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Musiał, M. (2016). The Story of Ida: Salvation Not Mourning. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(2):511-520.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(2):511-520

Film Essay

The Story of Ida: Salvation Not Mourning Language Translation

Maciej Musiał

Ida, a Polish film written and directed by Paweł Pawlikowski, is one of the most famous motion pictures of 2013. The film and its creators won many important awards in Poland and abroad including Oscar Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2015.

This beautiful and moving film follows a story of two women, an aunt and her niece - a nun, who both lost their loved ones during World War II at the time of the Holocaust. Their meeting 20 years after the war initiates a dramatic attempt to face the loss and retrieve relations with good internal objects. It enables them to explore their memory and to reflect on their identity. However the experience turns out to be overwhelming and unbearable. For each woman in a different way.: memory and identity. The background of the story about Ida and her aunt Wanda are the realities of postwar communist Poland and the complex events between Polish and Jewish people at the time of the Holocaust under German occupation.

The loss of one's nearest and dearest is by itself a painful wound. When the circumstances of the loss are traumatic, the pain is so profound that it often prevents working through the mourning and parting with the object. Homicide, suicide, or death in an isolated and persecuted atmosphere, are just some examples of traumatic loss. Lacking knowledge about the circumstances of a sudden and premature death of a beloved object can be equally terrible.

In Mourning and Melancholia Freud (1915) describes the process underlying the onset of depression as the inability to accept the loss and work through the grief. He pointed out that in opposition to the loss, there operates a narcissistic identification with the lost object which replaces the loss and provides a sense of possessing the object. This way, as Freud emphasizes, “love avoids annihilation”.

However, identification with the lost object comes at a price. The price is hateful destruction of the object and thus of oneself, and staying closer to death than to the world of the living. It happens because loss is a kind of love wound which inflames hostility, elicits ambivalence, and turns the loved object into a hated love object. In turn, Melanie Klein (1940) stressed that the inability to part with the lost object, and thus repair and recreate the good internal maternal object, leaves the subject in a state of destructive depression - melancholia. Its image may take on different tones.

[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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