Friday, February 3, 2012

An Oedipal dream in an anxious girl

An intelligent young teenager, accomplished in many areas, especially music, but who unfortunately suffers from crippling anxiety, revealed the roots of her illness in the following Oedipal dream, which she reluctantly recalled and only when asked to tell any dream that she could remember from past or present.

I dreamt this a long time back. I was not even 7 then.

My brother Nate has something wrong with his eye. He goes to Joshua, our older brother for help. But Joshua instead of helping hurts his eye even more. 

The dream was so old and laconic that she could hardly give any associations to it. But the girl being a good sport tried to fill the gap by giving more details of the dream itself.

It happened in the laundry room, which is strange. For only my mother and I do the laundry. The boys never even go to the laundry room.

So here was the clue that the dream was about her mother and herself, only displaced upon her brothers. And if we take their ages in to consideration, Nate was representing her, and Joshua, the elder one, her mother.  And what was happening in the dream between the boys could be assumed as the essence of the conflict between her and her mother.

The girl did not object to or agree with the interpretation, and added

 it was dark outside. Perhaps it was evening. 

This was interpreted as an allusion to repression. Darkness, night, obscurity, fog often represent the shady underworld of the unconscious where one thing can easily represent another, and sinister and unthinkable alterations can happen. Perhaps even sex change can occur.

"What exactly was wrong with the eye? And how did Joshua further hurt it?"

"The eye was inflamed and red. And Joshua swatted upon it, how one may kill a spider on the wall."

Now we know the spider is the typical symbol of female genitals. Was the girl taking the complain of her genital being red and inflamed [open wound/proud flesh], and hence defective/sick, to her mother for repair/correction and the mother instead of helping was swatting upon the problem and making it worse?

That the problem was shown as happening between the brothers instead of between her and her mother was acknowledgement that this defect of her genital can only be resolved if she takes it to men instead of keeping it between two women. The Oedipal shift which the girl has to make, giving up the mother and substituting the father as the primary love object.

Her anxiety was a reflection of this transition too. With shift of her libido from mother to the father there arose in her the death wishes towards the mother - mother becomes the chief target of the girls aggression/death drive/thanatos, whether justified or not, once the girl makes this transition - and it was fear of the loss of her mother's love, if only she would get a hint of how she (the daughter) nurtures such evil thoughts towards her (the mother), was what was sparking the anxiety.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Dr. Kelwala,
    You've used the term 'Thanatos', which is interesting. As far as I know, Freud never used this term to describe Death Drive. In fact, he probably didn't even use the term 'Death Drive'. He talked of 'Destructive Instinct'. Please correct me if I'm wrong.