MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE: SCORSESE’S “THE WOLF OF WALL STREET” THROUGH A PSYCHOANALYTIC LENS

Abstract

In this essay I wish to present some reflections on Jordan Belfort, the protagonist of the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” from a psychoanalytic prism. The movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, is a 2013 black comedy film directed by Martin Scorsese and adapted by Terence Winter from Belfort’s memoir (2007) of the same name. This movie has already been analyzed from cultural and historical perspectives, with the protagonist representing American culture of the 1980s. I will first summarize some of these views, and then present my psychoanalytic perspective of Jordan’s wish to become “Master of the Universe” (Wolfe, 1987; Grunberger, 1993), as expressed through his abuse of drugs, hyper-sexuality, and his aggressive and self-destructive behavior. As the craving for omnipotence and immortality is a universal wish that has existed from time immemorial, I will draw an analogy between certain aspects and symbolic elements in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Wagner’s (1848–1872) four epic operas “Der Ring des Nibelungen.” I will conclude with a brief reference to the charismatic appeal of a man like Jordan to the general public.

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Correspondence to Ilany Kogan.

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Ilany Kogan, M.A., is an active Training Analyst at the Israeli Psychoanalytic Society.

Address correspondence to Ilany Kogan, M.A., 2 Street Mohaliver St., 76304 Rehovot, Israel; e-mail: ilanyk@yahoo.com.

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Kogan, I. MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE: SCORSESE’S “THE WOLF OF WALL STREET” THROUGH A PSYCHOANALYTIC LENS. Am J Psychoanal 78, 267–286 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1057/s11231-018-9144-7

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Keywords

  • malignant narcissism
  • sadomasochistic perversion
  • pleasure in anxiety
  • drive for mastery
  • emotional deadness
  • primary narcissistic fantasy