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Background of the Study

The psychoanalytic criticism is one of the points of view in literature which applies a few methods of therapy. According to Fakhruddin (2015:11), this theory can watch an abstract fills in as a mental exercise. He implies that the literary works have a similar capacity with brain research, which is can depict a human identity structure throughout everyday life. This theory was found by an Austrian Psychologist named Sigmund Freud. As indicated by Barry (1995: 96), ‘psychoanalysis itself is a type of treatment which expects to fix mental confusion by ‘exploring the collaboration of cognizant and oblivious components as a primary concern”.

Freud, in his theory, expresses that there are three sections in the personality structure. They are id, ego, and superego. Those three depend on the theory of instinct, the origin of conscience, and the sense of guilty. However, there is one greater identity which is called anxiety. Hall, in his book (1956: 61), said that anxiety dependent on Freud is a standout amongst the most imperative ideas in psychoanalysis theory. This theory assumes an essential role of the personality advancement in the elements of personal role. In a similar source, Hall said that ‘anxiety is a difficult enthusiastic experience which is delivered by excitations in the inner organs of body’.

There are some authors who discuss about psychological problem in society through literary works, such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818), The Great Gatsby by F. Scottz Fitzgerald (1925), Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (2006), The Cuckoo’s Calling by Roberth Galbraith (2013), and The Sleep Room by Frank Tallis (2013). Those are some novels which presented the psychological problem in society, and usually it will be faced by the main character(s).

Sharp Objects is a novel written by Gillian Flynn published in 2006. The novel tells about Camille Preaker’s life with her mother, Adora, and her old-half-sister, Amma. Camille is a young journalist that lived in Chicago and asked by her boss to solve a mysterious murder case in Wind Gap with Detective Richard, who comes from Kansas City. About the short explanation of this novel, the story is started from when there were a mysterious death that happened to two little girls. After that, the main character, Camille, found the solution when she visits the local detective named Detective Richard to help her for solving the case. While they investigate the case, the secret one by one be revealed. For example, Detective Richard with the police force search Adora’s room and find several vials of poison in her hatbox along with a page from a diary from several decades previously. Mostly in mystery story, the ending of the story is a murderer will be brought to the justice. In Sharp Objects, the police arrest Adora for the murder of her daughter, Marian, and the attempted murder of Amma and Camille. The second one, Amma is under arrest too, because she involved in the little girls’ murder case, but Amma didn’t be brought to the jail, because she is still in under age. In this novel, Camille focuses as the protagonist, and following by Adora and Amma as the antagonist.

This novel becomes interesting to study, because this novel presents the psychological problem in society. Mostly, in the novel or short story, a psychological problem only happened in one character, especially the main character. But in Sharp Objects, there are three main characters; Camille, Adora, and Amma, who should be faced their psychological problem in their different sides. They had their own experience that made them had a problem on their psychological side. Moreover, this novel has never been studied yet. Therefore, the researcher is interested in examining this novel especially its issues about psychological problem in society of a one family. From those explanation, this study focuses in analysing psychological problem happened in the Camille’s family society with Freud’s psychoanalysis approach.

Significance of the Study

The researcher hopes that this study will improve the readers’ knowledge and awareness more about the social phenomenon through literature. While for academic readers, especially English Literature students, the researcher hopes this study will be used as reference, comparison, and evaluation for the next research that analyse about psychological problem using psychoanalysis theory.

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Definition of Psychoanalytic Criticism

Psychoanalytic Criticism is a theory which found by Sigmund Freud, an Austrian psychologist. This theory is one of the points of view in the literature which applies a few methods of therapy. The theory itself is a treatment which utilizes for relieving the psychological issue by exploring the connection of cognizant and oblivious in the human personality (Barry, 2002).

Personality Structure

According to Smith, stated in Freud’s complete works, there are three fundamental parts of identity structure in human dependent on the Freud’s theory; id, ego, and superego. Those three depend on the theory of instinct, origin of conscience, and the sense of guilty. This idea is utilized to discover how the main character in the literary works confronting his/her internal conflicts.


Id is a human sense which subdues to satisfy the fundamental needs of the human itself, for example, eating, sexuality, and emotional, or the other word imply that a human is a pleasure seeker and avoid pains. It tends to be portrayed from make its analogies contrast it and the sense of self. Engler stated (2014:43), a human cannot see the genuine type of id, since this originates from their obviousness. It looks to fulfill its needs incompletely through reflex activity and the essential procedures. The relation among id and ego, the personality can be accepted as the piece of id which has been altered by the immediate impact of the outside world. It is demonstrated by the personality procedure to bring or control the pleasure principle which originates from id to the reality principle. From the explanation above, we can presume that the ego speaks to reasons and presence of mind, while the id speaks to the interests.


Ego is a part that keeps up among id and superego. It shows up to satisfy human needs to manufacture a contact with the reality. The capacity of the ego is to give a thought, make critical thinking, and make a reason for something. The conscience fills in as the reasonable association and controls the constituents of human mental procedures, in other word implies that ego is the agent of what human considers. Engler (2014:44) states that the person works by serving the id’s capacity to intervene it with some practical choices. While the id makes the dreams and wishes through the essential procedure, the conscience applies the sensible idea from the optional procedures, as intellectual and perception aptitudes. These procedures assist human with distinguishing between their certainties and dreams. From those clarifications, Engler infers that the ego needs the human’s higher knowledge capacities in critical thinking to help the ego in settle on appropriate choices of activity and test them for their viability.


In the human identity, superego controls the human’s conviction of good and bad things or the human’s practices, and it has a role in the emergence of depression, obsessional disorders and sexual issues. According to Engler, superego comprises two subsystems; the conscience and the ego-ideal. The conscience involves self-evaluation, criticism, and reproach. It creates the base idea of what is correct or wrong to do. It drives the human personality to think about what they ought to do and pick the most ideal approach to tackle their issues. It works dependent on the ethical esteem which likes to consider the moralistic as opposed to reasonable arrangements.


In Freud’s perspective, anxiety is one of the important parts. As indicated by Hall (1956:61), anxiety is one of the most imperative ideas in psychoanalysis which has a role in the identity improvement and also in the identity elements’ capacities. Anxiety is a piece of somebody’s identity which could make somebody having the psychological unsettling influence or mental issue that occasionally shows up from the internal identity. It is a conspicuous thing that everybody is having anxiety, for instance when we have a test or when we tell about our feeling. Anxiety itself have the capacity to give an awful impact to the human since anxiety is a negative energy within somebody. Hall, in his book (1956: 61), anxiety is a painful emotional experience which is delivered by excitations in the internal organs of the body.

Previous Studies

There are some previous studies which is related with the psychoanalytic criticism. The first comes from Luthifyyah and Darsih, they observe John Bristow’s psychological problem in The Cuckoo’s Calling. In their research, John as a main character has a problem in his id and superego cause of his anxiety and his internal conflict. John, in the story known as an ordinary man, suddenly doing something abnormal because his parents loved his siblings more than him. The second is from Sartika, she observes a main character who is a ballerina in the Black Swan movie script, Nina Sayers. Same with the previous one, firstly she known as a calm and kind-hearted person in life, but she feels irritated after knew that someone else has a big choice to get the role being the black swan. In here, Nina has her anxiety and her external conflict around her. The last one is from Fakhruddin, he observes the Victor Frankerstein’s internal conflict in Frankerstein by Mary Shelley. In his research, he investigates the influence of Victor’s personality toward his self-conflicts based on Freud’s personality theory. He found in his every internal conflict has various terms, and its term based on the Victor’s personality structure. Every Victor’s personality related to each other and have an important influence in developing a conflict in the story. In each internal conflict makes different decision in facing a problem


  1. Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory (2nded.). United Kingdom: Manchester University Press. 2002
  2. Engler, Barbara. Personality Theories: An Introduction (9thed.). Wadsworth: Cencage Learning. 2014
  3. Flynn, G. Sharp Objects (1sted.). United States: Shaye Areheart Books. 2006
  4. Hall, Calvin S. A Primer of Freudian Psychology. United States: The New American Library. 1956
  5. Fakhruddin, R.A. The Internal Conflict Faced by Victor Frankerstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankerstein. Retrieved from 2015
  6. Luthfiyyah, A., & Darsih, E. John Bristow’s Psychological Problems in Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling. NOBEL: Journal of Literature and Language Teaching, 6(1), 9-19. Retrieved from 2015
  7. Sartika, D.W. Study of the Main Character of Black Swan Movie Script by Andres Heinz. Retrieved from 2013
  8. Smith, Ivan. Freud complete works. Retrieved from 2010

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