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Paniagua, C. (1994). Bullfight: The Afición. Psychoanal Q., 63:84-100.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:84-100

Bullfight: The Afición

Cecilio Paniagua, M.D.


Bullfighting, as a spectacle, provides a special frame for projections, externalizations, and identifications. The central appeal of bullfighting is sadistic gratification, which seems to be of a mostly parricidal nature. The public experiences intense ambivalence toward the protagonists of the fight, who exert attraction for the id as well as for the superego. The existence of intrasystemic conflicts is pointed out. The history of bullfighting reflects the evolution of collective compromise formations between the fulfillment of sadistic drives and superego sensitivities, as influenced by changing social tolerance. The author reviews the most common rationalizations of the spectators, the sexual prototypes in bullfighting, the manifestations of envy toward the bullfighter, and the public's narcissistic regression due to the grandiose identification with him. Some associations from patients are commented upon.

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