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January 2023

Beethoven: Modern analytic views of the man and his music

Journal/Book: Psychoanalytic Review. 1985; 72: 129-147.

Abstract: Examines the music of Beethoven, which often seems to be at odds with his life. Beethoven could express profound love, although he was often unable to establish enduring and loving relationships. His works are generally hopeful, despite frequent bouts with despair and suicidal tendencies. Although Beethoven's music extols the notions of liberty and individual worth, he often feigned nobility and held many elitist attitudes. Modern psychoanalytic theory, particularly that of O. Kernberg (1975) and H. Kohut (1971), is used to understand Beethoven and his music in terms of borderline personality and narcissism. Beethoven's early life, later object relations, his pathological narcissism, and musical genius are discussed from these theoretical perspectives. It is concluded that Beethoven's struggles with life were often expressed and resolved in his music. (24 ref)

Note: interpretation of life & music from perspectives of borderline personality & narcissism; L. von Beethoven

Keyword(s): Psychoanalytic interpretation; music ; narcissism ; artists ; borderline states

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