Welcome to a magical voyage to the world of 1001 nights, to the world of tales of Shaherezade, which she was retelling to her King, Shahreyar during 1001 nights. During this period she had become a mother of three children, during this time the King fell in love with her and decided to keep her alive. Keep her alive is not a random phrase, but rather a meaningful one in the context of the specificity of these tales. Even though, currently there are available many interpretations of these tales, here I will be giving my own interpretation. The main character is King Shehreyar. He is an owner of vast territories, palaces, riches and people, who he was ruling honestly and with justice, and people were responding him with the same. However, this situation was going on only until a certain period. Once upon a time he decided to travel, but on his half way he recalled that he left something at his palace, so he came back and saw his wife in the arms of his slave. He got furious and killed both of them. Then he went to see his younger brother Shahzamen and when he arrived his brother told him his sad story, in particularly that he had also found his wife cheating on him with one of his slaves. Then two brothers decided to go on hunting and sat under the tree to repose for a while and at that moment a huge jinn was lifting from the sea with a treasure box on his head. Two brothers got scared and jumped as high on the tree as possible. From that box, a very beautiful woman came out. The jinn fall asleep, and a woman addressed to two brothers: “A long time ago this jinn kidnapped me from my wedding, and as a way of revenge now I’m cheating with him on his horn. Then she asked two brothers to make love with her one by one, otherwise she would wake up the jinn and he would kill them”. Having made love with two of them, she asked for their rings, as a souvenir, which she guards about all lovers she had since the jinn kidnapped her, and she showed them a big collection of other men`s rings. Having returned home, two brothers were never the same, and they were sure that all women cheat, so Shehreyar decided to marry a new virgin every day, make love to her, and before the sunrise behead her. Thus the woman will only live for his own pleasure. This situation was going on like that during 1001 nights. Then an older daughter of Vizer asked his father to marry her with the king. Despite his will, he did so. Shehrazad had 1001 nights to deal with the king’s psychological trauma and heal the king’s psyche through tales. Every night Shehrazad was addressing to her little sister, which means that she was understanding the vulnerability of his inner child’s anxiety and she was able to turn this anxiety into stories. Insomnia of the king reveals the suffering of his inner child, and his need to find a good mother capable of understanding and appeasing him. If we analyze what happened: the king began a program of self-destruction, destruction of his kingdom. He was killing every woman capable of giving birth, so he was destroying the future of his kingdom. Shehrezade plays here a role of an excellent psychoanalyst, who initiates a disguised therapeutic process by means of diversity of tales and she manages to help King to integrate his personality (make a liaison between I and Id). He is healed by a narrative, which does not stop. The suspense heals the sultan (rupture by night). She prefugures the serial system. He is waiting for the continuation. The structure of the tale: one story starts, it turns into three intertwined stories, then these three stories finish, and the main story continues. Each story has a culmination moment, after which we want to know “what happened next?”, so this is exactly the moment when Shahrezade abrupts her narrative and leaves the King in suspense until the next night. So, desire is left unsatisfied. The main sense of this tale can be viewed as how to relaunch a mechanism of desire and how to help a person recover from trauma. Can we consider the reaction of the King, his reaction of revenge to women, as an adequate reaction of a traumatized person? The cheating can be considered as devaluation and humiliation of the King. It is as if his wife said : ”You are not that important to me, there is somebody better than you”. This provoked a blessure narcissique. And what does the King do? He tries to restore his value, to feel himself great and powerful again. And that was the Shehrezade`s task as well, which she was fulfilling during these 1001 nights. Before marrying Shahrezade the King was living in the state of affect, that first affect, which he perceived as he saw the scene, and this affect is called “I will revenge”, so he was revenging on his wife with every killed girl. He wanted revenge because he considered himself a victim. The king represents the infant part that remained omnipotent because it can not cope with the frustration of not being the center of the world. Thus, if he needs a woman to satisfy his sexual appetite, he will not be able to tolerate her being an autonomous and independent being on who he may feel dependent. The realization of the fact that a woman has something that he does not own, and on which he actually depends, provokes such rage and envy that he is forced to devalue it, and even to withhold her the right to life. The main specificity of the narrated tales is that the problematics of each of it corresponds to the state of King, every single tale is about him in direct or indirect form, and this is what maintains his interest, these tales are close to him. The tales were reflecting the situation, in which happened to be Shehreyar and Shehrezade. Those stories had a hidden message being transmitted to Shehreyar: “everything is in your hands”, “you should fight for your life, life is above everything”. And this is a message to both of them: to Shaherezade: to fight for her life, and to Shehreyar for him to fight for the restoration of his life. One part of her tales are about wives who cheated on their husbands, and about the interaction with the death, they say: the death can be postponed, it can be cancelled, or an alternative can be found to it (e.g.The Merchant and the Genie). The other part is about the men’s fears (e.g. The Fisherman and the Genie). The third part is about Complex of maternity and becoming a man and for these means a man needs to get separated from his mother (e.g. Jawdar, Son of Merchant). The fourth part is about guilt (e.g.The Hunchback’s Tale). It gives a feeling that these tales were written by men, about men’s problems to men, who are susceptible to understand these problems. There is a substantial part of masculinity in them. The tales of Shahrezade puts Shehreyar in certain hypnotic state, where through the mouths of the heroes she could insinuate thoughts to the King. For example in the “Fisherman story”, a phrase, which a main hero utters to the jinn “Save me and Allah will save you”, also had relation to the Shahrezade`s situation, hadn’t it? Scheherazade draws every circle around her husband`s trauma more and more narrow. Starting with variations on the theme of cheating, and then trodding her way closer and closer to the fiery core of his misery, that which drove him to “craziness and insanity.” According to an early version of the tales: “At the end Shahreyar awoke, cured from his intoxication, and said: ‘By God, this story is my story, and this tale is my tale; I was full of rage and fury until you guided me back to rightfulness!’ And he once more took command of his reason, cleansed his heart and came to his senses.”
So, what is trauma?
Trauma means both intrusion and an injury and refers to the consequences of an event the suddenness, intensity and brutality of which caused a psychic shock and also left lasting traces on the subject’s psyche. Trauma is a pain inaccessible to conscious. The trauma has two sides. On the external side of the psyche, the event provokes a breach that requires psychic work of healing. On the inner side, the drive set in motion by the trauma requires work to make sense out of what has happened. The psyche conserves the traumatic impressions, which it was not able to translate into words. What traumatic is not the experience itself, but the instinctual remains insufficiently elaborated. Therefore, the subject compulsively repeats the traumatic event in search of the meaning of what has happened. In order to survive narcissistically, the traumatized person withdraws from one’s own subjective experience, cleaves oneself in order to separate his surviving part from his part affected by the narcissistic trauma. It is then that, faced with the helplessness of incapacity to introject the traumatic drive, we can see desperate attempts of “killing” the drive by means of delusional solutions or extreme behavior, such as the recourse to violence towards the others (psychopathic type of behavior) which is linked with the diseases of ideality. We can identify the passage to act in 1001 nights as the murder of maidens, which is a modality of regressive drive satisfaction, since it is a massive discharge of excitement, a complete dissolution with the principle of reality principle since it escaped this stage of “psychisation”. And it functions directly on its way from the source to the goal. Thus said, the traumatized person does not think about what he/she does, he/ she just does it. We can suppose that it depends on the state of ego and superego, since both are interdependent.
From Freud’s point of view, the traumatic experience remains in the psyche as a “foreign body” continuing to play an active role long after its irruption. A current trauma only makes sense when it can be linked to its traumatic forebears: one trauma always hides another. That is to say, the same event could be traumatic to one person, but leave another one safe and sound. A second scene (in this case, the betrayal of the woman) evokes by a few associative traits the first (so, what was traumatic for the king in his childhood). It is the memory of the first that triggered the trauma. In “The Moses Man” Freud stresses that the traumatic experiences that originally constituted the organization and the psychic functioning (“We call trauma the impressions experienced in early childhood and then forgotten”) can lead to early attacks of the ego and create narcissistic injuries. The narcissistic cleavage, which causes the “negative effects” of the trauma, therefore has the following consequences:
The creation of a failure in the constitution of narcissism that mutilates the ego;
to generate psychic paralysis while maintaining a terrorism of suffering and a pain that can confine to despair, in relation to the internalization of a “faulty” primary object;
to cause a feeling of primary distress that during life is reactivated at the slightest opportunity.
Freud also placed the traumatic experience “beyond the pleasure principle” as an expression of a death drive, which on one side disorganises the link between the id and the ego due to drive untiedness, and other aims to restore a primordial constancy.
Winnicott presents the trauma in a relational sense, he says that “the trauma is a failure relative to dependence … That is to say, this trauma will be subjectively still dependent on” someone who has not done what he should have done or done what he should not have done
According to Ferenczi, the trauma would rather be overcome in a “maternal” behavior of care and protection, or by said primary emotional experiences. A scene was traumatic to the point of seeing the collapse of ideals in front of the surplus power of too much seduction on the side of the woman and the mother.
In my opinion, the king’s trauma is linked to the consequences of his original fantasy of castration, which then took the value of a psychic rape, and led to the castration anxiety that produces rage for the child wanting to satisfy an omnipotent mother, or a woman who needs more and more men to satisfy her. So, it’s the brutal realization of one’s own fantasy in reality that was traumatic and that caused collapse.