Session III : Thursday 18 May 1944

Matilda is living near Belsize Park Road, part of a community of German-Jewish refugees who had fled Hitler in the early years of the war. After a period working as a fire watcher during the Blitz she was employed as a clerk in an organisation assisting refugees.

Recently she has been romantically involved with  two men – Robert whom she met several months ago and Monty, with whom she has been going out with for a long time. Both are serving in the military forces in some way. It means they are away, overseas, for long periods.  There are long gaps between meetings.

She has been puzzled about her response to Robert with whom she had felt, upon meeting, that there was much to bind them together. Potentially. She had felt herself to be in love, but doubted her capacity for this. But then? She is writing in her second language, or her third. It is difficult to decipher meaning as a result. Her thoughts seem disjointed, her tenses are all over the place. She might be unable to write down her thoughts. The intense feelings are too much, maybe.  The mind, I think, is not an orderly space. She writes,

I have some of that feeling of panic and emptiness.  I vaguely feel that something is wrong with Robert and wonder at the same time whether this is not a projection on to him of my own vacillating emotions?  With Monty I feel warm and comforted in that warm and paternal presence, although I often come across traits that  disturb me: sentimental, self dramatising, petit-bourgeois. But there is a kernel which is good and comforting. It is not for me a feeling of ‘This is what I have been dreaming of long ago’, as it was when I met Robert, but it is positive nevertheless.

My thoughts and feelings got curiously merged; I did not know to whom my tenderness and my desire went… I was surprised how small and far away Robert became, and then again when I talked to Mother at Guildford there was only Robert. Now he is far away again. And I feel alone.

Yet I don’t want to break the physical aloneness. Why? Seriousness perhaps? Or [am I, to be honest,] merely husband hunting? I feel I must tread softly with Monty and feelings may develop. But in almost everything he does I compare him with Robert…

28th December 1943

Suddenly it seemed a terrific problem. Monty is intense and – I still cannot help feeling –  his somewhat self dramatizing letters which sweep me away on waves of emotion… leave me somewhat high and dry. And then again the knowledge that I don’t want him profoundly. That I am longing for Robert and yet might perhaps just as well give him up.

I feel I ought to marry but I don’t know why; that a lover seems preferable to a husband but at the same time needs more sefl confidence in me. That I wnat children but don’t want them now and am loth to accept the responsibilities…

Matilda’s journeys into inner London, to Harley Street to see Dr W, become central to her. She needs to explore these  quandaries – about men, lovers, marriage and, through her dreams, her experiences as a German Jewish woman, a refugee, in London. This is her third session with Dr W.

I tell him about my fainting fits.

W: The easiest way to escape facing a situation. There must have been an unconscious emotional crisis.

She then tells him about a dream about Robert, and her wish that W solve this problem for her. After all, H,  an old  friend, or perhaps another therapist,  was somebody who solved my problems for me.  W. wont.  

W:  We move round and around the same problem until we outgrow it. -We have found that Mother is a very great influence.

M : Why?  Because I open the door for her. Why do I?

Matilda does not seem to like the thought that her mother is so central to her.

Session IV: Tuesday 23 May 1944

Matilda tells Dr W about her reflections between the sessions…

Matilda: On the one hand I ask Mother about things I don’t really think her competent to

. I ask her about small things and put the full responsibility upon her if things go wrong. On the other hand I don’t tell her anything at all and resent all… interference.

W: Both are symptoms of immaturity.

This comment stays with her long enough for Matilda to record. We do not know what transpired next. We are working with the gap between event and memory. What has been suppressed?

Matilda: I felt completely lost last Monday after leaving Robert.

W: That feeling can not be got rid of so quickly.

Matilda: Query: Was it sexual because of F.l?

I wonder whether she is referring to ‘Father Love’ here.  Is she beginning to doubt the reality of her connection with Robert, seeing it as a enactment of her internal life?

W: No.

Matilda: Dreams. Element of conflict. Mother on one side,  [her father?] on the other. Neither is myself….

Matilda’s diary is hard to follow. Like the analyst we must follow these residues of  her thought and find a pattern.  She seems to be freely associating as she converses with herself about herself and about her experience of Dr W.

She begins with two dreams – about a man on a bike and an association: Unsolved question: Who is the man I feel is interfering?

Dream about railway station: Conflict of wanting to make contact with Robert but not quite daring. There is a dream about a flower, her feelings; an element of the emotional  connection she is making with Robert.

W: I am not interfering in your relationship with Robert in any direction.

Matilda: I feel better about it since now I don’t feel I ought to marry,  and can carry on for the time being. There is probably a lot of egoism in it in that I want to keep him, (Robert) until I  can do without…