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Tosca places a crucifix on the chest of Scarpia, whom she has just killed.

Il bacio di Tosca – Tosca’s Kiss

Emancipation and reconciliation are interdependent.

A fictional round table discussion on the subject of 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 emancipation or a generational change are only possible with killing the father (literally/figuratively). The murder can be a real or symbolic. The metaphorical patricide can be an overthrow or dissolution of authority.
In the discussion, the speakers conclude that a real or mental reconciliation is 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 would like to welcome all our speakers, Master Yoda, Ramana and Therapist to today’s Salon. I would especially like to welcome today’s guests of honour and speakers Giacomo Puccini and Tyrion Lannister. Today’s scientific guest of honour is Analyst. We have come together today to discuss the topic of patricide. The topic may seem daunting at first glance, but it has a rich history. It has been firmly anchored in cultural history for centuries. The topic is often associated with the idea of the hero’s journey. In classical culture, we know the theme from mythology, literature and opera, and today we encounter it in films 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 are bringing these different worlds together with the choice of speakers.

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

HOST: (laughs at Giacomo) It’s because of your Tosca. (to everyone) Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca has a relevant passage that we think fits in very well with today’s theme. The opera is indescribably beautiful, the music anyway, but the story is also exciting and gripping. The story offers everything you could wish for: entertainment, drama, emotional chaos and the opportunity to empathise with the characters. Your librettists Giacosa and Illica would be in great demand today as scriptwriters for TV series. Our conversation today centres on a very special, very famous passage from your opera that fits the theme of patricide: «Il bacio di Tosca».

ANALYTIKER: Yes, I listened to the opera all over again. I especially love the crucial passage after the murder! This moment is very central for me and I particularly like it.

HOST: Analyst, don’t anticipate the punch line. (smiles) It’s not about blowing up feelings of transference, let’s take it easy. (to the group) For the Analyst, it’s clearer why he was invited to talk about this topic. Patricide plays a central role in psychoanalysis and especially in Davanloo’s Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy. We look forward to hearing more from you (points to Analyst) later. (pause, then looks at the therapist) Let’s first clarify the definitions that are necessary for understanding.

THERAPIST: According to the definition, patricide is the killing of one’s own father by a son or daughter, by murder or accident. The psychological term patricide includes both actual murder and symbolic murder. The word «murder» comes from «to kill», in our case 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 liberation from dependence on a «father figure». It is about freeing oneself from a person, figure or structure on which one feels dependent or on which one is actually dependent. The dependency can be conscious or unconscious, it can be real or perceived, either way autonomy is restricted, from the outside (real) or from the inside (perceived).

HOST: (to the therapist) You are overwhelming us with information, but I hope that everything will become clearer and more understandable as the discussion progresses. But please go on.

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

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

THERAPIST: …. (nods and laughs, short pause) We have to overcome such figures, only then can we live our own libido freely and develop our autonomy.

HOST: But please explain to us what it takes for murder to occur.

THERAPEUT: If you have been shamed or hurt by this father or this father figure, then aggression arises. This aggression prevents a normal detachment. If the humiliation happens again and again, then there is a great danger that the aggression will turn into a need for revenge.

YODA: (nods) Constantly offended people become avengers who need to destroy.

THERAPEUT: (thoughtfully and with pauses) …. Yes, yes! …. sometimes the father …. or a father figure in place of the father …. or himself …. a patricide «by proxy».

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

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

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

THERAPEUT: But then it’s not about getting rid of the father figure, it’s about 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: (looks thoughtfully in front of her) A farewell, a grieving process with a lot of gratitude. (looks round and emphasises) If grateful we can be, the farewell us free makes!

THERAPEUT: I agree with Yoda! But if the relationship was difficult and characterised by humiliation, then the separation will also be a difficult process and feelings of anger or even aggression will take centre stage.

YODA: The desire for separation can lead to feelings of guilt, aggression can even lead to real guilt. This makes detachment impossible, because guilt makes you even more entangled.

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

THERAPEUT: Depending on who I want to detach myself from, other aspects of myself come into play.

The quality of the relationship determines the separation process.

GIACOMO: (shakes his head) Now you’ve run me over, ……….slowly …. slowly, one after the other. In my opera, this part is about 1 ½ hours in and you’re already in the middle of the dramatic action after just a few sentences. Isn’t patricide simply about the so-called Oedipal theme? 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 to death. More precisely, it’s the chief of police in Rome, to whom she is mercilessly at the mercy of.

ANALYST: Exactly, that’s it. The police chief is a father figure on whom she is dependent. He wants to destroy her great love in order to win her over and abuse her.

YODA: He on the dark side of the force is.

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

HOST: Giacomo, tell us the crucial part.

GIACOMO: The chief of police, 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 has blackmailed her by torturing her and making her lover scream, she gives in to his demands and agrees.

Scarpia approaches and says: «Tosca, at last you are mine“.
He embraces and kisses her. At the same time, Tosca takes a letter opener from the table and stabs him. She screams as she does so:
«This is Tosca’s kiss» …. «Die, you damned!»

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

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

GIACOMO: Admittedly, she hugs and kisses the much older man as she stabs him, which makes things a little more complicated than a normal murder. She gives the kiss out of necessity, not out of love, and the man is clearly superior to her in his position of power. So this goes in the direction of patricide?

THERAPEUT: (after a short pause to think, clears throat) I see superiority and forced intimacy here …. and then liberation through murder …. This complex relationship and plot lends itself well to a close examination of what we are dealing with in the Salon today.

ANALYTIC: The exact definition of kinship is not important. I want to emphasise that it’s mainly about the moment of the stab, or more precisely, what happens afterwards.

GIACOMO: (in an agitated voice) By the way, this kiss with the simultaneous dagger thrust is still called «Tosca’s kiss» today, and this kiss has become world-famous.

HOST: There is also a wonderful documentary film with this name, «Il bacio di Tosca», by Swiss director Daniel Schmid from 1984, which 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 a small film clip later.

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

RAMANA: No vanity, one after the other. Who’s next?

YODA: (with an alert look) Something from the film «Star Wars“ I want to tell you. In the film, to train young Jedis my job is. On the planet Dagobah, my student Luke Skywalker into an underground cave I send. There to encounter the dark side of the Force he is supposed. Luke asks me:

«What will I find there?»
«Only what you take with you!»

In other words, what he takes with him is his own part in the dark side of the Force. He has to recognise the superior power, face it and overcome it. So that he can grow up. In the cave, his father as a vision that he must defeat in battle he will encouter. Everything deep inside him happens and is projected into the outside world. The dark side of power within him He has, and this the only way is, he can consciously overcome it.

HOST: I show you Yoda and Luke on Dagobah in a short film clip from the film «Star Wars Episode V»:

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 is the superego in my concept. He takes this superego with him into the cave. He has to overcome this inner father, whether for good or in battle. Through this and only through this can he develop his own self. (Pause) So this part of the film is also not about patricide in the literal sense, but in the figurative sense. He fights the projection of his father, the internalised parts, not the father in person.

YODA: Yes, you’re quite right. He decapitates his father with his laser sword, and then his father’s head lies on the ground. As Luke closer looks, his own face is recognised.

THERAPEUT: That shows very clearly that he overcomes his internalised father, his own superego.

JODA: That is his initiation.

RAMANA: The ego approaches the SELF.

HOST: By the way, if you like this sentence, I recommend reading the Salon «In Search of the Lost Context».

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

THERAPEUT: It’s not that simple. The theme in the film is not the rivalry with the father for the mother’s love. It’s about the fact that this father means power and enslavement. The liberation from him is in the truest sense of the word an emancipation, a liberation from enslavement. It is about growing up independently of the love of his mother. Luke follows a classic heroic path.

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

THERAPEUT: (nods) If a second person, a family, a community or a nation is saved by overcoming a father figure or a tyrant, then that’s even more of a heroic act.

HOST: Yoda, what do you think of the latest film «Star Wars VII», which is coming to cinemas in 2015? There’s also a patricide in it.

YODA: The film fun is, but secularised it is. A beautiful fairy tale without a prayer.

THERAPEUT: (looks at Yoda) Because without Yoda it is? (all laugh) All joking aside, I agree with Yoda, this new film is enjoyable, 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 is making an offering to his beloved Emperor, in a gesture of submission. The actual patricide took place when the young man joined his father’s enemies. The father, experienced as powerless and helpless, is replaced by a seemingly omnipotent, dogmatic father figure. This is also a form of patricide: one’s own origins and imprint are denied. People want to share in the current power and sacrifice their loyalty to their own personality to do so.

In order to become part of the power structure, you sacrifice loyalty to yourself.

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 controversial and topical interpretation.

THERAPEUT: Yes, exactly: «topical». The new «Star Wars» film does that well: it’s updated! The main characters are modern identification figures who go through a very exciting development process. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

YODA: You’re right, Finn also freed himself from a dictatorship without murder, simply by escaping. Dear therapist, you can grow up without murdering your father. (muttering to himself) And without psychotherapy.

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

YODA: Hero’s journey without sword and sweat!

THERAPEUT: (laughing) Dear Yoda: We don’t fight with dragons and against armies, but we also have to recognise, endure and overcome something: resistance. (meaningful) The fear of the feelings we have been forced to suppress. On this path we sweat less, but we suffer just as much.

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

HOST: With my comment, I actually wanted to refer to a very topical series at the moment: «Mr Robot». It’s also about patricide and psychotherapy. What do you think of it?

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

(long pause)

HOST: We approach the subject of patricide with stories from opera and film, does anyone know an example from reality? (to the group) Does anyone have a real-life case?

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

HOST: It’s interesting for us to hear a real-life incident. I’d like to give you the floor.

THERAPEUT: (slowly) I treated a woman who was involved in a patricide. She lived with her husband and son in a remote mountain cabin. Her husband was violent towards her and her son. He sadistically abused his wife in particular. One day the situation escalated and the son killed his father with an axe. He had wanted to save himself and his mother. In the subsequent criminal proceedings, the mother claimed to be the perpetrator. She wanted to save her son with this lie. The truth was later revealed in court. The mother was sent to prison, the son to a reform centre. This is a case in which the father was actually murdered, so we can speak of a patricide. But he wasn’t just a father, he was also a tyrant, oppressor and abuser. So the patricide also had the meaning of a liberation and is therefore a patricide in the literal and figurative sense.

YODA: (with a pinched look) Hm, hm, that’s a bad situation. 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.

HOST: This is shown very nicely with mischief and humour in the TV series «Frasier». Frasier, a psychiatrist, wants to beat his father at chess and doesn’t succeed. He talks to his brother, who is also a psychiatrist. This results in a witty and profound dialogue that illuminates our topic very well. A parody with humour and yet such a deep understanding of our topic. I show this scene to lighten up this difficult and upsetting subject.

From the series «Frasier». Season 3 Episode 18: «Chess Pains».
Frasier is determined to win at chess against his father.
(© CBS Studios Inc.)

HOST: This gave us a lot of important information in an easy way to continue working on our topic.

THERAPEUT: The two brothers in the dialogue say everything important: the father wants to be overcome and then you yourself become a father who will be overcome. The desire to overcome the father (or the father figure) triggers feelings of guilt. This desire and the feelings of guilt form a threatening inner conflict. Note that psychiatrists also struggle with this topic. (quietly to himself) Or is that even one of the possible motives for choosing this profession? (again looking into the room) Nobody is spared this issue.

RAMANA: Who wants to be a father figure? That’s 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: That fits in very well with the commentary in the film clip shown on the subject of guilt-feelings. In Dostoyevsky’s film, one of the brothers is directly involved in the patricide, but all three brothers feel equally guilty because they all harboured this desire. So we see that the mere desire to eliminate or overcome the father triggers feelings of guilt.

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

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

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

RAMANA: My 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 damaged, his work destroyed. He was pushed from his throne by those closest to him. It is disputed how this all happened and what it was all about. Wasn’t that also a kind of patricide?

THERAPEUT: He was a dominant father figure who demanded hierarchy and subordination and staged himself as a father figure. That can certainly be described 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 downfall just about power and money or about revenge, that’s not so clear in the case of Baghwan. It’s often a mixture of different feelings and motives.

HOST: If it were just about revenge today, 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. Even an overpowering, offending character is defeated with a lot of cunning and trickery.

THERAPEUT: In the novel «The Count of Monte Cristo», Edmond Dantès takes revenge on various people who have destroyed his love, his existence and his father through intrigue. This idea was adopted 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 their father, but on the contrary: they take revenge because their beloved father was taken from them.

HOST: We’ve talked about liberation and revenge. When the two come together, I think of «Tyrion Lannister». I will now hasten to greet our guest of honour, Tyrion, (smiles) as long as he is not too drunk. Tyrion is a main character from the TV series «Game Of Thrones». (looks round) By the way, there’s a guest here who told me, that he came here today mainly because of Tyrion. (looks at Tyrion) Dear Tyrion, I’d 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 were easy» (original quote!). (pause) Thank you for the invitation. Yes, I can talk about patricide, my fate fits in with today’s topic. I need to expand a little.

HOST: Go ahead, we have time and interest.

TYRION: It’s about my relationship with my father Tywin Lannister and my nephew Joffrey Baratheon. My relationship with my father was troubled from the start. I was born a dwarf and my mother died giving birth to me. I never felt recognised as a son by my father, even worse: he blamed me for my mother’s death. I always had the feeling that he wanted me dead. My nephew Joffrey was king, but an immature, arrogant person, a spoilt mama’s boy who repeatedly abused his power in a sadistic way. I was one of the very few who dared to contradict him and set him boundaries.

THERAPEUT: (interrupts him) I see, so you became a father figure for him. (thoughtfully) Maybe he’s never had a father figure in a positive sense before.

YODA: Mummy’s boys have a hard time with father figures. There is submission or power struggles, no equality, painful emancipation!

They believe that because they are princes in their mother’s kingdom, they can become kings of the world, without doing much for it.

Host: (quietly to himself and with a twinkle in his eye) Why are our speakers so concerned?

RAMANA: Who is remaining silent?

(Pause, then everyone points at each other and laughs)

Host: Tyrion, go on.

TYRION: (agitated) 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 refuge with his mother, when as king he should have been leading the soldiers.

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

YODA: (smiling and holding up an admonishing finger to the therapist) Let Tyrion go on, otherwise you too will become someone who has to be overcome.

TYRION: And so it happened. At his wedding reception, he took revenge by trying to strip me of my dignity. He humiliated me in front of everyone and treated me sadistically. At this party, he was poisoned by Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns. During his death throes, he pointed at me, making me the prime suspect in the murder of the king. Since everyone wanted to get rid of me anyway, no one attempted to investigate the case further, and I was brought to court by my sister, Joffrey’s mother.

THERAPEUT: The humiliated father figure!

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

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

YODA: (quietly) Hm, hm, the harmless boy is on the dark side of the force, while the wilful gnome is on the good side. (pause, then out loud) The appearance doesn’t always match the inner being.

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

Host: Let Tyrion continue.

TYRION: Now my father comes into play. He was the presiding judge at the trial, and he sentenced me to death. He had called my lover Shae as a witness. She testified against me and insisted that I was the murderer.

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

TYRION: No, that also has a history. (Hesitates, visibly affected and hastily drinks a cup of wine) Even though Shae was a whore, I loved her and I was faithful to her in my own way. But my father forbade me to take her into the city because she wasn’t befitting her status. So I had to hide her. This led to a lot of tension between Shae and me. My father demanded that I marry Sansa Stark for strategic reasons. I made Shae her chambermaid to keep her close to me. That went wrong and the situation escalated. Fearing 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 offence for her. She then took revenge on me in court.

THERAPEUT: Through your status, you gave her a place in society. Through your love and respect, you gave her great dignity. The events made her feel like a whore again and ashamed. This offence triggered her narcissistic rage and she had to destroy her previous lover and patron, who was also a kind of father figure. It’s a mixture of revenge and patricide.

RAMANA: Everyone’s dignity was taken away.

Host: So how did the patricide come about?

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

THERAPEUT: What were your last words?

TYRION: He treated me cynically as always, that was our dialogue:

«I loved Shae, but now I’ve killed her with my own hands.»
«What does it matter, she was a whore.»
«Say that word again»
«Then what, you kill your father in the privy?»
«I’m your son and you condemned me to death – why?»
«Come on, let’s go to my chamber.»
«I can’t because she’s lying there.»
«Are you afraid of a dead whore?»

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

(long pause, shocked silence)

HOST: I’ll show you Tyrion’s patricide in a little film clip of this passage from the TV series «Game of Thrones»:

Film clip: «Game of Thrones», television series from HBO.
The story is based on books by Georg J.J. Martin.
This clip 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 didn’t like. He offended her and me in the most disgraceful way and destroyed our relationship.

THERAPEUT: The repeatedly offended Tyrion. The constant humiliation is the worst thing in a relationship. The aggression grows slowly and steadily.

Constant humiliations make you ill.

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

YODA: He destroys for his son what fate has destroyed for him.

HOST: Thank you Tyrion for your contribution.

THERAPEUT: (thoughtfully) Tyrion, the special thing about your story, in my opinion, 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 offended lover, for whom you were something of a father figure, and sent by her to die. Then you are wrongly condemned as a murderer of king – and therefore also a murderer of a father figure. After all these offences, you become a son killing his father in the true sense of the word, literally a patricide. All in one and the same character, that takes a lot of resilience. You have a very special destiny!

YODA: Your nature and your life seem to be a special mixture of contradictory feelings. You are at the centre of a very turbulent field.

RAMANA: Who is the real Tyrion in the centre 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)

HOST: We have needed a break and are very affected by all these impressive events. (Pause) I would like to come back to Tosca. We would like to hear what happens next with her. After all this drama, we are all waiting for a resolution. The question arises as to 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 confused.

YODA: A rush of power arises from the long swoon.

GIACOMO: Yes, that seems to be the case. As Scarpia slowly dies, Tosca shames the dying man even more:

«Are you choking on blood? Ah!
And killed by a woman ….
Have you tortured me enough? ….
Die, damned man! Die! Die! ….
Suffocate in your blood!»

As you can see, there is a lot of anger and aggression, she is also existentially afraid for herself and for her captured and tortured lover.

ANALYST: (excitedly) Wonderful, you showed that very well in the opera, it’s this unbridled, liberated rage that is needed to commit patricide. This is exactly what Davanloo’s Intensive Short-Term Psychodynamic Therapy is all about. The therapist reinforces the patient’s anger by constantly confronting their 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 here, too, the actual father is not eliminated, it’s not even an oppressive father figure. I still don’t quite understand what that’s about.

ANALYST: It’s about transference: at this moment the patient feels towards the therapist the unconscious affects that he felt towards a primal figure, which could be the father, for example, when he was not yet able to consciously experience these strong emotions. The child was in a position where he was unable to bear the strong emotions or defend himself against humiliation. The anger about the humiliations and the feelings of guilt for the desire to destroy the offender were repressed into the unconscious. This is the starting point for the development of a neurosis.

RAMANA: Let’s go through this slowly again. Curb 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 things in order: We humans have stored experiences and injuries from our earliest days both as memories and 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 are activated in us. It’s like an app on your smartphone that is clicked on and begins to influence events. It doesn’t matter whether 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 shape the current relationship is influenced by these old feelings. In an opera, it’s all very explicit and lived out.

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

YODA: The therapy room is an aquarium.

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

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

THERAPEUT: (laughs) And when he sits with us, we work on a metaphorical level. Murder doesn’t necessarily mean murder. Father doesn’t necessarily mean the biological father. It’s 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 this in order to gain 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 revitalisation of the suffocated libido.

It’s about self-worth, which can only be give by ourselve.

YODA: The good side of power is found through liberation.

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

GIACOMO: I’m beginning to understand better, my Tosca wanted a pass for herself and her loved one to move away from captivity into a life of her own. She is desperately looking for 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’s so important to me.

THERAPEUT: Exactly, Giacomo, go on, I’m looking forward to this part.

YODA: Hm, Hm, I’m looking forward to this part too.

GIACOMO: The stabbed police chief lies dead on the floor. Tosca looks at the motionless man who has been stripped of all power and says:

«He is dead! And now I pardon him!»
After a pause:
“And before him all Rome trembled!»

(Long silence, nobody speaks.)

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

YODA: Through death, the superior comes out of the dark side of power, and a new space is created for the good side of power. The deceased person is always on the good side of power. Tosca is seized by this love and therefore forgives it.

Host: I refer you to the beautiful picture on our invitation, where Tosca lays 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’ll show you this part from a performance at La Scala in Milan in a short film clip:

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

THERAPEUT: You see, Giacomo, now she has 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. For me, that is the core of the metapsychology of patricide. Ultimately, it’s not about the murder, it’s about forgiveness, about reconciliation. The final liberation from dependency is possible through reconciliation.

Emancipation and reconciliation are mutually dependent.

GUEST: (annoyed) Can someone translate that?

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

ANALYST: But these feelings of guilt only create new dependencies. The reality is that we are better able to form attachments when we are autonomous. That’s why 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.

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 bonding quality and a self-effective liberation. Emancipation comes from the ability to let go and reconcile. Otherwise we remain trapped by feelings of guilt, resentment and anger.

YODA: In order to achieve this, my pupil Luke will have to fight the real father later on.

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

YODA: He sensed the proximity of his father and that a battle was coming. He is convinced that he must overcome his father in order to save everyone. At the same time, he senses that his father also wants to be saved by him.

«I have to face him»
«He is my father!»
«But why do you want to take this on?
«Because I sense that the good in him has not yet been extinguished.»

Host: I’ll show you a short film clip of Luke Skywalker explaining his motivation in a passage from the film «Star Wars Episode VI»:


Film clip: «Star Wars», heroic epic by Georg Lukas.
Excerpt from EpisodeVI: Return of the Jedi.
(© 1983 Georg Lukas)

THERAPEUT: Overcoming the father figure is also important for the father, who also has to let go. Only then can a new beginning begin for both of them. The son saves himself and his father, because the dependency is mutual.

Dependence and freedom are both conditioned by relationship.

THERAPEUT: Does it come to a fight?

YODA: Yes, and he does so with great anger and passion. When he defeats his father in battle and he lies defenceless before him, the Emperor challenges Luke to kill his father in order to take his place as the Emperor’s right-hand man. Luke is able to resist the temptation and is then fought by the Emperor. The father destroys the Emperor with his last ounce of strength and thus saves his son. He collapses and, as he dies, he 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 his children in the eye and feel that they will master life. He is proud of his son.

YODA: Luke has overcome his father as an overpowering 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’ve already saved me»

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

Love is born in the face of death.

YODA: The mask of evil falls away. The father dies, the son can flee with the spaceship and continue the fight against the empire with his allies.

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 film «Star Wars Episode VI»:

Film clip: «Star Wars», heroic epic by Georg Lukas.
Excerpt from EpisodeVI: Return of the Jedi.
(© 1983 Georg Lukas)

ANALYST: Aggression towards things that hinder or offend life is always associated with feelings of guilt. It is the fear of these unconscious feelings of guilt that keep the neurosis alive or even allow it to develop. Once the aggression has been acted out and the shame consciously realised, the desire for attachment returns.

YODA: The liberated longing triggers the desire for reconciliation.

THERAPEUT: In the case from my practice, it didn’t end 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 ill.

YODA: Who feels inferior can not forgive.

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

ANALYST: If the anger is experienced in the therapy situation, the feeling of guilt is consciously experienced. Once the feelings of guilt have become conscious, they can be worked through and relativised. I’m repeating myself, but it’s very important: it’s primarily the fear of these feelings of guilt that makes people neurotic. If these feelings of guilt are brought into consciousness, this has a liberating effect.

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

Guilt is like superglue.

The patient I mentioned was only able to alleviate her suffering when she became aware of her feelings of guilt. What is interesting in this case is that these life-hindering 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 had wanted to save her with his deed. Only after realising her feelings of guilt towards her son was she finally able to begin the grieving process: the loss of her son, who had died from drugs, could only now be processed. After the grief and pain, she was able to forgive herself.

ANALYST: Repressing or putting things away is resistance and that is something completely different from forgiving. It’s about avoiding the fear. Reconciliation comes after the painful feelings, not instead of them.

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

Forgiving means giving value.

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

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

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

HOST: I must interrupt, otherwise it will go on ad infinitum. (laughing) Each of you has said a great deal, and I’m sure each of you liked what he himself said the best. Thank you, tonight no father figure has been murdered and we have been able to forgive each other our vanities, so our subject has been discussed with dignity and a difficult subject has been given value.

RAMANA: (looks round) Allow me to conclude with one more question: 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: (laughing, turning to Yoda) The one meditating with the laser sword.

THERAPEUT: (pointing to Host:) I’m also thinking of someone who runs a salon.

Host: (pointing at therapist) And I’m thinking of someone who publishes everything on his blog afterwards.

RAMANA: So who wants the last word?

GASTGEGEBER: To round things off, I’ll show you a clip from the documentary film «Il bacio di Tosca» that I mentioned at the beginning. The residents of the retirement home are retired world stars of the opera stage. Tosca’s kiss was unforgettable for them too, they still sing and act the scene! Note the youthful passion that is still palpable, even if the voice and acting are in keeping with their age. I wish us all that we will still be as enthusiastic in our old age!

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

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