Nothing can come between a son and his Italian mum, and now it seems the Catholic Church have warned that the closeness of this relationship is posing a threat to the institute of marriage and the health of the Italian economy!
Mammismo (the Italian word used to describe the close mother-son bond) is being accused of being responsible for 30% of marriage break ups in Italy. The issue being that Mammismo continues to be strong even when the son marries, causing a third person to be part of the relationship (i.e. the dreaded mother in law) and the son to continually defer to his mum for advice and guidance instead of solving his issues with his wife. Italy has been in financial difficulties for a long time and this issue of Mammismo is not helping with its recovery. Italy's birth rates has slumped over the past 20 years. And also sons are leaving the nest (or the bosom of mother) later and later, with a third of adults, and 60% of 18 to 29 years olds, still living at home.
|Goodfellas... the ultimate Mamma Boys movie! :)|
This intense mother-son bond made me think of Freud's Oedipus theory. This theory is derived from the Greek myth where Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother (without realising before its too late).Freud's theory relates to a development stage in children (age 3-6 years old) where, as an unconscious wish, mother becomes a longed-for prize for her son and his father becomes an obstacle to the son's possession of her. Freud explained that the son will fear retaliation from his father by way of castration and resolution of this Oedipus or Phallic conflict comes about when the son identifies and becomes close with his father. Freud did posit a theory for girls too (sometimes called the Electra theory) which centres around penis envy, but I do feel it holds less substance than the male version.
So it would seem in Italy, using Freud's Oedipus theory, sons have become essentially stuck at this stage of development or at the very least have progressed through the stage in a distorted or unhealthy manner. Following the theory, it makes me wonder where are the Italian fathers in all of this and why did their relationship with their sons not flourish enough to break Mammismo?
One thing is for sure, as long as Mammismo continues, newly married Italian women have a challenge ahead of them!
Till next time, take care,