Inconceivable Conceptions: Psychological Aspects of Infertility and Reproductive Technology

By Jane Haynes; Juliet Miller | Go to book overview

Chapter 15

Dark reflections

The shadow side of assisted reproductive techniques

Diane Finiello Zervas

Diane Finiello Zervas is a Jungian psychoanalyst.


Dark annunciation

The air was hot and humid as I walked down the winding road that led from Bellosguardo into Florence in late July 1966. After a blissful two months as a student on the Sarah Lawrence Summer School Programme, I was entering the city to take leave of my favourite monuments before returning to America to complete my last year at university. I had adored my stay, and learned much about the works of art with which I had first fallen in love some four years earlier, on a trip that determined my future career: the history of the art of Renaissance Florence. Now, my suitcases stuffed with Italian clothes and shoes, I was eager to return home. My future appeared limpid and secure as perhaps it could only to the baby-boomer generation to which I belonged: graduation, marriage to my Yale boyfriend, to whom I'd written all summer, eschewing the persistent attentions of numerous Italian papagalli (persistent male followers best handled, we were told, by ignoring their existence), and graduate school, with its promise of a career, to be indulged in before settling down to raise a family.

Musing on these certainties, I reached my destination, the vast, barn-like church of S. Croce, determined to see Giotto's Bardi Chapel, with its scenes from the life of St Francis, founder of the Franciscan order. There could have been no greater contrast between the path of worldly and material renunciation deliberately chosen by this young aristocrat, who had dedicated himself to God and Lady Poverty, and the one I envisioned for myself. I made my way down the right-hand side of the cool nave, stopping along the way to admire Donatello's Cavalcanti Annunciation, with its monumental sculpted Virgin recoiling in fear and self-protection from the Angel on her right, who bowed before her with his incomprehensible message: 'And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus' (Luke 1:31).

As I stood before this work, contemplating the particular circumstances that both separated the Mother of God from all her worldly sisters, and yet united her with us, all daughters of Eve, I became aware that I was no longer alone. Lingering nearby, and intruding rudely on my aesthetic reveries, stood a dark, swarthy man. 'Not a papagallo, but a Gypsy', I thought, annoyed at this abrupt intrusion into my

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Inconceivable Conceptions: Psychological Aspects of Infertility and Reproductive Technology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 3
  • Chapter 2 - Assisted Reproductive Technology and the Fertility Clinic 11
  • Experiencing Infertility 17
  • Chapter 3 - Clinical Waste 19
  • Chapter 4 - One Man's Story 27
  • Psychological Aspects 31
  • Chapter 5 - Eros and Art 33
  • Notes 45
  • Chapter 6 - Mourning the Never Born and the Loss of the Angel 47
  • Chapter 7 - The Battle with Mortality and the Urge to Procreate 60
  • Bibliography 72
  • Chapter 8 - Myths and Reality in Male Infertility 73
  • Bibliography 84
  • Chapter 9 - Love, Hate and the Generative Couple 86
  • Changing Patterns of Kinship 103
  • Chapter 10 - The Story of Seth's Egg 105
  • Chapter 11 - Seth 109
  • Chapter 12 - Gifts of Life in Absentia 120
  • Chapter 13 - Women's Work 143
  • Bibliography 165
  • Chapter 14 - Egg Donation 166
  • The Shadow 179
  • Chapter 15 - Dark Reflections 181
  • Afterword 205
  • Chapter 16 - Afterword 207
  • Appendix 217
  • Glossary of Terms Used in Art (Assisted Reproductive Technology) 219
  • Index 227
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