Adelina was a poor girl, the daughter of peasants. […] She was shy and without vanity, obedient to her parents, especially attached and submissive to her mother. She had never dated until she was 18 years old. At that age, she fell in love with a man who was not accepted by her mother. […] She obeys, moves away from the beloved man. The condition of the oppressed woman is evident. The unappealable authority on family decisions prevents the normal satisfaction of instincts and the realization of her emotional life projects. The situation seemed to be solved without further consequences. However, Adelina became more and more withdrawn, gloomy and irritated. One day, all of a sudden, she strangled the house cat that everyone cherished, including herself. Seized with violent psychomotor excitement, she was hospitalized on March 17, 1937.
– Nise da Silveira
I WANTED TO BE A FLOWER
After the first meeting with Jung in Switzerland, Nise returns to Brazil and is stunned at a series of paintings by Adelina whose theme was the transformation of women into plants. Trying to decipher the meaning of such metamorphosis, she found a parallel in the myth of the Greek nymph Dafne. According to it, Apollo, the god of the sun, is hit by an arrow from Eros, god of love and eroticism, and falls in love with the nymph. Since Dafne was the daughter of River Ladão and Mother Earth, she runs away. However, Apollo does not accept to be refused. The god chases her through fields and woods, and Daphne seeks refuge with her mother, the Earth, who welcomes her and turns her into a laurel tree. From then on, Apollo always carries a branch of laurels with him, which is why champions are given a laurel wreath in sports competitions to this day.
The study of this clinical case, followed for years, is one of the most relevant contributions to the understanding of psychosis in the field of psychiatry. Years later, Nise made observations on it: “From then on, (“From this experience) I could verify through practice how much right Jung was. Mythology was not a study for the dilettantism of scholars. It was a work tool for everyday use, indispensable in the psychiatric practice.”