The lady vanishes
in Over her dead body
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On 25 January 1920 Sophie Freud-Halberstadt, aged twenty-six, died of influenzal pneumonia. She was 'snatched away' in Sigmund Freud's words 'from glowing health, from her busy life as capable mother and loving wife, in four or five days, as if she had never been'. Several commentators have speculated that Sophie Freud in some sense functions as muse for her father's theory of the death drive, though Freud himself acknowledged this influence only in the form of negation. Freud's metapsychological writings distinguish themselves through the addition of an 'economic' point of view to the 'topological' and 'dynamic' factors informing psychic processes. J. Lacan repeats Freud's focalisation, repeats the fading of the maternal body, in order to make the game 'mean'. Lacan emphasises that for a subject to imagine itself as having a stable identity is always an act of mis-recognition, a fiction, an illusion of autonomy.

Over her dead body

Death, femininity and the aesthetic


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