I cannot dwell on the technical implications which arise in those cases where one may identify the dead mother complex in the transference. This transference presents remarkable features. The patient is strongly attached to the analysis -the analysis more than the analyst. Not that the analyst escapes from it, but the cathexis of the transferential object, though it seems to present the whole scale ofthe libidinal spectrum, takes deep root in a tonality of a narcissistic nature. Beyond acknowledged expressions which give rise to affects, which are very often dramatized, this can be explained by secret disaffection. This is justified by a rationalization of the type 'I know the transference is but a lure, and everything is quite impossible to carry out with you, in the name of reality: so what is the use?'. This position is accompanied by the idealization of the analyst's image, whether it is a question of maintain- ing it as it is, or of being seductive, to attract his interest and his admiration.
Seduction takes place in the area of the intellectual quest, the search for lost meaning, which reassures intellectual narcissism and which constitutes as many precious gifts for the analyst; all the more so to the extent that this activity is accompanied by a richness of representation and a gift for auto-interpretation which is quite remarkable, that contrasts with its meagre effect on the patient's life, which is only slightly modified, especially in the affective sphere.
The analysand's language often adopts rhetoric here, which I de- scribed in an article concerning narcissism (Green, 1976): narrative style. Its role is to move the analyst, to implicate him, to call him to witness in the recital of conflicts which are encountered outside; like a child telling his mother of his day at school and the thousand small dramas which he has experienced, to attract her interest and make her participate in what he has been through during her absence.
One may guess that narrative style is hardly associative. When associations are produced, they coincide with a movement of discrete withdrawal, which makes one feel that all is said as though it were the analysis of someone else, who is not present at the session. The subject disconnects, becomes detached, so asnot to be overcome by revivifying emotion, rather than reminiscence. When he gives way to it, naked despair shows itself.
In fact there are two notable traits in the transference. The first is the non-domestication of the instincts: the subject cannot renounce inces- tuous desire, nor, asa consequence, consent to mourning for the mother. The second, and more remarkable trait, is that the analysis induces emptiness. This is to say that, when the analyst succeeds in touching an important element of the nuclear complex of the dead mother, for a brief instant, the subject feels himself to be empty, blank, as though he were deprived of a stop-gap object, and a guard against madness. Effectively, behind the dead mother complex, behind the blank mourning for the mother, one catches a glimpse of the mad passion of which she is, and remains, the object, that renders mourning for her an impossible experience. The subject's entire structure aims at a fundamental fantasy: to nourish the dead mother, to maintain her perpetually embalmed. This is what the analysand does to the analyst: he feeds him with the analysis, not to help himself to live outside the analysis, but to prolong it into an interminable process. For the subject wants to be the mother's polar star, the ideal child, who takes the place of an ideal dead object, who is necessarily invincible, because not living, which is to be imperfect, limited, finite.
The transference is the geometric space of condensations and dis- placements reverberating between the fantasy of the primal scene, the Oedipus complex and the oral relation which are constituted by a double inscription: peripheral, luring and central, veracious, around the blank mourning for the dead mother. What is essentially lost here is contact with the mother, who is secretly maintained in the depths of the psyche, and concerning whom all attempts of replacement by substitute objects are destined to fail.
The dead mother complex gives the analyst the choice between two technical attitudes. The first is the classic solution. It carries the danger of repeating the relation to the dead mother by an attitude of silence. But I fear that, if this complex is not noticed, the analysis may sink into funereal boredom, or into the illusion of a libidinal life, finally redis- covered. In any event, the time for despair cannot be avoided and disillusionment will be harsh. The second, which I prefer, is that which, by using the setting as a transitional space, makes an ever-living object of the analyst, who is interested, awakened by his analysand, giving proof of his vitality by the associative links he communicates to him, without ever leaving his neutrality. For the capacity to support disillusion will depend on the way the analysand feels himself to be narcissistically invested by the analyst. It is thus essential that the latter remains constantly awake to what the patient is saying, without falling into intrusive interpretation. To establish links which are proffered by the preconscious, which supports the tertiary processes, without short- circuiting it by going directly to the unconscious fantasy, is never intrusive. And, if the patient does express this feeling, it is quite possible to show him, without being excessively traumatizing, the defensive role of this feeling against a pleasure which provokes anxiety.
For one will have understood that it is passivity that is at the heart of the conflict, here: passivity or passivation as primary feminity, feminity common to the mother and the infant. The blank mourning for the dead mother will be the common body of their deceased loves.
When analysis has succeeded in rendering life, at least partially, to the aspect of the child which is identified with the dead mother, a strange reversal will take place. Restored vitality remains the prey of a captive identification. What then happens is not easily interpretable. The former dependency of the child upon the mother, at a time when the infant still needs the adult, becomes inverted. From now on, the relation between the child and the dead mother is turned inside-out like the fingers of a glove. The healed child owes his health to the incomplete reparation of the mother who remains ill. This is translated by the fact that it is then the mother who depends on the child. This seems to me to be a different movement from that which is usually described as reparation. It has less to do with positive acts, which are the expression of remorse, than simply a sacrifice of this vitality on the altar of the mother, by renouncing the use of these new potentialities of the ego, to obtain possible pleasures. The interpretation to give the analysand then is that everything is happening as though his activity were aimed at furnishing the analysis with an occasion to interpret, less for himself than for the analyst, as though it were the analyst who needed the analysand, contrary to what had been the case previously.
How is one to explain this change? Behind the manifest situation there is an inverted vampiric fantasy. The patient spends his life nourishing his dead, as though he alone has charge of it. Keeper of the tomb, sole possessor of the key of the vault, he fulfils his function of foster-parent in secret. He keeps the dead mother prisoner, and she remains his personal property. The mother has become the infant of the child. It is for him to repair her narcissistic wound.
A paradox arises here: if the mother is in mourning, dead, she is lost to the subject, but at least, however afRicted she may be, she is there. Dead and present, but present nonetheless. The subject can take care of her, attempt to awaken her, to cure her. But in return, if cured, she awakens and is animate and lives, the subject loses her again, for she abandons him to go about her own affairs, and to become attached to other objects -with the result that the subject is caught between two losses: presence in death, or absence in life. Hence the extreme ambivalence concerning the desire to bring the dead mother back to life.