The superintendent knew he was a world famous figure…but there happened to be a very strange case. He saw a man behind bars, in a cell, who was keeping a photograph on his chest – and tears were coming from his eyes. Alfred Adler knew the man, because the man was a professor in the university where Alfred Adler had addressed the professors many times. He was a very learned man. What had happened to this poor guy?
The superintendent said, “It is a very complicated and strange story. When you know the whole of it, you will not be able to believe it. He loved a woman – the picture is of that woman. He still loves her, he cannot forget her for a moment. He never loses hold of the picture; even in the night he sleeps with the picture. And these tears…one cannot believe how many tears he has. They seem to be inexhaustible, they go on flowing. Because the woman refused to marry him, that triggered something in him and he went mad.
“Now he does not talk to anyone. We have tried in every possible way to break the ice and somehow bring him back to normality, but he does not talk, he does not want to see anybody. If you go in front of him, he closes his eyes. He wants to see only his beloved. That picture is more real to him than anything else in the world. And that ‘no’ is hurting him so deeply…he eats well but he goes on losing weight. He has become almost a skeleton.”
Alfred Adler said, “I knew the man before; he was a perfectly healthy, a robust person. He has aged as if he had skipped at least twenty years. He was young when I knew him, just a year ago.”
The superintendent said, “He is simply committing slow suicide. That ‘no’ has been too heavy; he really loved the woman.”
They moved on, and in the second cell there was a man rolling around like a maniac, hitting the walls, beating the bars, shouting as loudly as he could, “Just leave me! I want to do one thing only – to kill that woman!”
And the superintendent said to Alfred Adler, “You will be surprised now, really surprised. The woman who refused the first man – and he has gone mad because he could not conceive of his life without her – is the same woman this man married. And just within six months of marriage things have gone so poisonous that he wants to murder her. He has made efforts to murder her; he was caught by the police and forced into the madhouse.”
Alfred Adler, in his autobiography, remembers the incident, and he said, “What kind of love is this? They both loved, but the first one, to whom she said no, still loves her; and the second one, to whom she said yes, wants to kill the woman. That is his only goal in life. He said, ‘Any day, someday you will let me out. My only project is to kill that woman and surrender myself to the police. You can shoot me, you can hang me, whatever you want to do – I am no longer interested. But let me do at least one thing first – kill that woman. She destroyed my peace, my life, my joy, everything.’”