Mrs. Hilary fidgeted uneasily. “Oh, I don’t think Nan feels that exactly. None of my children....”
Mr. Cradock gave her an amused glance. It seemed sometimes that he would never get this foolish lady properly educated.
“Your children, I presume, are human, Mrs. Hilary. Sexual craving means a craving for intimacy with a member of another sex.”
“Oh well, I suppose it does. I don’t care for the name, somehow. But please go on.”
“I was going to say, if you find, on the other hand, that your daughter’s nature has attained harmony in connection with this course she is pursuing, your task will be far more difficult. You will then have to create a discord, instead of merely strengthening it.... May I ask your daughter’s age?”
“Nan is thirty-three.”
“A dangerous age.”
“All Nan’s ages,” said Mrs. Hilary, “have been dangerous. Nan is like that.”
“As to that,” said Mr. Cradock, “we may say that all ages are dangerous to all people, in this dangerous life we live. But the thirties are a specially dangerous time for women. They have outlived the shynesses and restraints of girlhood, and not attained to the caution and discretion of middle age. They are reckless, and consciously or unconsciously on the lookout for adventure. They see ahead of them the end of youth, and that quickens their pace.... Has passion always been a strong element in your daughter’s life?”
“Oh, passion....” (Another word not liked by Mrs. Hilary.) “Not quite that, I should say. Nan has been reckless; she has got into scrapes, got herself talked about. She has played about with men a good deal always. But as to passion....”
“A common thing enough,” Mr. Cradock told her, as it were reassuringly. “Nothing to fight shy of, or be afraid of. But something to be regulated of course.... Now, the thing is to oppose to this irregular desire of your daughter’s for this man a new and a stronger set of desires. Fight one group of complexes with another. You can’t, I suppose, persuade her to be analysed? There are good analysts in Rome.”
“Oh no. Nan laughs at it. She laughs at everything of that sort.”
“A great mistake. A mistake often made by shallow and foolish people. They might as well laugh at surgery.... Well now, to go into this question of the battle between the complex-groups....”
He went into it, patiently and exhaustively. His phrases drifted over Mrs. Hilary’s head.
“... a deterrent force residing in the ego and preventing us from stepping outside the bounds of propriety.... Rebellious messages sent up from the Unconscious, which wishes to live, love and act in archaic modes ... conflict with the progress of human society ... inhibitory and repressive power of the censor....” (How wonderful, thought Mrs. Hilary, to be able to talk so like a book for so long together!) ... “give the censor all the help we can ... keep the Unconscious in order by turning its energies into some other channel ... give it a substitute.... The energy involved in the intense desire for someone of another sex can be diverted ... employed on some useful work. Libido ... it should all be used. Find another channel for your daughter’s libido.... Her life is perhaps a rather vacant one?”