Freudian Analysis of American Horror Story

What makes up a family? Consists of love, tears, laughter, chaos, and most importantly harmony defines the subject. As multiple personalities, opinions, and, thoughts happening in one household, there is bound to be some chaos. But above all the friction, there is harmony that each family finds within themselves. That includes members successfully working with one another to achieve unity. Where individuals think of others, nurture, forgive, and love one another. To achieve such unity comes from the roles each member fulfills to establish the harmony. Roles such as the three psychic zones, the id, ego, and superego. One family in particular exemplifies these roles are the Harmon’s,  from season one of American Horror Story. The family consists of three members, Ben, Vivien, and Violet, who each represent the psychic zones; Ben as the id, Vivien as the superego, and Violet as the ego. With each member having these roles creates a harmonizing dynamic.

The first of the roles is the id which is the most corrupting, by acting similar to the devil. It functions to fulfill the pleasure principle by seeking out instant gratification from instinctual needs such as sex, comfort,pleasure, love, and aggression. Knowing no values, morals, and distinction between good or evil creates uncontrollable actions. Ben is a manifestation of the id displayed in the show. He is a well known psychiatrist, devoted father, wealthy, and has a beautiful wife, what more does a man need? Apparently that isn’t enough, as Ben seeks out an affair with his student. An act such as this demonstrates how the id knows no morals. Ben couldn’t control his instinctual needs for sex  and in doing so, Ben was caught by his wife which leads to his next instinctual need, comfort. By being exposed by his wife he is now faced with the ugly truth that his perfect world is crumbly down. To save his family and marriage, Ben acts on his id by insisting that his family should move to another house to start over. There is no logic in Ben’s reasoning as the the id knows no laws of logic. Without looking more into the issue Ben leads his family into hell by moving into a house filled with temptation, horror, ghosts, and a lifetime of misery. A house that is run by ghosts of past owners, who are trapped by the within the walls of the house. Horrific events cause the family turmoil but temptation eats at Ben everyday. The house comes with a maid, Moira, who preys on men’s need for sex. She tempts Ben’s sexual urges by parading by in her sexy maid outfit, making racy comets, and suggesting sexual acts. But Ben shows extreme willpower to deny his impulses to such things with Moira due to his superego kicking in, which becomes aware of how his prior actions have affected his family. Specifically Vivien, who he thinks about mostly and wanting to do better for her sake. With the thought of Vivien lingering on his shoulder he is able to resist his urges for Moria to better his relationships with the family. Vivien balances out Ben’s urges as she represents the superego within the show.

As the superego, Vivien portrays the angel in her family. She represses the impulses of the id(Ben) and conforms unacceptable acts to  those of that are acceptable in society. She demonstrates great restraint of id the by always keeping calm and composed as well as doing what is morally right. Seen in when Vivien walks in on her husband with another women, she still stays married and tries to save her marriage as if there is no other option. To her, continuing on is the morally right act which society deems as acceptable. Vivien continues to be the wife and mother she has always been, while not acting out on her feelings of anger and hatred towards Ben. By being able to keep calm and composed, she has preserved in the most unfortunate circumstances. Not only has Vivien been cheated on but she has been raped and impregnated with twins that cost Vivien’s life. With others around her not believing her story of being raped, she is forced into an insane asylum by her own husband. Yet with this setback, Vivien is still able to control herself by not lashing out any of the doctors, nurses, or Ben who all are keeping her locked away. When she is finally released and brought  back to the house, she goes into labor where she is brought into the haunted house to give birth. Vivien previously did not want to give birth within the house but she doesn’t fight the course of nature as she willing goes into the house. Vivien is then helped by all the ghosts in the house as she delivers the twins who are witnesses of her final breath. By dying in the house she is trapped like all the others but instead of being bitter, Vivien continues to help Ben by guiding him through the new transition into his life without Vivien.

With the constant struggle of Ben and Vivien, Violet is there to balance the two out. As the ego, Violet there to be the middle ground as she stands for reason and the reality principle within a person. Violet is the glue that keeps her family together but she has both the devil and angel inside her. Violet is a smart, beautiful, and loved by others but finds herself complying with urges to do the bad. With the new move Violet is forced into a new school and subjected to being the “new girl” where she is bullied. By being bullied Violet turns to harming herself  and lashing out on her bully as an outlet. In attempt to scare her bully, she insteads physically and psychologically harms her bully. By being the ego Violet knows what she did was wrong as she feels remorse and therefore goes to make amends with the bully. Violet is struggling through the tough times and finds herself acting out to feel as if she has a purpose. As violet continues her reckless behavior, Ben and Vivien finally start to take notice. In doing so they both come together for the sake of their daughter, thus standing for reason why Violet is the glue for her family. They attempt to communicate more, not bicker, and try to act as a unit to save their daughter. At the end of the day they all might have their differences but each has a positive effect on each other.

As the show comes to an end you see the family unit become clearer to the eyes. Sadly the Harmon family all die towards the end of the show due to the haunted house. When they die they realize that they still have one another and are not alone. Ben and Vivien finally come to a mends over Ben’s actions and Violet apologizes for ultimately killing herself. They come together to prevent the deaths of future tenants. As the next family moves in, the three of them, with the help of other ghosts, put on an elaborate skit to scare the family away. Ben, Vivien, and Violet come together and act as a unit to accomplish the task as one. Even in the afterlife and after the previous horrific events, the family continues to maintain their bonds throughout the remainder of the show.

This is just one family showing their roles and how a family can create harmony with events that set them back. In many other movies and TV shows there has been families just like the Harmon’s. Not only are they on the screen but in real life as well. Look at your family for instance. Their might have been setbacks along the way but you still seem to find the harmony. I know that in my family we have roles such as those of the Harmon’s and have had our own setbacks, but at the end of the day we are still a family unit. Families come in all shapes and sizes but to find harmony there are three common roles each member must fulfill.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s