Psychosis In The Turn Of The Screw

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Postpartum Without the Parta: An Analysis of Psychosis in The Turn of the Screw After women experience childbirth, it is common for them to have an experience known as postpartum depression. For the women suffering this type of depression can experience different instances of fear, insomnia and moments of anxiety and paranoia. In the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, the narrator begins to show the signs for postpartum depression and psychosis, without having any children and shows a hidden sexual desire about the children. Because of her fear, panicked actions and hasty generalizations throughout the novella, it is clear for readers to question the governess’ sanity and see that she in a deep stage of psychosis. The Turn of the…show more content…
Once she begins her job with the children, she starts showing a fondness over the children straightaway, which is the beginning of her psychotic actions. When she sees Flora for the first time, she says “She was the most beautiful child I had ever seen.” (30). She also asks Mrs. Grose, “And the little boy – does he look like her? Is he too so very remarkable?” (31). Subsequently, she references “Raphael’s holy infants” when talking about the children (31). While the children may be beautiful, is it necessarily typical for one of the workers to say so in such words? These words seem similar to those of a mother who’s seen their children for the first time after birth. This is where the idea of the postpartum depression comes into play. Another way to describe her actions would be “Suppressed Obsessive Maternal Anxiety Disorder” discussed by Scott Covell in a 2016 lecture. Within seconds of being in the home, she is already feeling a motherly connection to the children. After weeks of being in the home, she sees the first apparition down the path from her. She gains fear from seeing the spirit, but not in the way one would initially think. The governess has feelings of taboo and overwhelming feelings of sexual desire and erotic impulses. Her fear in the man isn’t due to the fact that he’s a stranger, it’s the fact that he’s a handsome one. Before she had seen him, she was having a fantasy about…show more content…
This idea connects with the governess’ apparent obsessive control over the children. Within certain cases in the novella, it appears that the governess has some type of sexual desire over the children, mostly with Miles. Apart from her constant calling of them beautiful, she acts peculiarly with the children at times that leans more towards her psychotic side rather than her motherly, “suppressed obsessive maternal” suffering side. The first real sight of this is after Mrs. Grose tells her about Quint and his relationship with Miles. She says, “It was Quint’s own fancy. To play with him, I mean – to spoil him. Quint was too much free,” to which the governess responds, “Too free with my boy?” (51). It also says in this moment that the idea of Quint and Miles together gave her “a sudden sickness of disgust” (51). It seems to be a little excessive to be absolutely disgusted by the idea of the child and his servant, especially by another worker in the home. It was these stories that could have caused her psychosis to go overboard, leading to the hallucinations. What if the governess never really saw the apparitions of Quint and Miss Jessel? The governess’ psychosis created the images of the pair from Mrs. Grose’s tales about them to have something to protect the children from. After ‘seeing’ Quint and Miss Jessel late at night, she frequently visits the children’s rooms to check up

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