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Aigrisse, G. (1964). A Don Juan on the Way to Wisdom. J. Anal. Psychol., 9(2):151-161.

(1964). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 9(2):151-161

A Don Juan on the Way to Wisdom

Gilberte Aigrisse

Presenting Symptoms

THE FIRST time a man of 60, whom we will call Frederick, came to see me, he announced he had decided to break up his marriage, even though it had lasted for 41 years. His wife was in agreement. They had three children, all married and happy. He had been 19 and she 17 when they were married, after an experimental period of normal and satisfying sexual relations. During his marriage he had many casual love affairs, all marked by inhibitions in sexual activity. “I was”, he said, “as one spell-bound.” And he became “a prey to sexual obsessions”—a Don Juan—until he met a young married woman in her thirties. This encounter was at first only one amusing event among the others, till one day he suddenly had “a kind of revelation”: this was the woman he had always been seeking. (Later on, we became aware that what he had been seeking for such a long time was a being whom, because he was unable to master himself, he could dominate completely.)

This love affair lasted for five years; the young woman left her husband and Frederick lived in perfect happiness; all his sexual obsessions vanished. Then his wife, getting to know of the affair, threatened his mistress seriously enough to make her return to her husband. Bewildered by overwhelming jealousy, Frederick felt he could not bear his life any longer. It was then that he proposed an amicable separation, which his wife accepted; the formalities had begun when, at his own request, he came to be “psycho-analysed” before taking the final step.

First, he confessed to a pathological instability which had always disturbed his life: studies, situations, women—his wife excepted—everything about him had always to be revised suddenly and without conscious reason, solely “because I was getting tired of the thing, and because I could not bear to be fettered”. He suffered also from pathological anger which scared the members of his entourage—without doubt an “explosive” customer.

Frederick was still very good-looking, sturdy, and a vigorous athlete. In spite of his instability, he had been very successful in business.

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