Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10593/4246
Title: Zjawiska psychotyczne w Heraklesie Eurypidesa
Other Titles: Psychotic phenomena in Euripides’ Heracles
Authors: Stróżyński, Mateusz
Keywords: Greek tragedy
Euripides
Heracles
Kleinian psychoanalysis
Madness
Psychosis
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Wydawnictwo Poznańskiego Towarzystwa Przyjaciół Nauk
Citation: Symbolae Philologorum Posnaniensium, 2011, nr XXI/2, s. 109-143
Abstract: The article is an attempt of psychoanalytic interpretation of the Euripidean Heracles. The theory used to explain psychological phenomena of the play is Melanie Klein’s concept of the paranoid-schizoid and depressive position, as well as contributions to the understanding of psychotic thinking made by her followers: Hanna Segal, Wilfred Bion, Herbert Rosenfeld and John Steiner. Characters in the play, in their speech and behavior, as well as chorus’ songs, reveal significant number of primitive psychological mechanisms, such as splitting, denial, idealization and projective identification. The analysis of those mechanisms expressed in literary material allows to see the much argued continuity of Euripides’ extraordinary play.
Description: Euripides’ Heracles has drawn the attention of numerous scholars, since Willamowitz’s excellent commentary on the play. The play has been seen as lacking unity, full of contradictions, incoherent, bizzarre even. Later critics tried to show structural unity, especially by analyzing recurrent motifs and ideas. The madness was being explained by Willamowitz, Verrall, Pohlenz, Grube and others with reference to Heracles’ inner process, of a “megalomaniac” character. Such psychological interpretations of madness were widely questioned in the second half of the 20th century, and Heracles himself provoked extreme reactions and opinions of scholars. In the article Heracles’ madness is considered a central theme of the play, expressed both in the fragmented and split structure of it and in the contradictions and bizzarre elements within the tragedy. I used Melanie Klein’s (especially, the concepts of the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions as well as of primitive defense mechanisms) and her followers’ (especially, Segal’s notes on symbol formation and Bion’s theory of psychotic thinking) theory to show the essentially psychotic character of the play. The dramatis personae, in their behavior and words manifest such psychotic mechanisms as splitting, denial, idealization, projective identification, omnipotent control as well as primitive envy. The gods can be seen as projections of Heracles and other characters, as well as of the common unconscious space of the play (“the analytical third” of the tragedy, to use Thomas Ogden’s concept). The climactic Heracles’ madness is understood as a breakdown of psychotic defense mechanisms, cause by intense, yet split off, envy and by a powerful threat to dependent parts of the self, symbolized in Heracles’ children and wife. The whole tragedy is a way from the world of fantasy, gods, underworld towards more realist world of human beings and their relationships, which in Kleinianism can be conceptualized as a movement from the paranoid-schizoid position to the depressive one.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10593/4246
ISBN: 978-83-7654-181-5
ISSN: 0302-7384
Appears in Collections:Symbolae Philologorum Posnaniensium, 2011, nr XXI/2

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