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Eckardt, M. (2002). Commentary on “A Streetcar Named Desire: Psychoanalytic Perspectives” by Joseph Silvio. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 30(1):145-147.

(2002). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 30(1):145-147

Commentary on “A Streetcar Named Desire: Psychoanalytic Perspectives” by Joseph Silvio Related Papers

Marianne Eckardt

Most psychoanalysts respond to dramatic literary productions with great fascination and enthusiasm. These novels, plays, or poems allow our knowledge to come alive in brilliant colors and seem to affirm our professional identity. Our imagination is stimulated and characters take on, in our minds, flesh, blood, recognition, a past, and a future. Ten analysts deeply stirred by a Williams play will create ten different versions of such come-to-life characters, but while these versions may show some kinship, they would be merely cousins. Never would they be identical. The vividness of our experience can easily blur the distinctions between artistic creation and reality, seducing us into interpretive flights. We may seek to justify these visions while this same vividness of experience blurs our awareness of the many caveats, the many facts and forces that determine a creative product. Art, no matter what its source material, is transmuted not only by the artist's creativity but also by the rules of the particular creative form. A play compresses time, space, and character. It selects. The play opens and ends. There is no tomorrow and no yesterday. We experience framed time and framed space and through our imaginative interaction with these devices we feel at ease with them and translate them into a meaningful semblance of life.

Tennessee Williams was a fascinating person and one of the most outstanding playwrights of this last century. His topics depict powerful intricate interpersonal enmeshments, topics of great attraction to us psychoanalysts. Joseph Silvio, deeply impressed by the personality and the plays of Tennessee Williams, enhanced by further research, demonstrates this attraction, but also may stimulate us to wonder about the dangers of blurring the distinction between creation and reality. Williams's biographers agree in their emphasis on the importance of Williams's conflicted relationships to his father and his sister Rose. Dr. Silvio takes this further and suggests a theme of unconscious guilt and shame as motivational in Williams's writing A Streetcar Named Desire. This motivation, Dr. Silvio writes, arose in response to the successful reception of The Glass Menarerie.

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