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Aalen, M. (2017). Stray Thoughts - Seeking Home: Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt Read in Light of Wilfred Bion's Ideas. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(2):415-434.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(2):415-434

Interdisciplinary Papers

Stray Thoughts - Seeking Home: Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt Read in Light of Wilfred Bion's Ideas

Marit Aalen

(Accepted for publication 4 July 2015)

Peer Gynt, the main character in Ibsen's dramatic poem from 1867, has fascinated scholars since its publication. After a lifetime of escapades, Peer finds himself lonely, detached and with feelings of deadness. Gradually, the underlying structure of his personality confronts him. With the help of Wilfred Bion's ideas, it is possible to trace a distinct pattern, where unprocessed thoughts seem to play a decisive role in hindering Peer's self-realization. The main female character, Solveig, spends her life waiting for Peer. Eventually she develops into a container, ready to welcome Peer's stray thoughts. This paper demonstrates how she evolves Bionian capacities like reverie, and eschewing of memory and desire. The interpretation that follows thus challenges a tradition where Solveig is seen as a romantic figure who, like Goethe's Gretchen, is designed to save the male protagonist by unconditional love. This paper argues that Solveig plays a more active role towards Peer in offering significant tools for personal development. The paper concludes that Ibsen and Bion have uncovered elements of basic human conditions that in some significant ways seem to coincide.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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