Medium 9781782202912

Medea

By: Esa Roos
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This book takes Euripides tragedy of Medea as its starting point. Our unconscious fantasies can be embedded in age-old myths, and many modern works about Medea reflect our ever-present interest in such myths. The Danish film director T.H. Dreyer had plans to produce a film about the story of Medea, while his countryman Lars von Trier did in fact make his own version of Medea, based on Dreyer`s previous work on the theme. In this remarkable new book the `Medea fantasy is introduced as an unconscious determinant of psychogenic sterility, a fantasy that may form an unrecognized and dissociated part of the self-representation. The book describes how this can lead women to believe that their lovers (like Jason in the original myth) will deceive and abandon them, and that this anxiety might cause them to react violently towards their children. For such women it is imperative to forgo any creative femininity. The carefully written chapters study the so called dark continent` - hidden or unknown areas of womanhood, that are often felt to be difficult to approach, understand, or conceptualise.The areas covered in the book include pregnancy, abortion, maternal ambivalence, loving and hating the baby, shame, ideals and idealisation of motherhood, as well as such issues as sister fantasy, sisterly and lesbian love, the problems between mother and daughter, and female destructiveness, as reflected in fairy-tales. The book also examines a particular type of female masochism that has a strong influence on the life of couples, often destroying the possibility of genuine mutuality between spouses. This masochistic element can be manifested in the way the woman abandons her own world and possibilities of creativity, in order to immerse herself in her partners world. Lastly, it studies what factors might lead to happy and satisfactory relationships, and what factors may lead to failure in establishing such lasting and mutually beneficial relationships in life.

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Chapter One - On the Medea Fantasy

ePub

Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber

Introduction

As Freud often stressed, unconscious fantasies are shaped in myths, art, and literary works in such a way that people of different cultures and historical epochs can relate to them, probably one reason why the organisers of this fascinating conference have chosen the myth of Medea as one approach to helping us understand in depth some aspects of female destructiveness.

For me, Medea, as an impressing, powerful, and passionate mystical female figure, turned out to be an unexpectedly helpful heuristic when I was confronted with the unconscious fantasy world of ten psychogenic sterile female patients in extremely intensive and difficult transference situations in their long and challenging psychoanalyses (Leuzinger-Bohleber, 2001). Briefly summarised, with all of these patients, the experience of their femininity seemed to be determined by the unconscious “Medea fantasy”, which formed an unrecognised part of their own female self-representation. It was responsible both for the profound splits in their perception and experiences of their own identity as women and for their anxiety about their own unintegrated destructive impulses. Pivotal to the Medea fantasy was the unconscious conviction that sexual passion carried the risk of existential dependence on their love partner, like Medea on Jason in Euripides’ version of the myth. When she first meets the Greek hero in the palace of her father, Eros shoots his arrow of passion right into her heart; Medea has a presentiment of mortal danger and struggles with all her might against the overwhelming passion, curses the stranger and his appearance, but in vain. Having fallen in love with Jason, she fuses with him, helps him to tame the dragon and, thus, to steal the Golden Fleece. She then helps to kill her brother, who persecutes the fleeing couple. Her father, overwhelmed with narcissistic rage, tears himself to pieces. In the myth, the tragic fate of Medea that now ensues is the revenge for this double murder. All my analysands unconsciously were convinced that their love partners, in analogy to Jason, would deceive and abandon them and that they would not be able to endure such an abandonment and narcissistic injury. They were terrified by the unconscious belief that they would react to such a catastrophe with lethally destructive impulses constituting an existential danger to the self and the love object as well as to their children. As Medea had done, they would then kill their own offspring in order to take revenge. For this reason, it seemed to them psychically imperative to forgo any creative unfolding of their femininity and symbolically to “deaden” themselves and their bodies.

 

Chapter Two - The Ever Present Tragedy of Medea: Women's Attack on their Own Creativity

ePub

Laura Tognoli Pasquali

In the words of the protagonist Medea, “I least expected this terrible blow that struck me down and eats my heart, the joy of life, my dear friends, is lost for me and I only want to die. I have to admit my husband was everything to me and now he turned out to be the vilest man alive” (Euripides, 1985, pp. 225–230).

“I have to admit”, says Medea.

She admits having devoted herself totally to a man who does not need her any more and now she sees, clearly displayed before her, her own predicament, the drama of a betrayed wife with no further rights in bed or, more importantly, no further rights in life.

Exiled in a hostile world that wants to get rid of her as quickly as possible, alone with her wild disposition and the terrible nature of a proud woman, the untamed granddaughter of the Sun God clearly and painfully recognises that she does not possess anything but the memory of what, in order to turn her husband into a hero, she has destroyed inside herself.

 

Chapter Three - The Age-Old Myth of Medea and the Medea of Lars Von Trier: The Story of a Woman's Love and Compassion Rejected

ePub

Pirjo Roos

“Without knowing what I am, and why I am here, life is impossible”

(Tolstoy, 1984, p. 823)

A remark by Sigmund Freud (1905a), alluding to the treatment of Dora in A Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, goes approximately like this: “No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscratched”.

With these lines in mind, so encouraging in their realistic stance, I try to approach the age-old myth of Medea, the drama of Euripides (480–406 BC) based on these ancient myths, and the modern interpretation of the story of Medea in the film by Danish director Lars von Trier (Medea, 1988). Lars von Trier is known for his many interesting and provocative films. (Breaking the Waves, 1996, Dancer in the Dark, 2000, Dogville, 2003, Antichrist, 2009, Nymphomaniac 1–2, 2013). This myth of the exotic princess and sorceress of the barbaric eastern kingdom of Colchis is an often cited, familiar story in our modern western world. Among many others, Freud (1905a) refers to her person in his writing of the analysis of Dora, with a short remark, to point out the circumstance that Medea allowed her children to be on friendly terms with Glauce, daughter of Creon, king of Corinth, despite all the troubles there were between the two women. Freud's remark is, perhaps, based on the resemblance of the drama of Medea to the complexity of state of affairs in the family of Dora and the very close friends of the family: there was friendliness and shared intimacy, but also many opposing, co-existing feelings of hostility and jealousy.

 

Chapter Four - Medea: Maternal Ambivalence

ePub

Elina Reenkola

Ambivalence and conflict

Ambivalence means the simultaneous existence of two contradictory feelings or pursuits towards a person, thing, or situation. It often refers to the alternation of love and hatred towards a single object. Ambivalence is at the core of psychic conflict, as Freud (1915a) emphasised in his theory of ambivalent feelings. The alternation of love and hatred towards a single object is a never-ending process, continuing as the basis of psychic conflict and leading to various defence methods and psychic solutions.

Early ambivalence can already be detected in a suckling. The infant sucks the mother's breast both contented and greedy, but disappointments and rage may arise, too. Sucking the breast brings pleasure, and disappointments with it arouse hatred. The infant also wants to bite the breast or swallow it whole. The infant wants to protect the pleasure-inducing, satisfying breast from its destructiveness and splits the bad breast off to separate it from the good breast.

 

Chapter Five - Female Destructiveness in Fairy Tales and Myths

ePub

Anneli Larmo

Introduction

We read more and more often in newspapers of violent acts performed by girls and women. One such report was published in Helsingin Sanomat in September 2011. It stated that girls between twelve and eighteen years old accepted beating and were not ashamed to express violence. On the other hand, the same article declared that, when interviewed, the same girls said that one should not hit other people and that conflicts ought to be resolved by talking. In October 2011, the newspaper reported that teenage girls physically attacked their peers in Espoo and, in April, 2012 another newspaper, Hufvudstadtsbladet, wrote, “The woman who killed her two children mitigated her crime by saying that she wanted to punish her husband for having left her and the children for another woman”. What do such news stories tell us about girls and young women today? What is our relationship to girls’ and women's violence today? Do we judge it more severely than boys’ violent behaviour? What about the cultural norms: are they different for boys and girls? Finally, how do the unconscious wishes, fears, and fantasies about woman/mother affect our relationship to girls’ and women's violence?

 

Chapter Six - Sister Fantasy and Sisterly Love

ePub

Elina Reenkola

Psychoanalytic literature thus far has not analysed the positive influence a sister has on a woman. Instead, a central theme has been sibling rivalry over the mother's love and the jealousy arising from this rivalry. A sister can rival, harass, or even torment a girl. Yet, a sister can also be an important ally. A girl can share the pains, conflicts, and secrets of growing up with her sister. Her sister can console her for the intolerable feelings resulting from separateness from, and loss of, the mother. A sister can become a substitute for the mother and an object of symbiotic longing. Indeed, identifications with big sisters can be essential in the formation of female identity. When the girl confronts the oedipal setting, allying herself with a sister can alleviate her feelings of being an outsider. Being similar in her body, being a girl and a child, a sister can lessen the girl's envy and feelings of inferiority in comparison to the adult sexual couple. In adolescence, a sister can reinforce the girl's developing independence and separateness.

 

Chapter Seven - Conflicts around Having Two Mothers: An Interview Study with a Finnish War Child

ePub

Barbara Mattsson

Introduction

This study presents an interview with a Finnish woman who, as a child, was evacuated to Sweden during the Second World War and who did not permanently return to her homeland after the war.

During the war years of 1939–1945, about 80,000 Finnish children were evacuated to neighbouring countries, primarily Sweden.

Almost immediately after the war started in 1939, in the beginning on private initiative from Sweden came an invitation to Finland expressing a willingness to provide homes for Finnish children in order to protect them from the dangers of war. In Finland, these children were then, and still are, referred to as war children. The evacuation of children was carried out in accordance with terms specified by the Finnish government and took place for the most part by boat or train. The transport of children could take between two and six days. The groups were large, about 600 children per transport. There was usually one attendant per thirty children (Kaven, 2010). Upon arrival in Sweden, the children were required to spend a certain time in quarantine.

 

Chapter Eight - On the Psychology of Love

ePub

Esa Roos

Introduction

Can anyone say one what makes love happy or unhappy? In spite of the essentially subjective nature of the question, it is important to examine what factors lead to disappointment and failure of love and what factors lead to the hoped-for results, that is, to a happy union of individuals as well as a cohesive society. Why is love so central to our existence? Because it is a strong motivational force in life and a central interest for humanity. It is an extremely communicative state, a force for development, and a motivating and creative drive of human nature and culture. Love and happiness are not simply psychoanalytic terms. Both are well-known mental states, as well as hate and dream. Certain things are indispensable to happiness, such as food, health, work, parenthood, respect, and love. In being in love, we hope to find our happiness. Pascal Bruckner (2012) says that the modern family is centred on the happiness of its members (p. 130). According to him, “we love as much as human beings can love, that is, imperfectly” (p. 219).

 

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