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Case Hysteries
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Felicia gives an overview of the book:

Case Hysteries is a collection of poems including dramatic monologues and dialogues based on Sigmund Freud's case histories of five women.
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Case Hysteries is a collection of poems including dramatic monologues and dialogues based on Sigmund Freud's case histories of five women.

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Entreaty (Frau Emma)

Still, keep still, don't touch me, do not, please,
Touch me, touch me, not in this room here, not here,
Not here, here in this room where I am waiting,
For the pain, your pain,

Churning in my intestines, my pain, here still,
Keep still, do not touch me here, not here, go there,
Sit now, wait, you wait in the corner for me
To tell you why it's

Hard here, still, to keep up the pain to feel it
Rushing through my veins like the horses I drove
Through the forest with my two daughters—I screamed
Into the night then,

I screamed.  Go now, leave me to sleep now, here now,
Here in this room where I can rest now, go now,
Do not touch me, do not say a word, go now, leave me,
Let me be alone.

*****

The Facts of Dora’s Case (Freud)

She loves a married man 
Whose wife loves her father.
She also loves the wife,
Who makes her feel jealous.
She loves her father too
Though he does not love her.

Herr K. has courted her.
He is a loathsome man.
He tried to kiss her too.
I notice that the father
Never feels that jealous
Of them, nor does the wife.

She wants to kiss the wife
Of the man who loves her.
He need not be jealous 
Since she is not a man.
She must make her father 
See she's beautiful too.

Her dreams inform me too
She wants to be a wife.
She must leave her father
Before he rejects her.
She must look for a man
Who will make him jealous.

*****
Elisabeth’s Memories Begin (Fraulein Elisabeth von R.)

I did not want the role
Of girl child, not after she—
My sweet mother—took ill.

My father always said he
Couldn't ask for anything
More than a companion like me.

When he got sick, sleeping
In his room in case he called
Was just my way of helping.

To prove to him that I loved
Him, I acted so cheerful.

When he died, I helped console
Mother, who needed me still.

felicia-mitchell's picture

These poems are perhaps more interesting for their relationship to Freud's early belief in the relationship between childhood sexual trauma and hysteria. I wrote them to explore Freud's ideas along with the voices of women who seemed to need their own voices.

About Felicia

Felicia Mitchell grew up in South Carolina and North Carolina and lived in Georgia and Texas prior to moving to Virginia in 1987 to take a job at Emory & Henry College.  She has lived and worked in rural Washington County since then, writing a column for...

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Published Reviews

Jan.10.2010

I love the first poem of Felicia Mitchell’s new chapbook of poems The Cleft of the Rock. “Alley” is an existential manifesto that essentially states, “I go; therefore I am.” It is a poem about temptation...