Monday, January 7, 2013

Object Egoist- hysteria

In Dickens' Great Expectations there is a wonderful insight into the hysteria of the object egoist.

Pip's sister is the focal point of power in the household and beats both her husband, Joe, and Pip.

What is striking about her is how she must portray herself as having sacrificed herself for everyone. I can understand why Freud often talked about pity and some altruistic feelings as reaction formations of aggression since he mostly seemed to work with object egoist hysterics like Dora. In Dora's case Freud mentioned that one often gets the impression that so many accusations, judgments, or criticisms of other people often gives the listener the impression that at bottom they are a defence against a self-criticism.

If the object egoist wants to be the cause of desire and prides herself on her beauty or her eye for beauty we can well understand how a narcissistic injury here could cause her to have self-judgments here. However, I wonder if there isn't a further reversal possible- the one Dickens points to- in which the pride of the object egoist becomes transformed into its opposite. Pip's sister shamelessly, acts as if she is a selfless woman who sacrifices for her brother and husband and is repaid so cruelly by them and maybe by fate itself.

My sister had been standing silent in the yard, within hearing,—she was a most unscrupulous spy and listener,—and she instantly looked in at one of the windows.
"Like you, you fool!" said she to Joe, "giving holidays to great idle hulkers like that. You are a rich man, upon my life, to waste wages in that way. I wish I was his master!"
"You'd be everybody's master, if you durst," retorted Orlick, with an ill-favored grin.
("Let her alone," said Joe.)
"I'd be a match for all noodles and all rogues," returned my sister, beginning to work herself into a mighty rage. "And I couldn't be a match for the noodles, without being a match for your master, who's the dunder-headed king of the noodles. And I couldn't be a match for the rogues, without being a match for you, who are the blackest-looking and the worst rogue between this and France. Now!"
"You're a foul shrew, Mother Gargery," growled the journeyman. "If that makes a judge of rogues, you ought to be a good'un."
("Let her alone, will you?" said Joe.)
"What did you say?" cried my sister, beginning to scream. "What did you say? What did that fellow Orlick say to me, Pip? What did he call me, with my husband standing by? Oh! oh! oh!" Each of these exclamations was a shriek; and I must remark of my sister, what is equally true of all the violent women I have ever seen, that passion was no excuse for her, because it is undeniable that instead of lapsing into passion, she consciously and deliberately took extraordinary pains to force herself into it, and became blindly furious by regular stages; "what was the name he gave me before the base man who swore to defend me? Oh! Hold me! Oh!"
"Ah-h-h!" growled the journeyman, between his teeth, "I'd hold you, if you was my wife. I'd hold you under the pump, and choke it out of you."
("I tell you, let her alone," said Joe.)
"Oh! To hear him!" cried my sister, with a clap of her hands and a scream together,—which was her next stage. "To hear the names he's giving me! That Orlick! In my own house! Me, a married woman! With my husband standing by! Oh! Oh!" Here my sister, after a fit of clappings and screamings, beat her hands upon her bosom and upon her knees, and threw her cap off, and pulled her hair down,—which were the last stages on her road to frenzy. Being by this time a perfect Fury and a complete success, she made a dash at the door which I had fortunately locked.

No comments:

Post a Comment