Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 132–150 | Cite as

Maternal ambivalence in the novel and film We Need to Talk About Kevin

  • Erica D. GaliotoEmail author
Original Article


This article interprets Lynne Ramsay’s film version of Lionel Shriver’s novel about maternal ambivalence and school violence from a psychoanalytic perspective. As the film visualizes, through overlapping images of mother and son that merge timeframes of past and present, Eva’s and Kevin’s blurred psychic boundaries contribute to a dynamic between a mother and child that includes not only repetition and dependence, but also hate and murder. While their intersubjectivity does not cause Kevin’s attacks at school and home, insecure attachment, maternal ambivalence, and the cultural fantasy of motherhood are psychosocial factors that should be explored in relation to teen aggression.


Freud Winnicott cultural fantasy insecure attachment intersubjectivity maternal ambivalence motherhood school violence 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shippensburg UniversityShippensburgUSA

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