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Knafo, D. (2015). For the Love of Death: Somnophilic and Necrophilic Acts and Fantasies. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(5):857-886.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(5):857-886

For the Love of Death: Somnophilic and Necrophilic Acts and Fantasies

Danielle Knafo

The psychoanalytic literature on somnophilic and necrophilic fantasies and acts is indeed sparse. It is argued here that one must distinguish the forms of fantasy, playacting, and actual behavior that lie along a spectrum of romantic or sexual behavior involving people who are sleeping, drugged, immobile, inanimate, comatose, or dead. Regardless of these distinctions, however, the underlying dynamics commonly involve reunion with the mother, an inability to mourn, fear of the female, and an attempt at mastering and transcending the fear of death. To highlight these psychodynamics, a clinical case of somnophilia, Pedro Almodóvar's Talk to Her (a film about romantic relationships with comatose women), and the case of Count von Cosel, a quixotic necrophiliac, are presented. Gender differences are emphasized in the analysis of case material and cultural tropes.

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