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Bell, D.L. (2016). Response to Holm-Hadulla. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(1):183.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(1):183

Response to Holm-Hadulla Related Papers

David L. Bell

Dear Editor,

I want to thank Holm-Hadulla for this interesting contribution and I certainly agree with the well-expressed conclusion: “It seems reasonable to go on working on the dialectics of construction and destruction in conceptualizing the death drive, as Melanie Klein has done”. There remains, however, a misunderstanding and also a disagreement. First the misunderstanding: nowhere in the paper do I suggest that Faust is all good, that the division in Goethe's epic poem is between Faust on the one side representing good and Mephistopheles on the other representing bad. Amongst Faust's most famous lines is “two souls dwell within my breast” - of course a highly overdetermined statement with a multitude of meanings. However, I take this line to be, in part, an expression of exactly this dialectic: the soul that is drawn to earth could perhaps be understood as the one that accepts the struggle and limitations of earthly life; the other that longs for pastures high above seeks to escape these limitations and hungers for omnipotence (there is a close link I believe between destructiveness and the longing for omnipotence). One could also consider the whole epic poem as an interior journey, where Mephistopheles and Faust are internal figures.

Faust's fall into destruction I understand as his succumbing to the lure of omnipotence, and here Mephistopheles acts as the seducer (there is a similar structure I believe in Wilde's Dorian Gray where Dorian is lured by Basil into a world of terrible destruction, with no redemption (see Bell, 2006)).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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