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Love and its impacts: a clinical analysis of love in Princess Diana’s life

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SILVA, Beatriz da [1], SOUZA, Elizandra Rodrigues de [2]

SILVA, Beatriz da. SOUZA, Elizandra Rodrigues de. Love and its impacts: a clinical analysis of love in Princess Diana’s life. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year. 07, Ed. 09, Vol. 08, pp. 87-121. September 2022. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


The case study in question analyzes, from a psychoanalytical perspective, the life of the beloved Princess Diana, investigating the constitution of the love relationship and its possible impacts on her. This analysis goes through the way Diana was loved since childhood, as well as some milestones of her adult life, such as her troubled marriage as opposed to the global admiration experienced by her. The study is based on a parallel to love as a possible complaint of patients in clinical practice. Would it be possible, then, that any subject, like Diana, is impacted by the conception of love elaborated throughout his life to the point of developing fantasies and particular suffering that are repeated? Therefore, the objective of this study is to understand whether the bet that the establishment of symptoms related to this complaint shakes from anonymous patients, in the secrecy of the office, to popularly recognized icons, such as Lady Di, is valid. To this end, as a means of structuring, it was intended to deepen the available knowledge on the subject through the study and analysis of bibliographic data in a qualitative approach, having, as a research source, concepts and proposals described in books, articles and texts of a science, mainly based on Freud’s foundations and the authorized biography of Lady Diana, written by Andrew Morton, which, in many moments, is narrated by herself. With this, the study clarified that love, in a psychoanalytic context, can be identified from the subject’s fantasy about what it is to love and be loved, revealing that – through experienced circumstances, it results in a search for and acceptance of love from a certain forms in adult life, which may not be healthy. It also validated the hypothesis that love, as a complaint, reverberates in the lives of people in different scenarios, whether they are recognized worldwide or not. In this way, it is concluded that Psychoanalysis, if applied, could play a fundamental role in the re-elaboration of these subjects and their respective transformation, in order to get out of the unconscious chains that seem to be doomed until then.

Keywords: Love, Psychoanalysis, Clinic, Being loved, Princess/Lady Diana.


According to Andrew Morton (2013), a great and current biographer of the English monarchy, Lady Di was an important, globally recognized personality of the 20th century. Dubbed the “People’s Princess”, Diana is remembered by generations to come for her influence and admiration, which swept nations beyond the United Kingdom.

As Morton (2013) observes when describing Diana after his contacts with her, she was an extraordinary woman who, despite being much loved, was needy. One of the biggest contradictions analyzed in Diana, when delving into her story, is her clear yearning for love, even though she was one of the most beloved women in the world (CNN SURVEY, ed. 2020). Trapped in a cold and distant marriage for most of her life, she was intimate with her employees and opened up to complete strangers. She was always doing something for someone seeking praise and flattery (MORTON, 2013, p. 253).

The global devotion that fell on her came only after her involvement with Prince Charles, in 1981, when he joined the British Royal Family (MORTON, 2013, p. 133). Before that, according to Morton (2013), Lady Di was unwanted by her parents as a baby, abandoned by her mother as a child, and then deceived by her husband as an adult.

In view of this narrative and history, this case study analyzes and delves, based on the theory of Psychoanalysis, into Princess Diana’s life stages, understanding the unconscious impact caused by all the construction of how she was loved and loved throughout her trajectory. This is because this research is based, as an objective, on finding a parallel between her story and the eventual complaint of patients in clinical practice, who talk about love (or the lack of it), marked since early childhood in their initial affective bonds.

Thus, the opening question of this research settles in the reflection and possibility that any subject, like Diana, can be impacted by the conception of love elaborated in the course of his life to the point of developing, in a singular way, fantasies and the resulting suffering. Therefore, the objective of this study would be validated by understanding that the establishment of symptoms related to this complaint affects from anonymous patients, in the secrecy of the office, to popularly recognized icons, such as Lady Di. The bet of this work is that subjects are liable to create fantasies and particular symptoms, which are repeated regardless of the scenario.

Freud (1914-1916) attests that every encounter is, in fact, a reunion. Our first and most marked satisfactions in life come in childhood. Afterwards, our pleasures, joys and happiness will always have an immense intimacy with what we have experienced before. In contrast, the deepest anxieties and scars that give rise to adult pain have their roots in this same place.

If this is true, love in its essence and demand would also be learned in childhood and, therefore, love is learned by being loved and more, the way you love – and want to be loved – says how you were loved (FREUD, 1914- 1916).

The paradoxical situation of love then settles in there, since the amorous encounter provides, on the one hand, a certain appeasement by feeding the illusion of lost completeness and, on the other hand, it always implies an effect of deceit, because it is enough to love so that the subject finds himself again with this structural gap. Therefore, if the experiences of love in adult life touch us by referring to the first experiences, it is assumed that no one, while living, leaves childhood.

To meet the stated objective, it is worth analyzing whether the circumstances experienced by the subject are mediators for the construction of the fantasy of love, which makes him seek it in a specific way and that can make him suffer. To finalize the composition of the study and psychoanalytical basis, the possibility of applying Psychoanalysis as an efficient alternative for the re-elaboration and transformation of the subject’s anguish in order to free himself from the unconscious ties that seem to be fated, but that, in the past, could run another course when analyzed and faced.

For that, in a strategic way for the construction of this case study, the knowledge available in bibliographic data analysis was consulted for articulation with the proposal. Its qualitative approach is governed by deepening concepts related to the theme, principles and psychoanalytic meanings. Therefore, the criterion for identifying the formulations obtained and the conception of hypotheses is value-based.

To base the structure and investigation, theoretical bibliographic consultations were carried out, seeking to unravel ideas of the content worked. It has, as a source of study, concepts and proposals described in books, articles and texts of a scientific nature already published, mainly by Freud.

To reinforce the understanding and strengthen the correlation with Lady Di’s life, documentary films and her bibliography written by Andrew Morton were used, including – including – her own lines.



It was on July 1, 1961 – in Sandringham, UK, that aristocrat Diana Frances Spencer was born. According to Morton (2013), she was the third and penultimate child of her parents. However, the couple’s last child, fatally, died as soon as she was born. The author reports that Diana saw her parents go through a bad phase in their marriage, with frequent arguments. They separated, then, in 1967, when she was six years old, shortly after the public discovery that her mother was having a relationship with a businessman who was also married. After fights in court, the custody of the children was granted to the father, since the mother was absent and less interested in the custody of the children.

Morton (2013) understands that the separation of Diana’s parents was decisive for her unhappy childhood. Thinking about not making the mistakes of her parents, Diana wanted to build a united and happy family, she said (MORTON, 2013, p. 112).

Thus, Diana grew up living with her father, brothers and grandparents. She attended a girls’ preparatory school and had a natural artistic talent, particularly for dance and music. However, her father wanted her to dedicate herself more to regular studies than to the arts, even though these were the greatest passions of her childhood and youth (MORTON, 2013).

Also according to the author, as a teenager, she was given an apartment by her father and moved in with some friends in London. By this time, Diana had resumed her relationship with her mother. Even though they didn’t stop talking over the years, they weren’t that close. The two spoke sporadically and her mother helped her get a job as a ballet teacher. Subsequently, she became a kindergarten teacher.

Diana’s life was quiet. She didn’t go to clubs, saying she was too shy and sensitive for that. In an interview, she even said that she wanted to keep tidy, a British expression used to designate virginity, because she was expecting someone special (MORTON, 2013).

In 1978, Diana and her sister Sarah were invited to the thirtieth birthday of Charles, Prince of Wales and eldest son of the current Queen Elizabeth II. The families were close and, at that time, her sister was having a loving relationship with the Prince. The invitations increased and Diana became closer and closer to Charles even though they had more than 10 years of age difference (LADY DI, 2017).

The following year, the royal family experienced an attempt and, in the incident, Charles’ godfather, Lord Mountbatten, died. Saddened by grief, Charles looked for Diana to vent. At that time, he had already ended his relationship with Sarah and Diana told him: “You look so sad. My heart is empty when I see you like this. This is not right, you are all alone, you should have someone to take care of you” (LADY DI, 1977 apud MORTON, 2013, p. 114). From then on, Charles and Diana began to have a closer relationship, with a lot of support from the family, precisely because Diana fit into what the royal family called an ideal wife and future queen (LADY DI, 2017).

Subjected to demands, Charles saw himself giving up his single life and his relationship with Camila Parker Bowles, his ex-girlfriend and with whom he was openly and truly in love, to marry Diana. Diana and Charles’ constant appearances together began to attract press attention. Every moment she left her apartment, she was followed by journalists. Soon, Diana began to be called Lady Diana when she became part of the Royal Monarchy when she became the Princess of Wales in 1981, after her marriage to Prince Charles (MORTON, 2013, p. 16).

According to the Research carried out by the great broadcaster and news center CNN, in the 2020 edition, it was at this moment that Diana abruptly became a globally revered icon. One of the most famous women in the world, a symbol of fashion, ideal of beauty and feminine elegance. Lady Di was – and remains – a frequent celebrity in the press, seen as human amidst the coolness of royalty. She was admired for her philanthropic work with special involvement in the fight against AIDS and the international campaign against landmines, thus becoming the “Princess of the People” (MORTON, 2013).

As an object of desire for many, the excess for Diana could represent the projection of millions of fantasies, in order to cover up the lack of all those who deposited in her the salvation of their own depressions. She was considered a symbol of a new generation. The generation of hopes and expectations of a new order and future in the midst of monarchical rigidity.

With this, the biggest royal wedding of the 20th century came to be compared to a fairy tale. The Princess conquered the public in each exhibition she held with her joviality, naivety and grace. Still throughout their marriage, Diana and Charles had two children, William, who was born in 1982, and Harry, in 1984 (MORTON, 2013).

Although in public they continued to appear to be a passionate couple, the tension between Diana and Charles increased. He began to stay out of the palace more and more, while she was either lonely or taking care of the children. Diana, with each new public appearance, appeared sadder. She languished in front of the cameras, even crying and fainting at real events, causing great commotion and inconvenience to the figure of the royal family (LADY DI, 2017).

Faced with this, does someone who receives so much love and bets suffer? If you suffer, why do you suffer? Answering these questions is also what motivates us to talk about Diana in this context. “The most beloved woman in the world is kind, generous, sad and, in a way, a little desperate. A very intelligent woman, but immensely distressed” (MORTON, 2013, p. 18).

What few knew were the family marks that Diana carried even before meeting Charles: “My most vivid memory was when I was 6 years old and my mother decided to leave to marry her lover” (MORTON, 2013, p. 19 ). This fact caused her the most painful rupture of her life, according to her, having to be raised by several nannies after her separation from her mother. So, wasn’t it enough for Diana to be loved by the world when she didn’t have the mother’s love she wanted as a child?

In the situation in which this memory was exposed, Lady Di was on the verge of divorcing Charles when, through secret interviews with the journalist Andrew Morton, she confessed to her entire life. The author, then, prepared a biography of Diana and brought out all the fragility of her personal history and anguish with excerpts narrated by herself. The publication generated huge uproar in the population, because – at that time – it was not known that the source of the journalist was the Princess herself.

Diana exposed and materialized facts, until then only speculated, leaving the United Kingdom intrigued and inspired to discover what caused deep feelings of suffering and loneliness in a woman so admired and loved by the whole world (LADY DI, 2017). With that, soon the rumors about the end of the royal marriage increased.

With the publication, Diana spoke directly about herself for the first time and thus gave news about what had been distressing her for a long time. In her own view, as described by Morton (2013), she was a prisoner of a failed and loveless marriage, said she was chained by insensitive royalty and tied to the public image of a totally unreal life, unknown to everyone. She confessed that her marriage had been over for a long time and, soon, she would be the second Princess to be divorced in the Monarchy.

For Diana’s brother, this anguish would not be new and would not come only from her relationship with Charles. He mentions that the Princess has always shown solitude, seeking, since childhood, to be understood (MORTON, 2013, p. 32). According to Pires (2017), invisibility must be desperate: wouldn’t what sustains every celebrity be the fantasy of being loved? However, Diana was even exaggeratedly loved by the public. What was not known, until then, is that the person she most wanted to be loved by did not love her: her husband.

Diana (1992 apud MORTON, 2013, p. 171) says that since childhood she felt like a burden to the people she loved. She remembers fights between her parents and that she felt the reason for the instability of their marriage, since they did not want to be responsible for her care, leaving her with third parties. So she repeated herself with the man she loved. Charles, also the Queen and other acquaintances, in her view, considered her “unstable, sick and that she should be institutionalized”. Diana relates the sad need, then, to feel loved all the time in order to overcome this pain in some way. Charles, on the other hand, was also a rather needy young man.

Historians consider that he felt he was never good enough for his parents under the pressure of being the future king. His father was strict and his mother absent because she was the queen. What he wanted in a marriage was a wife who would support him without question, in addition to filling the gap left by his mother. In Diana, he did not have such a wife. The incompatibility between the two was truly tragic (CHARLES AND DIANA, 2019).

Still throughout her marriage, Diana felt threatened by Charles’ ex-girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles, as she was considered her husband’s mistress for as long as they were married. She lived in anguish knowing that she ran the risk of Charles leaving her to live next to the woman he had really loved since the beginning of their relationship.

After many considerations and complex situations experienced in this scenario, Diana and Charles decided to separate. Morton (2013) observes that Diana was, although very sad and frustrated by the end of her relationship with Charles, risking herself for a freer existence, starting a new part of history and with less restrictions of a hardened system. Thus, she became a “caring angel” in society.

Diana took care of suffering peoples, sick and abandoned people. She cared about and cared about those that society barely wanted to see at the time, such as lepers and people affected by AIDS. Diana gave love and got it back.

Over time, Diana still walked through some love relationships and, the last of them, surprising and controversial according to the popular opinion of the time, with the also older film producer Dodi Al-Fayed.

On August 27, 1997, a good friend called her and asked if Diana was finally going to be happy after everything she had been through in the last few years. She said happily: “Yes, very happy. Bye bye” (MORTON, 2013, p.384).

On August 31 of that same year, Diana and Dodi died in a car accident in the Ponte de l’Alma tunnel, in Paris – France, when chased by paparazzi, leaving the world in immense commotion. For weeks, England was covered in flowers as thousands of bouquets were left at the doors of royal palaces as a testament to love for Lady Diana.


It is commonly heard that all the joy in life comes from loving and being loved, since there is nothing more natural than loving to avoid conflict with the other. However, what happens is the opposite. In contradiction, Freud (1901-1905) ponders, “We are never so poorly protected against suffering as when we love, we are never so hopelessly unhappy as when we lose the loved one or his love”.

O problema é que o amor faz a gente querer mais e mais, e com isso, nos dá trabalho. É uma tristeza achar que o amor é uma coisa pronta, que só precisa ser encontrada. E não é que amar, especificamente, dê trabalho. É que viver e ser feliz ao mesmo tempo, é bem difícil. É preciso que possamos nos divertir nessa busca, mas há quem sofre muito com ela (KUSS, 2017, p. 127).

Far from being a rare experience, talking about building love goes beyond: it tells about the story of each one. In this way, it is understood that the experience of the psychoanalytic clinic is directly involved in the issue of love, since it is both based on the subject’s particular dissolutions and is re-presented through transference love, which Psychoanalysis considers as a replacement of the phenomenon of love within the therapeutic experience.

Thus, it would be natural that, in clinical practice, the complaint of patients in the face of wear and tear in their personal and loving relationships should be looked at in their personal analysis. Subjects seek analysis in a state of anguish, showing symptoms, including physical ones, in the face of endings in these relationships or even when these bonds are still showing signs of the possibility of interruption (KUSS, 2015, p. 23). Cracks in these relationships are also lamented and the subjects demonstrate that they are sometimes unable to deal with the idea and fear of losing the love of the other. For many, nothing else matters when those they love apparently don’t love them back or even when they don’t love them the way they wish they could.

According to Kuss (2015), love comes as a response to some lack. The ways in which one loves and desires one’s self, say of the psychic structure and the position that each subject adopts before life. In the author’s view, in Freud’s work, love appears all the time. The big difference is that the idea that people have of love is one of unification, it makes two become one and Psychoanalysis goes precisely in the opposite direction, because making two one is a complementarity and Psychoanalysis dialogues with lack.

Still according to the author, fantasy, then, appears as an attempt to respond to desire, which is why fantasy is, essentially, fantasy of completeness. The fantasy announces the presence of a desire and appears as a shield for the subject to deal with the malaise that is inherent to the condition of a divided subject. According to Freud (1914 apud KUSS, 2017), we learn to love the other because we depend on him to avoid the helpless condition in which we find ourselves.

Desire is based on the loss of the object, a moment that marks the subject’s entry into a continuous relationship with dissatisfaction. As there is no object, the desire does not come true and anguish (KUSS, 2017, p. 37).

It is now time to turn to Diana’s story to think, in view of this, of what made Diana cling to love (or the pursuit of it) with the Prince of Wales even when she clearly would not get it as she wanted. Contradictory as it may seem, there was something attractive for her in this form of love that was not supplied with the love of an entire population.

Early childhood experiences are marked in the child as raw sensations. Thus, childhood desire is indestructible, but not immutable (KUSS, 2015, p. 46). Thus relating, for Freud (1915 apud LAURU, 2002), there is no love that does not have its prototype in childhood. Therefore, this is how loving and being loved inhabits fantasy in a way common to every human being.

With this motivation, the case study of Diana’s story goes its way towards the bet that the way someone loves and wants to be loved says how it was in childhood. It is because someone loved him that he learned what it is to love.

And, if the love you received in the first bond is the one that teaches, it is urgent to think about what contour of love this taught/learned was, which created the form of demand and desire just like to get it back in other love relationships.

Anguish permeates and haunts the subject who arrives in analysis, but would there be a way to revisit this process to then re-elaborate the conception of love that he has in himself? Násio (1997) believes so, since love, even though it is a constitutive condition of human nature, is always the insurmountable premise of the subject’s suffering: the more you love, the more you suffer. This is where psychoanalysis works.


In order to support the study that follows, it is necessary to deepen conceptually some relevant themes. From the point of view of Psychoanalysis, the definitions are fundamental for understanding and sewing the analysis of Diana’s case, as well as the patients’ other subjects in a clinical context.

2.3.1 LOVE

Freud (1905) states that love is conditioned to the existence of a dependency. The subject learns to love the other because he depends on him to avoid the natural condition of helplessness he faces. It is by having his needs met, and still being protected, that the child will learn to love and thus shape his future love experiences.

According to Klein (1937), if on the one hand the subject learns to love, hate is inherent in human beings. Even more contradictory is when the subject encounters impulses of hatred against someone he loves. According to the author, the tendency is for the subject to leave these feelings of guilt in the background due to the pain they cause.

Still, feelings manifest themselves in many disguised ways. Klein (1937) exemplifies that some people suffer when they do not receive praise and appreciation and, therefore, consider themselves not worthy of attention. Still others do not feel dissatisfied with themselves and receive, in a popular way, the name of “inferiority complex”.

Therefore, Psychoanalysis proposes deep roots for this type of sensation that is linked to the unconscious feeling of guilt. Klein (1937) states that this feeling arises from the fear of being incapable of truly or sufficiently loving others and still not controlling one’s own aggressive impulses, as one is afraid of causing damage to those one loves.

A luta entre amor e ódio, com todos os conflitos que ela provoca, começa no início da infância e continua ativa pelo resto da vida. Ela se origina da relação da criança com os pais. (…) No caso da menina, à medida que prossegue seu desenvolvimento, passa a desejar ao pai mais do que à mãe. Ela passa a ter fantasias conscientes e inconscientes de tomar o lugar da mãe, conquistando o pai, tornando-se sua mulher. Também tem muita inveja dos outros filhos que a mãe possui e deseja que o pai lhe dê bebês que possam ser seus. Esses sentimentos de desejos e fantasias são acompanhados de rivalidade, agressividade e ódio contra a mãe, somando-se ao ressentimento que sente contra ela, oriundo de frustrações anteriores no seio. Mesmo assim, fantasias e desejos sexuais em relação à mãe permanecem ativos na mente da menina. É sob sua influência que ela deseja tomar o lugar do pai ao lado da mãe (KLEIN, 1937, p. 354).

There is a preoccupation of the child with the beloved object. This means that, according to the author, alongside the destructive impulses, there is a deep desire to make sacrifices to restore loved ones who were injured or destroyed by him in fantasy.

Being considerate, then, implies putting yourself in the shoes of others and identifying with them. In addition to being a basic condition of love, self-sacrifice, temporarily putting the interests and emotions of the other in the foreground, offers the possibility of resuming and playing the role of a good mother or father. The person behaves as he wishes his parents had behaved with him. At the same time, he also plays the role of the good child. In this sense, Klein (1937) states that the fantasy of a kind love is recreated.

In addition, the author also exposes that Psychoanalysis has shown that there are unconscious reasons that contribute to the choice of partner as an adult. Still, although love relationships are based on emotional situations related to the creators, they are not necessarily simple repetitions, but are also composed of new elements derived from the present situation.

Still considering childhood love, according to Klein (1937), it is precisely because he feels so much love for the mother that the child can mobilize resources for later relationships. It is this displacement of love that is most important for the development of personality and relationships. It is by shifting the love (and hate) that he has for the mother to other objects, that the adult will deal with the childhood desires that he carries within himself.

Therefore, the author concludes that it is by investigating the unconscious mind that it becomes possible to understand love in adults. However, she warns that for there to be a satisfactory development, it is essential that the repression of sexual feelings related to the first loved ones is not excessive, nor that there is a total displacement of the child’s feelings towards people other than the parents. With this, love and sexual desires can later be revived and reconstituted into a happy love relationship.

Freud (1929), states that it is love that humanizes and civilizes us. It is known, therefore, that a baby does not live if he is not loved by someone whose maternal role welcomes him, feeds him, desires him and inserts him into language.

In Freud’s work, the theme of love frequently appears, whether as sexuality, libido or passion. Love is then placed as everyday in the pursuit of fullness for the desiring subject. It is through love that the subject seeks to recover his mythical state of complete happiness that he supposedly lived (KUSS, 2015).

However, Freud (1914) warns that love encounters an initial barrier: love for others. You have to renounce a part of yourself to launch yourself in search of love. This is how desire, inaugurating the subject as human, makes him live continuously with a lack, which is the mark of incompleteness and the reason for the search for satisfaction. Freud (1909 apud KUSS, 2015) states that this desire is still childish and points to an indestructibility, because it will never be fulfilled. However, even if it does not cease, it is changeable.

Thus, it can be said that the idea of love presents itself as a possible meaning for the emptiness that desire never tires of denouncing. Therefore, there is no conjunction between love and desire, as it is their disjunctions that maintain love and make it reprint itself time after time in each of the adult relationships (KUSS, 2015).


Freud (1914) observed that the experience of love, then, is a reunion with something that brings news of the lost object or a memory of the first satisfaction with it. Thus, throughout the analysis process, these memories are evoked and the healing process could be carried out in what he called recidivism in love.

Thus, the author discovers the phenomenon of transference and warns that it is present in every doctor-patient relationship, even if the doctor is not aware of it. It is through it that the apparent symptoms speak about conflicts and previous and unconscious relationships imprinted in the current situation. It is also, through transference, that the unconscious emerges and the analyst will thus identify the repression of this affect in its infinite repetition.

Freud (1914) translates the concept of “transference love” as a transcription of clinical observation, in which love – as a significant repetition – is fixed in the figure of the analyst. For the treatment, it is fundamental that he uses this fact as a driving instrument for the direction of the analysis, since it is up to the analyst, through the interpretation of the transference, to undo the mistake of false love: to reveal to the patient that he is mistaken, that there is a deception, that the partnership is an illusion and that the material deposited in him, or supposed to the analyst, does not belong to him.

Since the transference involves the analyst, the question is to know in what way and how the patient responds to the appeal of said love.

Sempre que numa relação terapêutica se institui a dialética em que um fala e um outro ouve e interpreta, o amor se faz presente. O que comporta a ideia de que cada um ama em função do que supõe que o outro sabe do que ele ignora sobre si mesmo na medida em que sempre se é um mistério para si mesmo; donde reside a questão aberta do amor dos analisandos pelo seu analista a quem supõe um saber. No fundamento da transferência em psicanálise há a conjugação do amor com a palavra e o saber este, não mais que suposto (ZALCBERG, 2008 apud KUSS, 2015, p. 53).

This is how transference highlights love as a displacement – a person’s error (KUSS, 2015). For Freud (1915), the phenomenon is linked to the nature of the disease itself, in which the symptoms and feelings do not originate from the current situation and do not apply to the doctor, but rather are repeating something that has already happened to him.

Thus, repetition in remembering and acting in transference, whether loving or hostile, becomes the greatest instrument of treatment. Thus transference creates an intermediate zone between illness and life, through which the transition from one to the other takes place (FREUD, 1914).


The importance of the Oedipus Complex as the central phenomenon of the sexual period of early childhood is indisputable. The Oedipus myth is inspiration for the theory created by Freud (1923-1925) in which the subject’s experience in a love triangle is marked by the child who has the mother as his object of love. However, she (female figure) is disputed by the father (or male figure). Therefore, to have the mother all to himself, the child wants to eliminate the competitor in some way.

For Freud, (1924) it is when seeing that this becomes impossible, in the greatest frequency of times, and not reaching the desired satisfaction, the infant is led to abandon the expected affection. With that, the Oedipus Complex would disappear due to its failure, as a result of internal impossibility.

Still in 1924, Freud observes that, when morality and law are internalized by the superego, added to the formation of sexuality and structure, the subject introjects the parents through a desexualization of the relationship, thus diverting them from direct sexual aims, for only in this way is it possible to completely overcome the Oedipus complex. Therefore, only with the collapse of this complex is the object investment in the mother abandoned.

Thus, this theory is related to what Freud (1923-1925) considers the most notable characteristic of human sexuality and its development: its beginning in two stages, being the dissolution of the Oedipus complex and, subsequently, the latency period. The two-stage development of sexuality is a biological condition predisposing to neurosis. Only with puberty are the impulses and object cathexes of the first period revived, as well as the emotional attachments of the Oedipus complex. In the sexual life of puberty there is a struggle between the impulses of the early years and the inhibitions of the latency period.

The author also notes that the child’s sexual development reaches a stage in which the genitals assume the leading role. This phallic genital organization of the child succumbs to the threat of castration.

This threat refers to the moment when the boy, proud of having a penis, sees a girl’s genital region and has to deal with the lack of a being so similar to him. With this, the loss of the organ itself becomes conceivable. Therefore, the threat of castration has an aftereffect. Thus, admitting this possibility puts an end to the possible ways of obtaining satisfaction from the Oedipus complex.

This is where object-cathexes are abandoned and replaced by identification. Parental authority is introjected and the superego then takes shape. This process gives rise to severity and prohibition while the libidinal tendencies are desexualized and sublimated. At this moment, there is more than a repression, but an abolition of the complex.

However, for the girl, the Oedipus Complex does not happen as in the boy. Freud (1924) states that the girl does not understand her lack of penis as a sexual characteristic, but rather on the hypothesis that she already had the member and later lost it with castration. As a result, the girl accepts castration as a fact, while the boy fears the possibility of its consummation.

The author observes, then, that the renunciation of the penis, on the part of the girl, is not tolerated without an attempt at compensation. The girl starts to have the desire to receive a son from her father as a gift. The wish does not come true and then the complex is abandoned. Even so, the two desires (to have a penis and a child) remain heavily invested in the unconscious and support the preparation of the female being for her future sexual role.

To compose the understanding about the constitution of love, Freud’s idea (1914-1916) is added, when he considers that the love life of human beings is also closely linked to narcissism, since it is in the child’s choice of object that we see how she takes her sexual objects from her experiences of satisfaction and even identification. Freud also points out that there are two original sexual objects in the subject: he himself and the woman who raised him, in this presupposing primary narcissism.

It is with the idea of narcissism that an ideal is also born within you, by which your current Self is measured. To this ego-ideal is then directed the self-love which the real ego enjoyed in childhood, and – of course, the individual does not want to renounce the satisfaction which he once enjoyed and does not want to deprive himself of the narcissistic satisfaction of his childhood.

For Pires (2017), in this process, the subject starts to create the impetus to approach others seeking to establish relationships. So one might think that there has been a movement, like this, towards it before. That is, it is by having occupied the ideal place for someone that it will be possible to establish – in the figure of the parents – the roots of the Ideal of Self in order to build a model for oneself about what one should be. Like a mirror, the child returns to the Other the look that was addressed to him and is constituted in this interplay between his intimate and his external.

Self-love appears to us immediately as the expression of the greatness of the Self. Any residue of the primitive feeling of omnipotence which experience confirmed helps to increase self-esteem. Therefore, this means that there is then a relationship of intimate dependence on the narcissistic libido in which, in love life, not being loved lowers self-love, while being loved elevates it. Thus, complementing the previous analysis, it is as if being loved represented the objective and satisfaction in the narcissistic choice of the object (FREUD, 1914).

2.3.4 TRAUMA

The word trauma comes from medicine and is linked to the entry of a foreign object capable of inducing pathology. For Freud (1926), trauma always happens as an impactful and constitutive experience at a time when the subject is not ready: either insufficient for that mark or excessive for this.

Going further, the author observes that it is something that occurs in two stages. In the first event, the mark is generated in the subject, crossed in a still meaningless way. However, it only becomes traumatic, as there is an event subsequent to the primary one, which generated the initial and infantile mark, which then connects and refers to this first one, which the subject had forgotten. The return of the repressed comes to the fore, then, as an adult.

Therefore, trauma is significant in Freud’s theory, as it represents an event for the subject, initially meaningless at the time, but which is marked and, after an interval, always returns from an experience capable of remitting it.

In this conception, the symptom can be understood as the direction that each person gives to their trauma. In psychoanalytic practice, this is operated in a unique way considering the base of the subject’s ‘fixation’ in a given position, which is the point that gives him his individual way of satisfaction.

Over time, the concept of trauma was complemented and revised by Freud. The first formulations occurred in his initial study on hysteria, in which he concluded that the trauma was of a sexual nature and the consequent emergence of hysterical symptoms. In the sequel, he followed up with the notion of fantasy as the main traumatic factor for the human condition.

Freud (1920), after reformulations based on war neuroses, introduces the notion of trauma as a disruption of the ego’s defenses that lead to an excess of excitation. This situation would make the psychic apparatus look for measures to escape the Pleasure Principle and, finally, discharge it.

Furthermore, Freud (1929) places trauma in the condition of a psychic commotion, that is, a reaction to the modifying excitations of the Ego that allow the emergence of new egoic formations.

Anyway, in that same year, Freud considers the trauma experienced by the subject as an experience of pain that is expressed in a staged and acted way, as a symptom, as a reproduction of an incomprehensible psychic agony.


Freud (1914) goes on to observe, after renouncing hypnosis and from the spontaneous thoughts of the analysand, that there was something very important usually connected to the trauma, which the patient could not remember. However, even if he did not remember what had been forgotten and repressed, the patient acted on it.

Thus, for the author, the analysand does not reproduce forgetting as a memory, but as an act. He repeats it, naturally not knowing he’s doing it. Acting can emerge as repetitive speeches or actions. Freud (1914) also states that the patient begins therapy with a repetition of this kind and that this is a vast path for analysis and elaboration:

Logo notamos que a transferência mesma é somente uma parcela de repetição, e que a repetição é transferência do passado esquecido (…) devemos estar preparados, portanto, para o fato de que o analisando se entrega à compulsão de repetir, que então substitui o impulso à recordação, não apenas na relação pessoal com o médico, mas também em todos os demais relacionamentos e atividades contemporâneas de sua vida. Quanto maior a resistência, tanto mais o recordar será substituído pelo atuar (repetir) (FREUD, 1914, p. 201).

Freud (1914) continues his observation through the patient’s resistances, as they determine the sequence of what will be repeated. It is from the past, then, that the patient creates conditions to defend himself against the continuation of the therapy and the analyst, in turn, must gradually remove condition by condition. Thus, still trying to protect his inhibitions, unfeasible attitudes and pathological character traits, the patient keeps repeating them, including his symptoms.

The author highlights the importance of the analyst observing that the patient experiences his pathology and symptom as something real and current, but that a good part consists of a return to the past.

In this process, patient and analyst are disposed for a continuous struggle in order to keep in the psychic realm all the impulses that the patient would like to direct to the motor realm. The triumph of therapy then occurs when, through the work of memory, the patient resolves something that he would like to unload through an action. Still, Freud (1914) warns that it is necessary to give the patient time to face the now known resistance.

However, Freud resumes and complements the theme in 1920, when he describes the repetition compulsion as being an effort of the subject to repeat a previous state, including an inorganic state (death drive) with the aim of lowering his psychic tension. This time considering the instinctual process, the compulsion continues to be the search for satisfaction even though it does not evoke the traumatic fact, but repeats what has not been worked out.

In this sense, the drive character of the repetition compulsion points to radical theoretical changes in Psychoanalysis:

Uma pulsão seria, portanto, um ímpeto, inerente ao orgânico vivo, para a reprodução de um estado anterior que o ser vivo teve que abandonar sob a influência de forças perturbadoras externas, um tipo de elasticidade orgânica ou, se se quiser, a exteriorização da inércia na vida orgânica (FREUD, 1920, p. 36).

It was watching his grandson throw a spool and then pull it back by the string, exclaiming the words Fort (left) and Da (returned), that Freud based this second part of the theory as a reliving of the unpleasant experience of leaving and returning, in the example, of his daughter, mother of his grandson. The author theorized that this repetition was about attempts by the Self to symbolize and dominate unpleasant situations, so that the subject himself performs the movement and occupies an active place in relation to suffering.

“The repetition compulsion also recalls past experiences that do not include any possibility of pleasure and that never, even a long time ago, brought satisfaction, even for instinctual impulses that have since been repressed” (FREUD, 1920, p. 34).

Thus, the compulsion to repeat would be an attempt, on the part of the Self, to control unpleasant situations. It is through repetition that the psychic apparatus achieves the balance sought by the pleasure principle.

Therefore, the psychoanalytic task would be to identify the patient’s repetition, even if this process is painful and avoided by the patient, full of resistance, to finally elaborate.



Diana, as the third daughter of the couple Frances and John Spencer, experienced the final part of her parents’ relationship while they were married, being away from her mother from the age of six. Diana (1992 apud MORTON, 2013, p. 29) says that, after several arguments between them, they separated.

Rescuing the concept of trauma, it is possible to reflect on circumstances that generated the impactful mark on Diana regarding love and abandonment as the symptom directed towards the suffering experienced. This is because, if they are successful, parents tend to find everything that is done for the baby beautiful and perfect, making it His Majesty the Baby at home. However, gradually, this majesty must leave the throne and face the difficulties of life. The child should start to hear “no”, spend more time alone, the parents gradually return to their other tasks and, then, the baby will receive less attention (PIRES, 2017).

Caregivers build a first moment of family protection with the child and, if it happens well enough, the fall should come later. This fall must exist, as Castration, to mark the lack that is inherent in the human being. As Lacan (1963-1964 apud PIRES, 2017) points out, that nomination given by caregivers is never total and does not even supply what is lost – even because one never knows exactly what was lost.

What only a few realize is that this too is love. To praise and – also – to break, is to give the necessary love for the baby to develop to the point of identifying the split between the mother and him. Freud (1906-1909) reports that the way in which the subject learns to love and hate is based on these same primary relationships.

It so happened that with Diana her mother left her. Not in the progressive and healthy sense of when the majesty of the baby is taken away, but in a crucial phase of bonding. Her parents lost their son after the birth of the Princess and, from then on, they began to argue intensely, even separating. In addition, the fights between her parents continued even after that moment and the parents’ attention was withdrawn from her and deposited on the couple’s issues. This breakdown can corroborate Diana’s unhappy childhood, as she herself defines it, in addition to possibly carrying the causes of many of her symptoms and way of acting as an adult as a reunion of childhood love.

The symptom, for Freud (1926-1929), is related to the unconscious of the one who produces it, walking along with the experiences of sexuality and sustained by his very particular childhood fantasies. Closely related to family conflicts and love, the symptom appears as a disguised expression of desire, replacing the direct satisfaction of the drive. That is, the formation of symptoms is intrinsically linked to fantasy and, very often, to love fantasy. It is up to the analyst, therefore, to relate his formation from the link between childhood experience and the sexual constitution that goes back to the ancestors.

For Diana, she became a burden to those she loved. It is possible to think that Lady Di already took over this place in relationships based on her feeling of guilt loaded with the duality love and hate to her main nucleus of coexistence. Both her parents and the royal family represented Diana’s need to master her aggressive impulses so as not to cause harm.

Everything suggests that the discussion about the etiology of the neurotic symptom necessarily leads to the theme of fantasy. Therefore: if there is neurosis, there is fantasy and if there is fantasy we can assume the presence of the symptom.

The formation of symptoms begins with the unavailability of an object, which implies withdrawal of libido. Libido returns, by regression, to other instinctual organizations, reinvesting previously abandoned objects. In this return, fixations occur, establishing a conflict between defense and desire. Such a conflict evolves into the form of a compromise that must reconcile the demands of fantasy and desire, restoring the effectiveness of repression and, finally, determining a symptom (FREUD, 1926).

Lady Di suffered from psychic weaknesses and physical symptoms such as bulimia, for example. According to De Clercq (2012), obstinately refusing the oral object or expelling it from the stomach immediately after ingestion, represent two painful faces of the subject’s relationship with the Other. Each patient will reflect their way of being loved through a symptom and it is up to the analyst to interpret it in order to leverage associations and, therefore, understand the message. In the case of Princess, “it is not enough to respond to the needs of the body. Anorexic-bulimic hunger is not, in fact, a hunger for food. (…) It is hunger for love.” (DE CLERCQ, 2012, p. 21). This says about the hunger of the Other’s desire, which not even “all the bread in the world” could kill. It is hunger for the inedible. It is hungry for a symbolic reference for the subject.

Furthermore, Diana’s brother mentions that she always showed loneliness while wanting to be understood by the people around her. This would be a possible trace left by the trauma.

The symptom is taken as an encrypted message that finds a place for its interpretation and elaboration in the analytical space, but which also provokes resistance to its treatment. Therefore, if she were in an analysis situation, Diana, as with patients in the clinic, could leave this feeling of loneliness sometimes apparent before the analyst, sometimes not so evident, silently seeking the understanding of the other.

Trying to get rid of this anguish, the subject is then surprised to recognize and come across the manifest contradiction of his symptom: while it generates suffering, it brings satisfaction. That’s why love also contemplates this paradox.

It is worth thinking that this was possibly how Diana followed in adult life. While in pain, Lady Di was extremely discreet with her thoughts, opinions and anguish. She was waiting for Charles to be able to speak out, manifest herself, but that way she continued to respect and please the Crown, keeping her as the ideal wife and future queen.

However, as is known, even though in silence Diana’s symptoms continued to make the news and, not long after, even though she didn’t say anything about it, Diana seemed increasingly sad, seriously losing weight, crying and fainting at public events ( MORTON, 2013).

Therefore, just like dreams, the symptom also denotes the intention of fulfilling a wish, but this one in a more tangible version. Thus: “In neuroses, it is the sexual drives that succumb to repression and thus constitute the most important basis for the genesis of symptoms, which can therefore be seen as substitutes for sexual satisfactions” (FREUD, 1929, p. 103 ).

According to Morton (2013), the changes in Diana, given the suffering of how the relationship with Charles was formed, were even physical.

Sua fala normalmente rápida, vigorosa e incisiva, degenera no mesmo instante na presença de Charles. Torna-se monossilábica e monótona (…). É o mesmo tom que domina sua fala quando comenta o divórcio dos pais e o que chama de “tempos sombrios” (MORTON, 2013, p. 199).

And if, according to Psychoanalytic theory, the way we love today is how we were loved in childhood, added to the idea of unconscious repetition compulsion, this would be an important indication of why Lady Di was attracted to that form of love, continuing to seek it in a person who didn’t love her as an adult.


Morton (2013) notes that Diana’s life goal was not to make the mistakes of her parents, aiming to build a united and happy family. She thus saw in the Prince of Wales the chance to finally feel fulfilled. Lady Di tried, then, to continue fitting herself into the role of ideal wife, Charles’ caretaker and so the marriage was becoming like a fairy tale, the contradiction being that this was not what she felt. “I was very anxious. I felt happy, because the crowd makes you feel excited – but I don’t think I was happy” (DIANA, 1992 apud MORTON, 2013).

Diana apparently felt the urge to make sacrifices so that those she loved would heal from their wounds. She was attentive to Charles, trying to put his interests first, as well as meeting the demands of her father when she was little, her mother and the Queen. Lady Di behaved in the role of a good mother to the Prince of Wales. This behavior possibly denotes the way she would have liked her mother to have behaved with her. This also allowed her to recreate her posture as a girl to then please her parents and avoid family disagreements that, in her conception, were her fault (LADY DI, 2017).

However, disagreements between Charles and her escalated as they feigned the perfect marriage on camera. It is possible that the enormous desire to be what her parents were not led her to the opposite path. Here, we bet that Diana insisted and repeated her childhood experience. This is how, then, she sought relationships – and maintained herself in them – in this format. It is also plausible that, in an attempt to symbolize and master unpleasant situations with Charles, she became fixated on trying to finally balance obtaining pleasure in a scenario so similar to her parents’.

This fact goes back to Diana’s memory that she always ended up feeling like a burden to those she loved (MORTON, 2013). She felt responsible for the fights between her parents, just as she had been accused of the instability of her marriage, which, according to her, made her very insecure in relationships. The lack of praise from Charles, as well as the lack of recognition from his parents during his childhood, possibly made Diana solidify the idea that she was inferior, even though she was the most idolized Princess in the world (CNN SURVEY, ed. 2020).

After the first years of life in childhood relationships, the constitution of the subject is revealed, being crowned by the Oedipus Complex as a central phenomenon of the sexual period of early childhood. It is in this same context that loving and hating already foreshadow, for example, how the subject will relate erotically in adult life (KLEIN, 1937). The result of this connection and triangulation would then determine sexuality and even its clinical structure would be related to the outcome of this story and one of the instances that the I serves: the superego with its law and morals, well-marked by the inauguration through desire incestuous.

The observation of the sexual ideal here becomes interesting, as it can be placed in an auxiliary link with the ideal of the Ego, where narcissistic satisfaction faces real obstacles. Then the person loves, in accordance with the type of narcissistic object-choice, that which once was and which it has lost or which has merits which it never had.

Therefore, then, the lover is humble. Someone who loves loses a part of his narcissism and only by being loved can he regain it. That is, this part will always be missing. In 1915, Freud states that love presents some antitheses and the opposition to love – to be loved is what corresponds to the conversion of activity into passivity. In some excerpts of her biography, Diana denounces her omission: “Should I be nice or should I just sit here? So I decided to be nice and leave them alone. That broke my heart” (DIANA, 1992, p. 46 apud MORTON, 2013).

In this sense, according to Lacan (1977/1985), it is also out of love for himself that the subject submits himself to the desire of the Other with passivity, since, after all, it is this Other that keeps him alive and, why not say it, is It is thanks to this Other that he considers himself important and belonging to life. The child’s cry, for example, is heard as a demand and this maternal Other is the one who will name it as hunger, cold or pain. That is, the Other is the one who attributes meaning to the baby. Therefore, one cannot fail to take this supposed demand as a projection of the Other’s desire.

In this way, the mother occupies the position of Other when the child is submitted to the latter’s care. Thus, when the subject is helpless, she resorts to the Other. Therefore, what one desires is always the Other’s desire (LACAN, 1977/1985, p. 205).

It is in this love that you feel alive. Thus, we understand that, for the child, the desire to be loved and to respond to what is addressed to him, continues to be the engine of psychic development, allowing the adolescent to later insert himself in the culture from another place.

Still unconsciously, fantasies of what he lacks and what the patient seeks with the aim of being, also in his fantasy, finally looked at by the other, will appear in the patient’s discourse. According to Freud (1914-1916), it is what the ego lacks – to make it ideal – that it is loved. This is of particular importance for the neurotic, who, owing to his excessive object-cathexes, is impoverished in the ego and unable to fulfill his ego-ideal. He then seeks the way back to narcissism, after his squandering of libido on objects, choosing a sexual ideal according to the narcissistic type, which has merits that are unattainable for him.

Falling in love involves a specific trait, which is a sexual overestimation of the object, secondary to an idealization. However, “the object is treated like the ego itself”, that is, the ego behaves as if it wanted to draw attention to itself and give way to another, since “the object, so to speak, absorbed the ego” and occupied the place of the ego ideal. Lacan (1960 apud PIRES, 2017) well concludes: “to love is to give what you don’t have to someone who doesn’t want it”.

Diana, who went through all this in her individuality, continued to be loved by the public. But, at the same time, she says that she felt she was facing rejection by the same audience, because, in fact, they were unaware of the lonely reality of her life, accepting and loving only her smiling image as a unique fact (MORTON, 2013). It must therefore be considered that, even though the life of the icon Diana was accompanied by invasive cameras, what she truly felt remained secret until then. Even though she was very much loved, they didn’t know that they only loved parts of her. She knew and it wasn’t enough.

In this sense, it would be possible to infer that Diana revered herself to the desire of the Other with passivity, this being the Prince, the father and the mother. Diana seems to have continued submitting to them in order to continue being loved, as it was her parents, as Great Others, who would keep her alive in some way and, later, Charles: it was not for the whole population that he loved her, but for their love is what was considered important.

Diana told close friends, according to Morton (2013), that something in each subject attracts a certain type of thing. She also said that she saw herself a little in Charles, when she recognized a sadness in him and believed that she would need someone to take care of him. Diana realized then that this relationship aroused a maternal feeling as she continually tried to make him proud of her. How she wanted to please her father, when her mother left and how she felt guilty about her leaving home.

Here, one sees the existing dependency for the condition of love. It is in the feeling of helplessness that the feeling is born and permeated the beginning of Charles and Diana’s relationship. At the same time, Diana, when she managed to please Charles, said she did not understand how “a man like him” was paying attention to her and was still interested in her (MORTON, 2013).

This is about the possibility that Diana is, then, trapped in the fantasy of having taken her mother’s place in her parents’ separation, but at the same time unable to be loved by her father as she would like (as a woman). Returning to the concept of the Oedipus Complex in the girl, conquering the father to become his wife, in Diana’s situation, became a fantasy one step closer to being feasible, for her, when she saw her mother leaving home. It is possible to speculate that, in her childhood perspective, the rivalry was won by her on this occasion. However, Diana, aged six, stayed in an attempt to compensate with paternal love, but her wish was not fully realized, as she did not occupy her mother’s exact place, although it was left empty. Thus, castration is accepted with consequences.

Psychoanalysis has revealed to us that, when an original object of a wishful impulse is lost as a result of repression, it is often represented by an endless succession of substitute objects. None of which, however, provides complete satisfaction. This may explain the inconstancy in the choice of objects, the ‘yearning for stimulation’ that so often characterize love in adults (FREUD, 1909). In Diana, this point is related to the succession of lovers and the search for attention when exposing herself to the population that admired her, but that clearly did not supply her satisfaction. In other patients, this would apply in the sense of seeking to meet the other’s desire, being and doing what the Other expects to, then, feel loved.

The summary of this analysis so far is that, based on Freud’s conception (1914-1916), it is by being loved, therefore, that you can love. And loving, he starts to take the object for himself, undertaking the repression, so important for the child’s entry into society. In other words, it is because she believes that the Other’s desire wants her in a certain position that she submits to it. Thus, while the child, for example, seeks to maintain a certain prominence, he is also introjecting his restricted place as a castrated subject, as he no longer seeks full and limitless satisfaction. We can say that, in a way, the I performs repression in order to continue being loved.

Diana spent a lot of her life molding herself into what they expected her to be in order to feel loved. Since childhood, she was already encouraged to drop her true passions to be the studious girl, the “virgin”, the perfect mother, ideal wife and impeccable future queen (MORTON, 2013).

Although loved by the entire population, it is, when feeling that she was not loved by these great Others, that Diana possibly continued to depend on the libido directed by them, in a conditioned and direct way to her self-love, which was then demoted.

In Freud’s view (1924), it is necessary that the child of the adult – after identifying the idealization that his parents made of him – stop and put his own ideal in check. The dissolution of Oedipus is thus constitutive for the human being. It is, through the oedipal dissolution, that we can say that the love expected by the subject in a loving relationship is his own response to the way he was loved. It is possible that Diana was caught at this crossroads of socialization and appropriation regarding her desire. From then on, she as a subject, began to show how she responded to lack and castration, but not without producing symptoms.

Diana remained haunted by the idea of rejection as she felt attacked by the possibility that her husband would leave her for his lover Camilla. Once again Diana found herself on the verge of being left by an outsider. Once her mother, now Charles. It is as if, here, the threat of castration continued to live throughout the entire marriage, only to finally realize that the fault was already there, he was born with it. Once again the triangulation becomes evident and repeats itself. “There were three people in this marriage. It’s too many people”, she admitted in 1992, but that she had already experienced a similar situation. Still, she tried in every way to get rid of the instability of Charles’ lack of love and seek reassurance in other objects. After many considerations and complex situations experienced in this scenario, Diana and Charles decided to separate.

Still about love, but as a mother, there was an express contradiction. Diana had two sons: William and Harry. The population’s view of her motherhood was that she vehemently committed herself to the care and upbringing of her children. According to her, in order to make them feel her unconditional love so that they do not suffer what they went through in their own childhood (LADY DI, 2017).

Diana also confessed that she maintained the relationship with Charles, as she feared that, by separating, she would be exiled from the United Kingdom and prohibited from seeing her children under the strict laws of the Monarchy, since both would be in the line of succession to the Crown. Lady Di did not conceive of the idea of being removed from them as once outside her mother (MORTON, 2013, p. 321).

However, Diana suffered from postpartum depression, which leads to a rejection of the children, since with each new pregnancy, new arguments between the couple were established and Charles started to be absent, possibly with Camila (MORTON, 2013). Here, the fact goes back to the fact that apparently, in Diana’s life, “Three were too many” in a relationship: be it her mother’s lover, her husband’s lover, the children and she, as the third daughter of her parents, who, in his vision, he believes to be the cause of the separation and constant fights of both.

Added to the fact, according to Diana, was Charles’s pressure on her motherhood, who saw her love and protection of children in an exaggerated and acted way. Still on the subject and according to the Princess (1992 apud MORTON, 2013, p. 201), “Charles saw this as the cause of our marital problems, but not as a symptom and consequence of them.”.

The love between parents and children is one of the most socially valued types of love and is even born taken for granted and unconditional. Everyone is shocked when a child is abandoned, murdered or neglected by parents, as children are thought to be their extension, something that should be praised and protected.

However, it is forgotten that some parents, as subjects that they are and in the first instance, may be unable to give this love to their child. And Freud (1914-1916) goes further when he states that “parental love, so moving and at bottom so childish, is nothing but parental narcissism reborn, which, transformed into object love, unequivocally reveals its former nature” , pointing out that all love is limited, it is narcissistic – even though it is placed in the highest and most valued place in our society. That is, if it is aimed at the newly arrived baby, it is because something of the parents is projected there, which calls their libido to appear where perhaps it did not arise naturally. Even so, in this coming and going between the I and the not-I, we perceive that love is transmitted and, being transmitted, it can only be constituted in the relationship between the subjects.


From the interviews given to journalist Andrew Morton in 1992, it is clear that Diana’s confessions were many and the act of speaking evoked several memories in her. With that, it is worth reflecting: What could Diana have achieved if she was led by an analyst, being listened to by him and allowing her to reach, with greater ease, the elements responsible for the release of affections, memories and unconscious representations? As an assumption, it is possible to bet that Diana, if she was under the clinic’s secrecy, looking at herself, sought to understand how she was loved and how she was loving Charles in this story.

Like patients at the clinic, Diana experienced her pathology and symptoms in adult life as something real and current, but which are consistent parts of her past.

The journalist, although complacent with what he heard, occupied another position and nothing analytical could, nor should, be done with the content posted there. Therefore, the Princess put words out, but without an elaboration guided by psychoanalytic principles.

Disagreements between parents or their unhappy marriage condition the most serious predisposition for disturbed sexual development or neurotic illness in children (FREUD, 1905/1906, p. 215-216).

With that, if it were under analysis, the path for Diana to revisit her childhood stories would be opened by the analyst and, then, she could begin to observe her uniqueness beyond the Monarchy. Probably, still considering a supposed analysis process, Diana would not leave the analytic listening unscathed with regard to the parapraxes that would be placed in the analyst’s ears.

According to Gabbard (1994), parapraxes are phenomena that obey a psychic mechanism and manifest a repressed desire in the unconscious, which can be discovered through free association. Soon, Diana would commit slips, jokes, narrate her dreams and, thus, she and her analyst would start to investigate the production and support of these symptoms for a probable re-elaboration.

Morton (2013) narrates that Diana was always quiet. Considering this and her public appearances as potential indications, it is possible to infer that she spent her life keeping to herself what she thought and leaving the obvious symptoms to others. Diana tells (1992 apud MORTON 2013) that her complaints were seen as acts of staging. She remembers that she went through several treatment possibilities, but was not convinced of any of them. She went through therapies and learned everything from astrology, tarology, aromatherapy, acupuncture to massage therapies. She was even analyzed by a Jungian, but felt that “never, any one of them, came close to understanding the true nature of the turmoil that she carried in her heart and mind”. Like a common cycle at the clinic, Diana left, as many patients do, looking for a psychoanalyst as the last treatment option.

Even if all these professionals listened to it, analytical listening is about something else. Dunker (2003) states that listening is not solving other people’s problems, offering solutions and paths that he does not see, but accepting what someone has of incurable and crazy in their demand. Here, it is possible to recognize the issue on two fronts related to Diana: first, that she was correct in assuming that no one understood her inner world, since she had not been heard that way; the second due to the fact that being idolized by the population still did not supply the feeling of feeling loved, since, in this sense, her fans and admirers did not know her madness, so soon, they could not accept her and, much less, love her it in that condition.

It is then up to the psychoanalytic clinic to make room for the patient to speak – in his free association – and complain about his symptoms, make unconscious mistakes and, speaking, he may arrive at the way he was loved and his childhood stories, considering that the symptoms are connect, in turn, to the most singular historical experiences, containing a strong connection with the traumatic dimension. The analyst then enters, for each patient, observing how the symptom formed, through this, became a unique and confidential solution to the conflict and, only then, obtain the possibility of transforming it (DUNKER, 2003).


Thinking about the role of Psychoanalysis in this area, space is opened to reflect on the psychoanalyst’s performance under the constancy of the fantasy in loving and being loved that the subject has to deal with in the midst of his personal analysis. By not occupying the place of the subject supposed to know, the analyst allows the patient to leave the place of being loved and, moving to the place of lover, moving from love to desire.

In a letter to Jung, Freud writes:

Poder-se-ia dizer que a cura [psicanalítica] é essencialmente efetuada pelo amor. E a transferência, na realidade, proporciona a prova mais convincente – a única de fato irrefutável – de que as neuroses são determinadas pela história de amor do indivíduo”, principalmente pelo fator infantil que dá ao amor “seu caráter compulsivo e patológico (FREUD, 1901, p. 152).

Faced with the revelation that through the circumstances experienced, the subject seeks love in order to reproduce, in adult life, what he experienced as a child, it is thus proven that there are possible interventions for healing through Psychoanalysis, especially with regard to the relationship with the analyst taking the transfer as a basis.

The patient arrives at the office full of traumas and symptoms, asking for the analyst’s help to resolve them. But it is these very symptoms that sustain it. With that, knowing that this is a factor that generates anguish and that is also why people go to analysis, it is up to the analyst to identify the way in which the subject presents himself and behaves to him as a fundamental basis for the psychoanalytic process. It will be, therefore, through transference, that the analyst will verify the displacement of the meaning attributed to people from the past to him unconsciously (FREUD, 1914-1916).

Comparing the analyst and the transference to the journalist’s position during Diana’s report, for example, it is possible to notice that the latter occupied a place of understanding and love, even agreeing with her and defending her in the face of her anguish. It is as disastrous for the analysis that the patient’s longing for love is satisfied as it is that it is repressed. The patient tends to direct his love towards the figure of the doctor, but the path that the analyst must take is neither of these, it is a path for which there is no model in real life.

And so the healing process begins.

O processo de cura se efetua numa recidiva do amor […] e tal recidiva é indispensável, pois os sintomas devido aos quais o tratamento foi empreendido […] podem ser resolvidos e afastados apenas por uma nova maré das mesmas paixões. Cada tratamento é uma tentativa de liberar o amor reprimido que achou uma pobre saída no compromisso de um sintoma (FREUD, 1914, p. 115).

It is also important to say that, although the subject tends to repeat the way of loving as he was loved, love is not just transmitted exactly as we received it. Otherwise, the existence of families in which lack of love would extend for generations would be inevitable with the absence of people with the capacity to love. Diana, for example, even with the breakup with her mother and all the difficulties regarding the crown and motherhood, did not accept the possibility of breaking up with her children.

According to Gobatto (2001), it happens that what harms us, but sometimes saves us, is that we are never loved. The author asks: “How do we know that we were loved? We do not know. We spend our whole lives trying to tell ourselves if we were or not, creating fictions, fantasies, delusions, poems, anything that seems to say more about love than we are really capable of saying”. Apparently, Diana stayed in this paradox for a long time.

Using the example of Diana’s relationship with Charles as a mirror of what she lived with her mother in childhood, while the child loves the Other, she is also receiving and internalizing the love they feel for her, thus configuring narcissism, which is so important for the creation of an identity through which the subject can name himself. By investing libido in the Self, it is possible to take care of your body, your actions and thoughts, to praise yourself, studying, working and relating (FREUD, 1914).

This is how love, directed towards the analyst, is a mistake. The patient does not direct it there consciously, but rather as a false love, projected from childhood and outside the office. If Diana were face to face with an analyst, perhaps he could recognize her mistake and reveal to her that that love did not belong to her, but that it would then be a displacement. A repetition of something that has already happened to you and happens in other relationships.

In addition to loving the other, the analyst must realize that the subject takes care of himself, as he was once cared for or wanted to be. The subject still wants his Self to have strength and vivacity, seeking the love of the other and his recognition. In a healthy state, he makes himself someone who deserves to be loved, he serves the desire of the Other and constitutes himself from that place. Freud (1914-1916) points out that the subject’s ability to constitute himself as such is linked to what his parents projected into him through his narcissism.

The great thing is that the subject can understand the game of dependence so that he realizes that he cannot do everything alone and that he really needs others – but not the Others, those who know everything and who keep him inferior. They would be others not so idealized. Lady Di, for example, proved to be dependent on the Others by leveraging the power and idealization of Charles and his mother.

Only then, when freed, do subjects become capable of more: of choosing what they want as an object of love and how to love. Freud (1929) relates love to happiness, points to love and work as a source of social satisfaction, so that work would be the meeting point between the internal and the external.


Throughout her royal life, Diana was admired for her selfless care and love. That was how, when distributing love to society, Lady Di received it back and, then, went on fulfilling her own need for affection. In an important interview with the BBC (1992 apud MORTON, 2013, p. 51), Lady Di confesses her fantasy:

Eu não me vejo sendo rainha neste país. Eu gostaria de ser a rainha do coração das pessoas. Alguém precisa sair por aí e amar as pessoas e mostrar isso. (…) Quero entrar numa sala, seja um hospital ou clínica, e sentir que sou necessária (BBC, 1992 apud MORTON, 2013, p. 51).

It is possible to consider that, to some extent, Lady Di was able to convert her anguish through sublimation. According to Freud (1923-1925), this would be a way of transforming a drive into something socially accepted. It’s the healthiest way to put your libido into something productive. It would be as if there was a conversion of one energy (interesting to the individual) into another (interesting to society).

In addition to philanthropy, Diana continued to dabble in romantic relationships. The last of them was considered controversial, according to popular opinion at the time, as her boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed, was also older than Diana, as was Prince Charles, but this time, he appeared to be the Princess’s caretaker and not the other way around, as she tried to establish with Charles and his father. She then displayed an air of grace and transformation in her stormy life (LADY DI, 2017).

Looking back on her life, it is believed that, even if her anguish was not welcomed, treated and recognized, even if she did not have adequate listening to transform herself, a few years before her death, Diana was at least able to free herself one symptom or another. Although she did not go through a treatment that she identified with or even an analytical process with all its possibilities and nuances, allowing the publication of her biography in her own words was a movement that allowed her to say about herself, reflect and finally be seen – and loved – as it really was.

According to Dunker (2003), the analyst’s objective with the analysand is to reach sublimation, but that, in this path, he will have to fight against inhibition, acting out, depression and anguish as alternatives that represent the failure of the formation of symptoms. Here is the rhetoric of how much did Diana manage to become capable of loving and working as indicated by the end of her life? If the unconscious link is re-established and Psychoanalysis is properly applied, the re-elaboration and transformation of the subject, in order to get out of the unconscious ties, would become possible to be achieved.

In Psychoanalysis, according to Klein’s considerations (1934), it is common and inevitable to speak of unconscious hate, anger and love, because it may happen that the affective or emotional impulse is perceived, but in a wrong way. It is compelled, owing to the repression of its true representation, to unite with another idea, and comes to be taken, by consciousness, as a manifestation of the latter. Therefore, the analyst must work on releasing affection, but without substituting ideas. That’s what analysis is for. That is, to support the analysand in the construction of a new conscious representation in order to clarify the anguish that came without knowing what aroused it.

Há um ponto da vida em que os pais ficam na infância. E a gente passa a lidar com a mulher que a mãe da gente é, com o homem que o pai da gente é, com os homens e as mulheres que são nossos irmãos. Quando a gente chega a esse ponto da vida, é que se tornou mãe, pai, irmão, irmã de si mesmo. E aí a gente não precisa mais deles, mas quer a presença deles mesmo assim. Não para que eles nos deem alguma coisa, mas porque a gente aprende que amar é dom e é dando que mais se recebe (KUSS, 2020, p. 79).

Thus, from the psychoanalytic praxis, both for Diana and for the patients in the clinic, there would be the possibility of cure, not in the sense of completely eradicating the symptom and anguish, but rather as care and treatment.

The work and elaboration would make it possible, in the end, for the subject to reconcile with the reality of the construction of love made with the parents, so that he could finally love and be loved in a different way now. Detaching from the ideal and revamping the script that you have within you about love.


We have as a maxim the knowledge that, in Psychoanalysis, nothing points to an ultimate truth, but that it allows us to make some constructions. The hypothesis, raised at the beginning of this study, that love would be learned in childhood through the way in which the subject is loved, followed the path that followed towards confirmation.

The iconic life of Princess Diana was put on the agenda, based on her own reports and published bibliographies, so that her personal constructions since her childhood and the intertwining of her relationships as an adult could be analyzed. With that, would the most beloved woman in the world have suffered from love? The answer is yes.

In view of all the deepening and analysis, the idea was validated that it is possible, then, that any subject, like Diana, is impacted by the conception of love elaborated throughout his life and that he repeats again in adulthood. The objective of this study was achieved by understanding that the establishment of symptoms related to this complaint affects from anonymous patients to icons such as Lady Di.

The parallel between Diana’s story and the complaint of patients in clinical practice was found: love (or the lack of it), marks the initial affective bonds from early childhood. Thus, the opening question of this research was answered in the reflection and possibility that any subject, like Diana, can be impacted by the conception of love elaborated in the course of his life to the point of developing, in a singular way, fantasies, symptoms to then rejoice up and get sick.

It was also discovered that, linked to loving and being loved, the entire content of the subject’s emotional history is intrinsic. The choice of love takes place, then, unconsciously. That is: it is not possible to think clearly what enchants a subject in someone else, because the desired capture of the other, in fact, refers to a search for oneself, which can be distressing.

This is because, as mentioned, even in a context opposite to the secrecy of clinical psychoanalysis, the demands of the fantasy of love are also built in other scenarios. Not even the supposed completeness of love that Lady Di experienced was able to repair the, for her, the traumatic abandonment she suffered from her mother, later relationship with her father and resulting unhappy childhood. Thus, it is possible to recognize that this fantasy is not something particular to some, as it is imprinted, in some way, on everyone.

Diana was extremely loved, but also needy, she spent her life yearning for love, seeking it in a frustrated love affair. The role of his first experiences and relationships marked his demand for love. Lady Di suffered physical and psychological symptoms. Only after becoming a little aware of her entire trajectory, was she able to move forward in achieving what she wanted. At the very least, she could finally choose how to love the other and, of course, herself. However, it is evident throughout the study that her conquests and reworkings could be more expressive if they had received the attention they deserved.

For this, it was necessary to understand that, since love is a replacement for a repressed object, it would actually be a repetition that seeks to update its primary relationships. Freud (1909) considers that passions are echoes of childhood love memories. It is the love experienced in tender childhood that governs the lives of each one still an adult. From this experience, it results what each one will be in the future and the resolution of the Oedipus Complex would indicate the modulation of the singular and unconscious way that the subject will establish to love.

In this way and with this analysis, a field was opened to think that the neurotic subject wants to be loved, more than to love, due to his choice of object being narcissistic – after all, he needs to be loved to love himself.

In order to corroborate the conjectures, a possibility was proposed for the role of Psychoanalysis and the analyst under the fantasy of loving and being loved that the patient has to deal with in the midst of his personal analysis. Since the use of all the methodology and possibilities offered by Psychoanalysis could generate the re-elaboration and transformation of the impacts of the construction and deconstruction of this demand for love in the subject. Thus, the latter could then leave a condition of discomfort and reach, at least, a minimum of pleasure in relationships.


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[1] Psychoanalyst – Clinical Care for Adolescents and Adults; Master’s student in Psychoanalysis at the John F. Kennedy University in Buenos Aires – Argentina; Postgraduate in Psychoanalysis by the Brazilian Center for Psychoanalytic Research – NPP, specialist in Mental Health and Psychoanalysis by the Instituto Israelita de Pesquisa Albert Einstein; Graduated in Psychology in São Paulo – Brazil (CRP 06/139565). ORCID: 0000-0001-9607-7587.

[2] Advisor. ORCID: 0000-0003-3505-540X.

Sent: January, 2022.

Approved: September, 2022.

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