How Ann's Freud advice almost ended the Hurst line
Why I am glad my mother ignored the advice of Freud's daughter.
In reviewing the history of one's family it is always possible to identity life choices that could easily have resulted in profundly different outcomes had the individual in question chosen a different set of actions. Proof of this truism can be found in every family liniage. An Irish immigrant decides to not make the harrowing journey to the new world to escape the Irish famine. As a result future generations of Irish Americans are not born, and the fabric of a potentially rich cultural heriatage is eviscerated. A genius with dubious academic credentials in comparison to his colleagues, decides not to accept a job as a clerk and instead accepts a position that affords him little time to develop his theories on concepts such as time or relativelty. I could offer further examples but in truth the argument speaks for itself. My own family is no different in this regard. While seemingly cursed with more than its share of tragic irony there is no doubt that myself and members of my family made choices that often resembled a Victorean meldodrama. Over the course of my life I have come to view such moments with a sense of humor that was lacking in my youth. Teenager angst rarely affords one a sense of detachment that is often useful in mitigating the impact of family secrets that are discovered late in life. Because of my tendency towards histrionics and tragedy it would be hard to identify one story that surpassed all of the anecdotal incidents that represented our collective folklore. If forced to chose one incident I would chose the encounter between my parents, and Ann Freud, the daughter of noted psychoanalyst Sigmund Fraud. A little context is in order to fully appreciate the extent to which one's fate often depends on a few words.
Most people are aware of the role played by Sigmund Freud in the development of psychanalyses. His papers on the use of dreams and phalic symbalism created generations of debate. Comics and professionals were quick to seize upon the comic implications of his theories. Whether sought after or not, Sigmund Freud would remains an iconic and public figure for most of his life. In comparison his daughter Anna, while a respected figure, appearred to have lived a relativly quiet life. She regularly saw patients in her london offic, when contacted by my late grandfather with the request that she provide psychoanalyses for his daughter was happy to acqueise to my grandfather's request. My mother's work with Frued's daughter proved beneficial and effective. Through analyses she gained insight into her troubled relationship with her own mother, and the impact of the death of her sister as a result of Cancer. She recalled feeling understood and supported. Like all patients, my mother sought her analyst advise and council on numerous occaions, and rarely indicated that she had unsatisfied by her her counsel. Like all patients she experienced moments of transferential conflict but such moments were the exceptional and not the rule. Only one interactions would remain in my mother memory as a moment when she felt she deliberately ignored her analyst advice. Not surprisingly the incident in question involved my father. At the time of the incident my parents were relatively new to each other. They were in the early stages of courting, and had met at a party. A gifted actor my father soon won my mother's heart. Like all young lovers they became entranced by the image of the person they held in their minds, rather than the flawed individual that stood in front of them. It is at this point that my mother sought assistance from her analyst in evaluating whether my father was an appropriate match.
Having some familiarity with the field of psychology I can imagine that my mother's request that her analyst evaluate the strengths of her current beau was less than welcome. On the surface such requests seem innocent enough, and given the context of their entirely understandable. From a clinical view point such requests are fraught with transferential pitfalls that even the gifted of analysts would find difficult to avoid. A seasoned professional by the time she began psychoanalyzing my mother, Anna Freud knew this better than anyone. My mother was nothing however, if not persistent in her endeavors. After weeks of pressuring Ann Freud to pass judgment on the marital suitability of my father Freud's daughter finally relented and to meet with my late father. Based on my mother's accounts of the meeting it could not have gone better. She would describe my late behavior during the meeting as charming, erudite, and gracious. After my father excused himself from the room my mother expected nothing less than a ringing endorsement of her plans to marry my late father. Her expectations were soon shattered by Anna Freud's unsparing critique of my father's shortcomings as a potential spouse.
Selfish as it may seem, I am glad to say that my late mother ignored Anna Freud's advice. Their marriage would produce three children whose existence can be traced to my mother's simple decision to ignore six words that encapsulated Ann Freud's assessment of their impending marriage, an assessment that were encapsulated by the words, "You'll be divorced in nine years.
Anna Freud's would prove prophetic. Fortunately for myself and my two sisters not even the prescient gifts of Freud's daughter could dissuade my mother from marrying my late father. Karma would eventually exact a toll on both of my parents for ignoring Anna Freud's assessment. Their decision would forever remind each of their children how are actions are often contingent on our responses to words spoken by individuals who we view as roles modals. We can ignore their advice, and trust that as unpalatable as it may be, altering our given course may be for the better. Or as in my mother's we can chose to ignore the advice of those who are able to see dangers that our consciousness is unable to tolerate. I have no doubt that at the time of their marriage that my parents felt genuine affection and love for each other. Whether those feelings masked deeper motivations I cannot. If rebellion played a signficant role in her decsion making process, it did have one measureable effect, the birth of three children, all of whom would undertake the role of a rebel in the years that would follow. The events that would enfold suggested that Karma was not happy about my mother's decision to ignore Anna Freud verdict on my mother's marital plans. At the risk of incurring it's wrath I remain happy that she chose to ignore her judgments.