Through technological intervention, I manipulate footage until it ‘feels right’. First and foremost I see the work as tonal. These feelings provide the base layer of the intended film. This sequence is performed by a friend, whose voice I find heartening. Like much of the film it contains layered speech. Analogous with the account of verbal thought being an evolutionary latecomer, the soundtrack was added to the picture to represent the incessant inner voice. In addition to ‘outing’ the negative, by making manifest the positive, the filmmaking process may have assisted recovery. On reflection, art practice and psychoanalytic therapy could both be said to employ methods that aid healing by attending to discord (this is not to suggest that this is an ordinary or defining function of artistic practice). For Ilham Dilman, Freud made a significant contribution to psychology by proposing that the structure of the individual is modifiable. The unconscious, although not open to direct interrogation, is accessible by indirect means. This can open up aspects of the psyche that people are unwilling to recognise, and thus offer possibilities of addressing conflicts. [26] Dilman points to psychoanalytical methods, such as free association, as Freud’s major contribution, but it is precisely the vague and non-testable nature of these methods which psychology and other fields find so problematic. I am cautious not jump to conclusions. I have never undergone psychoanalytic therapy, and I would most likely have recovered from my condition over time. Yet there is undeniably a benefit in the feeling you are attempting to do something about a problem. While this was not the primary focus of the film production, it became an influential factor and upholds my earlier proposition that the creative process occurs through the artist, and not necessarily by conscious and rational deliberation.


The content of the first-person narration draws on my experience of post-concussive syndrome. The condition presented as a permanent state of darkness punctuated by episodes of extreme anxiety. These episodes had distinct subjects, generally featuring in the film as historical accounts. The tone of the first-person narration is emotional and constitutes method acting. These were recorded late in the production when I was firmly on the road to recovery. I waited until experiencing periods of feeling unwell to perform these sections, thus changing my view of these episodes from being profoundly negative experiences to being welcomed as opportunities to progress my film.

[26] Ilham Dilman, Freud and the Mind (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984), pp. 2–7.

My experience of post-concussive syndrome was characterised by an obsessive preoccupation with atrocity that had little to do with my life. The syndrome resulted from a mechanical injury, tissue damage, and disruption to the endocrine system. I consider the visual landscape of my subjective experience — that loosely became the content of the film — as a post-hoc embellishment arising from trauma. This is compatible with both the psychoanalytic notion of accessing the unconscious and neuroscientific opinion. Damasio’s account of the as-if body loop describes a complex network that he terms ‘somatic markers’: the cognitive representations of the body’s interaction between the internal and external worlds, and of previous experiences of similar situations.[27] These neural events often occur below the threshold of consciousness, or enter consciousness as ‘feelings’, in the form of thought images. Psychoanalysis is the only field to consider the content and quality of these images, but that is not to say that their existence is denied in the field of neuroscience.

Damasio describes how the stimulation of brainstem nuclei can produce an experience of sadness. This was accidentally discovered by his colleague, who was using electrodes to treat a patient with Parkinson’s symptoms. These introduced an electrical current to a region of the brainstem called the mesencephalon. His colleague, however, misplaced an electrode by a couple of millimetres and caused the patient to rapidly fall into a state of suicidal hopelessness. The patient had no history of depression and seconds after the abortion of the treatment, the patient’s mood returned to normal. Damasio concludes that emotions, defined as the physiological events from which feelings arise, produce emotion-related thoughts, rather than the other way round.[28]

‘When the emotion sadness is deployed, feelings of sadness instantly follow. In short order, the brain also brings forth the kind of thoughts that normally cause the emotion sadness and feelings of sadness. This is because associative learning has linked emotions with thoughts in a rich two-way network’.[29]


He comments that this is an approximation of William James’ hypothesis from over a century ago: that felt emotions are perceived body states.[30]

[27] For a full description of somatic markers see Damasio, Descartes Error.

[28] Antonio Damasio, Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain, London: William Heinemann, 2003, p.66-69.

[29] Damasio, Looking for Spinoza, p.71.

[30] Damasio, Looking for Spinoza, p.105.