This book has grown from a belief that the psychoanalytic exploration of literature and performances leads to a richer and fuller understanding of each individual’s internal reality. It includes an exploration of narcissistic fantasies from various protagonists of film and novels and focuses on the fantasy of the omnipotence of the self, which is a predominantly narcissistic desire to be a "Master of the Universe", a deity, an omnipotent, immortal figure.
Psychoanalysis and art interact in exploring the individual's refusal to give up grandiose fantasies about the self, or his inability to modulate and integrate them within his personality, which are at the origin of his wish to transcend the human condition. These narcissistic fantasies are often expressed through aggressive and self-destructive behaviour, including flirtation with death and destruction. The emotional truth that great artists convey through symbols which often resonates in the audience is examined in this book through studies and comparisons of narcissistic characters in opera, film and contemporary fiction. Identifying with these figures, who place themselves above the law, may give us the illusion of omnipotence and immortality, which corresponds to a primary narcissistic fantasy, the traces of which exist in various degrees in all of us.
Part of the popular International Psychoanalytical Association Psychoanalytic Ideas and Applications Series, this book is unique in its focus on the narcissistic fantasy of the omnipotence of the self by means of an analysis of a variety of protagonists from the worlds of the performing arts and literature, and on the exploration of their impact on the audience. It will be of interest to psychoanalysts, therapists, and those with an interest in the intersection of psychoanalytic theory with film and literature.
"‘Gloss and glitter create a grandiose pact against reality.’ With her rare combination of keen analytic sensitivity, cultural erudition, and literary eloquence, Kogan explores in this powerfully engaging study the many ways a self strives to extinguish anguish by being as if a master of the universe, doing so regardless of the price. Studying the works of creative artists of different genres with applied analysis at its disciplined best, exploring works her own readers can experience first hand for themselves, Kogan adds new insight to our understanding of the struggles of a tortured self. And she does it all in writing that is a delight to read."
– Warren S. Poland, author Intimacy and Separateness in Psychoanalysis
"This book by Ilany Kogan is a masterful example of applied psychoanalysis. The author explores the nucleus of those narcissistic fantasies of omnipotence and immortality which every human being harbours, for the promise and the need to repudiate limits and death. Combining the rigor and depth of her analytic research with her love of art, Kogan embarks on an exploration which goes from individuals to the community, to entire nations as they are enthralled by political personalities who incarnate such fantasies.
The result of this impassioned research is an original, unique, and thoroughly current book, thanks also to its handling of new technologies, which fuel an illusion of omnipotence.
Alternating between rigorous theory and examples taken from the world of art make it a pleasant, refreshing read, and will be of interest to specialists and a broad public. It leaves us with a disturbing question: are we -- all of us -- not chasing after pleasure, just like the narcissist, in a way which leaves us incapable of resisting the temptation of feeling, even if just for a moment, the privileges of divinity?"
– Paola Golinelli, Training Analyst of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society and co-editor of Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Virtual Intimacy and Communication in Film
"This book illustrates various aspects of narcissistic personality by means of studying fictional characters in films, literature, musical dramas and television series in a compelling and thoughtful example of applied psychoanalysis. There is another important reason for reading this book. Massive migrations, terrorism and changes at an unprecedented pace and scale in our present world lead to searches for political leaders with exaggerated narcissism. This book provides an analytic understanding of such searches. It is very timely."
– Vamik D. Volkan, M. D., Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Virginia and author of Enemies on the Couch: A Psychopolitical Journey Through War and Peace
Part 1: Theoretical Discussion
1. Revisiting Narcissistic Character
Part 2: Musical Drama
2. Master of the Ring: The Fight for Supremacy in Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen (1848-1872)
Part 3: Films and Fiction
3. The Gods of Wall Street: Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) through a Psychoanalytic Lens 4. The Gods of the Digital World: Spike Jonze’s Movie Her (2013): Computer Therapy and the Psychoanalytic Setting
5. Omnitpotence and the Necrophilic Fantasy: Craig Gillespie’s Lars and the Real Girl (2007) and Ian McEwan’s Short Story Dead as They Come (2006): A Psychoanalytic Examination
Part 4: TV Drama and Fiction
6. Lord of the Criminal World: Vince Gilligan’s Television Series Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013) and Anton Pavlovich Chekhov’s Novella The Duel (1891): Transformation of Personality: Deformation and Reformation in Confronting Death Part 5: Fiction 07. A Fatal Attraction to Death: Some Reflections on Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers (1981)
8. God and the Novelist: The Purpose of Creative Writing in Ian McEwan's Atonement (2001)
9. Savior of the Universe: Ian McEwan’s Solar (2010) through a Psychoanalytic Lens
About the Author
Ilany Kogan is a Training and Supervisory Analyst at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society. She works as teacher and supervisor in various places in the world. She was awarded the Elise M. Hayman Award for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide (2005) and the Sigourney Award (2016).