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Bach, S. Schwartz, L. (1972). A Dream of the Marquis De Sade—Psychoanalytic Reflections on Narcissistic Trauma, Decompensation, and the Reconstitution of a Delusional Self. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 20:451-475.
(1972). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 20:451-475
A Dream of the Marquis De Sade—Psychoanalytic Reflections on Narcissistic Trauma, Decompensation, and the Reconstitution of a Delusional Self
Sheldon Bach, Ph.D. and Lester Schwartz, M.D.
In this paper we examine a dream of the Marquis de Sade and a series of perverse fantasies from one of his major works, viewing them both as attempts to cope with narcissistic decompensation. We suggest that the public image of the Marquis de Sade is a manifestation
of a "delusional grandiose self," constructed in a restitutive attempt to recathect a traumatically disrupted childhood narcissistic self-object.
On the basis of a biographical fragment, we offer some speculations about the nature of this traumatic disruption and the restitutional attempts that follow. We relate these ideas to current concepts of narcissistic pathology and find them particularly congruent with the formulations advanced by Kohut.
We illustrate the unique emphasis that Sade places on anal fantasies and coprophagia, and we comment on the special relationship of the anal stage both to processes of idealization and disillusionment and to the formation of the narcissistic self-object.
In the context of Sade's psychosis, his narcissistic pathology, and the struggle to master his narcissistic rage, we view the masochistic fantasies as attempts to restitute delusionally idealized self-objects, and the sadistic fantasies as efforts to animate a delusional grandiose self. We see the sexualization of these fantasies as an attempt to deny experiences of self-fragmentation, bodily disruption, and "death of the self." We present a series of fantasies about murder and death, and we explore their relationship to narcissistic trauma, restitution and triumph.
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