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May 1 Michelle May Professor Lundquist English 495 December 12, 2013 Exploring and Explaining Addiction Recovery

in Inception Introduction Many people, scholars and civilians alike, argue over the way Inception ends. Is Dom Cobb in reality? Will the top stop spinning? One Facebook commentator even mentioned her favorite part was the audiences gasps and groans when the credits started. Some people believed that the main question of the movie hadnt been answered, and that whether Dom Cobb was in reality or not was still up for debate. Christopher Nolan has acknowledged that he knows what he intended, but has decided against sharing the information with the community at large. In the article, Was Mal Right? Was It All Just a Dream?: Making Sense of Inception, Ruth Tallman points out that, good works of art are usually not straightforward. They challenge us, confuse us, and leave us wondering what we should have or were supposed to get from them (Tallman 18). She asserts that work must be put in to understanding the movie before the observer can allege that they truly understand, and later in the article concludes that relying on the artist is not a societally beneficial way to interpret art. She states, First, the intentionalist view leaves us with an epistemic (knowledge-related) problem regarding many artworks; many end up either having an unknowable meaning or no meaning at all, both of which are quite counterintuitive conclusions. Second, intentionalism forcus us to understand artworks as interpretively static, when they dont seem to be. Third, intentionalism is

May 2 inconsistent with the view that the concept of art is a social convention that, properly understood, means that artworks are the collective property of the art world (22-23). It is flawed to say the world needs the opinion of the artist because once anything is viewed by another person with different experiences and values, they will interpret it in their own way, and if they are not told how to see it, they may be able to allow their subconscious to teach them. Because Nolan hasnt told the audience what exactly Inception means, or whether the top has fallen, people are able to discuss and view it according to their own interpretations. However, the question of whether the top keeps spinning at the end of the film really is a moot point. When looked at through a Jungian lens, Inception is not about whether Dom Cobb is in reality or not, there are a number of subplots that are tangled and discussed in Inception, and the tops movement is one of them. The most important plot is that of Dom Cobbs journey. Saying that the journey is the most important in the end is clich to say the least, but during the movie, Dom Cobb experiences an addiction, addiction recovery, and to some extent, individuation. Despite what many people may think, the most important part of Inception isnt whether the top falls. The feature of Inception is Dom Cobbs journey towards addiction recovery and individuation. Individuation In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung defines Individuation in the following way, I use the term individuation to denote the process by which a person becomes a psychological in-dividual, that is, a separate, indivisible unity or whole (395). Someone who is on the path to individuation is working towards emotional self-realization as well as a deeper understanding of their subconscious and society. An individuated person will recognize their own psychological

May 3 makeup as being emotionally independent from those around them while connected on a deeper level to society. Consider what Mal says to Ariadne, Do you know what it is to be a lover? To be half of a whole? (110). Mal is expressing the idea that to be a lover is to be an incomplete person completed by another human being. In this part of the movie Mal is a part of Cobbs subconscious and therefore not a living entity, but what he imagines Mal to be. She is at the same time a projection and a shadow figuresomething that helps him realize problems in his subconsciousof his subconscious. Jung argues that in order to have a successful relationship, one must be closer to than further away from individuation. C. G. Jung also states that individuation means becoming a single, homogeneous being, and, in so far as individuality embraces our innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming ones own self. We could therefore translate individuation as coming to selfhood or self-realization (memories 395). Inception doesnt mention Cobbs thoughts on his own uniqueness, but Cobb acknowledges Mals uniqueness near the end when she questions whether or not she is real, and he responds after she stabs him, I wish you were. But I couldnt make you real. Im not capable of imagining you in all your complexity and perfection. As you really were. Youre the best I can do. And youre not real (204). Cobb realizes that he can only approximate the complexities of another human being, even though he spent a lifetime with her, and that realization, that any given human is more complicated than they may appear at first, or after many years, is a way of acknowledging personal uniqueness and complexity. A realization and acceptance of another persons complexities necessitates at least a base understanding of your own complexities. C. G. Jung also speaks on how he began an unconditional yes to that which is, without subjective protestsacceptance of the conditions of existence as I see them and understand

May 4 them, acceptance of my own nature, as I happen to be (Memories 297). This part of the path to individuation meshes perfectly with Cobb. It is Cobbs choice that matters in the end because whichever reality he chooses must completely become his existence. He has a choice, though, as Mal says, Admit it, Dom. You dont believe in one reality anymore. So choose. Choose your reality like I did. Choose to be here. Choose me (196). He is tempted at that point to choose Mal. He could, in fact, choose one of the layers of the dreams and decide to live with those consequences, but he has already decided that the dream status he created Mal in was not his reality. Another definition of Individuation found in Memories, Dreams, Reflections states that individuation does not shut one out from the world, but gathers the world to oneself (395-396). The previous definitions could be misinterpreted as supporting a selfish mindset. That is not the case; individuation embraces society because it realizes that everyone is a part of a larger consciousness and connectivity. Cobb is separated physically and mentally until he accepts his reality and willingly turns his back on the top. Addiction In her book Escape from Intimacy, Anne Wilson Schaef introduces the idea that western society has become inherently addicted, and that it is of utmost importance to be aware that this underlying addictive process is culturally based and learned. If one path for [addictive] expression is cut off, it finds another. We have also learned that addictions rarely, if ever, exist in isolation. After we have faced off against our favorite addiction, we discover our next most favorite, the one that is killing us the next fastest (1). These addictions can be substance abuse, but they can also be more subtle, things that western society accepts as normal, respectable behaviors like sexual promiscuity before marriage or over-indulgence in regularly healthy things

May 5 such as running. Cobb is related dreaming, building in dreams, and his relationship with Mal. Each of these compounds making it harder to truly break the other addictions. These addictions are referred to as process addictions that Schaef argues are much more subtle and tricky than substance addictions, and they are very well integrated into our society. We must understand them and treat them with as much concern as we do ingestive (drug, alcohol, etc.) addictions (2). These process addictions effect the daily lives of many people, and are just as dangerous as ingestive addictions. Cobbs teammate dies at the beginning of the movie (54), Saito nearly dies because they werent ready for Doms projections or Fischers security system, the entire first job is compromised, and the main job they are working on nearly doesnt succeed because Cobb cant keep his projections out (130). Many people might look at Dom Cobb and entirely miss the fact that he has multiple addiction problems. Ruth Engs, a Professor at Indiana University, outlined addiction as any activity, substance, object, or behavior that has become the major focus of a person's life to the exclusion of other activities, or that has begun to harm the individual or others physically, mentally, or socially (Engs). The truth is that Dom Cobb has all of the tools he needs to attain individuation, but he has an addiction that blocks him from choosing a specific reality and achieving individuation. Dom Cobb is addicted to the process of dreaming, and to his relationship with Mal. Ruth Engs gave ten common characteristics of an addicted person, and Dom Cobb easily fits into well over half of them. By this behavior, we can tell that Dom Cobb is a recovering addict. The first characteristic states that the person becomes obsessed (constantly thinks of) the object, activity, or substance (Engs). To one extent or another, Mal and objects relating to their relationship show up in every one of the dreams Dom is involved in. Up until she dies in his

May 6 arms at the end of the film, she even appears in appropriate dress for whatever is occasioned in the dream. The projection of Mal tries to blend in so that Cobb cannot forc her out of the shared dream just because she doesnt belong. Number two states, They will seek it out, or engage in the behaivor even though it is causing harm (physical problems, poor work or study performance, problems with friends, family, fellow workers) (Engs). Dom continually dreams on his own in order to see Mal, we see one instance when Ariadne finds him dreaming alone and decides to join him, learning in the end what happened to his wife. In that specific scene we see Cobb listening to his projection of Mal in a very serious manner, considering what she has to offer him and whether he should end his life in what he ends up calling reality (106). The audience gets to see a lot of Cobbs addiction to dreaming. Ariadne refuses to take no for an answer and explores Cobbs subconscious without his express permission, so he doesnt have room to hide things or only show her what he wants her to see, she gets to see all of it through the safety of their metal elevator. Skipping three through five, the sixth characteristic Engs mentions is that he/she often denies problems resulting from his/her engagement in the behavior, even though others can see the negative effects (Engs). In one of the first scenes of Inception, Arthur and Cobb are trying to steal information from Saitos subconscious when Arthur sees Mal. Through the dialogue, we can tell that Arthur is not unused to seeing Mal in Cobbs dreams. We find out later that Cobb has created different levels in his own subconscious for Mals projection to live in, allowing her so much of his subconscious that she is able to permeate even unrelated dreams. Arthur reminds Cobb that theyre here to work (28), insinuating that Arthur knows Cobb goes in to a dream state for more than just work. Some negative effects are apparent when Mal confirms Saitos suspicions that he is actually dreaming, thus ruining Cobbs chance to steal what he needs and

May 7 fulfill his contract with a bloodthirsty company. A member of Cobbs team is killed because of this mistake (54). Serious negative effects arise out of Cobbs addiction to being with Mals projection in his dream world The seventh characteristic states that an addicted person hides the behavior after family or close friends have mentioned their concern (Engs). Ariadne confronts Cobb about Mals trespassing into his dreams a little less than halfway through the script. She points out that he knows she will sabotage their operation if he builds their dream worlds. The rest of their conversation is as follows, ARIADNE. Do the others know? COBB. No. ARIADNE. You have to warn them if its getting worse COBB. (gentle) I didnt say it was getting worse. (Nolan 93-94) Cobb is denying that Mal is showing up more and more in his subconscious, even though we can all see increasing instances where images of their life together show though the other dream projections. Earlier in that scene, Cobb tries to hide his true motives by telling Ariadne that he is just doing some tests (92), but Ariadne realizes Cobbs true motives when she sees him talking to Mal in a dream state later (105-106). Cobb admits why he keeps putting himself into these dream states: in my dreams were still together (107). Cobb then denies that hes keeping Mal alive, even though Ariadne can clearly see hes lying. Cobb then states his goal; he says, Ive got to get back here in the real world (109). He doesnt mention whether he believes that the world he, Ariadne, and the rest of the team occupy when they are not dreaming is the real world. At this point he isnt even sure it is the real world. This is evidenced by prior behavior when, in

May 8 the movie, he has a gun and is ready to commit suicide if his top doesnt stop spinning. The script says that Cobb grabs it [the top] like a drowning man reaching for a lifeline (73 -74). Either instance shows Cobbs hesitation as to whether what he is living is reality or not, and thus shows that he has not achieved individuation. Skipping to the last one, number ten states that, Individuals with addictive behaviors often feel anxious if they do not have control over their environment (Engs). Cobb expresses this in the first dream level of the main heist, after theyve been run down by a freight train in the middle of a city, and attacked by Fischers personal army. The audience doesnt get to see Cobb so upset before this moment, a fact that makes the scene even more dramatic. When Arthur asks Ariadne why she put the train downtown, Cobb (snaps) Why were we all ambushed, Arthur?! Cobb immediately tries to take the focus off of something he knows is his fault, and, as the script says snaps, because he doesnt feel like he is in control of their situation. At this point, Cobb hasnt accepted responsibility for his actions, he hasnt accepted that there are consequences to his actions that he has to live with, rather than just run away from into his dreams where he can hide situations he regrets. Cobb created Mal in his dreams because he so fully regretted losing her and his children. However, he created her imperfectly with the makings of his own incomplete feminine, or anima: the integral part of every psyche that balances the motives of the animus, or the masculine. C. G. Jung stated that, anima and animus manifest themselves most typically in personified form as figures in dreams and fantasies (dream girl, dream lover) (Memories 391). Cobb created the vessel of a woman he loved, and his subconscious filled it with his anima, just as Fischer filled the hospital in the third dream level with his fathers hospice bed.

May 9 The Shadow The projection of Mal is what C. G. Jung would call a shadow. In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung defines the shadow as The inferior part of the personality; sum of all personal and collective psychic elements which, because of their incompatibility with the chosen conscious attitude, are denied expression in life and therefore coalesce into a relatively autonomous splinter personality with contrary tendencies in the unconscious. The shadow behaves compensatorily to consciousness; hence its effects can be positive as well as negative. In dreams, the shadow figure is always of the same sex as the dreamer (Memories 398399). Mal as Cobbs shadow seems a little off, then, if the shadow is supposed to be the same sex as the dreamer, but if Cobbs anima is broken, and the shadow is supposed to be a compensatory element, then it makes sense that one projection of Cobbs shadow would be perceived as a broken feminine. The shadow, then, is supposed to be compensatory. Someone trying to achieve individuation should not try to run away from what their shadow is trying to show them. Cobbs shadow was trying to show him that he was acting out his addicted behaviors in unhealthy ways by constantly reliving things he had no control over at the time, and could not afford to regret for the rest of his life. Cobbs shadow tries to get him to let go of his dream status as opposed to embracing it. Jung adds, The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself and yet is always thrusting itself upon him directly or indirectlyfor instance, inferior traits of character and other incompatible tendencies (Memories 399). Cobb does not

May 10 want to acknowledge that the train he and Mal used to leave limbo was the start of the dangerous journey he is now on. He cannot escape that the train was what started this journey, and he needs to accept that before he is able to continue on his path to individuation. Inside the anima and animus are two parts of a personality, the anima has emotional feeling and intuition while the animus has reason/thinking and sensation. Jung gives his reasoning behind these four sections of wholeness by explaining that, sensation tells us that something exists; thinking tells you what it is; feeling tells you whether it is agreeable or not; and intuition tells you whence it comes and where it is going (Man 61). Individuation encompasses all of these parts in equal measure to give a balanced perspective to an individual. Cobb has mastered reason, he follows a very obvious path in the first part of the movie as to knowing what is real or not. He spins Mals top whenever he is unsure of reality, if it falls, he believes that he is experiencing reality. He also trusts his sensation to a certain degree, and follows another formula in order to tell if what he is experiencing is reality, he tries to remember how he got there, if he can remember, he is in reality, if not, then he is dreaming. His feminine traits, however, as they are projected into Mal, are what need to be recognized and reconciled. His feeling/emotion is erratic, either very calm and collected, or explosive as mentioned in the first level of the big dream heist. Cobb doesnt seem to use his intuition. He takes every step as if it is his first and last as he tries doing things the same way twice even though the first time failed. Intuition requires acknowledging a past and a future. He tries to convince the audience that he knows where things came from and where they are going, but when he is unsure if he is awake or not he relies on destructive behaviors to answer that question, like contemplating suicide after experiencing Yusufs drug for the first time (50). This behavior continues until Dom Cobb recognizes his partial individuation.

May 11 Another example of Cobbs broken anima is the fact that he cant create anymore. When she is learning to build in dreams, Ariadne points out, I thought a dream space would be all about the visual, but its the feel of things (69). Feeling being a feminine trait, and sight or reason being a masculine trait, Cobbs inability to create in the dream world expresses the idea that he is repressing and trying to forget the feminine part of his personality, or his shadow. The Feminine The most important symbol in Inception is the feminine. In the book The Concept of Symbol, Alfonsas Savickas explains that the assimilation of contrasexual (the part of the psyche that characterizes the opposite gender) tendencies enables the libido to keep flowing forward in a state of progression (33). Because Cobb is male, and decidedly missing the contrasexual nature of his psyche, the feminine influences from reality and projections of his subconscious are there to help Cobbs journey from addiction towards individuation. There are four mentioned feminine figures in Inception. Phillipa, Mals mother, Mal and Cobbs projection of Mal, and Ariadne. Each of these female characters has, at one point or another, a somewhat domineering and very forward personality. Mals mother tells her grandchildren up front that they will never see their father again. She doesnt have much faith in Cobb, and she lets even the children know that. Phillipa is the one who is blunt enough to tell Cobb so (51), and when Cobb asks to speak to her grandmother, she tells him that (Grandma is) shaking her head (51). Phillipa and her grandma both seem to have disbelieving personalities, the grandmother fulfilling her role to protect her grandchildren from what she perceives to be harm, but harming Phillipa because she is not allowed to love her father in the way a daughter should be allowed to.

May 12 Mal plays two roles as a feminine figure. We dont know much about her from the film, but Arthur tells Ariadne in a sacred manner that she was lovely (84), which is a very base interpretation for a human being. The audience can only assume what Mal was like, and what her relationship with Cobb was before they shared Limbo. Cobbs projection of Mal, however, teaches the audience a lot about Cobbs own reality. Savickas talks about the terrible mother archetype in his book on symbols. He writes that ignoring a mother symbol amounts to rejection of an encounter with the unconscious. This results in a negative reaction, the more negative the attitude of the conscious towards the unconscious, the more dangerous does the latter become (Savickas 35). Mal is something of a mother archetype because she was the mother to Cobbs children, but for one reason his projection of her turned sour. Perhaps it is because she can no longer create like she used to because she is a projection and no longer part of Cobbs reality, but all Inception shows the audience is the result of Mals degeneration into an angry terrible mother archetype. Savickas continues by saying, fear of the unconscious is projected onto the mother imago which turns her into a lamia (36). A lamia is a mythical creature that consumes humans and either looks like a woman, or is half woman half snake. Cobb has repressed his anima to the point that its projection that takes the form of Mal has begun to retaliate and try to force her way into his consciousness. Ariadne is the final feminine figure, and a keystone to the entire film. She lives in Cobbs reality, and plays the part of the architect, and as such is a sort of substitute mother figure in that as an architect she is a creator and caretaker of her creations, both important aspects of a mother. In Memories, Dreams, Reflections Jung says that the animus and the anima should function as a bridge, or a door, leading to the images of the collective unconscious, as the persona should be a

May 13 sort of bridge into the world (392). Ariadne is a healthy anima to counteract Mals unhealthy projection and lead Cobb into his self-realization and towards individuationhence her name, Ariadne from Greek mythology who helped Theseus escape from the minotaurs maze. When Cobb first meets Ariadne she draws him a spherical maze reminiscent of a mandala, the symbol of individuation. He then shows her how to dream and she begins to create, meeting Mal her second time in his subconscious. Ariadne immediately tries to point out that there is a flaw in Cobbs subconscious, and physically leaves Cobb and Arthur, saying, Arthur, maybe you cant see whats going on, maybe you dont want to. But Cobbs got problems hes tried to bury down there. Im not going to open my mind to someone like that. Cobb knows, however, the addictive power of building in dreams as he predicts her return and says, Ive never seen anyone pick it up so fast. And one reality wont be enough for her now (72-75). She does return, and perhaps she does risk addiction, but she is somehow able to keep a level head and use the dream status for work and the sake of the teams mission. Ariadne tries warning Cobb over and over again, when she is showing Cobb the layouts she has made for the dreams, and he asks her not to tell him very much about the layout, he warns her not to tell the members of the team in case they bring in their projections. She counters with, In case you bring Mal in. You wont build yourself because if you know the maze, then she knows it. And shed sabotage the operation. You cant keep her out, can you?... You have to warn [the others] if its getting worse As opposed to his aforementioned explosion when they are in the first level of the big dream heist, Cobb responds gently, but in denial about his addiction (93-94). After Ariadne enters Cobbs dreaming session without permission, she is again attacked by Mal, and she points out to Cobb, although he again denies it, that he is holding on to Mal. She

May 14 recognizes that Cobb cannot control or contain his projections of Mal. She shows her true loyalty when she tells him that she is going to join them on their mission because the team needs someone in there who understands what youre struggling with. If you dont want it to be me then you need to show Arthur what I just saw (105-112). Ariadne brings in the idea, perhaps the idea that saves her from being addicted to the dream status, that in order to succeed in their dream heist, or to escape the psychological maladies that they face, they need someone who is going to understand what they are going through. This idea crops up again when Cobb is trying to save Saito from limbo. Cobb and Saito both seem very confused, but as they remind each other using quips of memories like Cobb saying, someone from your half remembered dream, filled with regret, and Saito finishing his sentence, waiting to die alone, all of these help the two men remember who they are and that they are a team working towards a goal that is not in their current reality (216). Right before that point, Ariadne knows that Cobb is going to make it back from limbo with Saito because she has seen him grow closer to his point of individuation. She sees him reject the negative part of his projection of Mal, while explaining to the mother archetype that she is more than he has projected. Ariadne fulfills her role by guiding Cobb through his subconscious, and eventually seeing that he can take control, and letting him take control of his actions. He is able to become an independent, self-realized human because he has allowed himself to release the negative anima, embrace a positive anima, overcoming his most harmful addiction, and fully embrace his actions and their consequences in the reality he chooses. Conclusion When at the end of the movie Cobb walks away from the top as it spins but may or may not fall, many viewers think that this is some sort of cop-out, or make up reasons as to why Cobb

May 15 ended up in reality or not. The point of Inception isnt that Cobb reaches a definitive reality, it is that Cobb overcomes his worst addiction and accepts a reality in all of its imperfections, thus achieving, or at least approximating, individuation.

May 16 Works Cited Engs, Ruth C. "What Are Addictive Behaviors?" What Are Addictive Behaviors? Indiana University, 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. Jacobi, Jolande. Complex/Archetype/Symbol in the Psychology of C. G. Jung. New York: Princeton UP, 1959. Print. Jung, C. G. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Ed. Aniela Jaff . Trans. Richard Winston and Clara Winston. New York: Vintage, 1989. Print. ---. Man and His Symbols. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964. Print. Nolan, Christopher. Inception: The Shooting Script. San Rafael, CA: Insight, 2010. Print. Savickas, Alfonsas. The Concept of Symbol in the Psychology of C.G. Jung. Innsbruck: Resch, 1979. Print. Schaef, Anne Wilson. Escape from Intimacy: The Pseudo-relationship Addictions : Untangling the "love" Addictions, Sex, Romance, Relationships. New York: Harper & Row, 1989. Print. Tallman, Ruth. "Was Mal Right? Was It All Just a Dream?: Making Sense of Inception." Inception and Philosophy: Because It's Never Just a Dream. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012. 15-30. Print.