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Spielrein, S. (2001). The motor-car: A symbol of male power. J. Anal. Psychol., 46(1):209-210.

(2001). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 46(1):209-210

The motor-car: A symbol of male power

Sabina Spielrein

Translated by:
Pramila Bennett and Barbara Wharton

I would like to share with you a dream which demonstrates once again that the motor-car is a symbolic representation of male power. A young woman dreams on two consecutive nights that she has to guide an empty car along the narrowest and steepest streets of Geneva. She walks beside the car and on the slopes she has to hold it back with a movement of her shoulders, as do men who are going down a street with a hand cart. The first night she finds the task very difficult; she is constantly afraid that the car will veer at dangerous corners and crash into the wall, but she nevertheless reaches her destination. The following night, she has the feeling that she recognizes the difficult parts of the town and she is able to direct the car with greater confidence, certain of reaching her destination and avoiding the danger she fears.

This young woman (aged 38) has never been able, in spite of the numerous opportunities that she has had, to marry or give herself to a man. At the time she recounts the dream, she has recently met a man to whom she is very much attracted and who desires her. She does not want to give herself to him and has great trouble keeping the relationship at a level of intellectual and moral intimacy that she does not want to go beyond. Her struggle has become symbolized in the dream as a struggle against a motor-car which she is trying to direct only where she wants it to go. The man concerned, having lost his fortune, has tried to get a job as a chauffeur. L.M.

This brief communication of Madame L.M. is very interesting. Undoubtedly, the motor-car is an image (‘symbol’) of male power. Yet one question still needs to be clarified: does the young woman want to guide this ‘motor-car’ in the dream in the same direction as in reality? Does she also in her dream want to avoid a sexual relationship? Our experiences have often shown us that in the majority of cases the desires expressed in the dream are contrary to the desires of the previous day.

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