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March 16, 2007



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David Mark

ok, I got yours...did you get this?


Hoorah, it's working!
Now, you were sayi8ng ...

David Mark

Ok, I would be interested to get your reaction to the following somewhat different sense of when Freud became FREUD (ie., the world famous Freud we know today). You gave our class a delightful whirlwind tour of the development of Freud; from Freud-the-neurologist; to the Freud of 1896-the psychiatrist involved with the psychoneurosis and childhood sexual trauma; to FREUD. You indicated that if Freud's career had ended in 1896 (before the rejection of the seduction theory) he'd have earned a footnote in psychiatric history for his work on hysteria (and its origin in childhood trauma). Clearly, the abandonment of the seduction theory in 1897 was hugely significant as it led to the development of drive theory (filling the conceptual space vacated by trauma).
But, the more I read his 1896 work (especially Further remarks...), the more I think most of FREUD already existed before the "epiphany" of 1897. To name some of the ideas already in his 1896 work: 1. a terrifically complex set of ideas about the development of psychopathology (with even the childhood neurosis outlined; 2. the significance of childhood (albeit memories, not ucs fantasies); 3. but "memories" in a very complex way [deferred action]; 4. transference and resistsance (in Studies in Hysteria); 5. repression as a technical term; 6. free association (albeit used inconsistently); 7. overdetermination (Etiology of Hysteria); 8. primary process-like ideas (e.g., representability in Elisabeth's leg pain); 9. sx as compromise formation between repressed and repressing forces; 10. the return of the repressed. Granted that some of these ideas developed beyond their 1896 state and were subsequently applied more consistently, etc. But, we'd expect that in any case, i.e., we don't need to assume the emphasis on fantasy/drives is what led to the more "mature" form of these ideas. Given all this, I'd say Freud was pretty much FREUD by 1896. What do you think?


David, this is a great topic with which to begin a discussion of the Freud of the late 1890s. I certainly agree with you that this is by far the most fertile period of theorizing for Freud, between the ages of 39 and 44. Most of the important issues are in play in 1896, as evidenced via the Fliess correspondence. What I would argue has yet to happen is Freud's articulation of his changed way of looking at the etiology of the neuroses and at the clinical interview as a diagnostic tool. This happens in the letter of September 21, 1897, and that letter is followed several weeks later by one in which Freud tells Fliess he now understands the riveting power of Oedipus Rex and the related appeal of Shakespeare's Hamlet. That would be a good point, in my view, to celebrate the birth of baby Sigmund Freud from the brow of the Breucke-trained neurologist who preceded him.
During the year of self-analysis following the death of his father in October, 1896, Freud will apply many of the clinical and diagnostic insights of which he's been speaking with Vienna colleagues to himself, and his great self-defining project will change from a planned book about the etiology of the neuroses to a book about interpreting his own dreams. After that's done, in 1900, I think the next few years represent the first consolidation of a peculiarly "Freudian" body of thinking and practice. During this period the "Psychological Wednesday Society" of Adler, Rank, Abraham, et al. gave Freud his first experience in leading a group of analysts (cf. herding cats), he wrote up the Dora case thereby transmuting countertransferential malfeasance into theoretical gold, he makes up a developmental/gender psychology, and he extended his "topographic" theory of mental phenomena to slips and jokes. Then Carl Jung shows up, and Freud figures the future of the corporation is set. It's now 1906, and he's 50.
I've added among the links above one to my published paper on Freud's change of heart about the seduction theory in the 1890s, as it expresses in more detail what I've just said here. I'll also add a link to excerpts from the Freud-Fliess letters that I have used in my teaching. Please do not quote or republish these, as I'm squeezing the notion of fair use, I expect.


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