Identification is a highly important factor in the mechanism of hysterical symptoms; by this means patients are enabled in their symptoms to represent not merely their own experiences, but the experiences of a great number of other persons, and can suffer, as it were, for a whole mass of people, and fill all the parts of a drama by means of their own personalities alone.
— Sigmund Freud

Anne identified with Cate until it became a bona fide
illness, for Boris had left Cate, resulting not only
in psychic estrangement but an unconscious stream

of hostility directed not at Boris, but at his new woman,
Anne, whom Cate viewed as her rival. Cate remained
excessively tender with Boris, though Cate, for him,

had been a “totem animal” from which he gained power
by “eating.” Whereas Boris was the patriarch,
Anne was the ego alien; and whereas Cate was Anne’s

fixation, Anne was no one’s obsession, so she was
admitted to a psychiatric ward with the unbidden
associations she could not be induced to abandon.

On the rare occasions she slept, the manifest and latent
content of her dreams was the dance of abandonment
between Boris and Cate, which Anne, in her waking hours,

projected onto the walls, as though screening a silent film.
She could not be induced to abandon this footage;
she could not be induced to abandon her object love

of Boris (whose own object choice was his
ego-libido); or her identification with Cate, who felt
no friendship towards Anne. Soon Anne drew a mental

triangle on every surface she saw, be it phallic or
concave, and sometimes this triangle was isosceles,
sometimes it was equilateral, and often it was right.

More Poems by Kathryn Maris