Projects > Critting the Thematic Apperception Test

Card 6BM
Card 6BM
Test Card and text on Paper

I see an older woman and her adult son. Both the woman and the man seem very concerned, and I think that the mother is reacting to some news the son has just delivered. The woman is facing away from the man and is looking out the window with a somewhat surprised expression on her face. The man is holding his hat, so I assume that he has just arrived or is about to depart. His facial expression connotes deep concern or serious contemplation. The man is taller and bigger than the woman, and my gaze is drawn from the expression on the woman’s face to rest on the expression on the man’s. The man is the subject of this image and is sharing information, and the woman is in the passive position of receiving news.

This picture evokes the Jungian archetype of the mother. The mother is typically a nurturing figure, but this image upsets that order, as the woman seems very upset about the news she has just received. It seems the son may be leaving her, possibly to get married, or to move away for a new job, and he has come to deliver the news to her in person. This image is thus about the severing of the emotional bond between the mother and son and is evocative of the resolution of Freud’s phallic stage in which a boy is expected to separate from his mother and identify with his father. A difficult resolution to this stage may, according to Freud, have repercussions into adulthood, and result in the development of the Oedipus complex. Of course, Freud was trying to normalize and simplify a set of relations that are, in actuality, far more fluid.