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The Immortality Phantasy: an extension of the instinctual model of creativity and its application to classic literary texts

Davis, Luiza (2017) The Immortality Phantasy: an extension of the instinctual model of creativity and its application to classic literary texts. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis puts forward the hypothesis that there exists within us an Immortality Phantasy which can help to explain the relationship between creativity and destruction. The Immortality Phantasy occurs in response to sublimation, leading to desexualised libido and the release of self-destructive impulses and can help to explain the connection between creativity and destruction. As a result of the first identifications with the Oedipal parent, we can see a defusion of instinct occur, which allows for the concurrent release of creative and destructive energies. The ego is left unprotected against the death instinct, resulting in guilt and punishment for Oedipal phantasies. However, through creativity and reparation on the page, a survival can occur, and it is this survival which must be repeated; it is also responsible for the oscillation often viewed in creative artists between manic creativity and melancholia. Each repetition is a symbolic phantasy of victory over the father, but with the survival, there is also the accompanying destruction. So we can define the Immortality Phantasy as the symbolic matrix of the desire for survival, stemming from the repetition of the defusion of instinct following sublimation. The Immortality Phantasy allows for an indulgence in destructive behaviour due to an omnipotent belief in our immortality. The ego acts as if it cannot be destroyed, which allows it in turn to survive this created destruction, reinforcing this idea. This thesis explores in detail Freud’s theories of the life and death instinct, whilst giving close considerations to the existing theoretical ideas on creativity, aesthetics and melancholia. Three novels are used as case studies to test the Immortality Phantasy hypothesis: The Spire by William Golding, Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Luiza Davis
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2017 09:54
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2017 10:16
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/18932

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