Serge Tisseron

The Benefits of the Image Publication date : November 1, 2002

We do not submit passively to the illusion of visual images: we constantly create it. As soon as we become accustomed to a type of image, and it ceases to upset us, we invent another type which will once more allow us to confuse image and reality, and thus to shiver again with fear and anxiety. The author argues that we do this in order to render our inner images visible and comprehensible. But if everyone tries to enjoy images, not all succeed. Some even exacerbate their discomfort in their very efforts to overcome it. And besides the images that we select, there are others that impose themselves before we have had a chance to prepare ourselves — with the consequence that we may be seriously perturbed. In a society which is flooded with images, it is thus essential to use them as best we can, and to avoid the dangers that are inherent in them. This book aims to contribute to this end. But first, we must alter the way we look at images. In the past, images informed us about the world. They must now provide the opportunity for us to learn more about one another, through our exchanges about images. They must also help us to learn more about ourselves and about how to fight against the traumas of existence. Understanding these traumas and learning to use them to enrich our personalities is a priority. Although it is not entirely clear how we should go about achieving this, the author believes that the images we fear can help us on this path — if we know how to use them.

Serge Tisseron is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, doctor of psychology and research fellow at the University of Paris-X. For the past fifteen years, he has worked on the relations that viewers have with different types of images. He is the author of Tintin chez le psychanalyste.