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of Old”-a mother image from the "Assumpta Maria.” Or he speaks of himself as putting on 'swift quickening” and then of "Suckling the baby song.” He speaks in one place of Earth as “God's daughter,” and in another, of “Eve grown marriageable for God”--the Eve that God has produced: and here I would recall the passage about the body's interplay with the spirit: (Y)
This pair whose bond is at once filial and marital. He was assured of the immortality of his name, an assurance paradoxical enough in the face of his hesitancy and his neglect of the world. In mighty metres and jewelled words, the Universe was his box of toys. He too, like Shelley, “tumbles in the stardust” and the “Moon is his sister, the stars his brethren." He swings the earth “a trinket at his wrist.” His outward life expresses not only, as we have seen, an endless yielding up of all to the relentless pursuer, but it has this other significance too-a deep-seated infantile omnipotence. The evidences of this unconscious infantile omnipotence are to be seen in his timelessness, his neglect of all ties and obligations, his disregard of health, his dependence upon others for food and shelter, and that immunity in spirit that enabled him to live under such dire conditions. All alike point to a fundamental desolation of spirit when confronted by the limitations of time and space in a reality world. He died with the toy theatre near him.
We might formulate much of Freud's theory of infantile sexuality from Thompson's poetry so direct is the transcript from the unconscious mind to great verse. The world will accept its poets if not its scientists, and the poets know, although they do not know they know. (Z)
We speak a lesson taught we know not how,
(A) To My Godchild.
(N) The Singer Saith of his Song.
A PSYCHO-ANALYTICAL STUDY OF A PHANTASY
OF ST THÉRÈSE DE L'ENFANT JÉSUS1
By I. F. GRANT DUFF.
The subject of this study is a French girl who died in 1897, and was canonized this year, only twenty-seven years after her death. Her autobiography was published a few years ago. The greater part of it was written when she was twenty-two, at the request of her sister Pauline: who was prioress of the convent where she was a nun.
The whole of the life is very interesting from a psycho-analytical point of view, but here I only propose to make a short study of a certain phantasy which persisted through her life, and was the chief unconscious factor in her resolve to become a nun, and led to a certain neglect of her health which probably hastened her death.
This phantasy is concerned with the Oedipus complex. Thérèse Françoise Martin was born on January 2, 18734. Both her parents were intensely religious, and both of them showed neurotic symptoms, the father having such severe mental derangement towards the end of his life that he had to spend three years in some sort of an asylum.
There were nine children, four of whom died in infancy. Five girls survived. Marie, the eldest, was fourteen years older than Thérèse, who was the youngest.
Her mother died when she was four and a half years old 5. The picture we have of her before this event is of a merry, nervous, precocious, much loved child. After this she was over-sensitive and tearful, until she was thirteen, when she says that a small miracle happened which enabled her to overcome this flaw in her character. Unfortunately we are told nothing about this miracle except that it took place after Marie went into the Carmelites, and that it took place at Christmas. We shall see the importance of these two factors later. She spent a great deal of time with her father, and appears to have been his favourite. He was devoted to her. His usual name for her was “Little Queen.” She in her turn was devoted to him and to her sisters. Her two eldest sisters were very literally mother-substitutes, looking after her in every way with the utmost affection. She was taught by them until she went to a convent day school. She was intellectually forward for her age, but owing to the fixations on the various members of her family she was timid and incapable of play. She claims to have had a very happy childhood.
1 Read before the British Psycho-Analytical Society on November 18th, 1925.
2 La Bienheureuse Thérèse de l'Enfant-Jésus. Imprimerie de St Paul, 36, Bar-le-Duc, Meuse. (All page references relate to this work.] 3 p. v. * p. xvii.
6 p. xx. * P. 26, 87 8.
When she was fourteen and a half she determined to enter the Carmelite convent at Lisieux, where they livedHer father consented, but the convent authorities refused; a visit to the bishop was equally unsuccessful, and was followed by a pilgrimage to Rome, where she begged the Pope himself to give the necessary permission, and she was finally received when she was fifteen and a half. She died nine and a half years later of tuberculosis, in September, 18973.
There are two very interesting extracts from letters written by Mme Martin, one quoted immediately after the other4. The first is unfortunately not dated:
The baby is an imp without her equal; she comes to me and while she is petting me she says that she wishes that I would die. “Oh how I wish that you would die, my poor little Mummie.” When she is scolded she looks much astonished and says, “But it is so that you may go to heaven, since you tell me that you must die in order to get there." She also tells her father in her violent fits of affection that she wishes that he would die. The poor little dear will never leave me. She is always with me and follows me happily about, especially in the garden. When I am not there she will not stay there, and cries until she is brought back to me.
The second letter was written when she was just going to be three.
Little Thérèse asked me the other day if she would go to heaven. “Yes, if you are very good,” I answered. “Oh, Mummie,” she went on, “if I were not a dear good little girl, should I go to hell, but I know what I would do; I would fly off with you, who would be in heaven, then
you would hold me tight in your arms and how could God get hold of me then.” I saw by her look that she was quite sure that God could do nothing to her if she hid herself in my arms. In these two letters the strong libidinal attachments to the parents of either sex are very clear, also the ambivalence of feeling towards them. They are an epitome of many of her future reactions, though later the hostility is better hidden. The short phantasy of flying to God in the mother's arms was the phantasy that dominated her life. The conscious phantasy even at the age of three years stops short at the exciting point
of the meeting with God. It is too exciting, and the censorship has to be brought into play. The interpretation is, I think, the child in her mother's arms (the womb) meets her father, that is, her father's penis, and so has intercourse with him in the mother's womb. She may seem young for such a phantasy but she was apparently sexually a precocious child. Later we find the idea of birth closely connected with the other elements in this phantasy, and nativity festivals were particularly attractive to her.
The little miracle referred to above took place at Christmas. She wished to enter the convent at Christmas. The day when she took the final vows (that is, the marriage vows) was the feast of the nativity of the Virgin. She writes,
The Nativity of Mary! what a beautiful feast on which to become the bride of Christ ! It is the little blessed Virgin (the mother) of one day old who gave (carried) her little flower to the little Jesus (God)”.
The name she took on becoming a nun was Thérèse de l'Enfant Jésus. She was talking to the prioress, and had just thought that she would like to be called by this name, when the prioress herself suggested it. This fact together with the fact that in taking this name she both remained herself, and could identify with the foundress of the order, made the idea most acceptable; she experienced great joy at the suggestion, and looked upon the incident as a “delicate attention of her wellbeloved little Jesus 2.” So the mother is an intermediary between her and God as in the early phantasy.
Another feature of these last two stories is the importance of the mother, which is so striking a part of the three-year old phantasy.
She claims that her first memory3 is of hearing people say that Pauline, the second eldest sister and the most important figure in her life after her father and mother, was going to become a nun. The intensely religious atmosphere in which she lived would leave her in no doubt as to the fact that a nun went away and lived in a special relationship with God, and she resolved that she too would become a nun. "So it was her example,” she adds, "that from the age of two years drew me towards the Spouse of Virgins.” Pauline acts the mother's part, and draws her (carries her) to a sexual relationship with God.
When her mother died she at once replaced her4:
On the day that Holy Church blessed the mortal remains of our dear Mummie,...our nurse was full of pity for us, and turning to Céline (the sister next older than herself) and to me, she said, “Poor little things, * p. 159.
3 p. 13.
* p. 25.
you are motherless.” Then Céline threw herself into the arms of Marie crying, “You shall be Mummie." I who was always in the habit of following Céline ought to have copied her in this,... but I thought that Pauline might feel neglected without a little girl, so I looked at you (i.e. Pauline) lovingly...and said, “For me it is Pauline who shall be Mummie.”
We get hints here that this is not only a choice of a mother, but a repudiation of a mother. “I ought to have copied Céline.” She is doing something which needs an excuse, she gets it via a projection, “Pauline will feel neglected,” meaning Thérèse will feel neglected unless she is the only one. Céline is got rid of, so is Marie, but she is at once replaced. We know that one way of dealing with the death wishes to the mother was never to let her out of her sight. The description of the complete change in herself after her mother's death shows how intense her feeling of guilt in connection with it was?.
Her jealousy of her mother's sexual activities, and the attempt to hinder them by keeping her close to her, is exemplified in an episode relating to the time when she was waiting for Céline, who was the last of the sisters to become a nun, to join her in the convent. She writes,
I had now only one wish left...this wish was for Céline to enter the convent....How I suffered in knowing her exposed to dangers that I had never known. One day she was to go to a party....I suffered more than ever about it. I cried in torrents and begged our Lord to prevent Céline from dancing. A prayer which was heard, much to her satisfaction.
Pauline was received as postulant in the Carmelite convent at Lisieux in October, 1882, when Thérèse was nine and a half. This event was followed by a severe hysterical illness from which Thérèse suffered for many months.
I said to myself Pauline is lost to me! My soul developed in such an astonishing way at the breast of suffering, that it was not long before I fell seriously ill. The illness by which I was attacked certainly came from the jealousy of the devil, who furious at this first entrance into the Carmelites wished to avenge himself on me for the great wrong which my family was going to do him in the future. But he did not know that the Queen of heaven watched faithfully over her little flower.... At the end of the same year, 1882, I was seized with headaches which, although they never stopped, were bearable, and did not prevent me from going on with my lessons; this lasted until Easter, 1883. At this time Daddy, having gone to Paris with Marie and Leonie, had confided Céline and myself to my uncle and aunt.
One evening when I was alone with my uncle, he spoke of Mummy