Call#: Pennsylvania Hospital IPH Collection WM 172 V234p 1987
The specific chapter in Psychological Trauma titled "Trauma in the Family" discusses the kind of post traumatic stress disorder experienced by Tippi Hedren’s Marnie, According to Dr. Steven Krugman, “a child who has experienced or witnessed traumatic violations of attachment, such as battering, physical abuse, or sexual abuse, experiences a posttraumatic stress response that includes helplessness and vulnerability, shattered trust, and the use of emergency defenses to cope with intolerable thoughts and feelings” (Krugman 130). He continues to characterize “the experience (as) so intense that certain interpersonal situations, feelings, voice tones, topics locations, and so on become associated with traumatization and become subject to defensive organization and control” (Kurgman 130). The chapter explores how different triggers help spur the re-enactment of a specific event which for so long has been kept repressed due to familial pressures or an inner desire to forget, in Marnie’s case, “the accident”. Dr. Krugman’s description of posttraumatic stress disorder proves the film as more than just a commentary on the aftermath of childhood incidents but an in-depth chronicle of the lasting effects of early violence and trauma.
Marnie suffers from Phodophobia (fear of the color red) and Brontophobia (fear of thunder and lightning); both elements which played crucial roles in accentuating the fear that surrounded her accidental killing of a man. None of these images spark terror when she thinks about them, only when she actually confronts them. For example, when placed in the presence of a red wall, red flowers, or blood, the most terrifying of triggers, or when witnessing thunder or a rainstorm, Marnie regresses to a childhood state of feeling flooded with panic and her tone of voice sounds like that of a little girl. Her internalized anguish cannot be contained in the face of these inexplicable triggers. Though she cannot pinpoint the reason for her crippling fear, it overwhelms her. As Dr. Krugman notes, early trauma can also shatter a victim’s trust in others and Marnie, the perpetrator and victim of violence herself, does as expected, relying on emergency defenses to protect herself against unbearable memories and the fear of abandonment if her truth were revealed. She flees from any positive work environment or from home, rejecting stability, She is constantly on the run from herself, specifically, from the truth about her own criminal actions and is also on the run from others. She tries her best to distance herself from any interpersonal closeness. Other aspects of Marnie’s behavior are also of interest. Though she does not need the money, her obsessive stealing seems to satisfy a temporary need to fill some void in her life. Perhaps taking more than she is given or earns, reflects a longing to rid herself of the emptiness experienced from an unloving mother or home life. Marnie is a flawed protagonist; a highly complicated woman whose behavior has strong psychological roots.