Earl Jackson, Jr.
Dreams that . . .
Moments from Freud’s Self-Analysis
26. October 1896
Freud to Fliess
15. October, 1897
My self-analysis is in fact the most essential thing I
have at present and promises to become of the greatest value to me if it
reaches its end. In the middle of it, it suddenly ceased for three days,
during which I had the feeling of being tied up inside (which patients
complain of so much), and I was really disconsolate.
… I asked my mother whether she still remembered the
nurse. „Of course,“ she said, „an elderly person, very clever, she was
always carrying you off to some church; when you returned home you preached
and told us all about God Almighty. During my confinement with Anna it
was discovered that she was a thief, and all the shiny new Kreuzers
and Zehners and all the toys that had been given to you were found
in her possession. Your brother Philip himself fetched the policeman; she
then was given ten months in prison.“
Now look at how this confirms the conclusions of my dream
interpretation. It was easy for me to explain the only possible mistake.
I wrote to you that she induced me to steal Zehners and give them to her.
In truth, the dream meant that she stole them herself. For the dream picture
was a memory of my taking money from the mother of a doctor; that is, wrongfully.
The correct interpretation is: I = she, and the mother of the doctor equals
my mother. So far was I from knowing she was a thief that I made a wrong
Being totally honest with oneself is a good exercise.
A single idea of general value dawned on me.?I
have found, in my own case too, [the phenomenon of] being in love with
my mother and jealous of my father, and I now consider it a universal event
in early childhood, even if not so early as in children who have been made
hysterical. (Similar to the invention of parentage [family
romance E. J.] in paranoia: heroes, founders of religion). If
this is so, we can understand the gripping power of Oedipus Rex, in spite
of all the objections that reason raises against the presupposition of
fate; and we can understand why the later „drama of fate“ was bound to
fail so miserably. Our feelings rise against any arbitrary individual compulsion
. . . but the Greek legend seizes upon a compulsion which everyone recognizes
because he senses its existence within himself. Everyone in the audience
was once a budding Oedipus in fantasy and each recoils in horror from the
dream fulfillment here transplanted into reality, with the full quantity
of repression which separates his infantile state from his present one.
Fleetingly the thought passed through my head that the
same thing might be at the bottom of Hamlet as well. I am not thinking
of Shakespeare’s conscious intention, but believe, rather, that a real
event stimulated the poet to his representation, in that his unconscious
understood the unconscious of his hero. How does Hamlet the hysteric justify
his words, „Thus conscience does make cowards of us all“? How does he explain
his irresolution in avenging his father by the murder of his uncle ó
the same man who sends his courtiers to their death without a scruple and
who is positively precipitate in murdering Laertes [Actually
Polonius – Freud’s own Freudian slip avant
le lettre ? E. J. ]? How better than through the torment
he suffers from the obscure memory that he himself had contemplated the
same deed against his father out of passion for his mother, and „use every
man after his desert, and who should ’scape whipping?“ His conscience is
his unconscious sense of guilt. And is not his sexual alienation in his
conversation with Ophelia typically hysterical? And his rejection of the
instinct that seeks to beget children? And, finally, his transferral of
the deed from his own father to Ophelia’s? And does he not in the end,
in the same marvelous way as my hysterical patients, bring down punishment
on himself by suffering the same fate as his father of being poisoned by
the same rival [Freud here needs some Shakespeare
review E. J.]?
From The Interpretation of Dreams
I received a communication from the town council
of my birthplace concerning the fees due for someone’s maintenance in the
hospital in the year 1851, which had been necessitated by an attack he
had had in my house. I was amused by this since, in the first place, I
was not yet alive in 1851 and, in the second place, my father, to whom
it might have related, was already dead. I went to him in the next room,
where he was lying in his bed, and told him about it. To my surprise, he
recollected that in 1851 he had once got drunk and had had to be locked
up or detained. It was at a time at which he had been working for the firm
of T____. ‚So you used to drink as well?‘ I asked; ‚did you get married
soon after that?‘ I calculated that, of course, I was born in 1856, which
seemed to be the year which immediately followed the year in question.
(Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams SE 5:436.
… was clothed in the form of a set of logical
conclusions. My father had married in 1851, immediately after his attack;
I, of course, was the eldest of the family and had been born in 1856; Q.E.D.
(Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams SE 5:420.)
26. October 1896
|Focus on: Aphasia|
Earl Jackson, Jr.