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The La Diablesse: Theories and Methods of Assessment Essay

The story of the La Diablesse is one that is familiar to most Caribbean people. She may have different names but her modus operandi is the same; attract and destroy. The purpose of this paper and of our group is to explore the ‘why’ behind her motives. Not the ‘woman’s scorned’ excuse, but a more psychological reason behind her behavior. Is it second child competing for attention? Is it the aggressive drive to conquer that motivates our character? Or perhaps The La Diablesse is the embodiment of what most Caribbean women would like to do if they were ever mistreated?

This paper looked at two theories that may explain the personality of this character. Based on our knowledge of the material and the behavior of the character we chose Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung to explain her behavior. THEORISTS, METHOD OF ASSESSMENTS AND LA DIABLESSE Freud After the brutal murder of Clemence who reincarnated herself as the La Diablesse, she was known as the devil woman who roams at night. Her eyes were like burning coals and a face resembling that of a corpse, but hide it under a beautiful wide-brimmed hat and a veil over her face.

Sometimes she appears as a tall, handsome Creole woman who with swinging gait and erect stature, passes through a cane field at noon and catches the eye of a man. He then proceeds to follow her never able to catch up with her feet as they hardly touches the ground as he finds himself lost, bewildered, far from home and is never himself again. Her personality operates from the unconscious and her instinct is manifested to satisfy her bodily needs. It gives her great pleasure to charm men and put spells on them to lure them to their death. One theory that can be applied to assess the La Diablesse is Freud’s Psychoanalytical theory.

Freud’s theory states that the basic elements of personality, along with the motivating forces that drive behavior and determine its direction are instincts (Theories of Personality, pg 52). The instincts that are displayed by the La Diablesse can be deemed as being evil and ghastly and according to the Freud these can be termed as death instincts. Death instincts are the unconscious drive toward decay and destruction where one component of it is the aggressive compulsion to kill and destroy (Theories of Personality, pg 53) The La Diablesse displays this aggression and need to destroy and kill men.

According to Freud, there are three levels of personality, Id, Ego and the Superego. The part of the personality most associated with instincts is the Id, which operates according to the pleasure principle. The pleasure principle involves functioning to maximize pleasure and to reduce pain and it strives to satisfy these basic needs with regards for anything else. According to Freud the Id is deemed to be selfish, amoral, insistent and rash. The La Diablesse actions are being controlled by the Id as all her actions are done so that she can feel a sense of pleasure by seeing others being hurt and in pain.

Based on the way that Clemence was killed this may be the reason why she kills now. Due to the horrible way she died, Clemence has not been able to move past it and come to terms with it. However, she has unconsciously found a way to defend her self by using the defense mechanism of displacement. Freud stated that displacement involved shifting Id impulses from a threatening or unavailable object to a substitute object that is available (Theories of Personality, pg 59). The La Diablesse uses displacement by placing the anger she holds toward her killers onto any man she encounters who happens to be by himself.

Another aspect of Freud’s theory that can be applied to the La Diablesse is that her past experiences are the main influences of her present behavior. In using a method of assessment for the La Diablesse if there were an encounter with her, the technique of free association would have been used. It is to engage the La Diablesse in daydreaming out loud where she says whatever comes to mind whether it was trivial, embarrassing or painful. Freud believed the material revealed by patients in free association was predetermined, forced on them by the nature of the conflict.

For instance, the nature of conflict can be the brutal murder that had happened to her. From there the La Diablesse (the spirit of the woman wronged) awaits the male predator so she can take vengeance for the transgression against women. Jung Clemence was a nineteen year old, only child, who grew up in isolation from society and lost both her parents in a lightning storm. Her father left her well off and the ownership of his plantation fell to her as his only heir. She was well educated, but needed help to run the plantation so she depended on her headman to implement her orders and she depended on her nanny to control the headman.

In the end the reins of power began to slip from her hands, since it was the slaves who basically controlled the plantation. Subsequently, Clemence was raped, mutilated, killed and left in the house which was set on fire. The nanny put out the fire and saved the house, but Clemence body was terribly burnt. Later on the nanny herself succumbed to the injuries she sustained while putting out the fire. Clemence was reincarnated as the La Diablesse. Jung’s view of the total personality or psyche is that it compromises of several distinct system or structures that influence each other.

The major systems are the ego, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious (Schultz & Schultz, 2005). To analyze the personality of the La Diablesse within Jung’s theory we would first look at her attitude. Jung believed that psychic energy could be channeled externally, toward the outside world, or internally toward the self (Schultz & Schultz, 2005). In Clemence story, one could suggest, that in order to cope with the manner in which she died she assumed this personality. This alien opposite to how she functioned during her lifetime, as Jung theory stated, psychic energy (basically a wish or a feeling) has an opposite.

This opposition or antithesis- this conflict polarities- is the primary motivator of behavior and generator of energy. The sharper the conflict between the polarities, the greater the energy produced (Schultz & Schultz, 2005). As far as we are made aware in this story, Clemence is the opposite of the La Diablesse. At first, Clemence was known to be a “young woman of easy grace and calm demeanor” and later the La Diablesse (Erzulie) is described as a “hateful, mocking, grabbing your thighs, pulling your garments!

” Jung described these as our conscious perception of and reaction to our environment is determined by the opposing mental attitudes of extraversion and introversion (Schultz & Schultz, 2005). Moreover Jung theory states that a person’s conscious and unconscious states are a way of ‘self-balancing’, this means that a person’s conscious side (or ‘attitude’) becomes dominant or extreme, then the unconscious will surface or manifest in some way to rectify the balance. Jung also asserted that at times in people the unconscious can surface and ‘project’ (be directed at) the outside world, particularly other people (Chapman, 2008).

Clemence behavior before the incident surrounding her ‘death’ could be described, using Jung’s theory, as an introverted while the emergence of the La Diablesse is an extroverted personality. These are effectively two ‘type’ behaviors that combine with others to create Jung’s psychological types. Moreover Jung’s introvert and extravert ‘general attitude types’ feature strongly as two opposite characteristics within very modern personality systems (Chapman, 2008). Jung stated that we are each born with a natural balance.

If our natural balance is upset due to repression or conditioning then our minds will in some way seek to restore the balance, which he saw as the power of the unconscious surfacing as the ‘return of the repressed’ (Chapman, 2008). It could be speculated that the La Diablesse personality could be a repression of Clemence and the way she was treated caused this personality to ‘surface’. In Jung’s theory he mentioned a concept called archetypes. These are images of universal experiences contained in the collective unconscious that influence the psyche more consistently (Schultz & Schultz, 2005).

The shadow archetype seems to be the basic foundation of the La Diablesse personality. This shadow archetype is the dark side of the personality. It contains the basic, primitive animal instinct that society considers evil and immoral, but it is also source of vitality, spontaneity, creativity and emotion (Schultz & Schultz, 2005). Jung continues his explanation of this archetype by saying, if it is suppressed it does not disappear, but, this animal instinct, lies dormant, awaiting a crisis or a weakness in the ego so they can gain control and the person is then dominated by the unconscious (Schultz & Schultz, 2005).

The assessment that could be used on a subject such as the La Diablesse is word association. In this test a subject responds to a stimulus word with whatever word that immediately comes to mind. Jung used this technique with a list of words and measured the time it took for patients to respond to the stimulus word. He also noted their emotional responses to the words; in this way he was able to uncover complexes in his patients.

A complex is defined by Jung as a core pattern of emotions, memories, perceptions, and wishes in the personal unconscious organized around a common theme, such as power or status (Schultz & Schultz, 2005). In summary the La Diablesse personality was one that had great difficulty but by using Freud’s death instincts, displacement and free association and Jung’s psychic energy, extroverted personality, archetypes and free association we can now better understand what motivates Clemence behaviour and how she reach to that point of wanting to destroy and conquer men who harm women.

REFERENCES Chapman, A. , (2008, August 25). Personality Theories: Types and Tests. Retrieved from http://www. businessballs. com Gerard, B. , (1989). Folklore & Legends of Trinidad and Tobago. Port of Spain: Paria Publishing Limited Schultz, D. P. , & Schultz S. E. , (2005). Theories of Personality. Eight Edition: Thomson/Wadsworth.


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