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Schmukler, A.G. (1989). American Imago. XLIV, 1987: Flaubert's Emma Bovary: Narcissism and Suicide. Giles Mitchell. Pp. 107-126.. Psychoanal Q., 58:510.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Imago. XLIV, 1987: Flaubert's Emma Bovary: Narcissism and Suicide. Giles Mitchell. Pp. 107-126.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:510

American Imago. XLIV, 1987: Flaubert's Emma Bovary: Narcissism and Suicide. Giles Mitchell. Pp. 107-126.

Anita G. Schmukler

Mitchell explores the pathological narcissism that led to the suicide of Emma Bovary, who could neither satisfy the requirements of her extraordinarily demanding ego ideal, nor find an object who would prove omnipotent. Emma's narcissistic defenses are characterized by multiple layers of fantasies, which the author focuses upon in order to demonstrate the gradual deterioration of those defenses. She worships images (of herself and others), realizes their emptiness, and moves progressively toward self-destruction. Her apathy is examined from the perspective of an effort to avoid feelings of annihilation (Greenson), and her suicide is related to the loss of authority of her ego ideal and her revenge on the world which has "rejected" her by failing to mirror her "ideal images." To avoid envy, the pathologically narcissistic Emma has a powerful impulse to devaluate "even the most desirable objects." The author explains Emma's serenity following ingestion of poison as the result of her having "destroyed her enemy and laid down her life for her ego-ideal." The symbolic meaning of the blind beggar is understood as a representation of Emma's psychological "blindness" as well as her poverty, with respect to her sense of self.

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Article Citation

Schmukler, A.G. (1989). American Imago. XLIV, 1987. Psychoanal. Q., 58:510

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