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Jones, E. (1927). The Mantle Symbol. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 8:63-65.

(1927). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 8:63-65

The Mantle Symbol

Ernest Jones

With most symbols it is fairly easy, once the occurrence of the symbolism is established, to ascertain the tertium comparationis through which the association has been formed. With some, however, it is very difficult to do so, and the psycho-analyst must for once agree with his critics in finding the symbolism in question 'far-fetched'. One of the most obscure symbols, first pointed out by Freud, is that of the mantle. In his first communication he contented himself with the remark that the mantle symbolized a man, and surmised that the phonetic resemblance of the two words might explain this. Later he stated that the mantle was a phallic symbol, and again that 'it betokens a man, though perhaps sometimes without special reference to the organs of sex'.

The resemblance between a mantle and a penis may indeed be described as far from obvious. Nevertheless there can be no doubt whatever of its occurrence. I have myself come across it a score of times in an unambiguous context. It appears to be much commoner among men than women. A particularly clear example of it I recently encountered, in a case where dread of infection related particularly to hats and raincoats, was accompanied by associations that indicated the route along which the connection had probably been forged, and as these may very well be of a general order I will bring them forward here.

The first and the more evident of the two points of connection concerns the idea of the mantle as a readily detachable part of the person. This attribute, as I showed years ago in the case of fæces, readily becomes assimilated to the castration fear; it is one that contributes to forming the phallic symbolism of the hat and walking-stick.

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