Psychoanalysis and Segantini Art

The art with the theme of the “mother” or good and evil mothers by 19th Century painter, Giovanni Segantini, enlivens us to the concept of the good and bad internalized mother in psychoanalysis.

The Two Mothers : Depicting the idealized image of mother. Good and nurturing.
The Evil Mother: the seductress tied to a tree with baby at her breast.

According to scholars like Don Carveth, this idea of the bad mother was blindsided by Sigmund Freud, who was thought to have idealized his relationship with his own mother, and hence could not bring himself to the realization of the bad mother concept.

The Punishment of Luxury: the narcissistic in the mother who is preoccupied with pleasure, abandoning mother.

It was Melanie Klein, who under the mentorship of Karl Abraham, who managed to bring this concept of the two mothers to psychoanalysis.

It was believed that the artist Sagentini lost his mother as a child. He felt guilty with the idea that he was a cause of her death. He was brought up by relatives after his father left him with them. This means that he lost also his father. Sagentini suffered mood swings, which Abraham attributes to the repression of the image of the bad mother (the mother complex). Sagentini’s traumas are not reducible to the Oedipus complex. He was nevertheless susceptible to revenge on the (internalized) mother (and the abandoning/vain…etc. mother) who abandoned him, and he depicts them in his painting.

Abraham points out that excessive hatred/hostility to the mother can be replaced by exaggerated by the opposite: the love of the mother, putting mothers on the pedestal (as in the case with Freud). Sagentini lived with depressive guilt (of having hate for mother turned against himself), and in a way made reparation by depicting the mother & child in his art.

Art is a reparative creative way of healing, and an essential to being healthy. Reparation of one’s internal objects (e.g. internal mother). When one repairs internal objects one can feel whole again and no longer broken. This is the central theme in Kleinian Theory.

The internalized mother is important in the lives of humans. It is the relationship to this internalized mother that we are able to feel protected in this world. In time of trauma, and existentially frightening setback, it is this relationship that gets broken.

 

Leave a Reply