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Verdon, B. De Luca, M. Louet, E. Chabert, C. (2018). Madam Butterfly: tragic figure of masochism. IJP Open, 5:27.

(2018). IJP Open, 5:27

Madam Butterfly: tragic figure of masochism

Benoit Verdon, Manuella De Luca, Estelle Louet and Catherine Chabert

By their textual and musical dramaturgy, the works that are used for operatic mises en scène offer a perfect view of conflicts inherent to human nature. The passions of Madam Butterfly - the eponymous opera of Puccini - foment a tragic fate that is paradigmatic of feminine masochism. This remarkable opera offers avenues for figuration and identification that are likely to support the psychoanalysts in their understanding and in treating patients with extreme psychical organizations where neither loss and separation nor ambivalence, which links together love and hate, can be elaborated. The Butterfly figure is an perfect illustration of the different forms of masochism, of passiveness and of their melancholic pitfalls that show the intensity of the narcissistic challenges that are strongly expressed through the confrontation with the loss of the object. Butterfly cannot mobilize any ambivalence about Pinkerton, which would however support her in her admittedly painful openness to the reality of loss and to the recognition of otherness. She offers and abandons herself to the one who enjoyed breaking her butterfly wings, but she did not allow anyone to restore that which should remain destroyed for eternity.

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