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Sodré, I. (2018). “Suddenly the Window Opened and I Saw …” Twenty-second Enid Balint Memorial Lecture 2017. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 8(1):1-14.

(2018). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 8(1):1-14


“Suddenly the Window Opened and I Saw …” Twenty-second Enid Balint Memorial Lecture 2017 Related Papers

Ignês Sodré

Henry James said in The Art of the Novel, “It seems probable that if we were never bewildered there would never be a story to tell about us” (2011, p. 63). This paper considers, through examples taken from literature, one of the most bewildering facts of life—or, we should say, facts of mind—that human beings have to grapple with in their internal world: the primal scene. The bewildered child self, psychologically exposed to the existence of the parental couple in an intercourse that both excludes the child and violently intrudes into its mind, has, throughout life, to bear states of simultaneously knowing too much and not knowing enough about this, the central event of the oedipal drama; and, to escape the torment of uncertainty, and the assault of powerful jealousy and envy, to seek temporary refuge in defensive, obsessional certainty.

I will start with a story, a novel, entitled The Member of the Wedding (McCullers, 2008), that became a huge best seller, a successful play, a film, and a story that captured the imagination of a great number of people. In the summer of 1939, the American writer Carson McCullers, twenty-two years of age and already famous, was sharing a house in New York with her friend, the stripper and aspiring writer, Gipsy Rose Lee. One evening, she was having supper with Gipsy when they heard the noise of fire engines in the street and rushed out into the night to find out what was happening. She told this story about the moment when she discovered the central theme of her most famous novel:

Gipsy and I lit out to find the fire which was nearby. We didn't find it, but the fresh air after the long, elaborate meal cleared my head and suddenly, breathlessly I said to Gipsy, “Frankie is in love with the bride of her brother and wants to join the wedding”. What! Gipsy screamed, as until that time I had never mentioned Frankie or my struggle to solve The Member of the Wedding. (Smith, 2008, pp.

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