19 Chapters
Medium 9781855757554

3 Separating and splitting up

Bokanowski, Thierry; Lewkowicz, Sergio Karnac Books ePub

3

Penelope Garvey

In the final phase of her analysis, Mrs A., who had over the many years of her analysis managed to recover split-off aspects of herself, become more defined as a person, and was able to stand up for herself without feeling humiliated by being seen to have feelings and wants, became increasingly anxious about how she was going to survive the loss of the analysis and feared a return to a state of feeling nothing. She had the following dream:

The car was parked in the yard outside her parent's house. The car caught fire and, afraid that the fire would spread to the house, she called in the air force to bomb it.

Mrs A. bombed the car-which I thought stood for her caring, containing ego-in order to protect me and herself from knowing about versions of me in her mind that could take over and destroy the good feelings that she had about me and her analysis. The bombing broke up and fragmented her ego, propelled out her feelings, and left her feeling nothing. Much has been written about this kind of fragmentary splitting, its developmental origins, and its tendency to reappear in situations of stress. The bombing, as we shall see, occurred not only in her dream. Phantasies do affect reality, and Mrs A. returned to a state that I knew well from the past. Melanie Klein describes something similar:

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Medium 9781855757448

8: “Mourning and Melancholia”: a Freudian metapsychological updating

Karnac Books ePub

8

Carlos Mario Aslan

And I hope that you will soon find consolation from my death and that you will allow me to continue living in your friendly thoughts…the only limited immortality that I acknowledge.

Freud's letter to Marie Bonaparte, 1937 (in Jones, 1957, p. 465)

“Mourning and Melancholia”, fons et origo, fount and origin of any psychoanalytic reflection on depression, is a relatively short but very important paper, considered by many authors as a hinge…an articu-lation…between the first, “topographic” theory of the mind, and the second, “structural” theory.

Besides opening the way to a psychoanalytic, metapsychologi-cal conception of both normal and pathological mourning…mel-ancholia…this paper introduces, among other important ideas, an advancement of the concept of the “critical instance” (the future superego) and of forms of structuring internalizations such as the introjection of objects and of secondary identifications.

Mourning is a phenomenon belonging to everyday life. We all have experienced it, together with its consequent mourning processes, through either our own or other people's losses

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Medium 9781855757554

9 Splitting of the ego and perversion

Bokanowski, Thierry; Lewkowicz, Sergio Karnac Books ePub

9

Louise Carignan

Freud's views on perversion evolved through successive stages. In the Three Essays (1905d) he conceived of perversion as the persistence in adult life of untamed components of childhood, or “pregenital” sexuality, at the expense of adult genital sexuality. Perversion was contrasted with neurosis, in which these pregenital or perverse impulses were censored. By the 1920s, however, he had modified his views, seeing perversions as regressive defensive formations in relation to the Oedipus complex (Freud, 1919e). Finally, in his late works on fetishism and the splitting of the ego in the process of defence (Freud, 1927e, 1940a [1938], 1940e [1938]), he described disavowal-a mechanism that allows the fetishist to maintain his belief that his mother has a penis and negate the perceptual reality, side by side with acknowledging the fact of sexual differences and drawing the correct conclusions from it. The disavowal of female castration protects the fetishist from the fear of losing his own penis. Rather than hallucinating the missing female penis as would a psychotic, he only transfers the importance or value of the penis onto another part of the female body or another object called a fetish, which then renders the woman tolerable as a sexual object. Freud noted that the “artful” way of dealing with reality at work in disavowal, where two contradictory attitudes coexist without influencing each other, was, however, achieved at the price of a rift in the ego, which persists or increases over time.

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4: Not letting go: from individual perennial mourners to societies with entitlement ideologies

Karnac Books ePub

4

Vamlk D. Volkan

For three decades my colleagues at the University of Virginia and I conducted a study of hundreds of mourning processes and their various consequences (Volkan, 1972, 1981, 1985, 2004; Volkan, Cil-luffo,&Sarvay, 1975; Volkan&Josephthal, 1980; Volkan&Zintl, 1993; Zuckerman&Volkan, 1989). In this chapter I draw upon our findings, first by updating and summarizing the psychodynam-ics involved in an adult's mourning and depression, about which Freud's (1917e [1915]) conclusions still provide the basics. Second, I describe a condition that was not touched upon in “Mourning and Melancholia”: some individuals become stuck for years…or even for a lifetime…unable to let the lost person or thing go. They utilize their various ego functions to cope with their losses, primarily to deal with the conflict between “killing” or “bringing back to life” the lost object, and they do this at the expense of using them for more adaptive purposes. They become “perennial mourners” while not developing depression. Third, I focus on societal mourning (Volkan, 1977, 1997, 2006), a concept that is also not mentioned in “Mourning and Melancholia”, and ask this question: can a large group, such as an ethnic or religious group, become a society that suffers from perennial mourning?

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Medium 9781855757554

5 The splitting of the ego and virtual reality

Bokanowski, Thierry; Lewkowicz, Sergio Karnac Books ePub

5

Julio Moreno

1

It is advisable to discuss first the concepts of splitting of the ego and virtual reality separately, for besides having been coined in dissimilar contexts, they refer to different phenomena. I will then ponder their relationship.

The “splitting of the ego” is a notion that appears late in Freud's theory. He himself admits in his 1938 posthumous text that this late incorporation into his theory may have been a mistake. “The whole process [of splitting and disavowal] seems so strange to us because we take for granted the synthetic nature of the processes of the ego. But we are clearly at fault in this. The synthetic function of the ego, though it is of such extraordinary importance, is subject to particular conditions and is liable to a whole number of disturbances” (Freud, 1940e [1938], p. 276; emphasis added).

As I understand it, “being at fault” may refer here to the fact that in the inceptions of his theory, Freud defended somewhat fervently the idea of the oneness of the ego against those who spoke of its multiplicity. At the turn of the nineteenth century, studies in psychopathology (e.g., those by Janet, Binet, and Breuer himself) were permeated by terms such as “split personality”, “double consciousness”, and “separate psychical groups”. According to Janet, for instance, the splitting of the psyche into different associative groups is conceived of as a secondary regrouping of a psychic world that has disintegrated due to a primary associative weakness (Laplanche & Pontalis, 1967).

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