The Lost Child Complex in Australian Film : Jung, Story and Playing Beneath the Past book cover
1st Edition

The Lost Child Complex in Australian Film
Jung, Story and Playing Beneath the Past

ISBN 9781138939691
Published March 19, 2019 by Routledge
172 Pages

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Book Description

The mythologising of lost and abandoned children significantly influences Australian storytelling. In The Lost Child Complex in Australian Film, Terrie Waddell looks at the concept of the ‘lost child’ from a psychological and cultural perspective. Taking an interdisciplinary Jungian approach, she re-evaluates this cyclic storytelling motif in history, literature, and the creative arts, as the nucleus of a cultural complex – a group obsession that as Jung argued of all complexes, has us.

Waddell explores ‘the lost child’ in its many manifestations, as an element of the individual and collective psyche, historically related to the trauma of colonisation and war, and as key theme in Australian cinema from the industry’s formative years to the present day. The films discussed in textual depth transcend literal lost in the bush mythologies, or actual cases of displaced children, to focus on vulnerable children rendered lost through government and institutional practices, and adult/parental characters developmentally arrested by comforting or traumatic childhood memories. The victory/winning fixation governing the USA – diametrically opposed to the lost child motif – is also discussed as a comparative example of the mesmerising nature of the cultural complex. Examining iconic characters and events, such as the Gallipoli Campaign and Trump’s presidency, and films such as The Babadook, Lion, and Predestination, this book scrutinises the way in which a culture talks to itself, about itself. This analysis looks beyond the melancholy traditionally ascribed to the lost child, by arguing that the repetitive and prolific imagery that this theme stimulates, can be positive and inspiring.

The Lost Child Complex in Australian Film is a unique and compelling work which will be highly relevant for academics and students of Jungian and post-Jungian ideas, cultural studies, screen and media studies. It will also appeal to Jungian psychotherapists and analytical psychologists as well as readers with a broader interest in Australian history and politics.

Table of Contents

Introduction. Part One: The Lost Child Complex - A Cultural and Screen History. Chapter 1: Beginnings: Complex, Settlement, Cultural memory;  Chapter 2: Literally Lost: Searchers, the Searched For and Grail Metaphors;  Chapter 3: Celebrating Defeat: The Blooded Child of War and Sport;  Part Two: Double Wounding;  Chapter 4: Double Wounding: Imposing Lostness;  Chapter 5: Inner and Outer Twinning: Parent as Lost Child/Lost Child as Parent;  Part Three: Inner Children and the Victory Complex;  Chapter 6: Stuck in the Past: Lost Child as Earworm;  Chapter 7: The Victory Complex: Nostalgia for the American Dream and the Art of the Win;  Concluding remarks; Index.

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Terrie Waddell, PhD, is Associate Professor of Screen Studies at La Trobe University, Australia. She researches and publishes on the relationships connecting screen media, myth, literature, gender, popular culture, and Jungian based psychology and is the author of Routledge’s Mis/takes: Archetype, Myth and Identity in Screen Fiction, Wild/lives: Trickster, Place and Liminality on Screen and a contributor to The International Handbook of Jungian Film Studies.


"This book is the beautiful lost child of film theory. It rescues and rehabilitates familiar Oedipal themes and reclothes them in a rich Jungian guise. In a compelling manner, it brings together social and cultural history, with discerning interpretations of important films. The Lost Child Complex reveals how cinema painfully illuminates the deepest structures in ourselves and our societies. While Australian in focus, its themes of loss, discovery and tragedy sound a timely warning that rings out across the continents. As film scholars and cultural critics alike we didn’t know what we’d lost, until now. This important book brings it resoundingly to our attention - the body politic and the psychological body, perfectly combined into the image of the lost child." - Dr Luke Hockley, Professor of Media Analysis at University of Bedfordshire, UK;  SFHEA, UKCP, MBACP, FRSA, President of the Jungian Society for Scholarly Studies; co-author of Jungian Film Studies: The Essential Guide and editor of the Routledge International Handbook of Jungian Film Studies

"In a marvelously insightful exploration of the post-Jungian cultural complex in psyche, history and cinema, Terrie Waddell’s The Lost Child Complex digs deep into the pernicious wounds of colonialism and racism while providing new and liberatory ways to study psychology and film. It is Jungian studies as engaged, socially transformative and necessary. Waddell demonstrates that the lost child is an archetypal presence in Australian life that shapes its art. Also, by reading the lost child complex against the American victory complex, this book shows that pathology can be read creatively for a more positive future." - Susan Rowland, PhD, Core Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, California, USA. Her recent books include The Ecocritical Psyche (2012); Remembering Dionysus (2017) and Jungian Literary Criticism:The Essential Guide (2019), all Routledge

"Terrie Waddell’s The Lost Child Complex offers a fascinating and erudite study of this dominant archetype in Australian settler history, screen culture and the arts. Focussing on the cinema, Waddell explores the powerful attraction of this child motif from narratives of actual lost children to the tragedy of the ‘Stolen Generations’, refugee children and more abstract concepts of displaced childhood. Drawing on Jungian theory, she explores with insight and intelligence the strange uncanny appeal of this complex myth and its place in the Australian imaginary and its relevance to contemporary social justice issues. The Lost Child is a challenging and highly original study of cinematic representations of the child and childhood, and the role of the spectator in creating meaning from these complex concepts. It is a must for anyone interested in the workings of memory, the significance of archetypes and the relevance of the lost child complex for the way we understand our past and how we might live in the present and future with ourselves and with others. A compelling and important book." - Barbara Creed, Redmond Barry Distinguished Honorary Professor, Screen Studies, The University of Melbourne, Australia