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Be Woody Allen: what psychologists think about it?

Who is he really? His obsessive ideas and through images will help to recognize him better. They are obvious: psychoanalysis, power, laughter, god, sex. Five experts recall his films and addictedly analyzes him.

In eighty and a half Woody Allen cannot cope with life. He has only his throat – anxieties, women, despair from the fact that he was born red and low, and, of course, work. He mounts the television series, writes the script and just presented a new film at the Cannes Festival. Let’s find out this director and writer better, and for this we will explore his films and books. Everything’s there. After all (although he loves to deny this) there are little famous people whose life would be as transparent as his.

His statements immediately become aphorisms, his characters are recognizable and close to us as relatives: psychoanalysts, universes, authoritarian mothers, notorious women and depressed men. To understand the sympathy that he inspires one, and the hostility that others causes, to unravel the secret of his supernatural performance and constant discontent

by God, in which he does not believe, it would be ideal to learn to read between the lines and look beyond the forefront. In a word: to become a psychologist.

We turned to several best representatives of this profession, who are also vividly interested in the phenomenon of a small Jew in large glasses. Our experts chose their favorite quotes from Woody Allen’s books and films to speculate about his addictions, oddities and views. Welcome to the inner world of a brilliant neurotic.

Professor of psychoanalysis

Philippe Grimbert, Psychoanalyst and writer, author of the book Family Secret (Fantom Press, 2009)

“Woody Allen exclusively shows what psychoanalysis is and how it works. He does not have an ambitious goal to save the patient from all symptoms, but he can teach to see in them not an obstacle, but a unique opportunity, and use their energy. Obsessive states, paranoia, hypochondria – Woody neurotic spectrum of Allen wide. All this could chop him, prevent him from acting, forcing him to postpone all affairs for tomorrow. But he, on the contrary, turned this into material for creativity. And I think this is the result of his psychoanalytic work.

Of course, psychology gets from him. But laughing at her is another way to pass psychoanalysis. For example, when he says: “I quit psychoanalysis, when I noticed that my analyst has become better”, he laughs, but moreover and explains what transfer is! Attraction in half with rejection: So we can say about the relationship of any patient with his analyst.

“Of course, psychology gets from him. But laughing at her is another way to pass psychoanalysis “

In addition, Woody Allen’s work can be considered as a series of initiations: Bergman, Fellini and others whom he considered the “fathers” of cinema. The film behind the film, he finds out his place to get rid of their influence and create his own approach. But psychoanalysis is also aimed at this: to help get rid of everyone with whom we identify ourselves. Woody Allen went very far in his identification to become … Woody Allen “.

Border researcher

Elena Ershova, Clinical psychologist, sexologist, family therapist, employee of the psychological center “Lighter”.

“I think he always explores the boundaries. For example, those that separate the subject from the object and “be” by someone from “own” something. In “Match-Pontunt”, Chris is so passionate about the idea of maintaining his family and status, which kills the zero that he is drawn because she threatens this stability. Chooses not to be those who love, but to have high social status.

The boundaries of free will are also interested in Woody Allen. In the “Curse of the Jade Scorpio”, the heroes become objects of hypnotist. It forces two detectives, a man and a woman, to commit theft, as well as fall in love with each other, although before that they showed mutual hostility. Then it turns out that they are really in love, but only under the influence of external power could they discover their true desires.

“Already the early film“ Everything you always wanted to know about sex ”shows that there are no boundaries of permitted borders for Woody himself, he is ready to pose the most uncomfortable questions. His character directly addresses the audience. And as the author, he always does it. His movie is unusual. We are accustomed to films where the event row (met, a problem appeared, it was resolved) ends in the same place where it arose – on the screen. And Woody Allen poses questions, the answers to which are on the “our” side of the screen. What will we choose: to be or own? What drives us: “I want to be like in a fairy tale” or a willingness to find and show my desires and thereby create life?”


Leonid Rabb, business consultant, professor of the Higher School of Economics, director of the Incantico project and the workshop of coaching and training.

“Woody Allen is a neurotic playing a neurotic who watches a neurotics. He turns all this into a bewitching vaudeville, in which the tragedy merges with melancholy and splashes with sparks of liberation – an escape, if not fortunately, then to freedom. He (in different images) goes through the rope, giving the viewer hope for a failure, falling with the wire he pulled by him, grimacing and hiding the outbreak of the seriousness of the abyss that is life. He is 80, and he is the same subtile, he still hears and sees only what he wants. Growing up, he was young and received more and more rights to himself.

Not “normal” is it many boring “normal”? Those who drag habits taken to themselves, who are not known to whom (certainly not for themselves) obligations. Maybe it’s time for us to free ourselves from our diverse “need”? A happy loser, a successful nonsense, he creates his worlds – inventing or recalling, quoting or turning his genuine inside out. And our imagination runs after him, jumping over the strips of everyday life “.

Atheist carried away by God

Serge HEFEZ, psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist, specialist in family therapy and therapy.

“He says an atheist, but everything is much more complicated. He appears to God constantly, including statements like this: “I believe in God? Yes, I believe in my existence with difficulty!”(In the film” Shadows and Fog “). You can see two images of God in Woody Allen’s work. There is a revengeful, omnipotent and unknowable God. He writes the tablets of the law, and his terrible power is undeniable. But there is also a god of an internal, permanent interlocutor who can endlessly ask questions and cast challenges that can be questioned. Recall that the Jewish tradition consists in commenting on the Torah, re -reading its texts, studying them at different angles. Divine Revelation is rethought again and again by man. Woody Allen fits into this typically Jewish way of thinking: “We have only one god, and we do not believe in that”.

He needs to think about God to speak and prove that it does not exist! For what? So that, in spite of everything, to preserve in this crazy world at least a minimum of meaning. And he needs this interlocutor to calm the alarm and project his existential issues on him.

Even if he knows that this does not lead to anything. It is in this ambiguity that the humor of Woody Allen lies, and it is in it that our polarized world needs so. In addition, laughing at God, he laughs at the absurdity of man’s position … but also of himself: being a famous and prolific “creator”, he could easily take himself for God! Speaking about this with humor, he keeps his mania of greatness in the bridle: if God has created such an absurd world, then as he himself can consider himself a wise guy?”


Catherine Blanc, Psychoanalyst and sex therapist, author of books about female sexuality.

“Women are the main thing in his films, as in his life. His mother, from whom he made a caricature of a Jewish mother, a sister who became his producer and defender, cousins – all of them played a serious role in his life … According to the way he recreates this female world in his films, you can see the fascination of a little boy unusuallyenveloping femininity, among which he grew up … But did this world simultaneously became an environment that strangled him and limited the role of the child so that he did not become a potential lover?

As for Woody’s marriage to his daughter, although he is not a father biologically and legally to her, this is an incest situation that cannot do without psychological consequences. In addition, she suggests a relationship with the women of his family – perhaps they made him feel simultaneously a child who is patronized, and the “object of desire”.

The absence of his father in his biography and work is striking. Did he really neglect his son? Or it was women who prevented him from being next to Woody? Or it was Woody who ousted him to remain the only bastard? The absence of a paternal figure raises questions, like his untouchable male images: God and Freud.

Everything in him reminds of a little boy: timidity, physique and even how he constantly asks: how and why, as if he cannot dispose of himself and give himself freedom to try to find an answer ”.

The private life of Allen Stuart Konigsberg, known as Woody Allen

Born in 1935 in the family of a florist and jeweler-singer-officer who quarreled because of him. Grew up with his younger sister, who remained his confidant. At the age of 14 he became interested in jazz and clarinet, then he became a humorist writer and from the age of 16 wrote for famous comedians. Then he acted as a stand-up comedian, he was noticed and invited to write a script for a full-length film, in which he himself starred.

And then – four “Oscars”, masterpieces, several failures, three marriage (the latter – on Sun -and Perenens) and adoptive children. In 2016, at the Cannes Festival, he presented the new film “Secular Life”, which is released in Russian rental on July 21.