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F., H.W. (1924). Applied: D. A. Simmons. The Metamorphosis of Mary. The Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. X, No. 3, July 1923, p. 261.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:371-372.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Applied: D. A. Simmons. The Metamorphosis of Mary. The Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. X, No. 3, July 1923, p. 261.
(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:371-372
The author, a judge in the Circuit Court of Florida, has tried some five thousand divorce cases in the past ten years. Of the different types of cases that appeared before him he observed that one occurred with great frequency, and with such characteristic features that, as soon as the preliminaries of such a case began to be presented, he could foretell what the major elements of the story were sure to be. He describes one example of this type, which he regards as a 'hitherto unclassified neurosis'. It turns out to be an instance of pathological jealousy on the part of the wife, which leads to divorce proceedings. The remainder of the paper is taken up by an effort to interpret cases of this sort according to psychoanalytic principles.
The story, in brief, is this. A young couple, of modest social and financial position, marry. The marriage is at first a happy one, and two children are born. The husband makes progress in business and acquires more culture and knowledge of the world. But as he develops the wife remains stationary. Sensing the growing difference between them, she reacts with jealousy, passing at length from mere suspicions of infidelity on the husband's part to actual delusions in some instances. Under the influence of these ideas the wife finally deserts the husband, who at length applies to the courts for a divorce.
While recognizing the similarity of such cases to paranoia, the judge doubts whether homosexuality plays any rôle in their pathogenesis. In his opinion, repression of the normal love for the husband is the main pathogenic factor. He fails to make plain what might be the motive force that accomplishes this repression.
We regret that the author's interpretation of the case cannot be considered particularly successful. The type of case he describes is better understood than he realizes. Envy of the husband's progress may be the factor which incites the pathogenic process in such cases; but this conscious envy is associated with the repressed penis-envy, connected with hostility toward males on the one hand, and with unconscioushomosexuality on the other. Against the unconscioushomosexuality which is now activated there develops the familiar defensive denial 'He, not I, loves women'. Whatever phantasies of heterosexual infidelity the wife may be subject to form a secondary motive for maintaining this accusation. The delusion of the husband's infidelity is formed through projecting upon him a double self-reproach.
But, despite the shortcomings of the author's interpretation of his material, his desire really to understand the cases that come before him is deserving of great praise. We look forward to the time when such a desire on the part of lawyers and judges may be taken for granted instead of being the occasion for surprise it usually is now. A good observer on
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the judge's bench could supply us with many valuable data concerning human behaviour which the ordinary practitioner of analysis has little chance to see. The data themselves, as in the present instance, may possess, if given in detail, much more interest and value than belong to the results of untrained efforts to interpret them.
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F., H.W. (1924). Applied. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:371-372