The Imposture Status, Family Romance Fantasy: Review Of Jerzy Kosinski’s “The Painted Bird" Connecting The Fantasy Of Illusion In Genital Truth To The Anal-Sadistic Universe Of Perversion

Karen Barna
6 min readSep 15, 2023

“You free yourself from the oppressive presence of every day existence by substituting your own little fictions.” ~Jerzy Kosinski

Connecting The Fantasy Of Illusion Of Genital Truth To The Anal-Sadistic Universe Of Perversion In Wireless Electromagnetic Targeting And Torture

Previously, I had written about disguising the pregenital ego for concealment of its anality, and also its sadism, in the targeting of individuals with wireless electromagnetic devices for torture, known as the Targeted Individual experience. Here, I follow it up with an example of impostor status in the history of one film maker’s need for survival during World War II. One, were factitious story telling was a vital need for, not only his physical survival, but also for the survival of his ego. This is a continuation on psychoanalytic falsehoods from my two previous posts about disguising the pregenital ego and concealment of anality that should cement and prove the presence of a conspiracy in the Targeted Individual experience.

Jerzy Kosinski was born Jozef Lewinkopf in Poland on June 14, 1933. He was a Pokish-American film maker. He survived the Nazi occupation in his home town by living under a false identity and surviving with the help of local villagers, who, risking their own lives, helped him evade detection.

The development of Jerzy Kosinski 's story telling begins by his substituting “little fictions.” By doing this, Kosinski concealed his terror and painful sense of insignificance that had dominated his life. He also imposed his fictions on others and thereby sought to prove that they, not he, we’re vulnerable and helpless. These are the explicit behaviors made manifest in a person’s repertoire of human language and behavior which reveal the secrecy of unspoken traumatic experiences and abuses in their psychological development.

Kosinski’s psychology and childhood experiences are remarkably consistent with Louise Kaplan’s (1986) portrayal of the developmental transformation that culminate in imposture status. Kaplan connected the family romance fantasy with imposture status when she stated:

“Every imposture is an enactment of … the redemption aspect of the family romance. The Imposture must impose his false personality and his achievements on others again and again in order to maintain the illusion that he is not small and insignificant, that he is worthy of his mother’s admiration, that, more over, he is entitled to trick the father, overthrow him, and rob him of his powers {genital superiority and phallus}(Kaplan, 1986, pg. 298).”

The types of personality that create the family romance fantasy of imposture, may be at high risk of committing suicide as a result of a high degree of narcissistic idealization with its Ego Ideal. The act of creating an alter-ego ideal specifically for the concealment of Truth based in a false reality is a defensive move at protecting and keeping one’s true identity safe and securely hidden. This is a defensive move aimed at protecting the self from real, or imagined, threats to one’s true identity. These individuals may view suicide as an affirmation to the power to choose in an otherwise uncontrollable and chaotic world, a final assertation of complete control. In Jerzy Kosinski 's novel, “Steps", he wrote: “The definitive act of defiance and of superiority over the human condition is to defeat nature with her own weapon, is to bring about death at will (pg. 231).” In “Cockpit", Tarden, the main character, keeps a cyanide pellet with him at all times so as always to have a means of escape from the control of the oppressive State. He says, “I sensed freedom only when my fingers stroked the foil wrapped pellet in my pocket (Kosinski, 1975, pg. 16).”

On May 3, 1991, Jerzy Kosinski committed suicide. Although Kosinski had contemplated suicide for most of his life the precipitating factor was tied undoubtedly to the devastating impact of allegations reported in “The Village Voice" that succeed in debunking the veracity of his basic account of himself.

What we can learn from Jerzy Kosinski’s life and art is the fact that early adverse childhood experiences from hostile environments have long-standing side effects for the human psyche. Suicide is but one by product of them. Kosinski’s early childhood experiences with societal forces that were telling him he wasn’t “good enough,” that, in fact, as a Jew he was “unworthy” and as such, deserved extermination. His novel, “The Painted Bird", expressed a family romance fantasy of a child’s wishful elevation to a high societal class or level of sophistication, the fantasy sensitizes children (and adults for whom the fantasy still serves as an organizing role) to the social standings of class as well as to other hierarchial divisions. In, “The Painted Bird", Kosinski compared the boy’s more noble background with that of the peasants he is surrounded by and forced to live with, where the local peasants are described by him as “isolated and inbred". While the boy speaks the language of the educated higher classes, a language he describes as barely intelligible to the peasants of the east. This represents parallels very closely to the German nation’s notion of the “perfect ideal family image" (Santner, 1990).

Kosinski’s adoption of a superior stance derives from his identification with an idealized set of parents. His customary description of his parents are consistent with this. Kosinski elivates his family status with that of the aristocracy with the defensive aim at trying to restore his injured sense of self. His father, for all intense purposes, was a bright and intelligent man. He was relatively successful man involved in the textile industry as both manager and shareholder. His father pursued an interest in language and was fluent in six. These pursuits became the basis of an inflated claim that his father was a professor and language scholar.

Kosinski’s mother, Elzbieta Liniecka Lewinkopf, nee Elizabeth Weinreich, was born in Lodz, Poland on January 6, 1889. Elzbieta retained an air of refinement, flaunting her high social status and urban sophistication, despite their demoted circumstances. She never relinquished her habit of giving orders. Unlike the peasants in their new communities, Elzbieta paid careful attention to her appearance, always trimming and polishing her nails and wearing perfume. As an adult, Kosinski always claimed his mother was a concert pianist despite the fact she had seldom performed publicly.

This, although he was not separated from his parents in real life, Kosinski identified with the boy in “The Painted Bird" because, like him, he felt that he had lost the parents he once had and with whom he continued to long to be reunited.

Kosinski’s imposture life is related to real, early repetitive traumatic experiences that threatened his life during the war (Krystal, 1997, 2000), where he was forced to hide his identity and constantly move from place to place. Storytelling was a skill he acquired which helped to ensure his survival. As a result, he was never able to relinquish the strategies he had employed to protect himself. In misrepresenting his past, Kosinski returned to a tactic that had assured his survival as a child and restored a sense of continuity with his early imposturous self. Paradoxically, by adopting a fictitious past, he simultaneously severed the tie to his true identity and his true history and thus concealed the vulnerable and frightened child he felt himself to be. Furthermore, his assumed identities kept others from getting close enough to know him. He was afraid that, if he let himself become too intimate with anyone, he would become vulnerable to other’s control. Psychoanalytic theory consider this persistence of imposturous lies in adulthood as also shaped by fantasy. In the end, he viewed suicide as the sole enterprise that could liberate him from the web of fiction he had woven throughout his life.

As a side note, another impostor who carried out similar family romance fantasies was the serial killer Andrew Cunanan, who, in 1997 took the life of Gianni Versace in a cross country killing spree that ended when he, too, took his own life. If you are interested in the psychoanalytic study of family romance fantasies there are a few book suggestions listed below.


Louise Kaplan. (1987) “The Family Romance of the Impostor-Poet Thomas Chatterton." University of California. Berkeley, CA.

Louise Kaplan. (1991) “Female Perversions: The Temptation of Emma Bovary" Doubleday. New York, NY.

Eric L. Santner. (1990) “Stranded Objects: Mourning, Memory, and Film in Postwar Germany.” Cornell University Press. Ithaca, NY.

KRYSTAL, (HENRY) 1997 and 2000 publications, “Integration and Self Healing: Affect, Trauma, and Alexilymia.”

Danielle Knafo and Kenneth Feiner. (2006) “Unconscious Fantasies and the Relational World.” Analytic Press. New York, NY. (PART 2: FAMILY ROMANCE FANTASIES).

Maureen Orth. (1999) “Vulgar Favors: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” Random House Publishing Group. New York, NY.

Janine Chassegeut-Smirgel. (1984) “Creativity and Perversion.” Free Association Books. London. CHAPTER 7, A PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY OF ‘FALSEHOODS' (pg. 66–77)



Karen Barna

I am a Targeted Individual suffering electronic harassment. I write about gender difference and object relations and feminism. I am Gen. X