Eighteen East 74th Street: An Autobiographical Novel

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I’m an 88-year-old retired Jungian Analyst. I wrote this book to share a lifelong struggle to free myself from the powerfully dominating influence of my mother, something Jung more elegantly described as “The Battle for Deliverance from the Mother.” It’s a battle I now doubt can be won, although an uneasy truce may be achievable.

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I’m an 88-year-old retired Jungian Analyst. I wrote this book to share a lifelong struggle to free myself from the powerfully dominating influence of my mother, something Jung more elegantly described as “The Battle for Deliverance from the Mother.” It’s a battle I now doubt can be won, although an uneasy truce may be achievable.

I believe the power that my mother’s values and beliefs have over me is related to a very early experience in life that seems quite small but, like an atom, contains unspeakably powerful energy. I refer to it as “that look,” the look of pure, unconditional love that is experienced only briefly in early infancy and seems to evaporate once socialization begins. Unconsciously, we recognize it as a reflection of our inmost being, an image so exquisite that we want to hold onto it and keep it only for ourselves.

We are not only unconscious of the wish to be “le seul,” the only one, but also of the price that must be paid to remain so: the rejection and concealment of that part of ourselves that mother frowned upon, narrowing us down to only the bright side of our two-sided moon. The struggle to be free of the mother’s power becomes the struggle for wholeness itself.

At the same time, after all our work and self-reflection, we realize that mother, paradoxically, is essential to our experience of our self and with “that look” fuels our lifelong search for it.

 

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