Trisha Shetty

Archaic mother

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Archaic mother (primal mother or Ur-mutter) is the mother of earliest infancy, whose continuing influence is traced in psychoanalysis, and whose (repressed) presence is considered to underlie the horror film.

Contents

In psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud recognised in his writings the power of the archaic mother as “first nourisher and first seducer”, and the image of the archaic mother as seductress became widespread in psychoanalysis in his wake. Jung too was absorbed in his writings by the concept of the archaic mother, and his followers have warned of the danger of that imago being re-activated in the transference by the female therapist. For Jacques Lacan, the primitive, untrammelled power of the archaic mother could only be contained by the emergence and consolidation of the paternal metaphor.

Feminist analysts like Luce Irigaray have subsequently attempted to reclaim the archaic mother as an empowering force for female identity. Sceptics, however, have accepted Julia Kristeva's warning about the Utopian, indeed narcissistic perils of attempting to circumvent society, and the cultural sphere, by regressing to a phantasisised merger with the archaic, undifferentiated mother. Kristeva also considered the Jungian approach as a “dead end with its archetypal configurations of libidinal substance taken out of the realm of sexuality and placed in bondage to the archaic mother”.

In the arts

  • Film theory has emphasised the role of the archaic mother as monstrous figure in the horror film, more terrifying and less uncontained than the phallic mother in her undifferentiated grotesqueness.
  • A similar figure appears as the 'black queen' in romances such as The Fairie Queene, and as the witch of folklore.
  • Sylvia Plath, under the influence of Jung, wrote what she called a "diatribe against the Dark Mother. The Mummy. Mother of Shadows...".
  • References

    Archaic mother Wikipedia


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