“Women are meant to be loved, not understood.” Oscar Wilde

We have a problem with a woman. A particular one. And it is getting worse.

Ever since we started our medical practice almost forty years ago, she has been coming every day, rain, or shine, to share her multiple woes with us. She sits down on the opposite side of our desk, looks at us straight in the eye and says these words: “I am emotionally frustrated.” What is her name? Bovary. Emma Bovary.

When we had read Madame Bovary [i] as a student in the Alliance Française [ii] of Montevideo, we were mesmerized by the story of a beautiful and ardent wife of a country medical practitioner that could not find any solace in her grey existence. At the time we could not fathom how she could be so ungrateful to her partner. However, the ensuing studies and practice as a medical doctor gave us the necessary insight to grasp—if still not fully agree with—the cause of her angst. We discovered the multiple big and small, yet none the less painful, incidents of public and private humiliation that women must endure with stoicism during their lives.

We had left our copy of the novel in a box full of books in Montevideo but somehow, Emma sprung out of it to pursue us all the way to Miami to disturb us.  Ever since her 1856 debut as a series in La Revue de Paris [iii], this mischievously meek petite bourgeoise has been deftly manipulating ingénue men like us.[iv]

Even in a hyper-connected age, she still cannot get her message through. The plethora of mixed messages in the social media platforms has increased her confusion as her connections seem to be more tone-deaf than ever to her plight. As the tragic trifecta of memory, love and the passage of time relentlessly gnaws at her soul, she has been stubbornly nagging us to record her thoughts verbatim [v]. The Spanish language differentiates between the noble role of escritor—an artist inspired by a mission—and the mundane one of escribiente—an obscure agent that copies other people’s writings or takes dictation.[vi] Haggling with the most miserly of muses and fighting the meanest of demons, we turned into Emma’s escribiente.

A strange phenomenon has occurred to us almost imperceptibly yet steadily: the causes of her Emotional Frustration have started to percolate into our mind. Moreover, the daily drill of listening attentively to women has developed in our brain one of the greatest gifts they have been endowed with: the mirror neurons.

Slowly yet surely, we have learned to read almost any rictus of her face without any exchange of words. We can discern how her mood is by just looking at the way she steps in. Prodded by the cultural constraints of a supposedly “modern society” still controlled by men, women have been more focused on association rather than action like men had. In order to find out efficiently what their loved ones need, they have recurred to this edge ever since our Dark Times in the caves. We can start to close the gap by following their advice: “Just listen to me.”

Sigmund Freud [vii] was perhaps the first man that tried to listen to women. In his medical cabinet, he sat down next to a lady that would freely associate to open her mind and heart to his clinical scrutiny. Thus, he had the courage to study what Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot [viii], his mentor, dismissively dubbed as la chose génitale [ix] when they saw hysterical patients in the Neurology ward of La Pitié-Salpêtrière [x]. The extraordinarily rich emotional armamentarium of a woman exposes her to many opportunities of frustration when her goals, or those persons she loves, are not reached for sexual, familiar, financial, professional, and social reasons. After his workday, Freud had the temerity to go back home to listen to his wife and, if some unconfirmed reports are true, his sister-in-law too— his secret lover. Brave.

We have noticed the rising importance of female bonding in Emma’s life. Women—historically oppressed by all the patriarchal institutions and biologically burdened by the travails of the family—usually find the needed emotional support and social connectedness within their circle of friends, both male and female. Moreover, as women live more of their adult lives without a steady partner or a traditional family, they share more purposes and experiences with their friends.

Based on his solid experience as a physician, Antón Chekov [xi] wrote about the paradoxical facets of our behavior. Humans are biologically hardwired for contradiction—the essence of the creative process—because we have two brains and two minds. The Left propositional Hemisphere is logical and analytical while the Right appositional hemisphere is perceptual and synthetic.[xii] As a result, all the sensory input to the Right Hemisphere (originating in the body’s left side) is stored without any hard analysis or judgement. Contradictions coexist in harmony there. Women have more neural connections via the Corpus Callosum, between the Right and Left hemispheres [xiii] —the basis of their better integration of emotional aspects.     We have patiently designed and written in a medical and literary web page at https://drmolaplume.com/ ,which has been a big success with a select public. We grouped our writings in series, one of which was named Emotional Frustration. It constituted the necessary scaffolding to slowly start constructing this sailing boat, besides gauging the reaction of our readers, and pleading for a propitious hava [xiv].

We would like to thank our children for their unfaltering support all these years besides helping us in concrete ways. Noël Marie designed the beautiful cover and Gian Luca helped us edit the text ; both have commented many articles. As Life is a perpetual journey along the treacherous channels to Wisdom that our kindred navigated before us, we would like to thank our parents and grandparents; Yolanda, la Nonna, and Morizio, il Nonno, endowed us with the Italian heritage.

Dear readers, trying to discern what the big causes of Emotional Frustration in our modern women are might seem like an impossible task, especially for us, men. Parsimoniously retracing our steps to our days as a medical student in the clinical ward of the Policlínico General San Martín of the Medical School of La Plata, we remember how Dr.  Bernardo Manzino, professor of Medicine, sat down facing the patient, asked what was wrong and then listened without interrupting.   The theoretical and practical studies of Semiology—the compendium of clinical signs that are pathognomonic of sickness—gave us useful clues, not only about patients’ physical ailments, but also about their psychological disturbances. It was right there that we started to hone our intuition skills “to try to understand women.”

Whether we like it or not, we are living in an on-demand environment. The time lapse between awareness, desire and reward has been reduced to an instant. If the streaming platforms release all the episodes of a series in a single day, we must realize that entertainment has taken a new dimension, especially for women. If you take a lady for a romantic dinner, she will scrutinize you closely for any faux-pas and quietly expect the right moves—verbal and physical. Binge-watching-reacting. You must be able to sell your brand every time you interact romantically. Reality takes a backseat to the magic of entertainment. It is what she sees in you. To carry out this Houdinesque trick, you must combine the storytelling prowess of brand marketers with the action-driven stunts of performance marketers. Someone trying to market their brand has to leverage this new paradigm by learning the best practices advocated by psychologists, social researchers, philosophers, writers, etc.

The Emotional Frustration of women does not occur in a social vacuum but rather within the constrictive corset deftly set up by all the patriarchal institutions. As there is absolutely nothing natural or biological to justify the social, economic, and professional subordination of women in our societies, we will tackle this issue.

Being an admirer of Jerzi Grotowsky [xv]—who sought to recreate the drama of spiritual/ religious practices by encouraging spectators’ participation to exorcise our Collective Unconscious—we added a sub-section titled A nugget of Wisdom and some interspersed notes identified as the Sailing’s logbook; we recruited an adventurous group of men for a boat trip to circumnavigate the waterways of Emotional Frustration. After discussing a major topic, we insolently broke the so-called “fourth wall” [xvi] to proselytize directly to them and try to shake their perennial, paralyzing torpor off. They look like the college notes on literary but hard to read classics like Ulysses. [xvii]

We can still remember the utter puzzlement and sense of loss we had when we raided the great library of our dear father Mario [xviii] and pulled that book out. “What is this? Why all this messy lay-out? Where do I start? Will I reach the end?”

Do not despair. Ignorant men can learn. Frustrated women can get relief.

We can overcome together the devastating consequences of this pandemic.

Only the concerted, sustained effort of all genres will rebuild our societies.

Every memorable adventure, and its printed saga, begins with a single step.

Please give us your hand and let us make that most humble, powerful move.

As Mario Benedetti [xix]—a chronicler of the “little details of life”—said:

“Lo Imposible. Sólo cuesta un poco más.” [xx]

 

References

[i] Gustave Flaubert, “Madame Bovary”, Frères Michel Levy, Paris, 1857.

[ii] Name of the private institute based in Paris, France, that teaches the French language in many branches worldwide.

[iii] After five years of writing more than 4500 pages, Gustave Flaubert, aged 35 years, published the 500 pages of “Madame Bovary” in the magazine directed by Maxime Du Camp, his companion in the trip to the Far East. There were six parts appearing on the first and fifteenth day of the months of October, November and December 1856. He wrote to a friend that; ‘you will know that I am presently being printed, I lose my virginity of non-published man in eight days as of Thursday, October 1st…I will for three consecutive months fill most of the pages of La Revue de Paris.” Our translation.

Information was obtained from Yvan Leclerc, “Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, pré-originale dans la Revue de Paris «, Recueil des Commémorations Nationales 2006.

https://francearchives.fr/commemo/recueil-2006/39092/

[iv] In the January 8, 2019, program “L’heure Bleu” of Radio France Inter, Laura Adler, the presenter, interviewed Vanessa Springora, author of the bestseller “Le Consentement”. The subject of Madame Bovary and her frustrations came up for discussion. I believe it was Vanessa that suggested that Emma Bovary “devrait avoir pris la plume pour écrire” (she should have picked up the feather to write) Well, false modesty apart, let us inform these ladies that it is never too late for Emma to at least voice her ideas, especially when she can recruit a submissive agent to take dictation like yours truly. Playing with the meaning of our last name, we dare to say: “je suis peut être Laplume qui manquait dans la vie de Madame Bovary” ( I am perhaps the Laplume that was missing in Madame Bovary’s life)

[v] Term in the Latin language that means: “in exactly the same words.”

[vi] Diccionario de la Lengua Española, Tomo 1, Real Academia Española, 2001, Espasa Calpe.

[vii] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Sigmund-Freud/

[viii] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jean-Martin-Charcot/

[ix] Can be translated as “the genital stuff.”

[x] Name of the Paris hospital where Prof. Charcot directed a clinical ward of Neurology.

[xi] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Anton-Chekhov/

[xii] David A. Scola, “The Hemispheric Specialization of the Human Brain and its Application  to Psychoanalytic Principles”, Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 2, Issue 1, January 1984. https://jdc.jefferson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer/

[xiii] Babak A. Ardekani, Khadija Figarsky, John Sitdis, “Sexual Dimorphism in the Human Corpus Callosum: an MRI Study using the OASIS Brain database”, Cerebral Cortex, 2013 Oct:23(10): 2514-2520.    https;//academic.coup.com/cercor/article/23/10/2514/29675/

[xiv] Word of the Hindi language that can be translated as “current of air.”

[xv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerzy_Grotowski/

[xvi] In theatrical jargon the “fourth wall” refers to the space interposed between the actors and their spectators.

[xvii] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/338798.Ulysses

[xviii] Mario Laplume Salguero was our dearest father and we prepared an article in his honor in our web page.

https://drmolaplume.com/2018/08/14/the-visionary-of-trinidad/

[xix] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Mario-Benedetti/

[xx] Can be translated as “The Impossible. It only costs a little bit more.” Mario Benedetti is one of the greatest modern Uruguayan writers who specialized in short stories and penned some of the most memorable romantic lines. Like James Joyce, he was interested in the vicissitudes of urban life and the multiple characters that inhabit—and suffer—them. “Montevideanos”, his first major book published in 1959, has reminiscences of “Dubliners.”

11 thoughts on ““Emotional Frustration-the hushed plague” Prologue

  1. A MUST READ BOOK FOR LOVING WOMEN
    Dear Dr. Sahib,
    The book titled EMOTIONAL FRUSTRATION – THE HUSHED PLAGUE, written by Dr. Mario Laplume – a doctor by profession, a human being to the core whose head and heart are at the right place, a most prominent researcher par excellence besides being a spiritualist who could offer commentary on a variety of subjects besides ably assisted by his bright and genial offspring. The book contains in great details the fine-tuned traits of the women who face a varieties of challenges without demur. How best the Mother Nature has bestowed the characteristics of taking care of their loved ones has been mentioned.
    Essentially, this is axiomatic that it is not easy to understand the women easily but when one makes concerted efforts to do so one can do so. When this happens, we gain immensely – the question is to understand the head and heart. In this endeavour the author has made an honest effort and has succeeded in understanding her. As emphasised by the author, woman cannot be simple, straight and conformist. Empirical truth is that in life she is constraint to meet different problems at home and at different fronts in the society. In other words, it is due to her trait of accepting challenges and coming out unscathed that the civilization is ticking. The emotional frustration of women does not happen without any reason but due to some practical reasons as the women by Nature are very emotional whenever their feelings get adversely affected. The author has very deftly listed very adroitly every detail which a woman likes and dislikes.
    The present book ‘A NOVELIZED ESSAY’ is a treasury of knowledge about the relationship between spouses; so vividly penned by the author with details taken from other sources to make the book appear not fictional but lifelike. Even the small details are very clearly put forth to look like the beads put in the strong thread of a garland to provide it the sustainability, durability and workability to a worshipper who gets benefit by reciting the Prabhu Naam by turning each bead. Here the beads are turning of pages of the present book.
    The relationship which spouses should have has been very clearly mentioned. The plot starts with a woman named Bovry Emma Bovary, the wife of a rural physician; who utters the words: ‘I am emotionally frustrated’ in fact opening her heart about herself caring two hoots about her partner. The state of her mind has now been affecting her day to day functioning and behaviour pattern too.
    The example of Sigmund Freud and other personages in the book who understood the general traits of women give us vividly the relationship which the women have. We can utulise their wisdom into our lives and make our lives sublime and worth living. It is partly because of the fact that the women opened themselves easily in front of the well read people because they knew that they will gain much from experiences of these psychologists and thinkers of repute.
    One of the paramount imperative aspects of the book is that it deals with different dimensions such as sexual, family, social, financial and labor related. All these are important components which help the life to go smoothly and if there is no sync between these critical dimensions/aspects, then, sure enough, there is dawn of ‘emotional frustration’
    There are VII chapters, each chapter has something unique lesson for the readers. For this to be reality, the readers will have to read each chapter individually and get the feel of each chapter thereby gain innate knowledge. The fundamental aspect of it all is that the references added in the book are based on proper experience gained by various philosophers and thinkers and added to make the narrative in the book more realistic and lifelike.
    The author has added an epilogue which helps the readers to know clearly as to what the women actually want and what are her aspirations in life. One essential aspect in this is the life of Alfonsina Storni’s life which has been well described – starting from her birth to her later parts of life. She withstood all the trials and tribulations which came in her life including other challenges along with depression which she underwent in her sojourn in life. This makes the book more appraisal worthy and worthwhile.

    There is also the mention of another woman named Luliet Lanteri – a brave Italian-American woman who immigrated to Argentina as a child subsequently became the first woman to vote in the general election in South America after getting court’s injection. She too faced life with fortitude as she was abandoned by her own family. Finally she lived and died ‘true to herself’ – an uncompromising feminist.
    Subsequently, there are descriptions of other women who had their struggles in their lives yet they lived their lives on their own terms without losing their balance; that is the beauty of the writing.

    Conclusively, there is nugget of wisdom in each of the case studies which the readers could garner but this is only possible after going through the entire book. Sure enough, the readers will gain the wisdom as to how to adjust with the women in their lives besides living a life full of sagacity while accepting challenging of life along with living a spiritual oriented life. It could rightly be said that women ought to be loved and trusted but it is not necessary that she should be understood in true sense of terms. Here the maxim of Oscar Wild: Women are meant to be loved, not understood’.

    Finally, the book, is based on deep understanding of relationship between man and woman and would surely be received by all with the grace of Almighty God. The details given are obviously very clearly delineated.

    With warm hugs and regards,

    HARBANS

  2. Good afternoon and thank you. There is something about your writing that grabs me each time. I want to comment because I have something to say. Alone, I don’t think you could ever be.

    1. Thank you Jamie. I use my well-honed bewitching powers to entice women to keep reading. Some ladies have put a monicker on me: PPP. In order to find out what it is you might have to read the last chapter of my novel “Madame D.C.”
      A big kiss. Ciao!

  3. I can’t leave you alone even if I tried (though you can get mad at me at times, as well as make me mad).

    God morning, dear. To ensure it stays good and you enjoy your mate amargo, I have to leave a comment asap.

    Your post does answer my questions, thank you. Now, make sure you include the comment box in the Preface section too, and for the time being I’ll leave mine here.

    As for your reference to our beloved Flaubert again, I have to share a thought of a Guardian “critic” who saw Madame Bovary as a bourgeois narcissist in 19th-century France who was destroyed by her daydreams. Go figure. Interestingly, she mentions her background, along with the fact that she worked as an au pair in the French provinces in the 1950s, and read the book in French. She further describes the book as the least romantic one ever and the only conclusion I could make was that the poor thing was afraid of getting stuck in provincial life and being trapped in a house and kitchen. As opposed to Anna Karenina whom she sees as tragic, Emma Bovary is small-minded, confused and selfish, only to add in the end she’s kind of tragic too.

    There’s indeed a thin line separating tragedy and comedy in life. As a smart man said once, many people have ambition, but not everybody has abilities.

    What do you think dottore? I hope you’ll never leave me alone. Friends?

    1. Good morning my dearest Bo and thanks for this excellent commentary. I am glad that my writings have struck a sentimental chord in the marvelous orchestra of your inner emotions. As you well say, Emma might be a selfish, and even foolish, petit bourgeois but she was daringly rebelling against the suffocating, provincial environment where her naive husband had dumped her. She used the only weapons she had at her disposal: her body and her wits. Bravo!
      Please continue to read and comment my work as they are inspired by sweet and fair muses like you, firmly holding my hand in this convoluted journey.
      Maintenant il faut claquer la bise. Muichhh!!! A bientot!

      1. Hello, my dear.

        I’m always busy on Thursdays working so it’s only now that I started reading posts and comments.

        Yes, our beloved Emma did what she had to do, staying loyal to herself, and we love her for it.
        Let the haters hate and judge. Speaking of which, I can be pretty masochistic at times, reading the kind of rubbish I mentioned. What a wonderful display of denseness and slow-wittedness that was. But then again, the inability to grasp the meaning (abstract thoughts in particular) and read between the lines is so common today, given the superficiality and ignorance we live in.
        Que pensez-vous, mon cher?

      2. Good morning dear Bo and thanks for your nice commentary. I couldn’t agree more with you. Our frivolous and fleeting concerns in this modern society preclude the use of our minds for even minimal abstract thinking. Parbleu!

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