The Romantic Romantic death

The Romantic
The Romantic is one of the most entrancing, yet dangerous
figures in the psyche of the addict. If untransformed, the
Romantic can draw us into death...
Wagner’s Prelude: Drug Potion
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The Romantic
The romantic is archetypical figure who wants absolute
merger with the loved one, to dissolve into the night and
experience union with the infinite.
When the desire to merge with the infinite possesses one’s
life and reduces it to the futility of insatiable longing alone
then romanticism has become an addiction
Bound by a longing that is insatiable and ultimately does not
satisfy, the romantic is behind all addiction.
The Romantic: Theory
Addiction is often romanticized in our culture
The Romantic often begins as a “dreamer” who feels the
soul is a bird that spreads its wings and flies off into the
unimaginable spaces of eternity
When the dreams of the romantic are unfulfilled we
withdraw from reality - cynically disillusioned -
Nietzsche and Romanticism
Soul development which presupposes “a suffering”
Two types of sufferers
Overfullness of life [sensual experiencers/suffers; chase tragedy]
Impoverishment of life [ seekers of stillness/redemption from themselves]
The addictive romantic refuses to live in
the tension of existence, absolutizes love
and mystery, and withdraws from the
ordinary world by seeking escape in
Liebestod - erotic death / love death
Romantic as the Self -Identity:
Into the Phenomenology
As a youth the Romantic lives in fantasies
The world is felt as a surreal magical place and we devote ourselves
to the feminine or masculine who embody the soul for us
Often there can be drugs and alcohol involved and we set ourselves
up in relationships that are doomed to failure
It is not uncommon that we ruin our relationships when things are
going good typically:
To our rage and feelings of jealousy
Romantic as the Self -Identity:
Into the Phenomenology
You’re in love with love
and you do not want to
come back down to
the responsibilities of
everyday life
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The practical world is a
big tension and the
romantic is enticed by
Dionysian energy
The Case of Eric:
Psychodynamic Origins
Born to a creative family
Highly artistic
Mother was a great inspiration to her son / but also a source of
She battled periodic episodes of depression which which
spawned feelings of insecurity and jealousy and abandonment
in Eric
One could say he had an early romance with his mother that set
up some intrapsyhic dynamics with his developing ego
The Case of Eric: Heroism &
Family experienced the Great Depression lost the money and their
property - Eric grew up secretly ashamed of being poor
Culturally, it was wartime and and romanticism was tied up with heroism
and fighting for one’s country, honour, and leaving one’s beloved behind
was a personification of the Liebestod
The romantic for Eric was the conquering of death and danger - he
became a naval cadet
When falling in love, he became like one that “was possessed” and
intensely loyal
He was always afraid, however, that he would lose his love and be
abandoned thus he was prone to periods of jealousy, possessiveness,
Eric’s Marriage Years: Conflict
with Soul Desires
Married at 23, studied to become a doctor, and tried to abide by his
wife’s wishes that they build a secure life, which went against his nature
He later became a workaholic / pitting his ego against his soul desires
leading to depression and anxiety
He later went through analysis, revealing the “incestuous aspect of the
mother/son lover relationship”
Having these energies revealed he began to act on them [e.g. drinking
and having an affair with one of his students, to a series of flings with
many young madwomen hungry for love].
He tried to work things out with his wife and balance the security of family
home in a stable job, but fell victim to the wild romantic
Eric’s Addiction to Making Love
He eventually got divorced and became overwhelmingly addicted to
making love, to being in love, and to being loved.
Here Eric began to be involved in poetry, dance, and art, eventually
falling in love with a new woman who was an artist and personified a
dreamy faraway quality
They burned up the relationship fairly quickly through alcoholism and
romantic projections they had of each other
Eric’s art took off at this point, but his addictive behavior and need for the
ecstatic stopped him from completing and refining his art
He was locked in battle with the Liebestod and suffering the loss of his
children but could not yet face himself
Eric’s Beautiful Princess
Gradually, he abandoned his Dionysian lifestyle, and fell in love and
married a beautiful young woman who played out his special princess
He he somewhat played out her father, and they went on to pursue
material success in social recognition, but underneath it all he was still
under the influence of the Romantic
Ultimately, she was a “beautiful object”, and the relationship lacking in
spirituality, turned Eric toward episodic overuse of amphetamines and
Meanwhile he played out the Peter Pan archetype for his kids, however
inside he felt alone and was in despair, eventually his wife fell in love with
the new man
More Women: More Self-inflicted Pain
The cowgirl, vodka, mitigating depression, homeless and
Turning to God, mystical experience and conversion, cancer scare
Recover from cancer, professors position in Persia, Drinking stops as
Eric honours the Muslim religious customs
The nature oriented mothering woman, returned to America,
reconnects with kids
Periodic drinking, new love leaves, dreams and visions inspire Eric goes
to Asia, falls in love with a woman who shares his mystic passions, but
alcohol consumes their love, she seeks help through AA; Eric remains in
Dreams, Angel of
Death,Cardiac Arrest, Cat’s
Eric has number of
“warning” dreams
• Trapped on the edge of the cliff, judgment
and the judge in black [accusation of
alcoholism], collector of lost souls, divine
Angel of death appears
/cardiac arrest
Heart stops for 14 seconds,
ghostly presence “cats
Relief, liberation, spiritual
Spiritual Transformation
Spiritual transformation occurred for Eric only when he had lost
His experiences and process of learning through Jungian
analysis taught him that each of the women he engaged with
symbolized an aspect of himself that need to be integrated into
his psyche
For example:
Madwomen hungry for love - was rejected feminine part of himself that needed love
Artistic woman - symbolized his need to create
Mothering woman - showed that he needed to nurture himself
Eric was finally able to see that all he really wanted was to
love and be loved
But he needed to realize that he had to do this for himself
instead of projecting that task onto others
He also came to realize that his romanticism was covering
up his deeper yearning for spiritual transformation and
Heidegger, Being, and Romanticism
The human challenge is to participate in the mysterious creative process
of being. Being asks for our surrender: the awesome appreciation that
we humans are the place of openness and revelation were being unfolds
Most of humankind ops for the practical mode because it is safer and
seems secure; it is controllable. Through such control we attempt to avoid
the ultimate unknown: death.
In this way the person who tries to relate the practical alone finally denies
all mystery and all meaning in an attempt to control life.
In contrast, the Romantic seeks mystery – longing for the infinite, the
dark moment, the dangerous look, the Romantic wants to merge and, to
dissolve in the unknown, to drink in love forever even unto death.
Tristan and
Isolde: A
Mythic Motif
Romantic Projections, Ideals,
and the Jealous Lover
The Romantic is “hooked” on a fantasy of love which is usually projected
on an outer finite person. Since the suffering from the loss of the beloved
is so intense, the Romantic is ready to give up life and die
But death here is merely an attempt to escape conflict, whereas to live
would be precisely to come to terms with the opposites of the ideal and its
Often the (jealous) Romantic projects all meaning onto the loved one,
believing that the beloved could make him or her totally happy
With this fantasy of absolute bliss projected on one person, the Romantic
then tries to possess the beloved and thereby secure happiness and
meaning forever.
Romantic Projections, Ideals,
and the Jealous Lover
With the impossible expectation that the lover will fulfill all desires,
the Romantic becomes more and more possessive, which in turn
leads to increased jealousy, feelings of betrayal and
abandonment, anger and resentment against the partner, which
sometimes leads to murderous feelings either toward the partner
or oneself
In wanting to secure love, to hold onto it and control it, and wanting
to assess love and dominate, the Romantic, becomes possessed
by the Demon lover (the force in the psyche that kills love and life
Liebestod, Heidegger,
Kierkegaard, and Addiction
But if the addict continues to deny the pain and conflicting tension between
the practical day world and mysterious night world the path leads instead to
death and stagnation
Forgetting the question of Being, as Heidegger has emphasized, is the
ultimate denial of our age and of Western thought, and denial has led us into
inauthenticity and self-betrayal.
Kierkegaard says, we live a life of despair - most of humankind lives in this
way unconsciously in denial of the paradox of being human, not even
acknowledging our pain
It takes a crisis to break through the denial and bring this to consciousness.
Thus, Romanticism can be a potent form of addiction, trying to possess and
externalize the feelings of oneness, she/he loses it all together.
The Romantic: Summing Up
The only solution the possessed Romantic can imagine is love
internalized in death, Liebestod.
The Romantic swings perpetually from the longing for unity to the
fear of separation
In addiction there is always the desire that the substance or love will
deliver something that is impossible. Thus addiction to the
impossible “romantic love” really expresses our restlessness for the
The romance of addiction then, can take us deep into our primal
longing, deep into the unconscious desires that are conventional
society would have us repress.
The Romantic: Summing Up
Ultimately, if the restlessness and longing of the Romantic is
genuinely understood, we see that it is actually a mystic’s
quest to be aflame with the fire of divine love.
If the Romantic can endure this fire and bring the mystical
vision back to earth by embodying it in creative life, then the
addictive quality of romance can be transformed into a
creative gift.