Meaning and Myth in the Study of Lives: A Sartrean Perspective
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984

Stuart Z. Charmé 
Department of Philosophy and Religion 
Rutgers University 


1. The Nature of Consciousness and the Story of the Self 5 
        The Reflective Construction of the Self 5 
        The Role of Stories in Self-Understanding 9 
        Language and the Self 15 
        The Image of One’s Life 17

2. Structures of Human Meaning and Their Interpretation 23 
        “Choosing” the Meaning of One’s Life 24 
        Conscious versus Unconscious Meaning 25 
        Sartre and Freud on the Nature of Memory 30 
        The Fundamental Project and the Totality of the Self 34 
        The Original Choice as Mythic Event 39 
        Changing One’s Fundamental Project 44 
        The Fundamental Project as a Literary Work 46

3. Dialectic and Totalization: New Theoretical Developments 54 
        Sartre’s Reevaluation of Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious 55 
        “Lived Experience” versus “The Unconscious” 58 
        The Dialectical Development of the Self 60 
        The Nature of “Totalization” 62 
        Working on the Spiral of Life 65 
        Sartre and Ego Psychology 67 
        Biological and Biographical Instincts 70

4. Existential Psychoanalysis and “True Novels” 73 
        Transference and the Clinical Situation 73 
        Living with Style 76 
        The Nature of Truth in Existential Psychoanalysis 78 
        Novelistic Elements in Freud’s Case Studies 82 
        A Myth to Believe In 84

5. Two Early “True Novels” 87 
        Baudelaire’s Fall from Grace 87 
        The Sacred World of Genet 92

6. Existential Psychoanalysis as Ideology and Myth 101 
        The Structure of Sartre Autobiography 101 
        The “Singular Universal” 107 
        Erik Erikson and Religious Biography 109 
        Sartre as Religious Autobiographer 113 
        Life Without Father: The Protean Style 117 
        The Retrospective Illusion 120 
        Sartre as Religious Biographer 123

7. “What Can We Know About a Man?” 126 
        “For Example, Gustave Flaubert” 126 
        The Myth of Flaubert’s Childhood 132 
        Flaubert’s Hysterical Conversion: The Crisis at Pont l’Evêque 143

8. Identity, Narrative, and Myth 149 
        The Fullness of Time 151 
        Cosmogony and the Self 152

Notes 159 
Bibliography 177 
Index 187