Something to Do with a Girl Named Marla Singer: Capitalism, Narcissism, and Therapeutic Discourse in David Fincher’s Fight Club

  • Lynne Layton
Part of the Studies in the Psychosocial book series (STIP)


David Fincher’s Fight Club well represents the violent effects of capitalism on psychic structure. While offering a critique of the violence wrought by commodity capitalism and technical rationality, and while empathizing with the pain suffered by the narcissistic character structure it fosters, the film simultaneously presents a narrative whose form mimics the damaging effects of capitalism on the male psyche. The film offers two different solutions to the main character’s suffering: self-help therapy groups and Fight Club. The chapter argues that the incoherence introduced by a narrative rupture that separates the presentation of the two solutions—a rupture blamed on the film’s female protagonist—represents the site of unconscious conflict. Although the film makes it clear that the protagonist’s pain is a result of the meaninglessness of his relationships and the immorality of his job, the film yet proffers re-masculinization as a solution. In so doing, the film suggests that narcissistic wounds are best treated by shoring up male narcissism.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynne Layton
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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