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(1984). Revue Française De Psychanalyse, XLIII. 1979: The Psyche and Death: The Space of Myth. R. Cahn. Pp. 421-439.. Psychoanal Q., 53:147.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse, XLIII. 1979: The Psyche and Death: The Space of Myth. R. Cahn. Pp. 421-439.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:147

Revue Française De Psychanalyse, XLIII. 1979: The Psyche and Death: The Space of Myth. R. Cahn. Pp. 421-439.

How do we reconcile with the death instinct an unconscious which refuses to recognize its own death? Cahn considers the introduction of the death instinct as an important move which separates psychoanalysis from other disciplines and beliefs that make the negative a principle subordinate to life instincts. Freud's dream of the Three Fates serves as an illustration of Cahn's thesis. This dream alone in the Traumdeutung has a myth for its title. In it the feminine figure is simultaneously generative of life, the dispenser of love, and a figure of destruction and death. In The Theme of the Three Caskets Freud developed this triple aspect of the maternal imago further and focused especially on death. A fundamental liaison is established between the maternal imago and death, the latter removing the debt owed to the mother for the gift of life. Cahn also develops the theme of oral sadism on the part of a maternal imago through the Bacchae of Euripides. The Dionysiac union of the divine and the human in a murderous and cannibalistic orgy is contrasted to the myth of Orpheus, in which there is triumph over death in lyric artistic creation. Only the creative genius of the artist is capable of recovering the lost love object. Freud erred in placing myth on the same plane as other productions of the unconscious, to the extent that myth has its roots in both the psyche and external reality. Every myth is an encoding of the world, while also telling a story that contains a part of truth. Analysts other than Freud have reintegrated myths into the space which is individual as well as common to all men of all cultures—a transitional zone between the narcissistic and the object related. Culture, as a transitional object permits a symbolic exchange between the living and the dead, allowing mastery of separation, castration anxiety, and death.

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Article Citation

(1984). Revue Française De Psychanalyse, XLIII. 1979. Psychoanal. Q., 53:147

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