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Sjödin, C. Jones, D. (2001). A Discussion of Development and Stagnation Based on Eugene O'Neill's Play “Long Day's Journey into Night”. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 10(1):81-86.

(2001). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 10(1):81-86

A Discussion of Development and Stagnation Based on Eugene O'Neill's Play “Long Day's Journey into Night”

Review by:
Christer Sjödin, M.D.

David Jones

In 1998 a new production of “Long Day's Journey into Night” was staged at the Royal Dramatic Theatre to great acclaim. This drama is of special interest for the Swedish audience, since it received its world premiére in Stockholm in 1956, but even more, especially for psychoanalyst, due to its intensity and psychological trustworthiness. Eugene O'Neill lets us follow his own self-analysis, in which he embodies and comes to terms with his own childhood memories. In a painful and arduous process, the author unravels the bonds tying him to his original family. Frozen emotions are allowed to blossom and as they take shape, memories that have previously been so bound up in each other that they had become unyielding are liberated. Thereby they can take new form and be used in associative thought processes that serve the future.

The family

James Tyrone is 65, his wife, Mary, 54, and they have two sons, Jim, the eldest is 33, and his brother, Edmund, is 23 years old. Their beautiful young maid, Cathleen, provides an opening to the world around them. All five are grown-ups. Edmund is at the beginning of his adult life and has not yet chosen the course it will take. Jim, his elder brother, is in mid-career. He still has no family, however. Why not? What use is he making of his talents and why does he still serve as his father's scapegoat? Mary's fiftieth birthday is behind her, and she is presumably past the age of childbearing. Her strength and vitality are beginning to wane.

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