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Castelnuovo-Tedesco, P. (1978). 'The Mind as a Stage'. Some Comments on Reminiscence and Internal Objects. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:19-25.

(1978). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 59:19-25

'The Mind as a Stage'. Some Comments on Reminiscence and Internal Objects

Pietro Castelnuovo-Tedesco

… how paradoxical it is to seek in reality for the pictures that are stored in one's memory … The reality that I had known no longer existed. It sufficed that Mme Swann did not appear, in the same attire and at the same moment, for the whole avenue to be altered. The places that we have known belong now only to the little world on which we map them for our own convenience.
M. PROUST, Swann's Way

What makes old age hard to bear is not a failing of one's faculties, mental and physical, but the burden of one's memories.
S. MAUGHAM, Points of View


At one point in her rather lengthy treatment, a hysterical young woman revealed an interesting phenomenon which had been present intermittently for some time. She had never mentioned it before because until recently she had not thought of it as a symptom. The patient, on her own, chose to compare the event to 'watching a performance on stage'.

Sometimes she has the feeling that people are crowding her mind. She finds herself thinking about people from the past, usually persons who are no longer part of her present life and who perhaps never were especially important to her. Nonetheless, she is preoccupied with them, wonders what has happened to them and recreates in her mind the circumstances of their meeting, etc. These episodes begin as simple reminiscences, but then they stop being just thoughts and become noisy and intense. Gradually she feels as if her mind was 'full of people', clamouring to be heard. Her mind becomes like a stage where various people come forth and occupy her attention while she is a passive spectator.

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