Reverend Tomas Ericsson is a man who cannot grieve. And, because he can’t, he struggles with both God and love. Tomas over and over coldly rejects his desperately loving former lover, Marta. Winter Light Ingmar Bergman 1963, slowly reveals the source of his loss of faith. Tomas loved his dead wife: “When she died, so did I.” This is a bitter man. Turned dead inside. Dead to his parishioners, his previous faith, the possibility of new love. Dead to a young congregant in despair who turns to him in terror for words of hope. All of this spells hopelessness and...

Can a cold narcissistic father drive a girl insane? The short answer is yes. Wilfred Bion defined psychosis as hatred of reality. And, what is there to love about the reality of a self-obsessed father who cares more about his own desires than his children? Facing that is horror. We see it in Through The Glass Darkly, in Karin diagnosed as schizophrenic. She’s turned away from reality, can’t accept Martin’s love; searches in her other-world for a kind father-God that might give her salvation and hope. When all she finds is a stony-faced spider trying to invade her, she must...

The Seventh Seal is Bergman’s famous religious allegory about a Knight who faces Death and tries to outwit him. The film’s religious symbolism certainly reflects Bergman’s internal struggle with his Lutheran minister father and his questions about faith. But, as a psychoanalyst, I have much more to offer in looking at The Seventh Seal’s chess game with Death as a psychological struggle. I’ll explore the various ways our Knight is haunted by a dark internal depressive force, not unlike the Grim Reaper or the Black Plague, that follows him everywhere and wants to “kill” love and hope. And, we’ll see...

“One sleeps in one’s childhood’s shoes,” Bergman remembers Swedish poet Maria Wine, saying, and “that was the real starting point of Wild Strawberries.” (p. 212*) It’s true. And, some live inside the echoes of a cold mother. Every psychoanalyst knows how our childhoods slumber within each waking and dreaming moment of our lives, creating their repercussions. Like Dr. Isak Borg’s loneliness. A loneliness predicated on the need to stop emotional time; so not to feel anything. As we travel with Isak back to his childhood home, we see the chilling effects of his cold mother (and too many siblings in the...