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Riggall, R.M. (1923). Applied Psycho-Analysis: Constance Long. Mary Rose. A Study of the Infantile Personality. British Journal of Psychology. (Medical Section), Vol. II, p. 68.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 4:179-180.
    
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Applied Psycho-Analysis: Constance Long. Mary Rose. A Study of the Infantile Personality. British Journal of Psychology. (Medical Section), Vol. II, p. 68.

(1923). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 4:179-180

Applied Psycho-Analysis: Constance Long. Mary Rose. A Study of the Infantile Personality. British Journal of Psychology. (Medical Section), Vol. II, p. 68.

R. M. Riggall

This is an analysis of Barrie's play according to Jung's teaching. The author states that it is the story of the Oedipus myth in modern form. The disappearances of Mary Rose an 'the Island that likes to be visited' are symbolic of a disappearance into the unconscious or into the region of dreams and phantasies. Mary Rose's phantasy of 'the little old woman' or 'queer one', personifies the lure of the unconscious on its dread side; the beckoning of the mother-deep. In 'The Little White Bird', Barrie says: 'The only ghosts I believe who creep into this world are dead young mothers, returning to see how their children fare … they do not know their child.' The analysis of this symbolically true picture would shew a personification of the longing for the idealised mother that persists in the adult. The author explains that the maternal image becomes split off from consciousness by repression and reappears as an automatism; this causes undue phantasy and escape from reality. The ghost becomes a projection of the unconscious incestuous wish. Mary Rose portrays psychological incest which is unconscious adaptation to the parents and the stabilisation of the wish to remain a child; the wish for pleasure instead of reality. This regressive tendency to the mother narrows the personality and creates irresponsibility, old thoughts and feelings express themselves everywhere, these tendencies are found in all classes. Analytical psychology shews that these tendencies are solved either by adaptation to life or regression to old channels. Ambivalency causes the mother to stand for the child or herself, promoting adaptation or causing a perpetual alteration of values. Those who never free themselves from parental complexes fail to fulfil the rôle of successful parenthood themselves. Parents should assist in the mental liberation of their children. Mary Rose's parents betrayed their child to death because they refused to let her think out her own problems. Mary Rose's first dissociation occurred at twelve years of age in the pre-puberty stage. In Maeterlinck's drama The Betrothal, the phantasies have a prospective meaning but in Mary Rose they are retrospective and regressive and lead to contraction of the personality. Mary Rose's absence is compared to a dissociated state or psychosis, the drama like a dream depicts something that is psychically true. Dr. Long has interpreted it on the subjective plane.

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Mary Rose's wish for the child rôle is revealed when she says 'the happiest time … will be … when my child takes me upon his knee instead of my taking him on mine.' In the final scene, as a ghost, she accomplishes her wish. Mary Rose's parents have been unable to escape from their bondage in psychological incest: they were in love with their child. Her mother wishes to make everyone a child over whom she can reign as queen; she therefore is responsible for this domestic tragedy. The father has repressed his thinking function and rejects the male task. Mary Rose's son unconsciously sought his mother when he ran away to sea; when he meets her angry ghost holding his own knife, Dr. Long rejects the concrete incest wish and thinks the knife symbolises the weapon of the will, this should be in his own hands and not in those of his mother.1 He recovers the knife and releases not only his mother (his subjectivity), but himself. He thus overcomes his infantile attitude and the power of the mother imago is counteracted.

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1 Dr. Long omits to mention the important symbolism in the final scene of this play when the son enters the empty nursery through a short and narrow passage, holding a lighted candle in his hand. His mother's ghost then appears.

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Article Citation

Riggall, R.M. (1923). Applied Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 4:179-180

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