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Chapter Four To Make Her Understand with Love Expectations for Emotion Work in North Indian Families Jocelyn Marrow In the previous chapter, Susan Seymour presents an account of child socialization in Odisha, India, that explains how the systems of honor and deference distinctive to classic patriarchy are learned. She focuses on the repeated, affect-laden, prescriptive, and proscriptive lessons for behavior taught in Old Town and New Capital Bhubaneswar to girls, beginning in infancy and continuing through early adolescence. Much of the behavior that girls learn promotes the prestige of the familial collective through modesty and deference . In this chapter I extend Seymour’s insights about the “stickiness” of deference behaviors by focusing on why women, particularly young married women, are psychologically motivated to fulfill them. My discussions with middle-class, vernacular-speaking North Indian women about communication in the family provide a glimpse of how the attachment and affiliative needs of subordinates—here, young women—are met by participation in North Indian patriarchal family structures. I describe how people are psychologically motivated to participate in North Indian family structures qua subordinates. Ideal communicative processes in adult junior-senior family member dyads, according to my interviewees, are sought by juniors because they provide (1) a sense of belonging and acceptance , and (2) the support of strong, admired others. How these motives support healthy development across the life course has been the subject of US psychoanalytic theory. Here, I employ self psychology to articulate the psychodynamic mechanisms involved in hierarchical relationships from the perspectives of subordinates . Self psychology is a psychoanalytic theory of human development and flourishing articulated first by Heinz Kohut in the United States during the middle of the twentieth century. According to self psychology, three basic psychological needs of individuals are to belong (twinship), to participate in a 71 close relationship with another whom they hold in high esteem (idealization), and to be appreciated and recognized (mirroring) (Kohut 1971). When discussing relationships among adult juniors and seniors in extended, joint families, my middle-class, vernacular-speaking interviewees’ descriptions of ideal communicative processes bore a strong resemblance to the first two of these needs (twinship and idealization). Using data from ethnographic fieldwork and interviews, I describe the focal concept of samjhaana, which in Hindi means “to make one understand,” and how it was deployed in discussions about resolving the emotional distress of intimate others. At first, these discussions surprised me because they did not include paying close attention to the feelings of the distressed other as important to resolving their distress. Instead, what resolved distress was enhancing the junior’s sense of unity with the superior and providing highly directive support . As a psychodynamic psychotherapy trainee working in Chicago in the late 1990s, I was well acquainted with self psychology, and I noticed that the emotion work on behalf of an emotionally upset subordinate seemed to fulfill two of the basic needs of the tripolar self as posited by Kohut.1 Therefore, I turn to psychodynamic theory to suggest how the North Indian communicative model motivates subordinate family members to participate qua subordinates. I conclude with a discussion of the limits of psychoanalytic theory (a US ethnopsychology ) for explaining interpersonal processes in vernacular-speaking North India and elsewhere. Mona’s Distress I met Mona, a 29-year-old middle-class homemaker, in 2002, when she was a patient of the Department of Psychiatry at a university hospital in Uttar Pradesh, India.2 Mona had experienced periods of unconsciousness for which a medical cause could not be found. As I became better acquainted with Mona over the next one and a half years, I learned that her conjugal family life was miserable in an ordinary, chronic, and uneventful kind of way. Her husband had continued to carry on an affair with his elder sister-in-law (jethi), which had begun before Mona’s marriage to him. The two couples resided in the same household, and the sexual relationship between her jethi and her husband had always been part of Mona’s marriage. Mona’s husband’s uncle, who also lived in their household, was hardly a source of moral leadership; he exposed himself to her regularly. Mona’s two other sisters-in-law, residing separately, refused to share their significantly 72Marrow greater material prosperity with Mona and her household, and they accused Mona of pretending to be ill. In an effort to understand how Mona and other junior women might communicate their distress to others in their family, I...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780826360847
Related ISBN
9780826360830
MARC Record
OCLC
1124609064
Pages
296
Launched on MUSE
2019-10-21
Language
English
Open Access
No
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