Identity and inability to mourn in The Skin I Live In

Di Ceglie, Domenico (2012) Identity and inability to mourn in The Skin I Live In. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 93 (5). pp. 1308-1313. ISSN 0020-7578

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Although Vicente does commit violence when he kills Robert and Robert's mother, Marilia, it is not done out of rage or a desire for revenge. When he kisses the photograph of himself in the missing persons section of the news-paper on the desk before shooting Robert, the audience understands that this is something he feels he must do to gain his freedom rather than an act that he relishes or one designed to re-establish an idealized sense of self. This attitude toward violence is further confirmed when Vicente returns to his mother's dress shop and tells her assistant in a sorrowful tone that he had to kill two people to escape. If we consider the first words spoken by Robert: "Our face identifies us",with the last words in the film spoken by Vera:"I'm Vicente",it seems clear that Almodvar is hoping to show a contrast between one character who is trapped on the surface of reality and, in a sense, has only a faulty or second skin to hold his identity, with another character who, although changed completely on the surface, is able to retain his sense of difference between outer appearance and inner reality. Vicente's triumph is that he can suffer tremendous loss without resorting to rage as a means of denying his vulnerability or his need for internal and external good objects. Thus, he can learn from his experience and, in fact, matures as a result of it. In this way, Almodovar demonstrates that he believes our identity arises from far more than the face that, literally or figuratively, we show to the world. The skin we live in is, in this deeper sense, an ever-evolving container for our deepest hopes, fears, and strivings to develop and grow in spite of the challenges to our humanity that present themselves on a daily basis.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Article first published online: 8 Oct 2012
Uncontrolled Keywords: Almodovar, Pedro, Film
Subjects: Emotions, Affective Psychology > Grief/Mourning/Loss
Department/People: Special Units

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