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Dorn, R.M. (1967). Crying at Weddings (And) "When I Grow Up". Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 48:298-307.

(1967). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 48:298-307

Crying at Weddings (And) "When I Grow Up"

Robert M. Dorn

A very charming and happy five-year-old girl cried while attending her first wedding, but was unable to say why. She made only one comment at the time: "Weddings are so sad." Her father discussed this with me, and was told to listen carefully for further comments that might clarify her sadness. Shortly thereafter she went to her second wedding, and afterwards carried on an animated conversation with her father. He made careful notes which I discuss further on. One sentence from this conversation was as follows: "When I grow up, I'll let my little girl be anything she wants to be."

We are used to grown-ups being emotionally "touched" by the "beauty of the wedding and the bride". Women are particularly prone to show their tearful feelings at this time. However, men also will admit similar emotions, although usually only with reticence.

Margaret Mead (1949) refers to crying at wedding ceremonies. She feels it is a universal phenomenon which strikes at the very core of life, and that our marriage ranks along with our birth and our death, as a time when barriers are broken down. For a moment, we see ourselves and others like us without the walls, clothes, and other impediments to clear-sighted evaluation of ourselves and other human beings. She feels that a better knowledge of our inner selves would make our "self" picture less fantastic and more real. What is this inner self Mead refers to? What is this "core" of life all about?

In this paper I will use clinical material, a play, Our Town by Thornton Wilder (1938), and psycho-analytic knowledge to describe this central theme, common to all human beings.

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