The Shattered Self:
The Case Study of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
I have glimpsed the future. Seen miracles that stun the mind and marvels only science can find to shape tomorrow for mankind and I can show them to you if you wish me to.
Friends, you’re aware there are two sides to each of us: good and evil, compassion and hate. If we could extract all the evil from each of us think of the world that we could create! A world without anger or violence or strife where man wouldn’t kill anymore! A world of compassion, where passion for life would banish the madness of war!
I’m close to finding the key to duality, Chemical Formulae which could and would alter the patterns of man’s personality guiding him either to evil or good! Weigh the potential, the great possibilities colleagues – dear friends, understand! We have a chance to make history here in our hand!
Each of us is the embodiment of two distinct and opposing forces – Good and Evil – each fighting for supremacy inside us. If we could separate these two forces, we could control and ultimately eliminate all evil from mankind. My experiments with animals have led me to believe that the day is not far off when this separation will be possible. To achieve it, I must be allowed to try my formula on a living human being!”
(Wildhorn & Bricusse, 1990.)
Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was first published on January 5th, 1886. Selling as a paperback, it elicited one shilling in the UK and one dollar in the US. By the year 1901, a mere 15 years later, it had sold over 250,000 copies and Stevenson was had become a leading author of English literature. Stevenson described his story as a “fine bogey tale,” as its narrative of the respectable doctor who transforms into the malicious murderer struck an anxious nerve in the Victorian era of his time. Just two years before the infamous killer, Jack the Ripper, struck fear into the hearts of London, Stevenson described the inextricable link between the upright and civilized mind and the uncontrollable savage. Technological advances and expanding empires caused many people to question the tenants of progress and the advancement of civilization as new countries were claimed in the name of the empire. Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, which came out in 1902, also explored this dark side of imperialism. As the Western societies came into contact with other people and lands, certain aspects of the conquered culture’s sensuality, physicality and other such “irrational” tendencies became topics to be both desired and feared and the Victorian society’s repression of the darker side only led to an increase in fascination of them. Stevenson was able to artistically question this fascination in his eerie tale, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Part I: Summary of the Case
This Strange Case presents first with the description of a sinister figure named, Mr. Edward Hyde, who uncaringly tramples over a young girl. As a crowd forms, he returns to pay off the girl’s family with a check signed by the respectable Dr. Henry Jekyll. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Jekyll changes his will leaving everything to this same Mr. Hyde. Jekyll’s close friend and attorney, Mr. Gabriel John Utterson is puzzled by this change and seeks out Mr. Hyde, finding him in a filthy shack attached to Jekyll’s home. At this point, Hyde is described in depth as, “pale and dwarfish, he gave an impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had a displeasing smile, he had borne himself to the lawyer with a sort of murderous mixture of timidity and boldness, and he spoke with a husky, whispering and somewhat broken voice; all these were points against him, but not all of these together could explain the hitherto unknown disgust, loathing and fear with which Mr. Utterson regarded him.” (Stevenson, pg. 19-20) Utterson goes on to exclaim “There is something more, if I could find a name for it. God bless me, the man seems hardly human! Something troglodytic, shall we say?” (Stevenson, pg. 20) When Utterson finally meets up again with Jekyll, however, Jekyll is relaxed and tells his friend not to worry about Hyde.
A year goes by uneventfully until one night Hyde is seen by a servant girl beating MP Sir Danvers Carew to death with a heavy cane. The police suspect Hyde, but when everyone arrives at Hyde’s wretched apartment, the murderer is nowhere to be found. The broken and bloody cane, however, is found lying next to the door. Additionally, Utterson recognizes the cane as one that he gave to Jekyll as a gift. The next time that Utterson meets with Jekyll, the doctor claims to have severed all ties with Hyde and that he is “done with him in this world… I cannot say that I care what becomes of Hyde; I am quite done with him. I was thinking of my own character, which this hateful business [the murder] has rather exposed.” (Stevenson, pg. 33) Utterson is taken aback by Jekyll’s selfishness (in respect to the death of Sir Danvers Carew), but is still relieved all the same. Jekyll shows him a letter that he received from Hyde stating his thanks to Jekyll for his generosities and that he had a means of escape. Later on, Utterson’s clerk notices that Hyde’s handwriting is remarkably similar to Jekyll’s.
For a few months following the murder, Jekyll has returned to his old friendly and sociable self. He becomes healthier looking and devotes himself to charity and religion. Suddenly, though, Jekyll refuses to see visitors and locks himself in his laboratory. A mutual friend, Dr. Lanyon, suddenly dies after receiving news relating to Jekyll. Lanyon gave Utterson a letter before his death with instructions to read it only after the death or disappearance of their friend Henry Jekyll. Utterson and his cousin, Enfield, go to see Jekyll and meet with him at a window of his laboratory. They talk briefly and Jekyll complains, “I am very low, Utterson, very low. It will not last long, thank God.” Utterson invites him to walk outside, but Jekyll declines saying, “I should like to very much; but no, no, no, it is quite impossible; I dare not.” Within the next couple moments, Jekyll’s face was “succeeded by an expression of such abject terror and despair, [and] froze the very blood of the two gentlemen below. They saw it but for a glimpse for the window was instantly thrust down; but that glimpse had been sufficient.” (Stevenson, pg. 44) Soon thereafter, Jekyll’s butler, Mr. Poole, timidly visits Utterson saying that Jekyll has isolated himself in his laboratory for several weeks and that the voice is no longer like the doctor’s. Utterson travels with Poole back to Jekyll’s house and finds all the servants clustered together in fear. After a bit of arguing, the two of them decide to break down the laboratory door. Inside, they find the body of Edward Hyde wearing the clothes of Henry Jekyll, apparently killed by suicide. On Jekyll’s desk is a letter addressed to Utterson. Utterson takes the letter home and reads it along with Lanyon’s letter and the entire mystery is revealed.
Part II: The Testament in His Own Words
In the letter from Lanyon, Utterson learns that Lanyon’s deterioration and death were instigated by the shock of seeing Hyde transform back into Jekyll via a special potion. In his confession, Jekyll reveals his truth that “man is not truly one, but truly two… I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both…I had learned to dwell with pleasure, as a beloved daydream, on the thought of the separation of these elements. If each, I told myself, could be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable.” (Stevenson, pg. 68) He describes his first transformation with all the detail of an analytical scientist: “The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death. Then these agonies began swiftly to subside, and I came to myself as if out of a great sickness. There was something strange in my sensations, something indescribably new and, from its very novelty, incredibly sweet. I felt younger, lighter, happier in body; within I was conscious of a heady recklessness, a current of disordered sensual images running like a millrace in my fancy, a solution of the bonds of obligation, an unknown but not an innocent freedom of the soul. I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought, in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine.” (Stevenson, pg. 70)
As Jekyll continued undergoing his transformations month after month, he began to realize that he was starting to change into Hyde involuntarily as he slept. “Yes, I had gone to bed Henry Jekyll, I had awakened Edward Hyde.” (Stevenson, pg. 75) Jekyll then decided to terminate the “experiment” when he reflected that “my two natures had memory in common, but all other faculties were most unequally shared between them… Jekyll (who was composite) now with the most sensitive apprehensions, now with a greedy gusto, projected and shared in the pleasures and adventures of Hyde; but Hyde was indifferent to Jekyll… Jekyll had more than a father’s interest; Hyde had more than a son’s indifference. To cast in my lot with Jekyll, was to die to those appetites which I had long secretly indulged and had of late begun to pamper. To cast it in with Hyde, was to die to a thousand interests and aspirations, and to become, at a blow and forever, despised and friendless… Yes, I preferred the elderly and discontented doctor, surrounded by friends and cherishing honest hopes; and bade a resolute farewell to the liberty, the comparative youth, the light step, leaping impulses and secret pleasures, that I had enjoyed in the disguise of Hyde.” (Stevenson, pg. 77) After two months, though, he “began to be tortured with throes and longings, as of Hyde struggling after freedom; and at last, in an hour of moral weakness, I once again compounded and swallowed the transforming draught.” (Stevenson, pg. 78)
“My devil had been long caged; he came out roaring…Instantly the spirit of hell awoke in me and raged. With a transport of glee, I mauled the unresisting body [of Sir Danvers Carew], tasking delight from every blow; and it was not till weariness had begun to succeed, that I was suddenly, in the top fit of my delirium, struck through the heart by a cold thrill of terror. A mist dispersed…” (Stevenson, pg. 78) Horrified, Jekyll again resolved to cease his transformations. At this point, Jekyll began to engage in philanthropic work in order to redeem himself. Later on, as Jekyll was reflecting on his good deeds and “comparing myself with other men, comparing my active good-will with the lazy cruelty of their neglect,” (Stevenson, pg.80) he once again becomes seized with nausea and transforms into Edward Hyde. Notably, this was the first time the transformation spontaneously occurred during waking hours and away from any amount of safety. Hyde determined to go to Dr. Lanyon to help get his potions and transform back into Jekyll. However, the sight of witnessing this transformation sent Dr. Lanyon into deterioration and eventually death.
Jekyll returned home and locked himself in his laboratory as the transformations were beginning to occur of their own volition and with an increasing frequency. It was during this time that Mr. Utterson had his conversation with Jekyll at the window and the sudden transformation caused him to slam the window and disappear from sight. As the potion ran out, Jekyll was unable to procure more ingredients and he determined that the original ingredients were somehow tainted and that was what gave the potion its efficacy. Slowly, his ability to transform back into Jekyll was becoming more and more difficult and he composed his confession as he knew that Hyde would soon become permanent. He describes that “the powers of Hyde seemed to have grown with the sickliness of Jekyll… but his love of life is wonderful; I go further: I, who sicken and freeze at the mere thought of him, when I recall the abjection and passion of this attachment, and when I know how he fears my power to cut him off by suicide, I find it in my heart to pity him.” (Stevenson, pg. 84-85) Jekyll ponders if Hyde will face the gallows for his crimes or rather choose to kill himself when Jekyll is no more. With these last sentiments, Jekyll ends his confession, “I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.” (Stevenson, pg. 86)
Part III: The Theme of Duality
Just as Jekyll postulated that man is not truly one, but two; so too are there dual drives working simultaneously within each of us. Often referred to as Eros and Thanatos, or the life and death drive, each one has a particular function within the psyche. Eros strives for creation, productivity, and is often referred to as the sex drive. It also works towards placing energy into personal development and individuation. Thanatos, the death drive, opposes Eros as a means of simplifying back into the inanimate structure. Typically, these two forces work jointly to reduce tension and satisfy needs. In the case of Dr. Jekyll, though, these drives failed to fuse and operated separately to the ultimate demise of both.
Anna Freud tells us that “instinctual wishes, whether they express the needs for food, warmth, and comfort, or the striving of sex and aggression, arise from the body and make themselves felt in the mind as an urgent claim for satisfaction. They produce painful tension when they remain ungratified and pleasurable relief when their aim is reached and the need fulfilled.” (Freud, A. Notes on Aggression. pg.63) In the Victorian era in which Henry Jekyll lived, many such needs were not socially acceptable and where consequently repressed. Jekyll never fully represses these urges and has youthful indiscretions, though he never specifically tells us what his youthful sins are; nor does he ever explicitly describe any of the “depravity” (other than the murder of Sir Danvers Carew) that Hyde engages in. He does, though, give indications – and these have been elaborated upon in other productions of this story including the Broadway version – that one can reasonably infer are misdeeds of a sexual nature. Anna Freud goes on to describe that “sex is the representative of the life force, aggression of the destructive force…The two fundamental instincts combine forces with each other or act against each other, and through these combinations produce the phenomena of life… The fusion of sexual instincts with aggression makes it possible for the child to assert his rights to the possession of his love objects, to compete with his rivals, to satisfy his curiosities, to display his body or his abilities…The aggressive urges, on the other hand, when they are for some reason not fused with the sexual urges, manifest themselves as purely destructive, criminal, and – in this form – uncontrollable and unmanageable tendencies.” (Freud, A. Notes on Aggression. pg.67)
Henry Jekyll, after a long life of professional and societal repression of urges, or anti-cathexis, became consumed by his death drive; endlessly striving towards a banal life of bachelorly simplicity and a preservation of Victorian ideals and decorum. Edward Hyde, on the other hand, is the essence of Jekyll’s libidinal cathexis and is described as a “troglodyte,” or a primitive creature, suggesting that Hyde is actually the original, genuine nature of the man, which has simply been repressed by the weight of society, though not altogether destroyed. Hyde interacts with his environment in a purely instinctual manner, rather than with reason as Jekyll does. The discrepancy of appearances of the two men is also noteworthy in understanding the development of this split nature. Henry Jekyll is described as an older gentleman with a tall stature, broad shoulders, and a deep, soothing voice; while Edward Hyde is depicted as much younger, hairier, shorter and skinnier with a chillingly grating voice. Jekyll’s libidinal energies have been repressed for many years and as such, when Hyde appears, he is not as developed or healthy in form. Expanding Freud’s other theories about the division of the self into parts, Winnicott developed a theory of true and false self: the central instincts (true self) and the outward face portrayed to the world (the false self). “The true self is in a state of limbo or atrophy – it is only a potential,” (Masterson, pg. 105) which is again why Hyde is depicted as “pale and dwarfish” – he is an atrophied persona. As Hyde is released more and more throughout the case, he becomes taller and stronger, while Jekyll becomes weaker and sicklier. The balance of forces has apparently been too long distorted and can no longer find unity, but rather seeks the destruction of both (ultimately through suicide). Stevenson, just as Freud proposed, attempts to show the significance that a balance of drives, sexual and aggressive, true and false selves, is necessary for a full, healthy, and functional life.
Part IV: The Defensive Ego
In order to comprehend how such a duality occurred, one must first look to the mechanisms of the split. The following will show that the elemental function, the basis of all the other phenomena that occurred within Henry Jekyll, is that of repression. Anna Freud states
“Theoretically, repression may be subsumed under the general concept of defense and placed side by side with the other specific methods. Nevertheless, from the point of view of efficacy it occupies a unique position in comparison with the rest. In terms of quantity it accomplishes more than they; that is to say, it is capable of mastering powerful instinctual impulses, in face of which the other defensive measures are quite ineffective…But repression is not only the most efficacious, it is also the most dangerous mechanism. The dissociation from the ego entailed by the withdrawal of consciousness from the whole tracts of instinctual and affective life may destroy the integrity of the personality for good and all.” (Freud, A. Mechanisms of Defense. pgs. 49-50)
Repression is used to ward off the awareness of a forbidden instinctual impulse, so therefore the “infantile ego resorts to denial in order not to become aware of some painful impression from without.” (Freud, A. Mechanisms of Defense.pg. 82)
In Helen Block Lewis’ article Shame, Repression, Field Dependence, and Psychopathology, she offers the idea that “if we ask ourselves just what it is that is being warded off by repression (and other defenses), one self-evident answer is states of shame and guilt… a theoretical link between psychopathology and a malfunctioning or archaic superego [which] has been established since Freud’s The Ego and the Id… My observations about the role of shame connect with Freud’s ( 1961) concept of unconscious archaic or irrational guilt as the source of neurosis and psychosis. The patient ‘does not feel guilty,’ he wrote; ‘he feels ill’ (50).” (Repression, pg. 233) Henry Jekyll described each transformation in terms of physical sickness, nausea, and terrible pangs; he felt “ill.” In connection with Freud’s concept of irrational guilt being felt as an illness, Jekyll’s release of the floodgates of cathectic energy would have been somatically felt as excruciating pain. Helen Block Lewis continued by describing shame as a form of “primary repression.” Freud described the Primary Repression phase as the infant learning that some facets of reality are pleasant and controllable, while others are not. The infant represses the concept that everything is equal and begins to discriminate between desires, fears, self, others, and (now) shame and guilt. In his confession, Jekyll writes that he was born into a large inheritance, a strong and healthy body, and a decent nature. This would mean that he was raised as a Victorian gentleman and would have undoubtedly been taught the inequality of life (rich versus poor, good society versus bad, high ranking versus low) from infancy. Once he grew into adolescence and understood that acting on certain desires and indiscretions might bring anxiety due to the rigid structure of society he would have moved into the “Secondary Repression phase.” Nevertheless, Henry Jekyll still managed to secretly indulge his instinctual urges every so often, forming the foundation of Edward Hyde.
When Sigmund Freud first discussed the concept of “splitting of the ego,” he questioned whether it “should be regarded as something long familiar and obvious or as something entirely new and puzzling.” (Freud, S. Splitting of the Ego. Pg. 59) He went on to describe how this particular phenomenon allows for the coexistence of two psychical approaches: one which considers reality, the other which disavows and replaces it. These approaches exists side-by-side, typically, without influencing each other, sometimes without being aware of each other. Jekyll considered reality and his place within it, while Hyde would act according to his own laws regardless of society. Melanie Klein went on to describe splitting as a “splitting of the object” rather than of the ego. For her, this mechanism is the most primitive type of defense one can have against anxiety. The object contains both the erotic and destructive instincts and is therefore split into a “good” and “bad” object. This object split is then accompanied by the splitting of the ego through the introjection of objects. We can infer when this split occurred within Jekyll based on the relative age of Edward Hyde. Hyde is perhaps 5-10 years younger than Jekyll, which leads us to believe that this splitting did not occur in the early infantile stage of development, but later on when Jekyll was in early adolescence, which Freud termed the “latency period.” The catalytic event for the split may never be known, but it was significant enough to force him to preserve his self-esteem by enacting this particular defensive measure. His ego attempted to save itself from an anxiety that it could no longer handle by denying reality and overloading the repressive mechanism that was already in place. Anna Freud points out that “if this happens during the latency period, some abnormal character trait will develop.” (Freud, A. Mechanisms of Defense.pg. 82) It was at this point, when the repressive mechanism could no longer contain the instinctual desires, that Henry Jekyll’s ego split and Edward Hyde was born. It could further be postulated that those indiscretions to which he indulged in his youth were in fact the infantile manifestations of Hyde himself.
Those individuals who utilize splitting tend to also use the defensive mechanisms of devaluation and idealization. Within the split ego, individuals are seen as wholly good or wholly bad without allowance for complex structures and the incorporation of being both good and bad. When the individual or object is seen as excessively and purely good with only positive qualities, the mechanism of idealization is in effect. Devaluation is the opposite and attributes exhaustive negative qualities to people and objects. Typically, this is part of normal childhood development until the child learns that people can be complex and contain good and bad qualities. However, for Henry Jekyll, this developmental stage was interrupted and fixated causing these mechanisms to carry on into adulthood. This persistent ideology of trying to see the world in terms of black and white, good and bad can be seen in Jekyll’s work as he tries to “separate the good and evil” within man and himself. He dedicates his whole professional life, isolates himself from professional relationships and friends and pursues in his mad quest to transfix reality into his fantasy world.
Part V: The Diagnosis
According to Judith Siegel in her article, Dyadic Splitting in Partner Relational Disorders, the person who utilizes splitting as a central defense mechanism may be operating within the function of a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Clinically, individuals with NPD show characteristics of grandiosity, extreme self-involvement and a lack of interest and empathy in others. They are endlessly motivated to seek perfection in all their endeavors and find others who will admire their grandiosity. However, “underneath this defensive façade is a feeling state of emptiness and rage with a predominance of intense envy.” (Masterson, pg. 7) The following is a transcript of Dr. Jekyll’s own words as he describes his fixated need:
“I need to know the nature of the demons that possess man’s soul! I need to know why man’s content to let them make him less than whole. Why does he revel in murder and madness? What is it makes him be less than he should? Why is he doomed not to reach his potential? His soul is black when he turns his back upon good.
I need to find a way to get inside the tortured mind of man. I need to try to separate the good and evil – if I can. One thing is certain – the evil is stronger. Good fights a hopeless and desperate fight. I must find ways of adjusting the balance to bring him back from the empty black edge of night!
I need to go where no man has ventured before to search for the key to the door that will end all this tragic and senseless decay! But how to go? I need to know!
I need to learn the secrets of the mind that we cannot discern. I need to learn the things that make men pass the point of no return. Why does a wise man take leave of his senses? Where is that fine line where sanity melts? When does intelligence give way to madness? A moment comes when a man becomes something else…
I need to know why man plays this strange double game! His hand always close to the flame! It’s a deal with the devil he cannot disclaim! But what’s his aim? I need to know!
Dear God, guide me! Show me how to succeed! With your wisdom inside me, Henry Jekyll will follow wherever you lead! I need to see the truth other men cannot see; to be things that others can’t be! Give me courage to go where no angel will go! And I will go! I need to know!”
(Wildhorn & Bricusse, 1990.)
According to the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria, narcissistic personality disorder is described as a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts… (1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance; (2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or brilliance; (3) believes that he or she is ‘special’ and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people; (4) requires excessive admiration;… (7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others;… (9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.”
“Narcissistic individuals take pride in their social standing yet show some startling lacunae in adhering to norms and expectations of social reciprocity.” (Beck, pg. 241) Henry Jekyll does a superb job of creating a socially acceptable façade, while still maintaining the belief that he is ultimately superior to his colleagues because of his vision. Utilizing his various defense mechanisms of repression, denial, splitting, etc, he is able to sustain some friendly relationships, though he never discusses intimate relationships nor does he ever get married. He is fundamentally obsessed with his fantasy of separating the good and evil in mankind, even though he is never able to actually succeed. Even after the use of his drug and the emergence of Edward Hyde, Jekyll himself still contains good and bad elements. This, however, does not deter Jekyll from believing himself successful.
The DSM-IV-TR explains that 5 of the 9 symptoms must be met in order to classify an individual as NPD. In my opinion, Henry Jekyll exhibits 6 symptoms: First, the grandiose sense of self-importance is prevalent throughout Jekyll’s writings and speech: “So it comes to this: One great golden chance that only I can take… to make the mark that only I can make!” (Wildhorn & Bricusse, 1990.) His pleads to God Himself and his implication that he is greater than the angels (“give me courage to go where no angel will go!”) also lend themselves to this exaggerated idea of self-worth. Second, Jekyll’s obsession with separating good and evil consumes his existence, “I must go on with the work I’m committed to – How can I not, when my theories are true? And I will prove, if I’m ever permitted to, things are not wrong just because they are new!” (Wildhorn & Bricusse, 1990.) He consistently shuns the companionship and advice of friends for his work and experiments to the point where he locks himself in his laboratory for weeks on end. Third, Henry Jekyll earnestly believes that he can only be understood by those who are as special as he, and since no one is, he is constantly disgusted by the attitudes and ideologies of those around him, particularly those with authority over him. Simon Stride, a rival of his, berates him in this conversation:
STRIDE: “You’re a doctor, not a savior, Doctor Jekyll, for a start! But I judge from your behavior you can’t tell the two apart!”
JEKYLL: “Dear Mr. Stride, I am simply a scientist. I have a code to which I remain true! I don’t presume to the stature of moralist. I leave pretension like that, Sir, to you!”
(Wildhorn & Bricusse, 1990.)
Fourth, Henry Jekyll is in constant need of admiration from those around him and rarely acknowledges his mistakes. Even after Hyde’s murderous acts, Jekyll focuses on one thing: “Somehow I have to hang on to the vision that first inspired me, to the hope that fired me, when the world admired me!” (Wildhorn & Bricusse, 1990.) Jekyll refuses to accept responsibility for Hyde’s evil acts: “Henry Jekyll stood at times aghast before the acts of Edward Hyde; but the situation was apart from ordinary laws, and insidiously relaxed the grasp of conscience. It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty.” (Stevenson, pg. 74) Once Jekyll awoke to himself again, he would often try to right the evil done by Hyde to subdue his conscience. However, this only further shows his narcissistic trend: he himself was not guilty, but he was worthy of praise and admiration for selflessly trying to right a wrong done by someone else.
The remaining two symptoms that I have focused on, pertain more directly to the persona of Hyde, though are stealthily seen in the actions of Jekyll, too. Hyde’s obvious lack of empathy for others is shown throughout this case. Our first introduction to the character is when he tramples over an innocent girl and, rather than apologize and comfort her, pays off her family instead. Jekyll even notes that “as Hyde, I care only for myself…” (Wildhorn & Bricusse, 1990.) However, this lack of empathy is seen in Jekyll, too, as he laments the deeds of Hyde: “No one must ever know what I have done, for if anyone does all my work is undone, and I must gain control of this monster inside, in the name of the people who’ve died…” (Wildhorn & Bricusse, 1990.) Even after killing an innocent man, Jekyll is more concerned with his reputation and his work than the fact that a man died by his hand. Finally, the last symptom as displayed by Hyde is his arrogant, haughty behavior and attitude. Again, his disdain for society is evident in the deliberate and happy participation of immoral (not simply amoral) acts:
“Animals trapped behind bars at the zoo need to run rampant and free! Predators live on the prey they pursue! This time the predator’s me! Lust, like a raging desire, fills my whole soul with its curse! Burning with primitive fire, berserk and perverse! Tonight I’ll plunder heaven blind, steal from all the gods! Tonight I’ll take from all mankind, conquer all the odds! And I feel I’ll live on forever, with Satan himself by my side! And I’ll show the world that tonight and forever, the name to remember is the name Edward Hyde!”
(Wildhorn & Bricusse, 1990.)
Jekyll’s arrogance and disdain for humanity is evident in his solemn desire to rid the world of all that he sees as evil. To him, Hyde is the embodiment of this evil desire that he needs to expel and destroy. Little does Jekyll realize, nor does he ever accept, that Hyde is his life drive; that creative, aggressive, sexual side of him. To Jekyll, these urges are anathema, disgusting and disgraceful; they are something to repress and rise above to show the world just how much better you are then those who give in to such desires. Jekyll’s arrogance is the façade of Jekyll himself – believing that he can cleanse himself and the world of these “evils.” In the following conversation, Jekyll is arguing with the Board of Governors who is rejecting his proposed work to separate mankind:
“If I ever needed further justification for my experiments, gentlemen, you have just provided it! Just look at what has happened here! Mix anger with a touch of fear, the danger’s all too crystal-clear, just look at you! Our darker side keeps breaking through; observe it now – in me and you! The evil that all men can do must be controlled!”
(Wildhorn & Bricusse, 1990.)
Jekyll’s arrogance and haughty behavior is in that he devoutly believes that he can control all the evil, savage, brutality of the world and no one can convince him otherwise.
When all these symptoms come to fruition in the disgusting likeness of Edward Hyde “the patient may become depressed or anxious and harbor critical, punitive thoughts toward self and others, because his or her sense of value or importance depends on unremitting success and external admiration.” (Beck, pg. 248). Jekyll sees the failure of his experiment and life’s work and spirals downward into depression and isolation. This is evident in his conversation with Utterson at his laboratory window and his ultimate suicide.
Part VI: The Summary
Throughout this case presentation, I have shown that repression is the primary defense mechanism that, when overburdened, can lead to a multitude of other psychoses. In the instance of Dr. Henry Jekyll, the repressive nature of the society in which he was raised fortified the primary repression. Then, in early adolescence, some unknown event transpired which acted as a catalyst to overtax the ego, causing it to split creating the persona of Edward Hyde. With the splitting of the ego, Jekyll used multiple defense measures to protect his ego and produced the effect of viewing the world in black and white terms. Jekyll’s idealization and devaluation mechanisms led him to believe that although man is made up of two natures (good and bad), that he can be (or should be) separated; once this grandiose separation was complete, he could with god-like judgment control and eliminate all evil from the world.
While it may appear that Henry Jekyll was acting out of an altruistic nature for mankind, he was in fact acting on a prevalent narcissistic motif. The explicit cause of his narcissism is unknown, perhaps caused by the overindulgence by his parents, excessive admiration that was never balanced with realism, excessive praise for good behavior and excessive criticism for bad behavior, etc. We do know, however, that as he grew older, he became increasingly self-centered with exaggerated ideas of grandiosity in his scientific theories. He believed that he was the only one capable of accomplishing these tasks, which led to his isolation from colleagues and friends. He feigned empathy in order to attain admiration and refused to accept responsibility for the immoral actions of his alter-ego. Overall, his disdain for the baseness of humanity drove him to create a chemical potion to separate the good from evil, although he was never actually able to make a purely good persona. In the end, his obsession consumed him and his inability to accept his failure led to his suicide.
“There’s a beast at the door and he’s wild and free! But we don’t let him in ‘cause we don’t want to see – what is lurking right behind the façade! Man is not one, but two! He is evil and good! And he walks the fine line that he’d cross if he could…”
(Wildhorn & Bricusse, 1990.)
Beck, A. et al. Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York: The Guilford Press, 2004.
Freud, A. The Writings of Anna Freud: Volume II (1936). The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense. New York: International Universities Press, Inc, 1974.
Freud, A. The Writings of Anna Freud: Volume IV (1940). Notes on Aggression. New York: International Universities Press, Inc, 1973.
Freud, S. Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defense. (1940e ), G.W., XVII, 59; S.E., XXIII, 275.
Masterson, J. The Narcissistic and Borderline Disorders: An Integrated Developmental Approach. Routledge, 1981.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fourth edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
Siegel, J.P. (2006). Dyadic Splitting in Partner Relational Disorders. Journal of Family Psychology, 20 (3), 418-422.
Singer, J. Repression and Dissociation: Implications for Personality Theory, Psychopathology, and Health. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Stevenson, R. L. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories. Barnes & Noble Books. New York, NY, 2003.
Wildhorn, F. & Bricusse, L. Jekyll & Hyde: The Broadway Musical. MTI Shows, 1990.