6 Pages

Introduction: Hope and Limits in Psychoanalysis

June 2002. Time to write, to begin projects envisioned during the hectic year. Then my mother died, unexpectedly and alone. In this, her last decade, she suffered repeated bodily and cognitive assaults which she handled with a combination of pride and denial. Concomitant with those assaults, her character, her affect began to shift. She grew gentler, physically dependent, obviously anxious. Former character traits-her self-righteousness and the certainty with which she had masked her anxiety-softened and seemed almost to disappear. Her vulnerability became so palpable that vestiges of her rigidity felt like an echo, a reflexive ghost of a past self-state that lacked punch and vitality. As her world narrowed, grew hazy and unfocused, she became my fourth child; already a parent, I sadly but comfortably assumed this caretaking role.