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A castration symbol

Joan Riviere Karnac Books ePub

The duplicating of an object in dreams is known to analysts as a representation (by means of an opposite idea) of its absence. It occurs particularly in reference to castration ideas and with penis symbols. The following instance of this mechanism coming up in a phantasy may point to a possible second motivation by which this form of representation comes to be used (the first being the characteristic unconscious one of representation by opposites).

A young obsessional girl said one day during analysis, pointing to the pattern on a curtain near her: ‘Do you see that thing hanging down like a little seal on a man’s watch-chain? I thought of it tied on to your husband’s penis, as if he had two penises; and then I thought the seal would rub against his penis and bruise it, and you would kiss the bruise, and his penis would be all bloody and mangled, and your lips would be covered with the blood.’ Unconscious phantasies of castrating a man and of becoming pregnant by biting off a penis were beginning to come out in projection on to the analyst. Rubbing was an important symptom in the neurosis (washing mania).

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CHAPTER ONE: Early short papers

Joan Riviere Karnac Books ePub

The vignettes contained in Three notes’ were Joan Riviere’s first publications of a psychoanalytic nature. They show her contact with and understanding of the child in the three adult patients of whom she writes. They were published in the first volume of the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis.

Joan Riviere’s observations in The castration complex in a child’ and ‘Magical regeneration by dancing’ concerning phantasies of two young children of whom she had heard or observed herself also give clear indications of her interest in and understanding of children’s inner life.

The sixth entry among these early short papers was found recently and is included here since it shows how, even long before she presented public lectures on psychoanalysis with Melanie Klein in 1936, Joan Riviere was able to express complex psychoanalytic ideas in a simple, direct way that would find a sympathetic audience in the general public. Although it is undated, the illustrations on the reverse side of the paper indicate that it would have been published in approximately 1921 in a Women’s Supplement. It describes the relationship between childhood wishes and adult dream life.

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CHAPTER FOUR: Polemics

Joan Riviere Karnac Books ePub

This is Joan Riviere’s contribution to a symposium held before the British Psycho-Analytical Society in London, May 1927, in which Melanie Klein and four supporters (Ernest Jones, Edward Glover, Joan Riviere and M. N. Searl) replied to criticisms voiced by Anna Freud in a book Introduction to the Technique of Child Analysis, that she made from her lecture notes and published in Vienna in 1927. She used it ‘to bring the differences between her own approach and Melanie Klein’s into very stark light’ (Young-Bruehl, 1988). These differences were fundamental and concerned with the timing of the development of the superego and the child’s relationship to the parents of its internal world.

In her paper Riviere supports Klein’s theory of the early development of the superego and suggests a connection between the strength of the superego and deprivation. She argues against Anna Freud’s contention that the superego in the child is too little developed to restrain him from acting out when its roots are analysed. To Riviere the severity of the superego is modified by the analysis of anxiety and guilt, and the bitterness of frustration is thereby better tolerated; she shows how anxiety, guilt, and frustration all contribute to superego excesses. Riviere attributes ‘little importance to the adult’s conscious wish for cure’ and considers the differences in the attitudes of adults and children towards making the unconscious, conscious, in analyses are more apparent than real. The child’s transference to the analyst is similar to that of the adult patient, and the negative aspects of the transference need to be analysed in children as they are in adult patients.

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CHAPTER SIX: Possibly the first contribution concerning envy of the primal scene

Joan Riviere Karnac Books ePub

Riviere makes an original contribution here in understanding and demonstrating with remarkable clarity that it is oral envy that leads the morbidly jealous woman to search for unattainable love and to feel deprived. Envious attacks on the parents of the inner world account for the ‘acute and desperate sense of lack and loss, of dire need, of emptiness and desolation felt by the jealous one of a triangle’. Joan Riviere’s elaboration of envious spoiling that underlies seeming oedipal jealousy paves the way for Melanie Klein’s development of that theme in 1957 when she publishes Envy and Gratitude and describes the influence of envy and gratitude on the earliest object relations and on character formation, as well as their effects as seen in the negative therapeutic reaction and in the outcome of psychoanalytical interventions.

A type of jealousy which is not referred to in psycho-analytic literature first came under my observation in a marked form in one individual; when it had been elucidated by analysis, the now familiar mechanism could be seen, to a minor and hence less noticeable extent, at work in other cases, suggesting some conclusions of general validity.

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Review of F. Alvah Parsons, The Psychology of Dress

Joan Riviere Karnac Books ePub

A review of this book has really no place in this journal. The book is in effect a description of clothes and costume in the upper classes from mediaeval times to the present day, limited almost entirely to Western Europe. In a disarming preface the author, who is president of the New York School of Fine and Applied Art, disclaims any attempt at a history of costume or at ‘a technical psychological treatment’ of the subject. His title is therefore misleading. The quality of the psychology in the book may be gathered from the letterpress under the illustrations, of which the following are examples:

‘Our modern young women may find solace in Queen Victoria’s attempt to cover her ears.’

‘It was not given to the ladies to exploit the new and less autocratic fashion of dress, but it was arrested by the Empire.’

The author’s style is not adapted to the serious student, whether of costume or of psychology. The book is well produced, and as a popular work has its attractions. Its 150 full-page photographic illustrations, taken from paintings, portraits, and engravings, many of which are beautiful, have great interest, though this would have been increased by information concerning the title, creator, and present location of the originals.

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