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Garma, A. (1949). The Origin of Clothes. Psychoanal Q., 18:173-190.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:173-190

The Origin of Clothes

Angel Garma, M.D.


Among the dream symbols of pregnancy is the association of the subject, or of one of her children, with her mother who represents the uterus. To understand this symbolism, we need only recall that another term for uterus is matrix, derived from the Latin, mater.

A woman who feared she was again pregnant dreamed:

I am walking down the street with my daughter. I meet my mother who, on seeing the child, cannot refrain from taking her in her arms despite my displeasure at her doing so.

This unwelcome pregnancy is denied by displacing the child to the mother, a symbol for the uterus, and by substituting the child she has for the new one. This is possible for the dreamer because she has had the experience of gestation and childbirth in her first pregnancy. She expresses her displeasure in the dream by being angry with her mother (matrix).

In such dreams the matrix, or the mother who represents it, may also be symbolized by wood. This is true not only among the Spanish and Portuguese, in whose language there is great similarity between the words (madre, matriz, madera), but also among peoples in whose languages the words are quite dissimilar.

I am in the bathroom and I am surprised to see that it has a wooden floor.

I see a trunk we have in our bedroom. It is full of jewel cases and I suppose my husband will put jewels in them.

A woman had the first dream before her first pregnancy. The bathroom represents her genital and the dream expresses her wonder at the possibility of becoming pregnant. In the second dream she acknowledges her maternal possibilities.

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