Applying a Psychoanalytic Lens to The Black Swan

Book tickets

Organised by:

British Psychotherapy Foundation

15 February 2024

Time: 18:30 - 19:30

Price: Free

Location: online


The speaker will invite you to consider how applying a psychoanalytic lens to The Black Swan can help deepen our understanding of this film’s narrative and the characters underlying internal processes, motivation and behaviour.

The Black Swan is a story about the price of perfection. The character Nina is a young ballerina whose passion for dance rules every facet of her life. Nina comes from a sheltered family, having grown up with an extremely controlling and overly protective mother. Nina is an obsessive perfectionist to her own destruction; she strives to be perfect in terms of the physical aspects of being a ballerina, which, enables her to gain the role of Swan Queen in Swan Lake. However, the director requires a dancer who can embody both the light and dark parts of the Swan Queen. Although Nina is perfect for the role of the “White Swan”, she struggles to embody the “Black Swan” due to her having very marginal real-life experience. As Nina begins to psychologically separate from her mother and explore the darker aspects of herself and the role, she begins to exhibit psychotic tendencies and appears to encounter various dreams involving an evil depiction of herself following and taunting her.

The speaker will explore the protagonist’s psychological journey throughout the film, and the impact early adverse childhood experiences had on her way of relating to herself and others. In particular, the role of her enmeshed relationship with her mother had on at times stunting Nina from her process of separation/individuation and leaving her with an obsessive need to control and appear perfect. Moreover, her relationship with other characters will be explored and how these characters may symbolize different parts of Nina’s self, referring to Freud’s structure of the mind. Lastly, the presentation will reference different psychoanalytic theories including Glasser’s core complex theory, Winnicott’s False Self and Klein’s theories on splitting and envy.

About the speaker
Danielle Hollreiser is a licensed Psychologist in The Hague, Netherlands, she has worked in various mental health clinics as well as her own private practice for the last 8.5 years. Danielle graduated from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland where she specialised in Clinical Psychology and Has followed extensive training in various treatment approaches including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Schema Therapy, Psychodynamic therapy, and EMDR. Due to her curiosity for psychoanalysis, Danielle went on to further specialise in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology where she completed her MSc at the University College London in collaboration with The Anna Freud Centre. Danielle is currently undertaking a Doctorate in Psychoanalytic at The University of Exeter where she is training to become a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Danielle is a student member of the bpf.

Book tickets



Find out more about upcoming events.
Read more