Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Reading Lacan 1Reading Lacan 2Identification with the Aggressor

Sean Murphy
Chicago, Illinois, United States

Created after reading the work of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, Reading Lacan 1 (top) and Reading Lacan 2 (bottom left) capture the abstract nature of his baroque speaking and writing styles. At the same time, they maintain through a bright color palette one goal of psychoanalysis: cure—and with it, hope.

The last painting, Identification with the Aggressor (bottom right), is inspired by my work as a clinician and reflects the process of how traumatized children take on the characteristics of an anxiety-inducing person to gain some sense of control over their situation. Turning aggression toward themselves results in guilt, enhanced blameworthiness, and shame. This defense mechanism’s dynamic nature is replicated by my use of line, texture, drip, and overpaint, while the color palette captures the mood of aggression unconsciously taken on by the psyche, represented by the base of the painting, and projected back out to the world.

Click an image to enlarge.

Abstract, streaky, and thick yellow paint with orange across the bottom and black specks in the top left. Horizontally oriented with Murphy signature in bottom right
Abstract yellow with orange bottom with heavier black streaks throughout. Vertically oriented with Murphy signature in bottom right
Abstract red with cloudy white over black at the bottom. Black covers most of the upper right. Black and white lie under the red strokes and lines throughout.

SEAN P. MURPHY, PhD, MSN, PMHNPBC, is Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, teaching in the University of Illinois Chicago’s Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner doctoral program. He practices at a university health and counseling center and specializes in Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health, emerging adult populations, and trauma. Before becoming a nurse practitioner, he was a tenured professor of English and Humanities.

Summer 2022



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.