth psychological analysis to show that there are often hidden layers of meaning behind the use of violence in film.

This analysis also helps us understand ourselves better and why we turn to anger and violence ourselves.

You can also listen to this interview on a free app on iTunes, Raj Persaud in conversation, which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

Book details

Parting ways with the Freudian and Lacanian readings that have dominated recent scholarly understanding of Hitchcock, David Humbert examines the roots of violence in the director’s narratives and finds them not in human sexuality but in mimesis.

Through an analysis of seven key films, he argues that Girard’s model of mimetic desire—desire oriented by imitation of and competition with others—best explains a variety of well-recognized themes, including the MacGuffin, the double, the innocent victim, the wrong man, the transfer of guilt, and the scapegoat.

This study will appeal not only to Hitchcock fans and film scholars but also to those interested in Freud and Girard and their competing theories of desire.

Subjects: Religion | Psychology | Film Studies

Series: Studies in Violence, Mimesis, & Culture

Publication Date: May 1st, 2017

210 pages| 6 in x 9 in

Michigan State University Press


“This book is a brilliant response to a famous volume edited by Slavoj Žižek in which Jacques Lacan takes the place of René Girard. The author convinces us that one of the best guides to understanding Girard is Hitchcock’s filmography.

The anguish of the wrongly accused, the irresistible escalation of violence, and the independence of desire from its object are all ingredients of the Hitchcockian suspense, and we follow the author’s analyses with the same pleasure as we watched the movies.”

Jean-Pierre Dupuy, author of The Mark of the Sacred


“Humbert’s commentary is an excellent introduction both to Girard’s thought and to Hitchcock. And a welcome addition to film studies.

That postmodern garden has long since gone to weed, overrun by an ‘emancipatory’ obsession with sex that would draw us down the rabbit hole into the lost world of gender theory, where everything is fungible and whose motto must be, ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.’ Humbert’s book begins to clear out the post-Freudian staleness with a breath of fresh critical air.

This book is very well-written and easily accessible. Its interest is not confined to the specialist and academic, as postmodern theory is by definition, but generously welcomes the lay reader and the student as well. Highly recommended.”

Stephen Gardner, Associate Professor of Philosophy, The University of Tulsa

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