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Kafka, Metamorphosis a Psychoanalytical View
Franz Kafka in 1916 wrote a short novel called Metamorphosis (1. Bantam Edition 2004) which is a book of psychological nightmares and extraordinary insight into the human condition. Here we will study Kafka’s masterpiece from a psychoanalytic perspective to see if this work is a self-examination of depression, mental health and the role of guardians when love turns to hate. To begin our journey for non-readers of this famous text we will give a brief outline and then turn to the specific role of psychoanalytic insight from Freudian to Burns and beyond.
Kafka was born in 1883 as a middle-class Jewish boy, introverted, shy and inadequate, believed to be the result of a critical father, (2. Letter to his Father 1919) he was then educated in Prague at the German University but he continued. in his free time to write many outstanding literary works. Here we will not delve into his life in detail, but content ourselves with a small picture of a person as a writer. Kafka was very driven and wrote every day at night with a special passion. Now he may be seen as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour) prone to perfectionism. This is the emotional driver of the perfectionist that makes a literary work so special.
Kafka wrote Metamorphosis in 1916 as a short novel about a young man who is a supporter of the family, supporting a critical father, a pleasant mother and a child-like sister, where our hero, Gregor Samsa is not popular at work and below. the daily stress of travel and deadlines to meet he felt a losing battle. At the beginning of the book he wakes up from a troubling dream to find that he has actually turned into a blind beetle with his heart trapped in an alien body. From this beginning, Gregor began to explore new limits and a narrow view of the world, his vision became dim, he could not move without pain and great effort. The family depended on Gregor to work, earn money and make ends meet when suddenly he could no longer function in this role. Her father is disgusted, her mother is in pain and her sister when she becomes her babysitter is rejected by this new version of her sister. When time passes and he does not return to his old self – the family has to make a new plan for life and now sees him as a burden (reversed roles). At first Gregor thought this was just a temporary situation that would soon pass and he would re-uptake his old life and move on. But in the end there was no solution and it suffered a lonely death.
While writing the following psychoanalytic analysis, I have not read many introductions, essays and critical insights from other writers. This was deliberately done to avoid contaminating my thought process when considering Gregor as my patient in a psychoanalytic setting. I don’t want to have the bias of other people’s opinions on how to view the text as evidence of the patient’s mental health issues alone.
Like any psychological patient new to the clinic, the first one-hour session is usually divided into two parts – the first – why have you come to see me? The second is the client’s ability to vent (tell their story in their own words) and set the scene for further sessions. Let’s imagine Gregor’s typical answer about why you came here.
Gregory: My family depends on me a lot to support me, but lately I’ve been feeling a lot of stress with work and home. I had a very bad dream a few weeks ago and woke up in a deluded state in which I found it impossible to get us out of bed. I just felt so tired and lost the will to continue my miserable life. It seems to me that this is a nasty bug that everyone underestimates and despises. All they wanted was to destroy my passion for life and replace it with necessity.
Psychoanalyst: It sounds like you are under stress and have reached what I can call the point of exhaustion – this means that your energy is depleted physically and mentally. So for the summer – are you currently depressed from your workload and unsupportive family environment and you feel like you’ve given up trying to be a supportive person?
Gregory: Yes, I am like a donkey that can no longer carry its burden.
Psychoanalyst: Tell me about your background? (second part – ventilation)
Gregory: I had a critical and controlling father who tried to run the household, but now he’s unemployed and his health is deteriorating because he’s lazy and irritable. My mother follows him and obeys his demands even if they are unreasonable, I have a sister – she just finished her education but has not found a real way to her abilities, she is kind and sweet but very naive. the world at large. At work my supervisor is quite pleasant but also under pressure from our boss who is like my father Controlling and micro-managing our every move. This means you feel constantly scrutinized and found wanting. I have to travel a lot for work and often come home late and tired, but I hope to be there for my family as the most comfortable place. I don’t have time for a relationship and I’m probably not a very good catch for a girl who might have an interest in me beyond the obvious. Things have changed at home now that I have been fired and lost my income. My sister has started caring for me more and trying to save me from my mood swings, but my mother just breaks down and cries constantly about the poor boy, but she can’t help me. On the other hand, my father is even more disgusted with me because I forced him to go out to find a job, even helping out at home to meet his needs and becoming a burden on my mother and sister to maintain the house. clean and fed. We had a few cooks and cleaners, but most of them had left because they had nothing to do with me. I can’t think of anything to say – but at least I feel like I’ve got it all covered.
Psychoanalyst: I think that you have given me quite a lot to think about Gregor and you have been very clear and systematic in the way you have explained the background. Tell me how you feel now?
Gregory: A little relief to have finally explained myself and people listen without sneer in the face or laugh at me. Thanks for that. Most of all I know that every day I feel sad and tired of life – I just want to go to bed and sleep – when I wake up everything will be back to normal – I can walk and have some kind of life.
Psychoanalyst: Well we have our time today Gregor, the clock can pass very quickly the first visit. I hope to see you at least once a week for an hour, while I have a little homework for you to complete for me. A one-page biography of your family, where you grew up, education, relationships and past and present circumstances. I know you’ve already told me a few things about this but it will help save some time in the session by having a short version of life up to now. Email me before your next session so I can read and analyze the content before you come. Here are the cards and details. If at any time you feel that you are in crisis and need me – please call for an appointment in advance.
Gregory: Thank you Doctor, I will see you at the same time next week.
Psychoanalytic Analysis First Session:
For insurance purposes, analysts are forced to write psychiatric numbers and diagnoses. This labeling does not reflect the true nature of the mental health problem but only a situation that is forced to pay for it. In the case of Gregor – Clinical Depression DSM V 296.3.
In fact, the psychological result may be Reactive Depression for stress at home and work that causes a lack of daily cognitive function in thought and behavior.
It is clear in this case – depression is a key element of the signs of mental exhaustion, hopelessness and helplessness from the reversal of the role of a strong breadwinner to a helpless victim who needs to be rescued by his sister especially – the continued disappointment -consistency with his parents and rejection from his co-workers. At this stage, we do not have enough data to estimate the unconscious drives that can lead to depression other than external family and work pressures. In the session more of the needs will be met from deeper scrutinizing the world of emotions and inner conflicts. She clearly felt alone in her burden even though her sister was obviously doing her mother’s duty. The client had a bad dream – this can be attributed to unconscious motivation.
Over the course of 20 or so sessions – Gregor’s analogy of a beetle is poorly explored and his relationship with family and work – the more important his feelings about himself and his depressive state. It also becomes clear that the family is now neglecting their daily needs for food, care and comfort. He has in fact been physically violent towards her causing her to retreat into a delusional world where she feels like she is nothing more than an ugly beetle that needs to be branded. The risk of suicide is now evident in his attitude. His appearance showed that he did not take care of ablution, his clothes were dirty and dirty and he had lost weight. He also becomes lethargic because he no longer cares what happens to him as long as this constant pain will stop (pain is mental pain). Although her sister is diligent in caring for her, she is getting better and is now just a functional caregiver rather than an empathetic one. His biographical homework shows that his father is not only controlling but bitter because he lost his business due to a large amount of money to Gregor’s employer who now expects him to pay off his father’s debt through a reduced salary for his own work. family at home. The mother is ashamed of the state of the house and is not strong enough to face her husband economically or otherwise. He used to be spoiled and now resents his reduced condition and blames Gregor for his illness. Again increasing the feeling of alienation and alone.
Sadly Gregor died after the end of the session from neglecting himself – Basically willing to stop living because he saw no purpose for it. The father has got a new job, the mother is relieved to see that her child is no longer suffering in this life and the older sister is finally free from the burden of being a younger sister. While psychoanalysis would expect a different result – the book itself determines the end to be accepted.
When Franz Kafka emphasized the novel Metamorphosis as a comic tragedy of a wasted life, it appeared to the reader who studied the art of psychoanalysis as a perfect example of chronic and useless depression. People who are in this delusional state often consider suicide although usually through ideation (I think but not), but self-neglect is a very common trait that leads to slow death due to lack of treatment. If you have an unsupportive family, where their needs are interfered with by your mental state – then further rejection can lead to a deeper resentment of your own part in their heart. Many depressives play the victim (3. Berne 1960s) inviting others to rescue them – when in fact they have to rescue themselves – but in the end they become persecuted and more victims themselves for the bitter end of death.
In real life through treatment for depression, a sense of purpose has been sought from the client in which he can see a fresh new change to the situation despite the war of the non-supportive family and the hostile work environment that are all common in today’s economy. In the case of Gregor over time he will have explored past traumas and realized the underlying demons that lead to a lack of self-assurance and efficacy to find new solutions to his mood.
This paper is a psychoanalytical exercise from a famous literary work and describes the art of the analyst who tries to understand the basic concepts of the unconscious mind in creating monsters of our own imagination to fight when we reach the point of physical exhaustion. and mentally called – depression.
1. Kafka F. 1915 – Metamorphosis – Bantam Edition 2004
2. Kafka F. 1919 – Letter to his Father – Bantam Ed 2004
3. Bernes E. 1960s – Transactional Analysis – various volumes.
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