cultures of the death drive

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Cultures Of The Death Drive – Esther Sánchez-Pardo


The trauma of object loss leads to an incorporation of the object within the ego [ losing someone who was an object of love engenders, according to Ferenczi, “the narcissistic identification of the ego with the object in melancholia” (Sanchez-Pardo: 34). ]

For Sándor Radó, … decline in self-esteem and self-satisfaction … finds … expression in the melancholic’s delusional self-accusations and … delusions of moral inferiority. …

For Sándor Radó, … the ego of melancholics shows a … craving for narcissistic gratification …, so that even to trivial offences … melancholics react with a drop in their self-esteem. … The melancholics’ sadism fastens on their love objects, “as though it were their intention to devour them altogether” (Radó) … For Radó, the melancholic’s contrition is a reaction to the failure of his or her rebellion. — The withdrawal in narcissistic fashion to the inner world is not an attempt to gain the pardon and love of the object but rather those of the melancholic’s superego, which constitutes a “regressive step, [by which] the ego is removed from reality” (Radó). (39) Radó … assumes an innate capacity to … experience guilt “At the bottom of of the melancholiac’s profound dread of impoverishment there is really simply the dread of starvation.” (Radó) “the infant’s dawning ego acquires in this narcissistic gratification that mental quality which it will later experience as self- satisfaction” (Radó) by its aggressive attitude the ego feels that it has itself to blame for the loss of the object. (40) The hostility of the ego toward the object translates into the idea that the object alone is to blame, that it provoked the rigor of the ego by means of its caprices and unreliability. (40) — When the ego fails to carry through the claims of its aggressive impulses toward the object and adopts an attitude of masochistic remorse toward the superego, Radó claims that “the aggressive tendency of the id goes over to the side of the superego and forces the ego itself, weakened by its expiatory attitude, into the position of the object” … In this sadomasochistic scenario, the ego, thrust into the place of the hated object, loses to a large extent its relationship with reality and becomes subjected to the tyranny of the sadistic superego and the id. — For Radó, it is imperative that the object undergo two different processes of incorporation, being absorbed not only by the superego but by the ego. —


Cultures Of The Death Drive – Esther Sánchez-Pardo

41-53 3:56:13


in melancholia … the subject knows that it has lost something but ignores what it is. … In the work of mourning, the loss, in bringing back … the contents represented by the object, has to some extent a function that works to reveal the object itself. — In melancholia, the unknown character of loss constitutes an enigma. The narcissistic identification with the object then becomes a substitute for the erotic cathexis, the result of which is that in spite of the conflict with the loved person the love-relation need not be given up. — This substitution of identification for object-love is an important mechanism in the narcissistic affections. … The ego wants to incorporate the object into itself by devouring it. … ego impoverishment may lead the subject to commit suicide. Suicide partakes of a sacrificial logics. — The melancholic dies for the superego (in the form of suicide, war, an ideal, and so on) and therefore no one can dispossess the melancholic of his or her own death. … desire is always already in mourning (in pain by virtue of proper unsatisfiability), but in order to arrive at such a conclusion we must first pass through narcissism and pleasure. — Facing the verdict of reality – in itself the painful space where the individual passes from primary to secondary process – the performance of sexuality is represented as a “hallucinatory satisfaction of a wish” (Freud), where hallucination is not a perception without an object but rather the strongest external cathexis transferred to the individual’s internal world. … Freud pushes his rhetoric to the edge by arguing that all desire is at its root psychotic. (49) The shameless pain of the melancholic is a most cherished pleasure. — Yet absolute pleasure kills. —


Cultures Of The Death Drive – Esther Sánchez-Pardo

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Melancholia refuses object loss, as is the case with projective identification and narcissistic identification. — The melancholic has lost not just the object but the love the object feels for the ego. A severe narcissistic injury is effected, an open wound. — There is neither mourning nor hallucination, only long and mute pain. — In Freudian melancholia, pain takes the place of the object, masking the disavowal of loss. (52) Melancholia…resembles mourning … insofar as in both of them the subject withdraws from the present and dwells on the past. — But in melancholia it is impossible to leave the past behind. — The melancholic appears to be stuck without a sense of direction for the future. — Withdrawal and grief do not end, since they have become a way of retaining forever in phantasy what has long since been lost in reality. — The ego of the melancholic is impoverished but megalomaniac; it falls into the violence of a certain moral pain. — The ego of the melancholic resembles its object, and this is the stance it takes toward the superego. — The shameless exhibition of the ego of the melancholic out of its own delirium of guilt emerges from an intimate loss of the subject of representation in favor of a unique subjectivity that presents itself in an intolerable exhibition, the exhibition of the melancholic that leaves the analyst powerless. (53) Incorporation of the object, which is always a bad object (the absence of the object automatically makes it bad), and sadistic reinforcement of the superego, which relentlessly judges and devalues the ego assimilated to its lost object, bring about the melancholic condition. (53) projective identification … allows … for object relations and [for] a confusion of boundaries in the subject-object differentiation … [and] provides the mourner with some … compensation for his or her loss: an image of the loved one is summoned from memory and installed among the images that constitute the inner world. … — Mourning is fundamental for keeping our psychological integration of the object. (54)


Cultures Of The Death Drive – Esther Sánchez-Pardo

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The melancholic feels guilty for having caused damage to his or her object and ultimately masochistic self- punishment is the only way to assuage the guilt. — the ego can emerge from ambivalence only by acknowledging hostility toward the object. (30) … In melancholia … the Patient has introjected the original love-object on which his or her ego-ideal had been built; this object takes over the role of conscience …. it is from this introjected object that the pathological self-criticism of the melancholic emanates. — [Or] the content of those self-reproaches is ultimately a harsh criticism of the introjected object. (31) In principle, man can love only himself; if he loves an object he takes it into his ego. … I used the term “introjection” for all such growing onto, all such including of the loved object, in the ego. —


Cultures Of The Death Drive – Esther Sánchez-Pardo


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