The story of a modern Oedipus
An approximately forty year old man who’s checked himself into a psychiatric clinic is discharged again after five days. Not because he’s not disturbed but because he was able to fairly clearly put his problems down on paper for the medical superintendent. In the latter’s personal notes (with which the book ends) the conclusion is that ‘this Oedipus can look after himself’, even if the patient disagrees.
Although the patient is no Oedipus he does have a lot in common with him. Wieg’s ‘Oedipus’ is the son of a tablecloth salesman who is confronted during his adolescence with his mother, a voluptuous model. She is the first woman with whom the youth goes to bed (or has he just imagined that later?). When, at a later date, he is allowed to accompany his father on a sales trip his father unexpectedly dies in a hotel room. The boy did not kill him.
What is sure is that, after these experiences in his youth, the man goes off his emotional and sexual rails. He marries but his wife doesn’t stick it out because he has panic attacks brought on by the compulsively recurring idea that she’s going to leave him. What he looks for in love is complete harmony with another without that ‘terrible, eternal self-reflection’. The harmony he experienced as a very young child. This psychiatric document disguised as a novel is fascinating because of the man’s explanation for his behaviour. He claims not to believe in a causal relationship between his problems and his history. His deviation is simply the result of an unknown chemical reaction.
It cannot be proved and it sounds strange, but imagine he’s right. Then he’s playing a big trick on the psychiatric world with his (therefore meaningless) Oedipus story by stocking his medical history with the well-known material that will allow a quasi-founded diagnosis to be made. In that case the man isn’t mad but a bit too smart. And the medical superintendent does the right thing in sending him home after five days. Because such a fool, who can state his problems so clearly, should be kept away from the clinic. Let him work it out himself. And become a writer.