In her article, The Illness of the Mourning & the Fantasy of the Exquisite Corpse Maria Torok observes the problems of introjection and incorporation. These notions mean the psychiatric processes when the subject repeats the behaviors, motifs, beliefs, attributes, and other fragments of the surrounding world. Torok explains these processes as the necessity for the enrichment of the ego using the traits of the pleasure object. She points out in her article that “‘impossible or refused to mourn…faced with the impotence of the process of introjection (gradual, slow, laborious, mediated, effective), incorporation is the only choice: Fantasmic, unmediated, instantaneous, magical, sometimes hallucinatory” (121).
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She describes mourning as the representation of sepulchral desire and loss, caused by “the feeling of an irreparable sin: the sin of having been caught at the moment of libidinal overflow at the least appropriate moment, the moment for grief and abandonment to despair” (Torok 123). It is the process of physical nourishment, assimilation, growth, encompassing our capacity through fantasy, play, imagination, work, and language. At the same time, introjection represents our ability to survive shocks or loss; it is the physical process that allows human beings to save the balance in life despite instability, war, devastation, and upheaval.
She presents the theory of the phantom and the crypt in her essay. The crypt and the phantom pursue the subject. The phenomenon of the phantom is caused by the mysterious inclusion of the Other not from the return of repressed, under which influence the illness of mourning have not been able to develop and have irretrievable effects.
The result of such mourning becomes illness, supported by the fantasy of secret identification or incorporation with the love he has lost. Maria Torok points out libidinal forces in mourning processes; the dead mother is powerfully cathected by desire. Taking into account the process of introjections, for example, the infant’s introjections of the breast and the response of the mother to the infant’s cry is presented as a gradual replacement of the breast within the infant. When the infant imbibes the words and sounds with the mother’s milk, words may replace the mother’s presence and form new introjections. The mourning is difficult to imagine without numerous introjections when a dead person becomes for us a live sound, smell, or object which we can feel, smell, and touch. The rebirth, resurrection, and the libidinal forces released in the mourning are often used in erotic and traumatic surrealism.
There are a lot of surrealistic literary works which are difficult to understand. Some moments from the literary works shock the readers with their senseless and abnormality. This article helps me to look at the acts of suicide depicted in the literature from another point of view. A lot of writers follow the theory of Maria Torok and her explanations of the influence of mourning on the human mind. The erotic origins of a human being which become released in the act of mourning make the person do abnormal and unexplained deeds.
A bright example of such mourning is Emma Bovary’s temporal disorder depicted by Gustave Flaubert in his Madame Bovary. This temporal disorder is connected with the death of her mother. This state becomes recognizable through the disturbances of language it causes.
The Illness of the Mourning & the Fantasy of the Exquisite Corpse explains most literary means used by writers of surrealism.
Torok, Maria. “The Illness of the Mourning & the Fantasy of the Exquisite Corpse.” Abraham, Nicolas and Torok, Maria. The Shell and the Kernel: Renewals of Psychoanalysis. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994:107-125. Print.