Hostel Territory: What Psychiatrist Jung Reveals About Repressed Trauma and Art






carljung    On April 29th I once again attended the trial of Kermit Gosnell where each attorney presented his closing arguments for the case.  Given the graphic nature of the testimony of the procedures performed on these unfortunate babies, I thought it might be good to re visit an article I wrote a few years back, which I think has special relevance to this case. In January 2005 the number one box office movie in America was “Hostel”, a twisted and disturbingly graphic tale of sexual debauchery and torture. Read some of my reflections on this movie in light of the Gosnell “House of Horrors.”

Hostel Territory

 “The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is “man” in a higher sense – he is “collective man,” a vehicle and molder of the unconscious psychic life of mankind.” (Carl Jung, from ‘Psychology and Literature’, 1930)

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung theorized that there exists a universal human consciousness which holds the collective memories, experiences, and wisdom of the human race, and which certain people with artistic gifts and sensibilities can tap into.  Some elements of Jung’s psychology and mystical writings are new age fluff conjured up in mediations with various “spirit guides” and the musings of his very fertile mind.

However Jung was also a brilliant man who articulated some useful concepts that can help us to better understand art and culture.    Jung proposed that art might express broader themes in a society, that an artist may tap unconscious elements of individuals and mankind through the medium of music, art, and film.  This concept may be helpful to better understand the relationship between films such as Hostel and the nearly 50 million abortion procedures since the Supreme Court legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy in 1973.

Hostel is directed by Eli Roth and opened as a “Quentin Tarantino Presents” film upon its release in January 2006.  Tarantino, a director of his own brand of excessively violent films such as the “Kill Bill” series, acted as a mentor to Roth during the creation of Hostel.  Tarantino recently warned people of how horrifying Hostel really is. He says, “Be careful about the film, you might end up in a hospital at the end of the night, it’s no joke. We’ve actually had people pass out at screenings and they had to call the paramedics.” (Contactmusic.com)

What is a deeper concern, given the number of young people that will see this movie, is the graphic blending of titillating sexual content, and sadistic violence.

The first stage of Hostel is basically a porn movie with 3 young men on a European sex spree engaging in graphically represented immorality of every kind.  The second stage of Hostel involves the young men being kidnapped from one of these sex hostels and imprisoned in a torture chamber attached to it that services wealthy businessmen who pay big bucks to inflict pain upon their captured victims.  The scenes of torture, dismemberment and violence perpetrated upon the men and women in this film are graphic and shocking.

So where’s the abortion connection?

The intelligentsia and media elite zealously suppresses the graphic truth about the nature of the abortion procedure and its traumatic aftermath.  This pain and grief lies buried deeply in the collective unconscious of our culture, where it is forbidden expression.   The effects of the abortion procedure on the unborn, and the trauma unleashed upon all who participate in the death of the unborn remain largely hidden from public view.

The truth about abortion, like steam rising up through cracks in the earth’s surface, searches desperately for an opening in our cultural crust to find expression and release.  In the film Hostel, as with other films of this genre, we find elements of this suppressed trauma, violence and pain released through the medium of film:

Immoral sexual activity leads to traumatic experiences/images of dismemberment, torture and pain.  These can be seen as painful metaphors of the excesses of the sexual revolution and abortion on demand and their deadly fruits evident in the images of countless dismembered bodies of unborn children daily discarded at abortion centers. 

We have a generation since 1973 who have lost siblings to abortion and see themselves as “survivors of abortion.” The legalization of abortion communicates to them that their own lives were disposable contingent upon the judgment of their parents.   They have an innate sense of their historical vulnerability.    Films such as Hostel may connect in some way with their collective unconscious and conscious awareness of the loss of life and traumatic impact of 36 years of “choice” as it impacts their lives, parents and families.

Hostel is not the first film of this genre popular among youth.  Many of the “slasher/horror” films since 1973 often feature young people, sexual references or situations followed by graphic bloodshed, torture and violent mayhem.

Neil Malamuth is a professor and chairman of the Department of Communication Studies at UCLA. He co-edited (with Edward Donnerstein of the University of Wisconsin) the book, Pornography and Sexual Aggression.  Dr Malamuth’s and his associates have studied reactions to excessively violent films such as Texas Chain Saw Massacre, popular with youth and easily accessible at the local video store. In their research they found viewers were initially disturbed and depressed by this content. However with further viewing they became desensitized to the content and eventually found the material enjoyable. [1]  (Brings to mind abortionist Gosnell joking that  one of the babies he aborted was “big enough to walk to the store.”)

Films such as Hostel are part of the desensitization of young people to violence and pain associated with sexual content.  As with pornography, there are addictive elements at work when each new film must increase its violent shock content to out-do its predecessors.  Audiences develop a higher tolerance to the graphic content while craving increasing levels of gore and sickness.  As Dr Malamuth indicates, many teens and young adults have developed a type of dissociation from the reality of such violence and will see movies such as Hostel as an entertaining form of twisted comedy.

This should fill us with an even greater urgency to end the scourge of abortion on our land.  Abortion not only ends the life of a developing child, but also deeply wounds all who participate in this action.  The fallout from abortion over time, like radiation after an atomic explosion, is like a cancer that seeps into countless marriages, families our children and communities.  This repressed unhealed toxic trauma finds a type of release in twisted films like Hostel, but in a form that celebrates the violence and further corrupts the soul of youth.

Now more than ever we must work tirelessly to protect the unborn and to heal those wounded by their participation in abortion, confident in the belief that one day, abortion like slavery, will become a shameful relic of our past that we will never allow to rise again.

 



[1] Media and Values, Media’s New Mood: Sexual Violence, Issue 33 Fall 1985.

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