Il bacio di Tosca (English Version)

A round table with guests on the topic: Patricide and Reconciliation.

An Indian guru, Master Yoda, Tyrion Lannister, Giacomo Puccini, a psychoanalyst and a psychotherapist discuss the psychological concept of patricide. They bring examples from the opera “Tosca”, the film “Star Wars”, the TV series “Game of Thrones”, and from psychotherapy. History, politics, culture and therapeutic practice are full of examples where a generational change is only possible with murder (literally/figuratively). In the discussion, the speakers conclude that reconciliation is also needed for sustainable emancipation.


Tosca (stabbing Scarpia): This is Tosca’s kiss
Scarpia: Help me …. I am dying
Tosca: He died …. now I can forgive him
Giacomo Puccini (Tosca)

In every boy’s life, the moment of greatest joy and greatest sorrow comes when he defeats his father for the first time.
From the series “Frasier”. S03 E18: “Check the King”


HOST: (stands up and looks around) I welcome all our speakers Master Yoda°, Ramana° and Therapist° to today’s Salon. I especially welcome our guests of honour and speakers today, Giacomo Puccini° and Tyrion Lannister°. Today’s scientific guest of honour is Analyst°. We are sitting together today to discuss the topic of patricide°. The topic seems frightening at first glance, but it has a rich history. It has been firmly anchored in cultural history for centuries. The theme is often linked to the motif of the hero’s journey. In classical culture, we know the theme from mythology, literature and opera, and currently we encounter the theme in film and television series. Of course, the theme is also important in today’s psychotherapy, a modern form of the individualised hero’s journey. Today we unite these different worlds through the choice of speakers.

GIACOMO: (addressing everyone) Thank you for the invitation! I was very much looking forward to this special evening and it is a great honour for me to be able to participate in this event. (quietly) But I don’t know why I of all people was invited to a conference with this theme. What do I or my work have to do with the subject of patricide? Can someone explain that to me?

HOST: (laughing to Giacomo) It’s because of your Tosca. (to all) Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca° has a relevant passage that we think fits today’s theme very well. The opera is indescribably beautiful, the music anyway, but the story is also exciting and moving. The story offers everything one could wish for: entertainment, drama, emotional chaos and stimulation of empathy for the characters. Your librettists Giacosa and Illica would be in great demand today for scripts for TV series. Today’s conversation is about a very special, very famous passage from your opera that fits the theme of patricide: “Il bacio di Tosca”.

ANALYST: Yes, I have listened to the opera again. What I find particularly outstanding is the decisive passage after the murder! This moment is very central for me and I particularly like it.

HOST: Analyst, don’t anticipate the punch line. (smiling) It’s not about blowing up transference feelings now, let’s take it easy. (to the round) With the analyst, it is clearer why he was invited to this topic. For psychoanalysis and especially for the Intensive Psychodynamic Brief Therapy according to Davanloo, patricide plays a central role. We look forward to hearing more from you (points to analyst) later. (Pause, then looks to therapist) Let’s first clarify the definitions necessary for understanding.

THERAPEUT: By definition, patricide° is the killing of one’s own father by son or daughter, by murder or by accident. The psychological term patricide is understood to mean both real murder and symbolic murder. The word “murder” comes from “to bring to death”, in our subject then it means: “to dissolve, to free from”. This can be the real father or a father figure, but also – in a figurative sense – an institution or structure. Symbolic murder here means the liberation from a dependence on a “father figure”. It is about liberation from a person, figure or structure on which one feels dependent or on which one is really dependent. The dependency can be conscious or unconscious, it can be real or felt, either way autonomy is restricted, from outside (real) or inside (felt).

HOST: (to therapist) You are overwhelming us with information, but I hope this will all become clearer and more understandable in the course of the discussion. But go on with what you were saying.

THERAPEUT: It’s about overcoming limiting figures that don’t want to let us go. A father who restricts or abuses the child’s libido and desire for autonomy. A teacher, a mentor or a preacher who demands submission in return ….

YODA: (squinting at therapist) …. and also speakers who give too long monologues at the salon ….

THERAPIST: …. (nods and laughs, short pause) We have to overcome such figures, only then can one’s libido be lived freely and autonomy unfold.

HOST: But please explain to us what it takes before a murder occurs.

THERAPIST: If one has been shamed or offended by this father or this father figure in each case, then aggressions arise. These aggressions prevent a normal detachment. If the offending happens again and again, then there is a great danger that the aggression will turn into a need for revenge.

YODA: (nods) Constantly offended become avengers who must destroy.

THERAPEUT: (thoughtfully and with pauses) …. YODA. …. sometimes the father …. or vicariously a father figure …. or oneself …. a patricide “by proxy”.

YODA: (admonishing finger to therapist) With his special glasses once again only the neurotic variants the therapist describes. Also Something very positive a father figure can be, a good teacher, a benevolent mentor (ponders) ….

RAMANA: (interrupting Yoda) …. Or a kind Zen master.

YODA: (laughs) Yes, exactly, thank you Ramana …. or a silent guru …. of course you also have to let go of these positive father figures at some point.

THERAPEUT: But it is not a question of getting rid of the father figure, but of overcoming it. In a good case, this is a natural process that can take place without aggression and without destructive forces. (in a loud voice and emphasising) In such a process, grief and pride are in the foreground and not aggression.

YODA: (looking thoughtfully ahead) A farewell, a mourning process with much gratitude. (looking into the round and emphasising) If we can be grateful, free the farewell makes us!

THERAPIST: I agree with Yoda on that! But if the relationship was difficult and marked by shaming, detachment also becomes a difficult process and feelings of anger or even aggression are then in the foreground.

YODA: The desire for detachment leads to feelings of guilt, aggression can even lead to real guilt. This makes detachment impossible, because through guilt one remains entangled.

RAMANA: The question is which part of us wants to detach.

THERAPEUT: Depending on who I want to detach from, other parts of my person come into action.

The quality of the relationship shapes the separation process.

GIACOMO: (shakes his head) Now you’ve run me over, slowly …. slowly, in order. In my opera this passage is after about 1 ½ hours and you are now in the middle of the dramatic action after only a few sentences. Isn’t the theme of patricide simply about the so-called Oedipal theme? But I can’t say anything about that, my Tosca doesn’t kill her mother out of rivalry for her father! It’s not even her father she kills; it’s a stranger she stabs. More precisely, it’s the chief of police of Rome, to whom she is mercilessly at the mercy of.

ANALYST: Exactly, that’s just it. The police chief is a father figure into whose dependence she has fallen. He wants to destroy her great love so that he can then win her over and abuse her.

YODA: On the dark side of power he is.

THERAPEUT: He is a sadistic, overbearing abuser from whom she must free herself.

HOST: Giacomo, tell us the crucial part.

GIACOMO: The chief of police, named Baron Scarpia, wants Tosca’s physical love as a reward for the release of her imprisoned lover. After much back and forth, and after he blackmails her with the torture of her lover and his screams, she gives in to his demands and agrees. Scarpia approaches and says:

“Tosca, at last you are mine”

He embraces her and kisses her. At the same time Tosca takes a letter opener from the table and stabs him. As she does so she screams:

“That’s Tosca’s kiss” …. “Die you damned!”

GUEST: I’ll show you Tosca’s kiss in a little film clip from La Scala in Milan:

Click image or watch on YouTube


Film clip: “Tosca”, opera by Giacomo Puccini. Recording from the Teatro alla Scala, Milano. Riccardo Muti, Maria Guleghina, Leo Nucci. (© 2002, Euroarts. Rai-Trade)

GIACOMO: Admittedly, she embraces and kisses the man who is quite a bit older than her, while stabbing him at the same time, which makes it a bit more complicated than a normal murder. She gives the kiss out of a forced situation, not out of love, and the man is clearly superior to her from his position of power. So you think this goes in the direction of patricide?

THERAPEUT: (after a brief pause for thought, clearing his throat) I see superiority and forced intimacy here …. and then liberation through murder …. this complex relationship and plot lend themselves well to a close look at what we are concerned with in today’s Salon.

ANALYST: The exact definition of kinship is unimportant. I would like to emphasise, it is mainly about the moment of the dagger thrust, or even more precisely about what happens afterwards.

GIACOMO: (in an excited voice) By the way: this kiss with the simultaneous dagger thrust is still called “Tosca’s kiss” today, and this kiss became world famous.

GUEST: By the way, there is also a wonderful documentary film with this name, “Il bacio di Tosca”, by the Swiss director Daniel Schmid from 1984. It portrays the residents of a retirement home for former opera singers and musicians in Milan (Casa Verdi). In one scene, two pensioners sing this passage from the opera, hence the name of the film. I’ll show you a little film clip from it later.

GIACOMO: (beaming) You see, my kiss is famous.

RAMANA: No vanities, let’s go in order. Who will speak next?

YODA: (with alert look) From the movie “Star Wars” I want to tell something. In the movie my job is to train young Jedi Knights. On the planet Dagobah, I send my apprentice Luke Skywalker into an underground cave. There he is to encounter the dark side of the Force. Luke asks me:

“What will I find there?”
“Only what you take with you!”

That is, what he takes with him is his own share of the dark side of the Force. To recognise the super-powerful, to confront it and overcome it he must. Grow up so that he can become an adult. In the cave he encounters his father in the form of a vision and has to defeat him in battle. Everything happens deep inside him and is projected into the outer world. The dark side of the power he has within himself, and only in this way can he consciously overcome it.

GUEST: I show you Yoda and Luke on Dagobah in a small film clip of this passage from the film “Star Wars Episode V”:

Click image or watch on YouTube


Film clip: “Star Wars”, heroic epic by Georg Lukas. Excerpt from Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. (© 1980 Georg Lukas)

THERAPEUT: What Yoda calls the good and the dark side of the Force, in my concept is the superego. He takes this super-ego with him into the cave. He must overcome this inner father, whether in good or in battle. Through this and only through this can he unfold his own self. (Pause) So in this part of the film, too, it is not patricide in the literal sense, but in the figurative sense. He fights the projection of his father, the internalised parts, and not the father in personam.

YODA: Yes, you are quite right. With his laser sword he decapitates the father, and afterwards the father’s head lies on the ground. As Luke looks closer, his own face is recognised.

THERAPEUT: So it is very clearly shown that he overcomes the internalised father, that is, his own superego.

JODA: His initiation that is.

RAMANA: The I is approaching the SELF.

HOST: By the way, if you like this sentence, I recommend reading the Salon On the Tracks of the Lost Context.

GIACOMO: (looks round) Is what Luke is experiencing more of an Oedipal theme than in my Tosca?

THERAPEUT: It’s not that simple. The theme in the film is not about rivalry with the father for the love of the mother. The theme is that this father means power and enslavement. The liberation from him is literally an emancipation, a liberation from enslavement. It’s about growing up independent of the love of the mother. Luke makes a classic hero’s journey.

YODA: It’s additionally also about saving the community from the tyrant, it’s not just a personal desire, it’s about something bigger: the family, the community.

THERAPIST: (nodding) If a second person, a family, a community or a people is redeemed by overcoming a father figure or a tyrant, then all the more is it a heroic deed.

HOST: Yoda, what do you think of the latest film, 2015’s “Star Wars VII”? There’s a patricide there, too.

YODA: The film is enjoyable, but secular. A beautiful fairy tale without prayer.

THERAPEUT: (looking at Yoda) Because without Yoda he is? (all laugh) Joking aside, I agree with Yoda, this new film is joyful even without the original spiritual context. The patricide in this film doesn’t seem to be a stage in a hero’s journey, but we’ll see if more background is given in later episodes. It feels more like Kylo Ren making an offering to the beloved Emperor, in the sense of a gesture of submission. The actual patricide happened when the young man went into the allegiance of his father’s enemies. The father, experienced as powerless and helpless, is replaced by an all-powerful, dogmatic father figure. This is also a form of patricide: one’s own origins and imprint are denied. One wants to be part of the current power, and for this one sacrifices loyalty to one’s own personality.

To become part of the power structure, one sacrifices loyalty to one’s own person.

YODA: The Empire does not allow its children to have their own identity.

HOST: (thoughtfully) At a time when imperial power and rebellion are globalised, this is a very explosive and topical interpretation.

THERAPEUT: Yes, exactly: “topical”. This is well done in the new “Star Wars” film: it is updated! The main characters are modern identification figures who go through a very exciting development process. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

YODA: Right you are, Finn also freed himself from a dictatorship without murder, simply by escaping. Dear therapist, you can also grow up without patricide. (muttering to himself) And without psychotherapy.

HOST: I’ll take the cue from psychotherapy. I’ve noticed that in many modern films and series someone goes into psychotherapy. It seems to me that psychotherapy has become socially acceptable.

YODA: Hero’s journey without sword and sweat!

THERAPIST: (laughing) Dear Yoda: We don’t fight with dragons and against armies, but we also have to recognise, endure and overcome something: resistance. (meaningfully) The fear of the feelings which we have repressed out of necessity. On this path we sweat less, but we suffer equally.

Psychotherapy is a modern form of the hero’s path.

GUEST: Actually, I wanted to refer with my remark to a very current series: “Mr. Robot”. There is also a patricide and psychotherapy. What do you think about that?

THERAPEUT: Elliot has a dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder). He visualises his long-dead father and throws him out of a window. I don’t think it’s patricide. Elliot lost his father at a time when he needed him. He wants to avenge him through his activity in an anarchist hacker group. My sense is that he wants to get rid of the hallucinations rather than the father. The loss was his trauma, not the father himself. The visualisations are an expression of the unfulfilled longing for the father. He wants to get rid of this trauma in the hope of getting his father back.

(long pause)

GUEST: We are discussing the topic of patricide with stories from opera and film, do any of us also know an example from reality? (in the round) Does anyone have a real-life case?

THERAPIST: Yes, I have experienced something impressive in my practice.

HOST: It is interesting for us to also hear an event from real everyday life. I am happy to give you the floor.

THERAPIST: (slowly) I treated a woman who was involved in a patricide. She lived with her husband and son in a remote mountain hut. Her husband was violent towards her and towards their son. The husband especially abused the wife in a sadistic way. One day the situation escalated, the son killed the father with an axe. He wanted to save himself and the mother at that moment. In the subsequent criminal proceedings, the mother claimed to be the perpetrator. With this lie she wanted to save her son. Later, in court, the truth came to light. The mother was sent to prison and the son to a reformatory. This is a case where the real father was killed for real, so you can call it a patricide by murder. But he was not only a father, he was also a tyrant, oppressor and abuser. So the murder also had the meaning of liberation and is therefore patricide in the literal sense and in the figurative sense.

YODA: (with a pinched look) Hm, hm, a bad situation this is. Not always so dramatic with real death that has to be when a father figure is overcome.

THERAPEUT: Let’s not forget that the psychological term “patricide” can also be purely symbolic. It can also be about defeating the father or a father figure in order to be able to take the father’s place oneself.

GUEST: This is shown very nicely with mischievousness and humour in the TV series “Frasier”. Frasier, a psychiatrist, wants to defeat his father in chess and he doesn’t succeed. He consults with his brother, who is also a psychiatrist. This results in a funny and profound dialogue that sheds light on our topic very well. A parody with humour and yet such deep understanding of our subject. I show you this scene to lighten up this difficult upsetting topic.

Click on the picture or watch on YouTube

From the series “Frasier”. Season 3 Episode 18: “Checkmate the King” (Original “Chess Pains”). Frasier is determined to win against his father in chess. (© CBS Studios Inc.)

HOST: It gave us a lot of important information in a light-hearted way to keep working on our theme.

THERAPEUT: The two brothers in the dialogue say everything important: the father wants to be overcome and then you yourself become a father who wants to be overcome. The desire to overcome the father (or father figure) triggers feelings of guilt. This desire and the feelings of guilt form a threatening inner conflict. Note, even psychiatrists have a hard time with this subject. (quietly to himself) Or is it even one of the possible motives for choosing this profession? (again looking into the room) No one is spared this topic.

RAMANA: Who wants to be a father figure? That is the question here.

HOST: I would like to mention one of the most important examples from classical literature: “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor M.Dostoyevsky.

THERAPEUT: This fits very well with the commentary in the film excerpt shown on the subject of guilt. In Dostoevsky, one of the brothers is directly involved in the patricide, but all three brothers feel equally guilty because they all carried that desire with them. So, we see, even just the desire to put aside or overcome the father triggers feelings of guilt.

The patricide carried out becomes a real guilt, the desire for it becomes a feeling of guilt.

ANALYST: In every form of hierarchical structure, the desire for liberation arises in order to be able to better develop one’s own personality. The resulting feelings of guilt are formative and the cause of neuroses.

HOST: Family, society, politics, religious group, father figures want to be overcome. That is always a theme in art and sometimes it becomes reality. (thoughtfully) Even cult leaders can be forcibly removed from power by means of intrigue and betrayal to make way for a new leader.

RAMANA: Colleague Baghwan was such a case.

HOST: That’s exactly who I was thinking of. He was cheated of his power and honour by his own followers. They were not his children, but his closest confidants. His reputation was tarnished, his work destroyed. He was torn from his throne by those closest to him. It is disputed how this all went down and what it was all about. Surely this was somehow also a form of patricide?

THERAPEUT: He was a dominant father figure who demanded hierarchy and submission and presented himself as a father figure. That can certainly be seen as patricide. His disciples were the generation that wanted to overcome everything that meant father ….

YODA: (interjects) …. to then submit to a pseudo-father figure in India!

THERAPEUT: Was his overthrow only about power and money or about revenge? In the case of Baghwan, that is not so clear. Often it is a mixture of different feelings and motives.

GUEST: If today’s topic were pure revenge, we would have had to invite the writer Alexandre Dumas to talk about “The Count of Monte Cristo” or the makers of the TV series “Revenge”. Both fictional stories are exciting and entertaining. There, an overpowering offending figure is also overcome with a lot of cunning and trickery.

THERAPEUT: In the novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” Edmond Dantes takes revenge on various people who had destroyed his love, existence and father through intrigue. The idea was taken over in “Revenge”. The main character Amanda Clarke takes revenge on a powerful family. Her father David Clarke was destroyed by this family and Amanda was separated from her father. (pause) So the Avengers don’t have to overcome the father, but on the contrary, they take revenge because their beloved father has been taken away from them.

HOST: We have been talking about liberation and revenge. When the two come together, I think of “Tyrion Lannister”. Now I hasten to greet our guest of honour, Tyrion, (smiles) while he is not yet too drunk. We know him from our salon on the subject of destiny. Tyrion is a main character in the TV series “Game Of Thrones”. (looks around) By the way, there is a guest here who confided in me that he came today mainly because of Tyrion. (looks at Tyrion) Dear Tyrion, I would like to ask you to make your story the subject of our discussion.

TYRION: (laughing) “It’s not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it was easy” (original quote). (pause) Thank you very much for the invitation. Yes, I can speak on the subject of patricide, my fate fits in with today’s. I need to back up a bit.

HOST: Go ahead, we have time and interest.

TYRION: It’s about the relationship with my father Tywin Lannister and with my nephew Joffrey Baratheon. My relationship with my father was troubled from the start. I was born small and my mother died when I was born. I never felt acknowledged by my father as a son, even worse: he blamed me for my mother’s death. I always felt he wished me dead. My nephew Joffrey was king, but an immature arrogant person, a spoilt mummy’s boy who always abused his power in a sadistic way. I was one of the very few who dared to contradict him and set limits.

THERAPEUT: (interrupting him) Aha, so you became a father figure for him. (thoughtfully) Perhaps he had never been able to have a significant father figure in a positive sense before.

YODA: Mummy’s boys with father figures difficult to have. There is submission or power struggle, they have trouble learning!

They think being princes in their mother’s kingdom is enough to become kings of the world.

HOST: (quietly to himself and with a twinkle in his eye) Why are our speakers so affectedly silent?

RAMANA: Who is silent here?

(pause, then all point at each other and laugh)

HOST: Tyrion, go on.

TYRION: (excitedly) The worst thing for Joffrey was that I witnessed his failure and incompetence. I was able to save the city from attack, while he cowardly sought shelter with his mother, when he should have been leading the soldiers as king.

THERAPEUT: All the more he had to overcome and conquer you, but he could only do so in his sadistic way.

YODA: (smiling and turning to Therapist with an admonishing finger raised) Tyrion go on telling you to leave, otherwise you too will become someone to overcome.

TYRION: And so it came to pass. At his wedding reception, he got his revenge by trying to strip me of my dignity. He humiliated me in front of everyone and treated me in a sadistic way. At this celebration he was poisoned by Olenna Tyrell, the “Queen of Thorns”. During his death throes he pointed at me, making me the prime suspect for the regicide. Since everyone wanted to get rid of me anyway, no one bothered to investigate the case further, and I was brought to justice by my sister, Joffrey’s mother.

THERAPEUT: The humiliated father figure!

GIACOMO: (musing to himself) My Scarpia was not brought to justice, he was stabbed to death immediately …. during a sensual embrace …. what a pain that must have been ….

THERAPEUT: Joffrey, a small harmless looking immature boy and sensitive mama’s boy, is evil personified, while the drinking, swearing and whoring Tyrion is an intelligent and brave warrior.

YODA: (quietly) Hm, hm, the harmless boy is on the dark side of the Force, while the headstrong gnome is on the good side. (pause, then aloud) The appearance does not always correspond to the inner being.

RAMANA: (nods) Very different and contradictory parts can belong to the same ME. It is always necessary to ask the question, “Which part has just appeared?”

HOST: Let Tyrion continue the story.

TYRION: This is where my father comes in. At the trial, he was the presiding judge, and he sentenced me to death. He had called my mistress, Shae, as a witness. She testified against me and insisted that I was the murderer.

THERAPEUT: (startled) She betrayed you just like that?

TYRION: No, there’s a history to that too. (Hesitates, visibly affected, and hastily drinks a cup of wine) Even though Shae had been a whore, I loved her, and I was faithful to her in my own way. But my father forbade me to take her to town because she was not befitting my status. So I had to keep her hidden. This caused a lot of tension between Shae and me. My father demanded that I marry Sansa Stark, for strategic reasons. I made Shae her chambermaid so I could keep her close to me. That went wrong and the situation escalated. Worried she might be killed by my family, I organised her escape. My unwanted marriage and her feeling that I wanted to get rid of her were an unbearable insult to her. She then took revenge on me in court.

THERAPEUT: By your status you gave her a place in society. With your love and respect you gave her much dignity. As a result of what happened, she again felt degraded as a whore and felt ashamed. This slight triggered her narcissistic rage and she had to destroy the previous lover and patron who was also a form of father figure. It is a mixture of revenge and patricide.

RAMANA: All of them were stripped of their dignity.

HOST: Then how did the patricide come about?

TYRION: After the conviction, I was put in prison. My brother organised my release. When I escaped from my dungeon and crept past my father’s room, I discovered my lover Shae in my father’s bed. The woman he had forbidden me to marry, he made her perjure herself against me and then took her to bed with him. This was too much for me. I strangled Shae. After that I killed my father with his own crossbow.

THERAPEUT: What were your last words?

TYRION: He treated me cynically, as always:

“I loved Shae, but now I killed her with my own hands.”
“It doesn’t matter, she was a whore. Are you going to kill your father on the toilet because of a whore?”
“I am your son and you have condemned me to death – why?”
“Come we go to my chamber.”
“I can’t because she is lying there.”
“Are you afraid of a dead whore?”

The second time he called Shae a whore, I shot the arrow.

(long pause, affected silence) 

GUEST: I show you Tyrion’s patricide in a short film clip of this passage from the television series “Game of Thrones”:

Click image or watch on YouTube


Film clip: “Game of Thrones”, television series from the channel HBO. The story is based on books by George J.J. Martin. This excerpt is from: S04E10 The Children. (© 2014, HBO)

THERAPEUT: (turning to Tyrion) That means he offended your lover and destroyed your relationship.

TYRION: Yes, and it wasn’t the first time. He also destroyed my first marriage. My first great love was a middle-class woman, which my father did not like. He offended her and me in the most shameful way and destroyed our relationship.

THERAPEUT: Tyrion, the perpetually offended. The constant repetition of a slight is the worst thing in a relationship. Aggression grows slowly and steadily.

Slights make you sick.

THERAPEUT: The father Tywin Lannister has lost his wife and does not allow his son Tyrion to have a happy love relationship.

YODA: He to the son destroys what was destroyed for him by fate.

HOST: Thank you Tyrion for your contribution.

THERAPEUT: (thoughtfully) Tyrion, what I think is special about your story is that all the facets of patricide come together in your character: First you are destroyed by Joffrey as an unwilling father figure. Then you are betrayed by your aggrieved lover, for whom you were something of a father figure, and sent to your death. Then you are falsely convicted as a regicide – and thus also a father figure murderer. After all these mortifications, you become a father-killer in the true sense. All in one and the same figure, that takes a good resilience. You have a very special destiny path, and we look forward to your visit to the Salon on the subject of destiny.

YODA: Joy for me too is to hear more. Your being and your life seem to be a special mixture of contradictory feelings. In the middle of a very moving field you are.

RAMANA: Who is the real Tyrion in the middle of this moving field?

(Everyone is quiet and walking around, getting something to drink and after a long pause Host stands up and looks around the room)

HOST: We needed a break and we are very affected by all these impressive events. (Pause) I would like to come back to Tosca. We would like to hear how things are going with her. After all this drama, we are all waiting for a resolution. There is the question of the hidden meaning of all these stories with so much suffering. Giacomo, tell us more about your Tosca.

GIACOMO: Tosca is also full of anger and confusion.

YODA: From the long impotence a rush of power arises.

GIACOMO: Yes, that is apparently so. As Scarpia slowly dies, Tosca further shames the dying man:

“Are you choking on blood? Ah! And killed by a woman …. Have you tormented me enough? …. Die, damned! Die! Die! …. Choke on your blood!”

You see, there is a lot of anger and aggression, she is also existentially afraid for herself and for her imprisoned and tortured lover.

ANALYST: (excitedly) Wonderful, you showed that very beautifully in the opera, it is this unbridled liberated rage that it takes to commit patricide. Davanloo’s Intensive Brief Psychodynamic Therapy is about just that. The therapist reinforces the patient’s anger through a constant confrontation with his behaviour towards the therapist. The so-called transference feelings – these are the feelings that the patient feels towards the therapist – are stimulated and reinforced. If successful, the patient becomes so angry that he expresses aggressive thoughts towards the therapist. The patient wants to free himself from the therapist.

GIACOMO: So again, it’s not the actual father that is eliminated, it’s not even an oppressive father figure. I still don’t quite understand what that’s about.

ANALYST: It’s about transference: the patient feels at that moment towards the therapist the unconscious affects that he felt at that time towards an original figure, that can be the father, for example, when he could not yet consciously experience these strong emotions. The child was in a position without any possibility to bear the strong affects or to defend himself against slights. The anger at being offended and the feelings of guilt for wanting to destroy what was offended were then repressed into the unconscious. This is the basis for the development of neurosis.

RAMANA: Again, slowly in turn. Rein in your enthusiasm for your own thoughts and your fear of having to share a father position and not being allowed to be the only father in the room.

THERAPEUT: Let me try to put this in order: We humans have stored experiences and hurts from the earliest times both as memories and also as emotions. This happens consciously or unconsciously, but either way it shapes our inner evaluation system.

YODA: This evaluation system interprets all the perceptions we have in the here and now.

THERAPEUT: If we encounter something in a current situation that is similar to what we experienced in the past, the old emotions within us are activated. It’s like an app on your smartphone that gets clicked and starts affecting what’s happening. It doesn’t matter if it’s a therapist or a current tormentor. It can also be a loved one who is experienced as overpowering from the current circumstances. When the application is running, the ominous happens and the current reality is mixed with emotions that belong to a past event. Our behaviour is shaped by this and the way we frame the current relationship is influenced by these old feelings. With opera, it’s all very explicit and acted out.

ANALYST: (turning to the therapist) It’s just like you said. In psychodynamic psychotherapy this circumstance is needed. These feelings are reactivated in a framework in which they can then be specifically looked at. The therapy room becomes a protected space: the feelings that have become conscious can be looked at and classified.

YODA: The therapy room is an aquarium.

GIACOMO: But does it have to be murder? Murder the father? My Tosca kills to save herself and her lover, if she doesn’t do that, they both get killed by him. It’s a matter of naked survival!

YODA: (with narrowed eyes and mischievous smile) If the child’s relationship with the parents was good, the adult doesn’t have to sit with you therapists later!

THERAPEUT: (laughs) And when he sits with us then, we work on a metaphorical level. By murder we don’t necessarily mean murder. Father doesn’t necessarily mean the biological father. It is about the representation of what father can mean. Father means power and value. It is about overcoming a superior power. That which wants to have power over me and thus destroys my own space or value. We have to fight our way out of that to get our own space in which we can experience our value. It is about the survival of one’s own nature, the consolidation of one’s own being, the revival of the stifled libido.

It is about self-worth, which we can only give ourselves.

YODA: Through liberation the good side of power is found.

THERAPEUT: What Yoda calls “the good side of the Force” is, in my words, self-worth.

GIACOMO: Slowly I understand better, my Tosca wanted a pass for herself and her beloved to move away from captivity to a life of her own. She is desperately seeking this pass after the dagger thrust. That means she wanted to free herself from a situation in which she was powerless and devalued!

ANALYST: And now comes the part that is so important to me.

THERAPEUT: That’s right, Giacomo, go on, I’m looking forward to this part.

YODA: Hm, Hm, joy to this passage is also with me.

GIACOMO: The stabbed police chief lies dead on the floor. Tosca looks at the motionless one freed of all power and says:

“Now that you are dead, I can forgive you.”

After a pause:

“Before this man all Rome trembled.”

(Long silence, no one speaks.)

THERAPEUT: He loses power. (pause) She honours the dead.

YODA: Through death the superior man comes out of the dark side of power, and a new space for the good side of power is created. The person who has died is always on the good side of power. Tosca is seized by this love and that is why she forgives.

HOST: I refer you to the beautiful picture on our invitation where Tosca places a cross on Scarpia who is lying on the floor. (“Tosca and Scarpia”. The picture is from Wikipedia (public domain). The original is from the book: “Victrola Book Of The Opera”, USA 1919).
I show you a small film clip of this passage from a performance at La Scala in Milan:

Click on the picture or watch on YouTube


Film clip: “Tosca”, opera by Giacomo Puccini. Recording from the Teatro alla Scala, Milano. Riccardo Muti, Maria Guleghina, Leo Nucci. (© 2002, Euroarts. Rai-Trade)

THERAPEUT: You see Giacomo, now she has got her own power and her own value and she can forgive her tormentor out of this self-esteem.

ANALYST: Your Tosca reconciles with her tormentor and only after she has killed him. That, for me, is the crux of the metapsychology of patricide. In the end, it’s not about the murder, it’s about forgiveness, about reconciliation. The final liberation from dependence becomes possible through reconciliation.

Reconciliation is the mother of emancipation.

GUEST: (annoyed) Can someone translate that?

THERAPIST: We believe autonomy destroys attachment and therefore the desire for autonomy makes us feel guilty.

ANALYST: But these feelings of guilt only create new dependency again. The reality is that we can bond better when we are autonomous. Therefore, one of the most important goals of psychotherapy is to free us from old feelings of guilt. Autonomy is strengthened and the ability to bond is improved.

Attachment and autonomy are interdependent.

THERAPEUT: I can only forgive if I am autonomous and forgiveness in turn helps me to become autonomous. Being able to reconcile is a very valuable attachment quality and a self-efficacious liberation. Emancipation comes from the ability to let go and to be able to reconcile. Otherwise we remain trapped by guilt, resentment and grudges.

YODA: To achieve this my pupil Luke will later have to fight the real father.

THERAPEUT: So not just against a vision of his internalised father, as on in the cave on the planet Dagobah. How did that come about?

YODA: Sensing the nearness of his father, and that a battle is coming. Convinced he has to overcome the father in order to save everyone. At the same time he feels that the father also wants to be saved by him.

“I must face him”
“He is my father!”
“But why do you want to take this upon yourself?
“Because I feel that the good in him is not yet extinguished.”

HOST: I show you a little film clip of Luke Skywalker explaining his motivation in a passage from the film “Star Wars Episode VI”:

Click image or watch on YouTube


Film excerpt: “Star Wars”, heroic epic by Georg Lukas. Excerpt from EpisodeVI: Return of the Jedi Knights. (© 1983 Georg Lukas)

THERAPEUT: Overcoming the father figure is also important for the father, he too has to let go. Only in this way can a new beginning begin for both of them. The son saves himself and the father, because the dependence is mutual.

Dependence and freedom, both are conditioned by relationship.

THERAPEUT: Does it come to a fight?

YODA: Yes, and he does so with great anger and passion. When he defeats the father in battle and the father lies defenceless before him, the Emperor challenges Luke to kill the father in order to take his place as the Emperor’s right-hand man. Luke is able to resist the temptation and is subsequently fought by the Emperor. The father destroys the Emperor with his last strength, saving his son. He collapses and, dying, asks Luke to take off his mask.

“I want to see you with my own eyes”.

THERAPEUT: In the face of death, the father wants to look into the eyes of his children and feel that they will master life.

YODA: Luke has overcome the father as an overbearing villain and believes that he is good at heart and that the former Jedi Knight is still alive in him.

Luke: “I want to save you”
Father: “You have already saved me”

This love and kindness can bring the good side of the Force back to life in the father.

In the face of death, love is born.

YODA: The mask of evil falls away. The father dies, the son can escape with the spaceship, and with his allies he will continue the fight against the Empire.

THERAPEUT: They look into each other’s eyes and in doing so they both bear the shame of what has happened.

By accepting the shame, they come to their true selves.

HOST: More about this in the salon on the subject of shame.
I will now show you the scene where Luke and Darth Vader reconcile in a short film clip from the movie “Star Wars Episode VI”:

Click on the picture or watch on YouTube


Film excerpt: “Star Wars”, heroic epic by Georg Lukas. Excerpt from EpisodeVI: Return of the Jedi Knights. (© 1983 Georg Lukas)

ANALYST: Aggression towards that which hinders or offends life is always connected with feelings of guilt. It is the fear of these unconscious feelings of guilt which keep the neurosis alive or even give rise to it. If the aggression has been acted out and the shame conscious, the desire for attachment returns.

YODA: The liberated longing triggers the desire for reconciliation.

THERAPIST: In the case from my practice, it didn’t turn out so well. The son died as a young adult from alcohol and drugs. The mother suffered from the feelings of guilt she had towards her son. These feelings of guilt made her sick.

YODA: Cannot forgive what feels inferior.

RAMANA: The I identifies itself as the cause of imprisonment.

ANALYST: If the anger is experienced in the therapy situation, the feeling of guilt is experienced consciously. Once the feelings of guilt have come into consciousness, they can be worked through and put into perspective. I repeat myself, but it is very important: It is above all the fear of these feelings of guilt that makes neurotic. If these feelings of guilt are brought into consciousness, this has a liberating effect.

THERAPIST: (looks at analyst) Yes, exactly, you are right. When guilt is involved, you can’t let go and you can hardly free yourself.

Guilt is like superglue.

The patient I mentioned was only able to relieve her suffering when she became aware of her feelings of guilt. What is interesting in this case is that these life-impeding feelings of guilt were towards the son and not towards the father who had been killed. She felt guilty that she could not help her son even though he wanted to save her with the act. Only after the feelings of guilt towards her son had become conscious could she finally begin the grieving process: the loss of her son who had died of drugs could only now be processed. After the grief and pain, she managed to forgive herself.

ANALYST: Repressing or putting away is resistance and that is something quite different from forgiving. There it is about avoiding the fear. Reconciliation comes after the painful feelings, not instead of them.

RAMANA: Who, or in other words, which part of us is it that wants to forgive, can forgive? That is the important question here.

To forgive is to give value.

THERAPIST: When the I can forgive itself, self-worth arises. It is this self-worth that makes it possible to forgive the YOU.

YODA: (thoughtfully with pauses) Everything interacts with each other. The ability to forgive supports one’s self-worth.

Self-worth is kind — kindness gives self-worth.

HOST: I have to interrupt or it will go on ad infinitum. (laughing) Each of you has said a great deal, and I am sure each of you liked best what you said yourselves. I thank you, tonight no father figure was murdered and we were able to forgive each other our vanities, so our subject was discussed with dignity and a difficult subject was given value.

RAMANA: (looks around) Allow me to ask one more question as a closing word: Who is it, or rather, which part of us is it that wants to be a father figure?

YODA: (to Ramana) The one who wants to have the last word.

HOST: (turning to Yoda, laughing) The meditator with the laser sword.

THERAPIST: (pointing to Host) I am also thinking of someone who runs a salon.

HOST: (pointing at therapist) And one comes to mind who publishes everything on his blog afterwards.

RAMANA: So who wants the last word?

HOST: To finish, I’ll show you a clip from the documentary “Il bacio di Tosca” mentioned at the beginning. The residents of the old people’s home are retired world stars of the opera stage. For them too, Tosca’s kiss was unforgettable, they still sing and act the scene! Notice the youthful passion that is still palpable, even if the voice and acting are age appropriate. I wish all of us will still be so enthusiastic in our old age!!!

Click on the picture or watch on YouTube


Film excerpt: from “Il bacio di Tosca”, a documentary by Daniel Schmid from 1984. The film portrays residents of the Casa di Riposo per Musicisti in Milan, a retirement home for opera singers. The clip shows pensioners singing and playing the scene Tosca’s Kiss. (© 1984 T&C Film AG, Zurich)

Caption for the picture on the invitation:
Book: Rous, Samuel H. (1921). The Victor Book of the Opera: Stories of Seventy Grand Operas. Camden: Victor Talking Machine Company, p. 335
Title of the picture: Floria Tosca places a crucifix on the chest of Scarpia, whom she has just killed.
Photographer: unknown
Wikipedia: public domain
Film clips:
The film clips are on a playlist on YouTube.
This article was published in GNOSTICA No. 60 May 2017 in a shorter version:


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