All three personalities reflected by Joanne Woodward highlighted the different personality structures laid out by Sigmund Freud. Eve White reflected the Superego. According to Freud, this is the basis for the moral side of our personality. According to Schultz and Schultz, in its attempt for moral perfection, the superego is relentless and cruel. The lengths that it’ll go to, to seek this perfection is irrational and extremely intense (Schultz and Schultz, 2009, p. 59). In the movie, this is evident by her extremely quiet and reserved nature. She tries to be the model wife but this is taken to the extreme as she is too submissive to everyone. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Luther said at one point that Eve White could not function in society due how reserved she was. This reserved nature of Eve who just accepted everything demonstrated how the superego was striving for moral perfection.
Eve Black demonstrated the personality structure of the id. According to Freud, this structure is the reservoir for the instincts and the libido. We see this in Eve Black as she is promiscuous and does whatever she wants when she wants to. She also acts in accordance to the pleasure principle described by Freud which states that the id functions to reduce tension and increase pleasure. Eve Black does this by going out to bars when she wants to, she flirts with every man that she meets all for instant gratification while completely unaware of the reality of the situation such as how people would view her afterwards.
Jane demonstrates the Ego. This is described by Freud as the rational side of the personality. It is aware of reality and describes when and how the id should be satisfied. The ego of Jane deliberates between reality and the id. We see this rationality when Jane meets someone that she loves. Even though she wants to be involved with that person, she is aware that she has dissociative disorder, so she rationalizes that it might not be a good idea. Janes’ personality is stable, as expected of the ego.
Carl Jung’s principle of opposites noted that there are opposites in psychic energy. Every wish or feeling has an opposite. The opposite of the quiet, reserved Eve White is the outgoing, fun-loving Eve Black. What Eve White wanted and did was the opposite of what Eve black did. Eve White would stay at home and take care of her child while Eve Black went out and enjoyed herself.
Jung’s second principle is the principle of equivalence. It states that if psychic energy is weak in one area then the energy is transferred elsewhere in the psyche. In the movie we see where the psych energy wasn’t distributed adequately in Eve White. All her psyche energy was focused on being the good wife and mother that the society and her husband expected of her but this made her docile and submissive.
The principle of entropy holds that facets of our character don’t take the wild swings as when we were younger. We become more aware and comfortable as there is now an even distribution of psyche energy. This is not the case however with Eve White as her personalities are polar opposites to each other.
Threats to the ego is what resulted in the personalities manifesting. These threats to the ego are reality anxiety, moral anxiety and neurotic anxiety. We see reality anxiety manifested in Eve White from the age of 6. This is the age that the other personalities began to form as she went through an emotional trauma with her beloved grandmother’s death. The reality anxiety is the fear of tangible dangers and Eve White was afraid when her grandmother had passed but also when she was forced to kiss her dead grandmother. She was hysterical when they had made her do this.
The other type of threats the ego is neurotic anxiety. This is the childhood conflict between instinctual gratification and reality. We see from when Eve was younger that she didn’t get to do things that she wanted to do such a getting a blue china cup and Eve Black also said that Eve White got beatings when she was younger for things she didn’t do. Also we see where Eve was forced to stop playing under the house by her mother. This neurotic anxiety is the constant fear of being punished for displaying id tendencies. We see that the punishments that Eve was getting was not being able to gratify the id and according to Eve Black getting beatings for things she didn’t do.
The other threat to the ego is moral anxiety. This is when the superego is fighting the impulses of the id. According to Freud, it is our conscience that cause the fear and anxiety that results from this anxiety. It is this internal struggle that cause the emergence of Eve Black. Eve Black is the one that gives in to the impulses of the id while Eve White conforms to the morality of the superego.
The lack of/unevenly distributed psychic energy could have contributed to the manifestation of different personality. As there was no opposite in Eve White’s life before her dissociate disorder, there was no psychic energy. According to analytic theory, there has to be conflict. Psychic energy was also not evenly distrusted as needed in the principle of equivalence. The harder we push to go in one way or the other, the harder the temptation on the other side of the duality haunts us. This tension that is created by tipping the scale heavily in one direction doesn’t just dissipate if Eve would have ignored ignore it. You must acknowledge it, and allow it to be without taking action. The lack of/unevenly distributed psychic energy causes what Jung called complexes which in turn formed the personalities. Complexes can be conscious or unconscious but they are, “ore or pattern of emotions, memories, perceptions, and wishes organized around a common theme” (Schultz and Schultz, 2009, p. 108). Eve’s complex was not under her control and according to the analytic theory, these complexes can interfere with consciousness which we see in the movie and the person will not be aware of it which is seen by Eve’s amnesic spells.
Each person secretes hormones for our sex and the opposite sex. These produce the anima archetype which is the feminine aspect and the animus archetype which is the masculine aspect. It is vital that each person has both these archetypes. We see some aspects of the animus archetype in the split personality of Eve Black. Evidence of this is seen when she drinks hard alcohol and smokes which is characteristic of a male in the time that they were living. Eve White’s personality consists mainly of the anima archetype. She is feminine, submissive and follows what is expected of the model wife.
In the movie we see repression as a defense mechanism. This is the unconscious denial of something that causes us anxiety. We see where Eve had repressed her childhood memory about her grandmother. We also see denial where Eve white denies the existence of any traumatic event until she was put under hypnosis. The other defense mechanism seen is regression by Eve Black. Regression is characterized by going back to an earlier point in your life where things were less frustrating. This is seen by her childish behaviour. The ego was not developed at this point and Eve Black embodied that period by having no inhibitors when it came to her behaviour.
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