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The Search Within 

The Inner Experiences of a Psychoanalyst 


1956 by Theodor Reik 

Library of Congress catalog card number 55-11185 
First printing, 1956 

The author is indebted to Sigmund Freud Copyrights Limited for permission 
to publish the letters of Sigmund Freud which appear in this book. 

Printed in the United States of America 
American Book-Stratford Press, Inc., New York 


Publisher's Preface vii 

Author's Note: A Portrait Comes to Life ix 

Part One From Thirty Years with Freud 3 

Part Two The Confessions of an Analyst 79 

Part Three The Gift for Psychological Observation 247 

Part Four Psychoanalytic Experiences in Life, Literature, 

and Music S3 1 

Part Five Adventures in Psychoanalytic Discovery 473 

Part Six Letters of Freud 629 

Publisher's Preface 

THE SEARCH WITHIN is designed as the first of a series of vol- 
umes of selections from Theodor Reik's works. This initial 
volume is a synthesis of his frank reminiscences of his personal 
life, his training, practice and the development of his philosophy. 
The final third of the book is recently written and unpublished 
material, an extension of his research into, for him, new areas. 
This particular volume contains only material written since he 
left Europe. 

Dr. Reik arrived in the United States as a refugee in June, 1938. 
A few months later our publishing relation began and has con- 
tinued. Since he did not wish to edit these books himself, he there- 
fore asked us to do so and to write this brief explanatory note. 

Part One is taken from his memories of days with Freud, origi- 
nally published under the title, From Thirty Years with Freud, 
except for the essays on "Conversations with Freud" and "Je^lshi 
Wit/' which have not been previously published. The pupil- 
teacher relation is tenderly and honestly detailed and the develop- 
ment of friendship which, on Reik's part, was always touched with 
awe but never lacked affection. It is lively, clear, human a remark- 
able portrait of the great Viennese psychoanalyst and of Reik 

Part Two, "The Confessions of an Analyst," is winnowed from 
Fragments of a Great Confession. Reik never spares himself in this 
tense narrative and self-analysis of the most rigorous kind. His 
episodes of self-revelation are as uncompromising as are his many 
accounts of his analyses of patients. Continuing comments on 
Freud's work and life as well as on his own are the themes that 
bind the whole. More and more the sense of discovery emerges, 
our discovery of Reik, his discovery of new analytic principles, 
along with his growing ability to understand his own compulsions 
and obsessions and to draw universal applications from them. 



Part Three, "The Gift for Psychological Observation," is a 
short selection from Listening with the Third Ear, in which Reik 
develops his confessions into an explanation of the precise uses 
and extensions of his psychological skills and gifts. 

Part Four, "Psychoanalytic Experiences in Life, Literature and 
Music," is drawn from The Secret Self and The Haunting Mel- 
ody, and extends some of these discoveries. There are new inter- 
pretations of Goethe, of Shakespeare, of Mahler, of folk music, of 
the effect of remembered reading and heard music echoing in the 
deep self. 

Part Five, "Adventures in Psychoanalytic Discovery," is the 
lately written and hitherto unpublished material. It is a study, 
with constant illumination from his personal experience, of how 
psychoanalytic discovery can solve, by its penetration, problems 
which have resisted the efforts of other sciences. It goes beyond 
Freud in certain fields of psychological research, into pre-history 
and the early phases of civilization. It shows, without specific ref- 
erence, the cleavage between Freud-Reik and Jung. Leaving litera- 
ture and music, it studies myth, primitive custom, totemism, the 
nature of religious beliefs, their relation to magic and so on. The 
final essay is a study of superstition, using the curse of Tutank- 
hamen as the thread, a kind of analytic mystery involving Reik's 
own obsessive fear of publishing Freud's letters and his personal 
conquering of the fear of death. 

Part Six consists of all the letters from Freud to Reik, most of 
them previously unpublished, together with Reik's clarifying com- 
ments and memories of the ideas and facts with which they deal. 


Author's Note: A Portrait Comes to Life 

IT is just two o'clock in the morning. I am still sitting at my 
desk struggling with the book that has occupied me for many 
years. I am discouraged and tired. My eyes are burning. I should 
like to bundle up the pile of manuscript and notes, stuff it into a 
file and be done with it. Then my eyes chance upon the portrait 
that hangs above my desk. The light falls on the head, and for a 
moment it seems as though Freud were alive again. I see him 
again at his desk, see him stand up, come forward and extend his 
hand to me with that bold, characteristic gesture. I see him shuf- 
fling the manuscripts on the desk aside, opening a box of cigars, 
and holding it out to me. 

I have stood before this portrait, paced up and down the room, 
and now I have returned to it again, strangely moved. I remem- 
ber the day the Viennese etcher Max Pollak first exhibited it at 
Hugo Heller's galleries. That must have been in 1913. A dimly 
lighted room. In the foreground, on the desk, antique bronzes 
and figurines, dug up out of the ruins of centuries, phantoms of 
the past. They stand out starkly against the picture's white bor- 
der. Freud's head, bent forward slightly, outlined distinctly. 
The eyebrows lifted as though in deep attention. Ridges on the 
high forehead and two deep furrows running down from the 
mouth to the short white beard. The eyes gaze into the beholder 
and yet see beyond him. How often have I looked into those eyes. 
They have an expression of hardy quest, as though their gaze had 
wholly merged into their object; and yet they valued that object 
only for the knowledge it gave. One hand holds the pen loosely, 
as though the sudden vision of a long-sought answer has inter- 
rupted the writing. The other hand Jies slack on the paper. The 
light from the window at the side o the room highlights but one 
side of the forehead. The face is in shadow, with only the eyes 
gleaming steelily. ... There suddenly come to my mind some 


words of his. It was during a walk, and I had asked him how he 
felt when he first captured the psychic perceptions contained in 
Totem and Taboo. I probably spoke rather floridly, saying some- 
thing about an overwhelming joy, for he answered, "I felt 
nothing like that; simply an extraordinary clarity." ... He was 
an unusually keen observer with a deep respect for the data of the 
senses, but he had the gift for intuitive perception, for unconscious 
observation which belongs to an obscurer realm. Rembrandt has 
been greater than any artist for strictness and exactitude of faith- 
ful observation of what he has seen, yet the French have called 
him a "visionnaire" It was darkness that disclosed to him the 
wonders of light. Of Freud too we may say what the art critic 
Eugene Fromentin wrote of Rembrandt: "C'est avec de la unit, 
qu'il a fait le jour." 

How often since that first momentous visit I sat with him at this 
desk. (I remember that important occasion in 1912 when I an- 
nounced to him that now that I had my Ph.D. I intended to 
study medicine. He advised me strongly against it, saying, "I 
have other things in mind for you, larger plans." He insisted that 
I go on with my psychoanalytic research work.) 

For a moment the figure in the etching seemed to be alive, 
seemed to step out of the past into the present. For the space 
of a few quickened heartbeats I thought: He is alive. 

I know, now that the impression has passed, that I am called 
again to fulfill the demands of the day. 

For me the demand of the day is to continue my work, to write 
those books which I have so long borne within me, to complete 
the researches I have begun. That moment when Freud's picture 
seemed to come to life now assumes more than momentary mean- 
ing. His memory has given me new heart, has set before me his 
example, his unerring and tireless striving. 

"The demand of the day" that is one of Goethe's favored ex- 
pressions. My glance wanders from the picture of Freud to the 
bust of old Goethe that stands on the bookcase. One day in April 
of the year 1825 the seven-year-old Walther von Goethe came 
*with an album in his hand to the famous poet who was his grand- 
father. Many ladies and gentlemen of the Weimar Court had 
akeady inscribed mottoes in the little book. Among them, for ex* 


ample, Frau Hofmarschall von Spiegel had written down one of 
the melancholy sentences of Jean Paul: "Man has two and a half 
minutes; one for smiling, one for sighing and a half for living for 
in the middle of this minute he dies." The seventy-six-year-old 
poet thoughtfully reading the line felt some reluctance against 
the false emotional allure of the dictum. Abandoning himself to 
the inner protest against the sentimental wisdom, he took up his 
pen and, while Jean Paul's sententious apportionment of human 
life still echoed within him, he wrote in his already somewhat 
shaky hand, with its free, generous flow: 

Sixty of them in each hour, 
A thousand in a single day. 
Child, may you soon discover 
All you can do along the way. 


From Thirty Years with Freud 


Certainly I do not wish to vaunt an intimacy that did not 
exist. In his books and in conversation Freud often named me as 
one of his friends. But I myself have never ventured to claim that 
I was one. One is not "intimate" with a genius, however familiarly 
he may speak to one as a friend. In conversation with me Freud 
was never circumspect or aloof; he was always friendly and per- 
sonalmore so than ever in the last years. But there was always 
a barrier. My late friend, Dr. Hanns Sachs, admitted that he had 
the same feeling. In the beautiful eulogy he wrote after Freud's 
death he closes with the words: "He was, so to speak, made out 
of better stuff than ordinary people." In this, however, I was 
at odds with my friend. It would be truer to say that Freud was 
made of the selfsame stuff as all of us. But he molded and 
shaped and worked this paltry material with unceasing labor 
and self-education, strove until he formed himself into some 
greater figure, of a stature unique in our age. 

Let us 'avoid making a legend of him. He himself would not 
have wished it. On the occasion of his seventieth birthday, his 
disciples were preparing a birthday celebration in Vienna. Then 
came the sudden death of Dr. Karl Abraham, whom Freud per- 
haps considered his most talented follower. Freud had heard of 
our preparations and asked us to abandon them. "One does not 
celebrate a wedding with a corpse in the house/' he said. He re- 
quested me to speak the funeral address for Abraham at the meet- 
ing of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Freud himself was 
present, of course, but because of his illness he refrained from 
speaking. After I had given the address he pressed my hand 
silently, but on the way home he commended me for mentioning 
not only the virtues of our friend, but his faults also. "That is 
just the way I would have done it, Reik," he said. "The proverb, 
'De mortuis nil nisi bonum/ is, I think, nothing but a relic of 
our primitive fear of the dead. We psychoanalysts must throw 
such conventions overboard. Trust the others to remain hypo- 
crites even before the coffin." 

No, let us have no legends woven around Freud. His human 
weaknesses, or his human qualities, manifested themselves in 
little traits left over from his earlier development They were 
never conspicuous. He was capable of much love, but he was also 


a good hater. He tried to suppress his desires to avenge injustices 
he had received; but often they broke forth in a word, a gesture 
or an intonation. In old age, despite his self-control, more than 
one bitter word broke through the bars. "Men are a wolf pack/' 
he could say at such times, "just a wolf pack. They hunt down 
those who would do good for them." Such remarks startled us. 
But at such times he always spoke without strong emotion. 
These remarks sounded quite matter-of-course, like a final, calm 
judgment. Once-and only once-I saw him terribly angry. But 
the only sign of this anger was a sudden pallor and the way his 
teeth bit into his cigar. He could utter curses and vituperation as 
well as any one of us, but he preferred not to. Once, when I was 
railing against a certain professor of psychiatry for his shabby 
conduct, Freud merely smiled. He nodded in agreement when 
I used an expression that implied the man came from no human 
ancestry; but he restrained his own anger. I once asked him how 
he had endured the hostility of a whole world for so many years 
without becoming enraged or embittered. He answered, "I pre- 
ferred to let time decide in my favor." And he added, "Besides, it 
would have pleased my enemies if I had shown that I was hurt." 

He was not insensitive to neglect or slights. It hurt him that he 
had not yet received official recognition in Vienna itself, at a time 
when the whole world already honored him. But he would never 
&ir his feelings except in a casual joke. Once a Vienna tax col- 
lector challenged his income tax statement and pointed out that 
Freud's fame was spread far beyond the borders of Austria. Freud 
wrote in reply, "But it does not begin until the border." 

He was not vindictive, but he did not forget injuries. For many 
years he kept away from the Viennese Medical Society, the mem- 
bers of which had once jeered at him when he lectured before 
them on the psychic genesis of hysteria. He once asked me to 
look up something in a magazine. I found that the volume con- 
taining this magazine could be obtained only from the Medical 
Society, and since I needed a letter of recommendation in order 
to use their library I asked him for one. He promised to write it 
for me, but forgot, which was very unusual with him. I reminded 
him, but he forgot again. Finally he confessed, "I couldn't bring 
myself to do it. My resistance was too strong." 


He once said to me that character was determined essentially 
by the prevalence of one drive over others. In his personality, the 
particular impulse which would incline a man toward being a 
healer was not nearly so strongly developed as his impulse to 
knowledge. He had nothing of the furor therapeuticus that so 
many doctors manifest. He repeatedly said to us that three tasks 
were "impossible" to govern, to educate, and to heal. By this 
he implied that these actions are wholly in the ideal domain. As 
a matter of fact, he was not over-happy about becoming a physi- 
cian. But the desire to contribute some vital addition to man- 
kind's volume of knowledge awakened early in him; this desire 
was already clearly defined when he was still in high school. 

His capacity for self-control was extraordinary. He once said 
that we are indebted for our cultural achievements to great per- 
sonalities with powerful impulses who had the gift of curbing 
them and turning them to serve higher ends. In his excellent es- 
say on the "Moses" of Michelangelo he has shown us an example 
or rather an ideal of such an instinct-ridden genius who tamed 
his raging emotions. 

He invariably expressed impatience or irritation by twisting 
these emotions into a wry joke. It must have been in one such 
moment of annoyance with us followers, with our rivalries and 
petty quarrels, that he cried, "Oh, if all of them had but a single 
backside!" With this parody of Nero's cruel sentiment he di- 
verted his own anger. 

Experience bears out that there is a kind of functional relation- 
ship between literary and oratorical gifts. Master stylists are 
seldom good speakers; ability to express oneself in the one form 
seems to hamper expression in the other. Freud was a masterful 
stylist. His prose, with its lucid, tranquil, richly associative flow, 
merits comparison with that of the great writers. Freud revised 
the well-known maxim to: "Style est I'histoire de I'homme" By 
that maxim he did not mean merely that literary influences fash- 
ioned the style of the individual, but that the development and 
experiences of an individual do their part in molding his style. 

Certainly, he was not a powerful orator; and, in fact, he dis- 
liked speaking. He always had to overcome a certain resistance 
before delivering a lecture. His speaking manner had nothing of 


the demagogic about it, nothing of the impulsive or the emo- 
tionally winning. In its sobriety and lucidity, its slow, logical 
development, and its anticipations of objections, it had none of 
the qualities which sway the masses. On the other hand, it pos- 
sessed all the qualities which convince unprejudiced, sympathetic, 
thoughtful listeners. There was something curiously compelling 
about the very uncoercive manner of his speech. His lectures at 
congresses and scientific meetings could not be called lectures in 
the rigid academic sense. They were, rather, free accounts of his 
experiences and researches. Their manner was conversational 
instead of formal. He once wrote to me that when he lectured he 
chose one sympathetic person from among his audience and 
imagined that he was addressing this person alone. If this person 
was absent from among his listeners, he would not feel at ease 
until he had found someone to understudy, so to speak. This 
attitude explains the direct-address form of his lectures and the 
manner in which he anticipated objections, formulating the 
doubts and questions of his audience as though he could read 
their minds. This direct approach is carried over into his General 
Introduction to Psychoanalysis where it can be easily detected. 

He always spoke extemporaneously. He prepared for a lecture 
simply by taking a long walk during which he reflected on his 
subject. He never liked us, his assistants and disciples, to read our 
lectures from manuscript. He believed that the reading distracted 
the attention of the listener and handicapped his identifying 
himself with the lecturer. He thought this capacity for identi- 
fication would be encouraged if the lecturer spoke freely, de- 
veloping the train of his ideas as they came to him at the moment. 
This would be true even though he had often reviewed these 
ideas in his mind, for in speaking he would be re-creating them. 
This kind of lecturing was particularly easy for Freud because of 
his astonishing memory, a memory which in his earlier years was 
almost photographic. 

Sometimes he would begin his lecture with an assertion that 
seemed patently improbable, and then he would so support this 
assertion by the citing of a number of cases that no attentive and 
just listener could disagree with him. I remember once that he 
made just such a statement, which sounded starkly unbelievable, 


and then went on to admonish his listeners not to reject it 
prematurely as paradoxical or impossible. "Do you remember," 
he said, "how in Shakespeare's play, when the ghost of the king 
cries, 'Swear!' from within the earth, Horatio cries out, 'O day 
and night, but this is wondrous strange!' But Hamlet replies, 
'And therefore as a stranger give it welcome/ So I too shall ask 
you first to give welcome to the things that here rise so strangely 
from the tomb of the past." 

He lectured in a measured, firm, and pleasant voice, although 
in later years he was often forced by his illness to break off sud- 
denly to clear his throat. His language was unadorned. He rarely 
used adjectives, preferring understatement. The rich current of 
thought flowed along without any marked rise and fall of his voice. 
I never heard him become sentimental or emotional. He had so 
strong a desire for clarity that he could not help making every- 
thing clear to his listeners, and where he could not, he would 
frankly point out the obscurities of the problem. In order to make 
his points clear and concrete he was fond of adducing analogies 
from everyday life. In a lecture given in 1915, where he was dis- 
cussing the place of masturbation in childhood and in the life 
of the adult, he first waived all moral evaluations of this sexual 
activity and insisted on considering the problem only from the 
standpoint of purpose. He drew the following analogy: "Bow 
and arrow were once, in prehistoric times, man's only weaptm, 
or at any rate his best weapon. But what would you say if a 
French soldier of today went into battle with bow and arrow in- 
stead of a rifle?" 

In the discussions which followed lectures of the Psychoanalytic 
Society he usually was the last to speak. He rarely failed to find a 
friendly word for the analyst who had lectured, but he also freely 
offered criticism which was always suaviter in modo, fortiter in re. 
I remember a lecture by a young colleague which, instead of be- 
ing an examination of the problem, presented merely pretentious 
plans for the treatment of scientific questions. During the lecture 
Freud, who sat next to me, slipped me a sheet of paper on which 
he had written: "Does reading menus fill your stomach?" 

In the midst of a serious discussion he would often surprise us 
with a humorous remark. In a lecture before the Vienna Psycho- 


analytic Society the New York analyst, Dr. Feigenbaum, once 
showed that even the speaking of intentional nonsense, which 
often happens in card playing, for example, can by analytic study 
be shown to convey unconscious rhyme and reason. Freud re- 
marked that though it is no easy task for men to produce de- 
liberately absolute nonsense, still everyone knows that the books 
of German scholars are full of effortless and unconscious non- 

After a lecture he gave (sometime in 1910) on the problem of 
sex, there was raised in the course of the discussion the question 
of a practical solution for the sexual dilemma of young students. 
For, on the one hand, psychoanalysis had shown that sexual 
abstinence was one of the most important factors in the forma- 
tion of neurosis. On the other hand, the economic circumstances 
of most students made it impossible for them to marry early. 
Morality forbade the seduction of young girls, the danger of in- 
fection made sexual intercourse with prostitutes inadvisable, and 
so on. Freud's advice to the young students was, "Be abstinent, 
but under protest/' He felt that it was imperative to keep alive 
the inner protest against a social order which prevented mature 
young men from fulfilling a normal instinctual need. He drew 
parallels between this attitude and that of the French Encyclo- 
pedists of the eighteenth century who, though submissive out- 
wardly to the power of the Church which ruled their age, dedi- 
cated themselves to tireless protest against its overwhelming and 
unbearable force. Like Anatole France whose writings he loved, 
Freud did not believe, in sudden and violent revolutions. (He 
cherished the lofty wisdom of France's writings as well as the 
subtlety and wit of his art I remember Freud laughing aloud 
when I, in a discussion of feminine feelings, reminded him of a re- 
mark in a novel of Anatole France. In Monsieur Bergeret a 
Paris a young man attempts to seduce a lady. Anatole France, the 
connoisseur of women, concludes his description as follows: "He 
came to her again, took her in his arms, and covered her with 
caresses. Within a short time her clothes were so disarranged that 
aside from any other considerations shame alone compelled her 
to disrobe.") Freud put more faith in the steadily mounting, con- 
tinuous force of patient resistance to bring about ultimately 


changes in the social order. He believed, also, that psychoanalysis, 
by making men more straightforward and upright, was one of 
these reforming forces. He often reiterated that in regard to 
money and to sex men are hypocrites. In both these realms they re- 
fuse to confess their true needs. 

He was convinced that an individual's sexual behavior pro- 
vided the prototype of his attitude toward other aspects of life. 
Once, while we were discussing a case of neurosis, he related an 
example he had met with outside his practice. This example was 
memorable because it involved two famous contemporaries. The 
mathematician and physicist, Christian Doppler, of the University 
of Vienna, had early done remarkable scientific work; it was he 
who made the discovery now known throughout the world as 
Doppler's principle. Later his scientific creativeness ran dry, or 
ran aground. His work became trivial; much of the time he busied 
himself working out riddles and was unable to publish anything 
of scientific significance. Freud traced this striking development 
to the fact that, though Doppler's marriage was extremely un- 
happy, for "moral" reasons he could not attain the inner freedom 
to seek a divorce. The emotional conflict arose out of Doppler's 
acquaintance with a young girl toward whom he was strongly 
attracted; but he had decided to resign himself and continue his 
life at the side of an unloved wife. 

Freud contrasted this attitude with that of Doppler's con- 
temporary, Robert Koch. Koch, who was at first a young health 
officer in a small German city, had won considerable fame with 
the publication of his first scientific papers. He had made a good 
middle-class marriage with a woman whom he respected but did 
not love. Later he met a girl whom he truly loved and Koch 
resolved to have a frank and friendly discussion with his wife. He 
requested divorce, and she finally consented. He married the girl, 
who proved to be a courageous and understanding companion 
through life. Happy and fulfilled in marriage, he pursued a 
scientific career that grew steadily in importance. He made great 
discoveries in regard to tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, and ma- 
laria, and contributed to medicine those theories and methods 
which will forever be associated with his name. Freud respected 
Koch's behavior in the emotional crisis of his first marriage as a 


sign of greater strength of character. More than that, he felt thSt 
it sprang from a higher morality than Doppler's, a morality 
whose values were honesty and courage. 

I was constantly amazed anew at the extent of Freud's reading 
and the diversity of his knowledge. He read in almost every 
branch of science. He followed with great interest the progress 
of medical and biologic research, and read widely in archeology 
and history, keeping up with current developments in all these 
fields. Until almost the last he was a tireless reader. It was a thing 
of wonder to me how a man whose days were crammed with so 
many hours of exhausting analytic work, and whose nights were 
largely devoted to writing, could find the time for such extensive 
reading. Nor was this reading in the field of science alone. He 
loved biography and the best work of contemporary writers like 
Romain Holland, Arthur Schnitzler, Franz Werfel, and Stefan 

I remember once talking with him about a drama of Stefan 
Zweig's, Jeremiah, which had just appeared. I expressed the 
opinion that a drama making use of related material, Der Junge 
David by Richard Beer-Hofmann, was far superior to Zweig's 
work. Compared to Beer-Hofmann's work, I said, the Zweig 
drama was very feeble. Freud was surprised at this criticism. He 
told me that such an attitude was altogether strange to him, for 
he never drew comparisons in matters of aesthetic pleasure. (As 
a matter of fact, I believe that this is an attitude he adopted later 
in life.) 

For analogies in his scientific work he usually called upon 
physics, for that science deals with the interplay of forces; but 
he also drew comparisons with chemistry and biology, and with 
archeology, which was particularly interesting to him. Let me re- 
call a comparison he used when we were discussing the function 
of trauma in the structure of the neuroses. Freud mentioned the 
theories of Charles Lyell and George Cuvier, the great geologists. 
He disagreed with Cuvier's theory of cataclysms, which held that 
changes in the surface of the earth are wrought by great catas- 
trophies. He inclined to Lyell's theory that such changes are 
produced by constant forces working imperceptibly over periods 
of thousands of years. I remember another time he drew an 


analogy fom geology. We were discussing how in psychoanalysis 
only the psychic reality holds sway, while the material reality is 
altogether minor-so that, for example, it does not matter whether 
a patient really dreamed a dream or only imagined it. From this 
we went on to discuss the psychic significance of the lie, par- 
ticularly the lie in children. Freud pointed out that children's 
lies are frequently composed for an imaginary gratification of 
desire. From this point of view it is psychologically unimportant 
whether we are dealing with lie or truth, since the boundary 
between themin analysis, though not in life is vague and shift- 
ing. He added, "Imagine that the human eye could behold at one 
glance all the changes that have taken place over eons in the 
surface of the earth. To 'such a vision the boundaries between 
hill and valley, water and land, would become vague and 
strangely immaterial." 

Until ripe old age Freud was receptive to all new ideas and 
original thoughts in psychoanalysis. He met them without preju- 
dice, even when he did not agree; but he required a long time to 
feel at home in new views. Although he always evinced a lively 
and open-minded interest in all intellectual changes, he left it to 
the younger generation to extend psychoanalysis beyond the 
specific limitations that he had set himself. 

He impressed upon us that it was almost always a bad omen 
when a neurotic patient accepted with enthusiasm the results of 
analysis. The best attitude toward analysis or any other new and 
radical scientific views was, he maintained, a friendly skepticism. 
Consider, he would say, the way housewives tell a good oven from 
a bad one. The bad ones are those that heat up right away, but 
also cool rapidly. The good ones, however, grow warm slowly 
and hesitantly, but hold their heat for a long time. 

This was his own attitude toward innovations in psychoanaly- 
sis; in his later years he usually avoided expressing an opinion on 
newly published analytic works. He needed a long time for a 
well-considered verdict. He was tolerant enough to appreciate 
others' efforts in analysis along paths that did not interest him, 
although he himself would never venture out upon such paths. 
After a lecture by one of our colleagues on broad problems of 
character neurosis, he remarked that he had limited himself to 


narrower aspects of the subject, but that the new generation 
would wish to explore more remote regions. "I myself have al- 
ways sailed upon inland lakes. But good for them who are strik- 
ing out into the open sea." 

Whence comes the view so prevalent in America that Freud was 
dogmatic? Throughout thirty years I never noticed a single trait 
of narrow-mindedness or dogmatism in him. In this book I have 
included a letter of his (his reply to my criticism of his Dostoyev- 
sky essay) which testifies that he was critical of his own work and 
freely admitted weaknesses where they existed. He was intolerant 
only toward false tolerance. He insisted that psychoanalysis, as a 
science, should adhere to its own methods, and he tried to keep it 
free of the methods of other sciences. 

I often had long talks with Freud about the qualifications and 
education of the analyst. We were agreed that a medical educa- 
tion is inadequate for the profession of analyst. In the course of 
the conversation, Freud pointed out that poets (Shakespeare, 
Goethe, Dostoyevsky) and philosophers (Plato, Schopenhauer, 
Nietzsche) had come closer to the fundamental truths of psycho- 
analysis than had the physicians. He once informed me that the 
natural scientist and philosopher, Paracelsus (1493-1541), had ad- 
vanced a theory of neurotic therapy which was akin to that of 
psychoanalysis. This scientist, who had been persecuted as a 
quack, had recommended a strengthening of the ego as a counter- 
poise to the instinctual forces which are morbidly expressed in 
neurosis. "J ust what he himself understood by it, I don't know," 
Freud added, "but there is no doubt as to its correctness." 

On the question of the education of the analyst Freud differed 
with me. He found my views too exacting and had more respect 
than I for the value of instruction. He admitted, however, that 
the personal inclinations and talent of the individual were more 
important than is generally conceded. In a conversation on 
Dostoyevsky he smilingly granted my assertion that this poet had 
more psychological talent than the whole International Psycho- 
analytic Society; but he felt that Dostoyevsky was a phenomenal 
case. I replied that all instruction and control analysis was in vain 
if it were offered to individuals who had no innate gift and did 
not possess that "psychic sensitivity" he had once spoken of. He 


nodded to this, but insisted that the talent of understanding un- 
conscious processes was more widespread than I would have it, 
and that analysis augmented and developed this talent. We fi- 
nally agreed that the ideal would be for those who were born 
psychologists to learn the analytic method and be able to practice 
it We have said we have to seek out such "born psychologists" not 
only in the circle of psychiatrists and neurologists. In my opinion 
they will be as few and far between there as anywhere else. 

Freud occasionally was pessimistic about the future of psy- 
choanalysis. I am told he once said that analysis would suffer a 
lingering death after his own death. Such a moody remark was 
certainly only the reflection of momentary bad humor. In later 
years he was always confident and optimistic. He knew that the 
science he had created would not disappear. He knew also that 
that science would undergo modifications and corrections, would 
be supplemented and considered from new angles. But what 
Freud mined from the profoundest depths and abysses of the 
psyche will endure, and his work will continue with ever more 
fruitful influence upon the life of individuals and of nations. 
Above all, his method of research will endure; that method 'which 
accords such critical attention to apparent trivialities, the method 
whose objects are the inconspicuous, the hidden, and the veiled. 

Here is not the place to discuss the development of his 
thoughts. Greek mythology tells the story of the Augean stable, 
wherein three thousand oxen were kept, which remained un- 
cleaned for thirty years. The misconceptions and distortions, the 
falsifications and misrepresentations to which psychoanalysis was 
subjected in its popularization threaten to transform the magnifi- 
cent house that Freud built into a stable similar to that of King 
Augeas. It too was not cleaned for thirty years and was, alas, 
frequented by more than three thousand oxen during this time. 
To clean it is a task compared with which Hercules had an easy 

A small circle of those who were Freud's followers will teach the 
new generation. He knew that after a short period of lying fal- 
low and of being overrun by confusion, disturbance, and ob- 
scurantism, psychoanalysis would come into its own in the lives of 
civilized peoples. In his last book he saw a great vision of the fate 


of Moses and his mission, a fate that may well be his own. Does he 
not prophesy the great work of his little circle? He recounts the 
tale of the Levites, who stood fast in all perils, defying all the 
forces that opposed them to save the intellectual heritage of a 
genius for the millenniums to come. Is this not an outline of the 
task of his little group of followers? Freud's death does not mean 
the beginning of the end of psychoanalysis, as his foes aver, but 
rather the end of the beginning. 

The deepest and final memory Freud left with us is the 
memory of his utter sincerity. He dared to pursue to the end 
thoughts which some few had encountered, but at which most 
men had turned and run thoughts on sex and the sexes, on life, 
love, and death, and on the powerful instincts th,at live beneath 
the pitiable artifices we invent to conceal them from, ourselves 
and others. He faced the psychic processes in himself and others 
without fear and favor. He was more courageous than his time. 
And these qualities talent, utter honesty, and the ability to con- 
summate his thoughts seem to me the qualities with which are 
endowed those rare human beings whom we call geniuses. 


NEARLY FORTY-FIVE years had passed since, with pounding 
heart, I first ascended the steps of Number 19 Berggasse and 
stood face to face with Freud. At the time I was a student of 
psychology at the University of Vienna. About a half year previ- 
ously our fine old professor, Friedrich Jodl, had for the first and 
last time mentioned Sigmund Freud's name in his lectures. Re- 
search into the psyche at the time was completely under the aegis 
of experimental psychology. When we thought of psychic proc- 
esses, we thought of them in terms of laboratory work, tests, ex-, 
periments with stimuli and blood pressure. 

Professor Jodl had been lecturing to us for weeks on Wundt's 
laws of association. At the close of his lecture he mentioned off- 


handedly, with a keen ironic smile, that there was one instructor 
in our city who asserted that there was a type of forgetting that 
did not follow Wundt's laws, but the laws of a psychic process he 
called repression. We students also smiled ironically, for like our 
professor we were confident of our knowledge of the human soul 

Some time later a book by this instructor fell into my hands. 
It bore the title, The Interpretation of Dreams. I began to read, 
but soon laid the book aside. It seemed altogether preposterous 
was I not a student of Wundtian psychology? But a few days 
later I took it up again I had left it lying on my desk next to 
Ziehen's textbook of psychology and this time I read on and on, 
fascinated, to the last line. In the following weeks with growing 
wonder I read everything this author had published. Here was 
the psychology that had been sought so long, a science of the 
psychic underworld. Here was what I had looked for when I first 
took up the study of psychology in spite of all the warnings of 
practical people. Here was something derived not from psy- 
chology textbooks but from the premonitions and visions of 
Goethe, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. 

Some months later I stood for the first time in the room where 
Freud worked, stood by his desk, surrounded by Egyptian and 
Etruscan figurines, excavated trophies of a long-dead world. 

In the following years scarcely a week passed that I did not see 
him. The lectures in the old psychiatry clinic in the Lazarettgasse, 
the discussions of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society and, later 
on, the Wednesday evenings at his home (for he was then already 
ill and received only his closest co-workers on these occasions- 
"From time to time I like to see the young ones/ 1 he said, quoting 
Goethe) these are unforgotten and unforgettable times. 

One who was not close to Freud cannot conceive of the stature 
of the man, for he himself was greater than his work, that work 
which embodies the profoundest insights into the psychic life of 
man that have yet been attained. Many, throughout the whole 
wide world, know how kindly, helpful, and loyal he was. I can 
still see his smile as he appeared unexpectedly one day in our apart- 
ment in Berlin, after toiling up four flights of stairs. It was in 
1915, 1 had just married and was poor as only a Doctor of Philoso- 
phy can be. Freud brought the news that the Psychoanalytic So- 


ciety had decided to award me the prize for the best scientific 
work in the field of applied psychoanalysis. It was like a fairy tale, 
and the most miraculous feature of it was Freud's smile. Clearly, 
it made him happy to hand me the sum of money, which was not 
large but to me in my circumstances at the time seemed like a 

Shortly before Hitler's invasion of our Austria I saw him for 
the last time. This was after an interval which I spent in Holland. 
I still, at fifty, felt as I rang the bell the joyful expectation that 
had surcharged me as a boy of twenty. 

I found him greatly changed, his skin withered and his eyes 
deep-sunken. His hands, as he opened a cigar case, seemed no 
more than skin and bones. But his eyes, his curious and penetrat- 
ing eyes, were as lively and kindly as always. In conversation he 
showed all his old eager interest. Every sentence he spoke was 
characteristically his. We talked of the problems of our science, 
and it seemed to me that the wisdom of old age in this man had 
revealed to him mysteries whose existence I had not even sus- 
pected. After a long discussion of psychoanalytic problems, our 
conversation turned to questions of the day. Freud realized how 
precarious was the situation of Austria, and he was very doubt- 
ful that she could maintain herself. He felt no fear for himself, 
but he foresaw a dark future. 

Only a few of his remarks shall be recorded here. He knew 
that psychoanalysis might well suffer seeming defeat for a long 
time. But then its effect would be profounder than ever. He was 
not surprised by the brutality and blind cruelty of the Nazi 
regime. It seemed as though he had anticipated it and was armed 
to meet it. What surprised him, however, was the intellectual 
attitude of the majority of Germans, whom he had thought more 
intelligent and capable of better judgment. While we were speak- 
ing of race prejudice, he said smilingly, "Look how impoverished 
the poet's imagination really is. Shakespeare, in A Midsummer 
Night's Dream, has a woman fall in love with a donkey. The 
audience wonders at that. And now, think of it, that a nation of 
sixty-five millions have . . ." He completed the sentence with a 
wave of his hand. 


We spoke of the Jews and their destiny. (At the time he was 
still working on the manuscript of the Moses book.) He was not 
downcast. "Our enemies wish to destroy us. But they will only 
succeed in dispersing us through the world." Averse to national- 
istic prejudices, he loved his people and he did not believe that 
this persecution would break their will to live. When I com- 
mented on the tragedy of Jewish destiny, he replied with a 
smile, "The ways of the Lord are dark, but seldom pleasant." 

While on this subject, I should like to record Freud's reply 
when a London weekly requested him to express his opinion, to 
be published in a symposium, on the Nazi persecution of the 
Jews. Freud refused, citing a French proverb: 

Le bruit est pour le fat, 
Le plainte est pour le sot; 
L'honnete homme trompe 
S'en va et ne dit mot. 

He did not show much surprise at the outbreak of hatred for 
the Jews. When he learned that in Berlin his books, together 
with those of Heine, Schnitzler, Wassermann, and so many others, 
had been solemnly consigned to perdition and burned, he said 
calmly, "At least I burn in the best of company." 

A journalist reported in the New York Times Freud's com- 
ment on his own fate at this time. " They told me/ he said, 'that 
psychoanalysis is alien to their Weltanschauung, and I suppose 
it is/ He said this with no emotion and little interest, as though 
he were talking about the affairs of some complete stranger/' 

It is well known that he was not indifferent to the fate of his 
own people. He hailed the reconstruction going on in Palestine 
and wrote to the Jewish organization, Keren Hajazoth, on June 
20, 1925: "It is a sign of our invincible will to live which for 
two thousand years has survived the worst persecutions. Our 
youth will carry on the fight/' 

If I here describe some more personal moments of this last 
conversation, I do so to show how charmingly and spiritedly the 
octogenarian expressed himself. I want to give some hint of the 
graciousness of his mind and the modesty and kindliness of his 


character. We were speaking of my latest book. He praised it in 
words that I still cherish in my memory. He freely criticized some 
of my ironic judgments of the ideas of certain colleagues. Later 
on I explained, "I don't care much what my colleagues think of 
my books. For me your opinion is the vital one. Only what you 
say to me is important." "You are very wrong, Reik," he an- 
swered. "You must regard your colleagues' opinions of your 
work. I am no longer important, I am already an outsider I 
no longer belong . . . You know," he added after a short pause, 
"your position is so unreasonable. You remind me of the hero of 
a fairy tale I once read where was it? 

"A barber in the Orient, let us say Bagdad, often heard his 
customers talking of a beautiful princess in a faraway land who 
was held captive by a wicked wizard. The brave man who would 
free the princess was promised both her hand and a great king- 
dom. Many knights and princes had set out upon the adventure, 
but none had succeeded in reaching her. Before the castle in 
which the beautiful lady was imprisoned there lay a vast, gloomy 
wood. Whoever crossed this wood would be attacked by lions and 
torn to pieces. The few who succeeded in escaping these lions 
were later met by two terrible giants who beat them down with 
cudgels. Some few had escaped even this danger and after years of 
travail had reached the castle. As they rushed up the stairway, 
the wizard's magic caused it to collapse. It was said that one 
brave prince had nevertheless managed to ascend into the 
castle, but in the great hall where the princess was enthroned a 
fierce fire raged which destroyed him. 

"The adventurous barber was so deeply impressed by these 
tales of the beautiful princess that by and by he sold his shop 
and set out to liberate her. He had singular good fortune; he 
escaped the wild beasts, overcame the giants, and survived many 
other adventures, until at last he reached the castle. He strode 
over the stairway, although it toppled beneath him, and plunged 
intrepidly through the roaring flames that were threatening to 
consume the hall. At the end of the great hall he could dimly 
see the princess. But as he rushed across the room and drew near 
the figure, he saw a gray old woman supporting herself on a 
cane as she sat, her face full of wrinkles and warts, her hair drawn 


back in, sparse, snow-white strands. The brave barber had forgot- 
ten that the princess had been waiting sixty years for her deliverer 
. . . No, my dear Reik, you are wrong in setting such store on 
me and my opinion. You must listen to what the colleagues say 
about your work." 
That was Sigmund Freud's way. 


THE MEMORIES that form the major part of this chapter 
emerged during the last years on different occasions and 
sometimes by most surprising detours. Some were immediately 
recognized, others acknowledged only after some time. A few 
were obviously continuations of. conscious thoughts as, for in- 
stance, those stimulated by reading the biography of Freud by 
Ernest Jones. The period Jones describes antedated my acquaint- 
anceship with Freud, whom I first met in 1910, but the reading 
of the book renewed impressions I had received in later years. 
These reminiscences varied in character: sometimes they were 
clear recollections of things he had said. The perception fre- 
quently was accompanied by the visual image of Freud sitting 
at his desk across from me, or giving a lecture in the psychiatric 
clinic in the Lazarettgasse, or walking beside me afterward on 
the way home. On rare occasions I even remembered the precise 
place where he had spoken this or that sentence, as if the locality 
itself had some significance. Now and then his voice was recalled, 
its timbre, the intonations and inflections, the modulation of a 
sentence, even the clearing of his throat. Along with this auditory 
memory there came to mind how in later years he coughed, took 
out his handkerchief, and thoughtfully looked at the sputum for 
a moment. (Gestures are very rarely remembered, but Freud did 
not use many gestures.) Associations easily to be guessed lead from 
here to the time when I heard Freud mention cancer: he spoke 
of the eagerness of young psychoanalysts to help their patients, 


to free them as quickly as possible from their neurotic, often 
painful symptoms. He declared that suffering is a biological 
necessity and pointed out that some physical illnessesfor instance, 
cancer-are so dangerous because the signal of suffering is absent 
in their first phases. 

Many of these recollections occurred to me during psychoana- 
lytic sessions with patients, either while listening as they communi- 
cated certain experiences or while I was giving an analytic inter- 
pretation myself. Sometimes such a memory occurred when I was 
giving a lecture or a seminar, trying to get some idea across 
to the young people who study psychoanalysis. Whenever such 
reminiscences emerged, I told my students what Freud had said 
on this or that occasion. In analytic sessions, from out of some- 
where a sentence from the lips of Freud summarizing an emo- 
tional attitude or explaining a dynamic unconscious process 
would occur to me, as if to help me to understand the actual 
situation. In other cases a memory occurred to me after I had said 
something explaining the secret meaning of a dream or formulat- 
ing a psychological insight in a poignant sentence. I then 
suddenly became aware that it was my voice that spoke, but that 
he had said this same thing in a conversation. 

I often remembered on such a detour an apt simile he had 
used or a surprising insight, and the mot juste he had found was 
sometimes pronounced by me as if it had been my own, only to 
be recognized as Freud's expression later on. In those early 
years we followers of Freud were often criticized because we 
identified ourselves with our master. We did, of course, but one 
is tempted to ask: What else should we do with him? Moreover, 
the process of identification is psychologically by no means as 
simple as the critics imagined; it has its unconscious motivations 
and aims and naturally has also its hostile aspect. At the end of the 
emotional process it is almost meaningless to decide what belongs 
to the object of identification and what to the transformed ego. 
The Talmud reports that Moses, after his descent from Sinai, 
was so filled with the spirit of God that he said, "I am giving you 
the Law." Students of a Hassidic rabbi once asked him to 
interpret this passage which seemed blasphemous to them. He 
answered with a fine parable: A merchant wished to undertake 


a journey. He hired a clerk to replace him in the interval and 
let him work at the counter. He himself made a practice of 
remaining in the adjoining room. From here he might often 
hear the apprentice saying to a customer, "The master cannot 
give it to you at that price." The merchant thought the time was 
not yet ripe to leave the shop. The second year he heard the 
apprentice saying, "We cannot give it to you at that price/' 
Still the merchant thought it would be wiser not to leave. At 
last, in the third year, he heard the clerk in the next room de- 
claring, "1 can't give it to you at that price/* He felt then he 
could safely go on his journey. 

Even everyday impressions sometimes bring back memories 
of Freud to me, as for instance the paper on which I am at the 
moment writing. I prefer very large sheets to those of smaller 
size. Freud also used such large sheets, and when I once asked 
him about this habit he declared, "When I have to restrict my- 
self in so many directions in life, I want to have space and 
freedom at least when I am writing/' The image of his large 
slanting handwriting, with its left to right ascending character, 
comes to mind together with a remark he once made about 
graphology. He told me once about a letter he had received from 
an unknown Russian lady who suffered from a serious emotional 
disturbance and had wandered for a long time from one psychia- 
trist to another. She had spent many months in treatment with 
Dr. P. Sollier in Paris and asked Freud whether he would take 
her as patient. She warned him in her (French) letter that she 
would be unable to speak of certain matters. After I had read 
this passage, he turned my attention to the patient's handwriting. 
"What do you think of it?" he asked. It was a strange way of 
writing, regular in its character, but conspicuous because each 
letter seemed to be bent to the left as if the handwriting as a 
whole were leaning backward. "There is no doubt," said Freud, 
"that men also express their character through their writing. 
What a pity it is that its understanding is so ambiguous and its 
interpretation so uncertain! Graphology is not yet a scientific 

The conversation about that letter brings to mind that Freud 
liked to use comparisons, similes and analogies when he sought 


vividly to illustrate what he meant. For example, this patient had 
expressed her eagerness to undergo analytic treatment provided 
she could keep certain things to herself. Freud spoke of the im- 
possibility of such reservations in psychoanalysis and of areas 
set apart and withheld for certain reasons. "Let us assume that 
the police can enter any quarter of Vienna except certain streets 
or sections. Do you think that the security of Vienna would be 
very strong in such a case?" He was amused when I told him 
about a patient from New England who declared during the 
initial interview, "A gentleman does not speak of his mother 
or his religion." 

Here are a few instances noted at random, which show Freud's 
liking for metaphor: About a patient who intermittently fought 
against a masochistic perversion, only to succumb to it when it 
seemed as if he had already conquered it: "He acts like a wan- 
derer who returns home and who already sees the lights of his 
house from a distance, only to stumble into the last tavern on 
the highway." About the same patient who, after having been 
separated from his domineering wife, began a sexual affair with 
a very masculine woman: "He has broken the whip that lashed 
him to obtain a cat-o'-nine-tails for himself." 

In speaking of the fact that, unavoidably, psychoanalysis often 
affects patients who seem to have adjusted themselves to intense 
inhibitions and symptoms so that they begin to feel anxious and 
emotionally insecure when old conflicts are explored in their 
analytic sessions: "Yes, psychoanalysis stirs them up. Pour faire 
une omelette, il faut casser des oeufs (To make an omelette, 
you have to break eggs)." Another comparison, used when, dur- 
ing a walk, we discussed the increasing difficulties one meets when 
exploring the repressed motivations and origins of neurotic dis- 
turbances: "When you dig into this sandbank as those children 
over there do, the work is at first easy, but when one gets deeper 
into the ground it becomes stony and often seems as if the spade 
cannot penetrate." A similar comparison was used when he spoke 
of digging a shaft into the depths, or making a mine with regard 
to analytic exploration. Once he spoke of the future of psycho- 
analysis and said that the analysts and the researchers of endocri- 
nology and allied sciences are being compared to groups of workers 


who build a tunnel from opposite sides and will meet in the 
middle of it. He often used comparisons from archeology and 
from research into early phases of mankind; for instance, when 
he called early infancy the prehistory of the individual. He liked 
to take his comparisons from everyday life. When I once spoke 
of a patient who in a violent scene threatened to leave her hus- 
band, Freud said, "Dishes are never eaten as hot as they were 
cooked." Discussing the part unconscious resistances have in 
reaching certain insights, he said, "It takes hardly more than a 
day and a night to reach Verdun from Berlin by train. But the 
German army needed many months to make the journey. There 
were the French divisions that considerably slowed the march." 
I sometimes heard Freud quote from literature in his conversa- 
tion. Here are two examples: I spoke of a patient who had definite 
walking difficulties of a psychosomatic kind. I mentioned to 
Freud that some doctors had suspected that these difficulties in 
walking were initial symptoms of multiple sclerosis. When I then 
related that the man often had short phases in which there was 
not the slightest trace of his walking symptoms, Freud remarked, 
"Die war's nicht, defs geschah." ("That was not it, if that hap- 
pened.") The line is from a poem by the old Austrian poet 
Friedrich Halm (1806-1871) about love. The line asks: "And tell 
me how does love die?" And the answer is: "It was not love 
if that happened." In such poetic language Freud rejected the 
diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. 

On another occasion I told him that I could not interpret an 
element in the dream of a patient in which apples played a sig- 
nificant part. Instead of answering, Freud quoted from the Wal- 
purgis Night scene in which Faust dances with a young witch and 

Once came a lovely dream to me 

I saw there an apple tree, 

Two lovely apples on it shone; 

They charmed me so I climbed thereon. 

The beauty answers: 

The little apples men entice 
Since they were in Paradise. 


I feel myself with pleasure glow 
That such within my garden grow. 

These lines quoted, of course, in German provided the inter- 
pretation that had eluded me. 

In a discussion about the psychopathology of criminals Freud 
emphasized the differences between neurotic and criminal per- 
sonalities. He said that as long as there were no individual ana- 
lytic case explorations of delinquents, analogies with the attitude 
of neurotic patients had only a very restricted value, since certain 
traits, conspicuous in criminals, appeared in the emotional 
life of neurotics sporadically isolated "as veins in the ore." 

He once said that men who are terrified at the idea of the 
possibility of incest with their mothers will be only weakly potent 
or impotent because they "shy from this potentiality as a horse 
does from his own shadow." He added that a little of one's mother 
is to be found in any woman. 

He was far from considering psychoanalysis as a help or cure 
in all cases of emotional conflicts and often felt that analytic 
treatment was not indicated. In a case known to me in which a 
husband had deserted his wife, who in her unhappiness asked 
Freud for analytic help, he said, "That is a calamity like another 
("C'est un malheur comme un autre") and one has to deal with 
it as with others. Psychoanalysis cannot help, perhaps resignation 
is the right answer." 

For a long time Freud mistrusted all attempts at short cuts in 
analytic treatment and occasionally made sarcastic remarks about 
some analytic innovations. We once visited the newly furnished 
consultation room of one of our colleagues. Freud, pointing to the 
very broad couch, said smilingly to me, "That is rather for group 

I remember that one of the first patients he referred to me 
was a young man with serious nervous complaints. The patient 
had told me in the first interview that he had violin lessons with 
a well-known virtuoso. At one of the next analytic sessions he 
brought his violin case with him and put it on my desk where my 
manuscripts were. When I told Freud about it, he blamed me 
because I had charged the patient too low a fee. Freud interpreted 


the placing of the violin case as symptomatic action in which 
the patient had expressed his unconscious contempt toward me, 
to whom he paid so much less than to his music master. When 
I told Freud later about certain features of this case, he expressed 
the opinion that the strange behavior of my patient was perhaps 
to be traced to some unknown traumatic events of his child- 
hood which he unconsciously remembered. Much later this con- 
jecture was confirmed: the uncle in whose house the boy had 
been brought up told me a secret which had been kept back from 
all members of the family. The mother of the patient had become 
insane and had treated the boy very badly. The patient had no 
conscious knowledge that his mother had died in an asylum. 

I have often wondered about Freud's attitude to women. He 
certainly did not share the American concept of equality of the 
sexes, and was of the opinion that the man should take the lead 
in married life. He spoke of America as a matriarchy in which 
women have the real rule. He was old-fashioned in his gallantry 
toward women and showed in his conversation a deep insight into 
their emotional life. Sometimes I heard him joke about them. 
In a variation of a colloquial sentence Viennese women used when 
they were shopping he said, "A wife is expensive, but you have 
her a long time." Another time he said jokingly that a woman 
who feels restless consults a physician or goes shopping. 

He once compared the analytic process, in certain masochistic 
cases in which the patient has unconsciously subjected himself 
to a severe punishment for his thought-crimes, to a legal pro- 
cedure in which the analyst takes the case to the court of appeals, 
pleads that the verdict of the superego was too severe, and recom- 
mends a milder judgment. He also compared the process of anal- 
ysis with the task of the re-education of the individual who 
vacillates between the demands of his drives and those of the 
society incorporated within his superego. In enlarging upon this 
conflict in one of his lectures, he gave vivid instances of those 
opposite tendencies that have their battleground within the soul 
of neurotic patients. Occasionally in informal discussion he spoke 
like a conversationalist rather than an academic teacher, present- 
ing ingenious comparisons of such conflicts with situations which 
seemingly were very distant. The conversationalist was then trans- 


formed into a raconteur. The metaphor and the simile were re- 
placed by a story in which both understatement and wit played 
a part. 

I recall a lecture in which he spoke of the clash between the 
justified demands of society for renunciation of certain satisfac- 
tions and the power of biologically determined instinctual drives. 
He compared that conflict with a story about the town of Schilda. 
The citizens of that town, in old German folklore, were known as 
rather silly in their pretense of deep wisdom, and many foolish 
actions are reported of them. They once bought a horse for 
work on the municipal plot. After some time the mayor and the 
town council decided that the horse was too expensive because it 
ate too much hay and oats, and they cut down its daily ration. 
The horse continued to work, and the citizens, still unsatisfied 
with the saving reached, determined to retrench its food ration 
still more. The horse was apparently still workable, whereupon 
they cut the feed ration even more. Then they set to wondering 
whether the horse might not work without any hay or oats. The 
experiment was performed and the horse died the next day. Thus, 
remarked Freud, it is certainly necessary to restrict demands of our 
sexual and aggressive drives in the interest of society, but human 
nature does not allow this renunciation to transgress certain 
limits. A variable measure of instinctual gratification is necessary, 
if man is to remain emotionally healthy. 

Freud considered it necessary that the patient to whom the 
first analytical interpretations were given be psychologically pre- 
pared for them. He felt that the psychoanalyst should introduce 
his interpretation by remarks that would serve to give the patient 
an elementary insight into the contrast and conflict between the 
organized and conscious ego and the repressed. "It would be as 
obviously nonsensical to tell an unprepared patient that he once 
had incestuous desires for his mother as to tell the man on the 
street that he sees things standing on their heads." 

In the discussion of a case presentation in which an analyst had 
told a patient some very unpleasant things in a seemingly 
brutal manner, Freud remarked that such a technique ought to 
be called aggressive rather than active. Enlarging on the manner 
in which first interpretations in analysis should be communicated 


to the patient, he told us the following story: The Shah of Persia 
once had an anxious dream and summoned the dream-interpreter, 
to whom he told the content of his dream. The magician said, 
"Alas, O King, all your relations will die and after them you will 
die!" The Shah got angry and ordered the dream-interpreter de- 
capitated. He then summoned a second interpreter and told him 
the dream. "Hail, O King," said this man, "you will survive all 
your relatives!" The Shah ordered that a hundred gold coins be 
given to the second dream-interpreter. 

Often a bit of practical wisdom or common sense was expressed 
by Freud by comparisons. Once when someone wanted to give up 
a job without any hope of getting another or better one, Freud 
said, "You do not throw out dirty water unless you know you 
can get some clean/* In one of the cases discussed at the meeting 
of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society the patient had long and 
detailed conversations with a friend about her analysis. Freud 
told the young analyst that he should energetically discourage 
such discussions. "Much valuable material will be lost to the 
analytic treatment if you allow the patient to continue that. 
When you want a river to have a powerful waterfall, you do not 
dig channels to take water away from it." 

I remember Freud speaking of an American physician who 
came to Vienna to undergo psychoanalytic treatment, but con- 
sidered his analysis as a kind of byproduct and gave priority 
to studies of other disciplines. Freud said that, for the time 
being, analysis should have priority for that physician, adding, 
"Analysis, in such a case, is like the God of the Old Testament 
and does not allow that there are other gods." 

About a young physician who boasted in a letter that he had 
sacrificed all other interests to the study of psychoanalysis, Freud 
said, "That is not a merit: to choose analysis is part of one's 

He warned us not to discuss the positive transfer provided it 
did not take those forms which interfered with the progress of 
the therapeutic procedure that is, unless it showed itself as 
resistance. "Don't forget that those positive feelings are the wind 
that moves our mills." 


Once during the first World War the ambiguous role the Poles 
played was discussed. Freud was amused when someone said, 
"The Poles sell their country, but they do not deliver it." Freud 
laughingly commented, "The result is that the Poles are truly 

I remember that he read an article of a colleague and called its 
style "tasteless as matzos." When he criticized someone, which was 
rare, he was always direct. I remember when Hermann von Kay- 
serling, the writer of the Diary of a Philosopher and the leader of 
the School of Wisdom in Darmstadt, visited him and began to 
talk about psychoanalysis in a rather superficial manner, Freud 
said, "You do not understand that, Count." 

In his critical remarks about books and articles he unerringly 
put his finger on the weak spot, not only in regard to their con- 
tent, but also their presentation. Sensitive to every shade of 
stylistic peculiarity, he reached conclusions from the manner of 
writing as to the personality of the writer, even to certain hidden 
qualities as well as shortcomings. He felt, for instance, that a 
certain author whose excellent intelligence he admired spoke or 
wrote down to his readers. I remember he occasionally quoted 
a witty remark of Karl Kraus, the well-known satirical Viennese 
writer, adding that Kraus was a highly intellectual person who 
was very aggressive and malicious. 

I know he had a low opinion of the American mentality of 
the 1920'$ and said it was very superficial and satisfied with labels 
and slogans. He characterized it once as having the character of 
adolescence and showing "an unthinking optimism and an empty 
activity." He was not in the least impressed with the Freud craze 
which at the time was in vogue in this country, and always 
pointed out that the enthusiasm of American intellectuals for 
psychoanalysis was only possible because they did not really 
understand the new science. He told me that, with a few excep- 
tions, psychoanalysis in this country had not made any remark- 
able scientific contributions to depth-psychology. 

In emphasized contrast to the attitude of the American Psy- 
choanalytic Association, he was, until his death, of the opinion 
that psychoanalysis is not a medical science but belongs to psy- 
chology. At one of the Wednesday evenings when we, a selected 


group of his students, met at his home, I remarked in a discussion 
that the future of psychoanalysis would be in the study of history, 
anthropology and the social sciences, and that the analytic 
therapy of neurotic and psychotic disturbances would be obsolete 
in the year 2000. To the astonishment of almost all present some 
are still alive-Freud entirely agreed with me. He said, "There is 
no doubt that the main task of therapy of the neuroses will be 
dealt with by means which new discoveries in the area of inner 
secretions will provide. I hear the steps of endocrinology behind 
*is and it will catch up with us and overtake us. But even then 
psychoanalysis will be very useful. Endocrinology will then be 
a giant who is blind and does not know where to go, and psy- 
choanalysis will be the dwarf who leads him to the right places." 

While he showed himself always warm and was interested in 
my private life, he was reserved and reticent about himself. Only 
after his seventieth birthday did he begin to speak freely about 
himself and his private life, and told me some interesting 
memories. My impression is that he was really shy and overcame 
it by a kind of emphasized spontaneity. 

When I first made his acquaintance he was interested to hear 
that I was working on a book on Flaubert's The Temptation o/ 
St. Anthony. He knew the work very well and admired its writer. 
Shortly after my book was published in 1912 it was the first 
psychoanalytic doctor's thesis in Europe he suggested, during 
a walk, that I should write a psychoanalytic monograph on Emile 
Zola. He knew an astonishing amount about Zola's married life 
and about his two illegitimate children, and about Zola's com- 
pulsive way of working which produced the most thorough study 
of the theme with which his novels dealt. Freud told me then 
about some very interesting features of Zola's compulsions. I 
have always regretted that I made no notes on that conversation. 
Only much later did I realize that my resistance against writing 
the monograph had its main source in my unconscious reluctance 
to accept Freud's suggestion, an infantile hesitancy to receive a 
gift from a father-representative. Strangely enough, it was Freud 
again who helped me much later to arrive at this insight. He once 
spoke in another context of typical characteristics of the defiant 
attitude of an adolescent son toward his father: "That uncon- 


scious reluctance goes so far that the son does not want to owe 
anything to his father, not even his life. Do you remember the 
typical theme in fairy tales and folklore of a young man saving 
a king or duke from highwaymen who want to kill him? You 
easily recognize in such veiled shape the unconscious defiance of 
the son who wishes to give back to his father the life he owes 

Whenever, later on especially after my arrival in America in 
19381 became discouraged, I would bolster myself by remember- 
ing that Freud often and freely said to me and others that he 
had high expectations in regard to my future research work. 
Looking back now, when the end of work is in sight, I find my- 
self ashamed at how little I could fulfill those expectations. Yet 
I know I have done the best that as poor a man as Hamlet was 
able to. Such a retrospective glance renews the awareness of what 
a stroke of luck it was that I met Freud when I was in my early 
twenties, and that I could work with him so long. It was a great 
time because it was a time lived with a man who was great. 


IN THE PREFACE to the Hebrew edition of Totem and Taboo, 
written in 1930, Freud states that he does not understand the 
sacred language, that he is as alienated from the religion of his 
forefathers as he is from any other and that he cannot share 
nationalistic ideals yet he feels that his personality is Jewish and 
he does not wish it to be different Asked, "What is still Jewish 
in you since you have renounced all those features common with 
your people?" he would answer, "Still very much, perhaps the 
main thing." He added, however, that while he could not, at 
the time, put that essential character into clear words, he thought 
that it certainly would become accessible to scientific insight 
later on. 
The great psychologist never attempted to explore those vague, 


yet definite emotional and mental traits that are so difficult to 
grasp, but a few sentences, spoken in answer to a speech at his 
seventieth birthday celebration at the B'nai B'rith in Vienna, 
circumscribe those characteristics. On this occasion, too, Freud 
confessed to being an infidel Jew and rejected a feeling of na- 
tional superiority as disastrous and unjustifiable. But he added, 
". . . there remains enough that made the attraction of Judaism 
and of the Jews irresistible, many mighty emotional forces, the 
more powerful, the less able to be caught in words, as well as 
the clear awareness of an inner identity, the secret of the same 
inner construction." He gratefully acknowledged that he owed 
to his Jewishness the two qualities that became indispensable on 
his difficult road. As a Jew he felt free from many prejudices 
which restricted other people in the use of their intellect, and 
as a Jew he was prepared to go into opposition and to renounce 
a conformity with the "compact majority." Posterity has recog- 
nized that it was this intellectual freedom from convention and 
this independence of thought that enabled him to write those 
eleven volumes that "shook the world." It was that readiness to 
remain in splendid isolation and to stand alone against an army 
of antagonists which made it possible to carry his research for- 
ward, unperturbed and unafraid-a Jewish knight in the shining 
armor of the integrity and courage of his deep-rooted convictions. 
In the excellent book The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud 
by Ernest Jones, the significance of the Jewish element in Freud's 
personality is not fully considered. Only two short paragraphs of 
the volume are dedicated to that essential part of the great ex- 
plorer's background. Jones, who belonged for forty years to the 
small circle of Freud's co-workers, is not only a scholar and 
skillful writer, but also an honest man. As the only foreigner of 
that intimate circle, he could remain more objective than the 
others. The same fact prevented him, who lived outside the cul- 
ture pattern in which Freud was born and bred, from properly 
understanding the Jewish element in Freud's personality. A 
biography is not an inquiry in depth, and that shortcoming 
dods not diminish the value of Jones's work which emphasizes 
that Freud "felt Jewish to the core and it evidently meant a great 
deal to him." "A Gentile," says Jones, speaking for himself, 


"would have said that Freud had few overt Jewish characteristics, 
a fondness for relating Jewish jokes and anecdotes being the most 
prominent one." 

It seems that the great man had inherited his sense of humor, 
his skepticism and the high evaluation of Jewish wit from his 
father, the wool merchant Jakob Freud, who had the habit of 
pointing a moral by quoting a Jewish proverb or anecdote. 
Jakob Freud was admired by his son who became a raconteur of 
those Jewish stories long before he became interested in the 
psychoanalytic exploration of wit and its relation to the uncon- 
scious. Already in 1897 Freud writes to his friend, the Berlin 
physician Wilhelm Fliess, that he has begun to collect "profound 
Jewish stories." It is not without significance that this communi- 
cation follows a comparison which alludes to one of those 
anecdotes: he reminds the friend that they share a wide area 
of research ("you the biological and I the psychological 1 ') like 
the two schnorrers, one of whom gets the province of Posen. 

The correspondence with Wilhelm Fliess* presents an excellent 
picture of Freud as a younger man who turned his interest, at 
first hesitatingly, later determinedly, to the new field of psycho- 
pathology. In those intimate letters in which Freud freely speaks 
of his personal and professional life as well as of his recent re- 
search, Jewish jokes are again and again quoted or alluded to. 
In 1897 he expresses the hope that he will arrive at the basic 
insights into the psychology of the neurosis, if his constitution 
can stand it. Here is an allusion to the well-known anecdote in 
which a destitute Jew sneaks into the express train to Karlsbad 
(the Czechoslovakian health resort) without a ticket, is caught, 
thrown out at each station and each time more and more brutally 
treated. At one of his stations of suffering an acquaintance sees 
him and asks where he is journeying to. The answer is: "To 
Karlsbad, if my constitution can bear it." Allusions to the same 
joke also occurred tp Freud later when he interpreted one of his 

A few other instances: Freud reports in a letter that he had 
been mistaken in one of his earlier theoretical assumptions about 

* Freud, "Aus den Anfangen der Psychoanalyse/' Brief an Wilhelm Fliess 
(London: Imago Publishing Co., 1950). 


the etiology of hysteria and he ought really be dissatisfied and de- 
pressed. His hopes of fame, of riches and independence,, of 
security for his family and himself were frustrated since that 
concept about hysteria had proved erroneous: "Now I have to be 
again quiet and modest and have to worry and to save. There 
the little anecdote from my collection occurs to me: 'Rebecca, 
take the dress off; you are no kalle (bride) any more/ " A year 
later he sends the friend a part of his self-analysis, the first in 
the history of science, and remarks that it is entirely directed by 
the unconscious in accordance with the principle of Itzig, the 
inexperienced horseman, who is asked, "Where do you go?" and 
answers, "How should I know? Ask the horse!" 

Students of Freud's style in which the personality and its his- 
tory are reflected could have discovered that the same joke still 
influenced the shaping of a comparison twenty-three years later. 
In Freud's book The Ego and the Id, published in 1921, the rela- 
tion of the ego, which represents reason and common sense, to the 
id, from which our drives emerge, is compared with that of the 
rider to the horse which he tries to bridle. The simile is ex- 
tended: "As the rider who does not want to be separated from his 
horse frequently can't help leading it where it wants to go, thus 
the ego usually fulfills the will of the id as if it were its own." 

While Freud was writing his Interpretation of Dreams he 
considered it impossible to disguise his own dreams, but he was 
unwilling to renounce his most important discovery on account 
of such discretion. In this dilemma, he reported to Fliess, he be- 
haved like the rabbi who was asked by a couple for advice about 
what they should do. They have a rooster and a hen, wish to have 
roasted chicken for the holiday dinner and cannot make up their 
mind which of the two animals they should kill. "If we kill the 
rooster, the hen will feel hurt, and if we kill the hen, the rooster 
will be grieved. What should we do?" The rabbi decides: "Kill the 
rooster!" "But then the hen will be grieved!" "Yes, that's true, 
then kill the hen." "But, rabbi, then the feelings of the rooster 
will be hurt!" "Well, let him feel hurt." 

When Freud sent the first sheets of the finished book to the 
printer in 1899, he was dissatisfied with his own work and re- 
membered the joke in which Uncle Jonas is congratulated by his 


nephew, who has heard that he is engaged to be married* "And 
what is your bride like, Uncle?" "That's a matter of taste. J 
don't fancy her." 

The monumental book on the interpretation of dreams was 
published in 1900. Five years later Freud's Wit and Its Relation to 
the Unconscious appeared. In this work, whose psychological 
profoundness has not yet been fully appreciated, he takes much 
of the material for his analytic exploration from the source of 
Jewish jokes. We find here stories about schadcken and schnorrers, 
rabbis and unlearned people, poor and rich Jews; cynical,, 
sophistical and skeptical jokes. It is obvious to any reader that 
the writer loves those Jewish anecdotes, familiar to him since 
his boyhood. Here are examples of subtle and coarse, pessimistic; 
and hopeful Jewish wit, of genuine Jewish humor and of wit 
whose essence is generally human and of which only the acces- 
sories are Jewish. 

In sharp contrast to so many previous attempts at evaluating 
and interpreting the character of Jewish humor, Freud's point 
of view is pervasively psychological. In penetrating the facade of 
those precious stories, in demonstrating their technics and m 
revealing their means and methods, he shows their emotional 
meaning. In their psychoanalytic interpretation he arrives at 
the recesses of the heart that beats in them. Cautiously removing: 
layer after layer, he demonstrates their secret tendencies, their so- 
cial and individual skepticism, their knowledge of the quintes- 
sence of life and the profundity of their views. In the combination 
of an incomparable psychological perceptiveness and of inde- 
pendence of thinking, this explorer looks at the Jewish wit from 
an elevated point of view, aware of its national and religious as 
well as of its social premises, yet seeing in it expressions of all 
humanity and humanness. He comments on the self-irony of Jew- 
ish humor: "I do not know whether one often finds a peo- 
pie that makes so unreservedly merry over its own shortcomings." 
He contrasts stories invented by Jews and directed against Jewish 
social and religious manners and mannerisms with jokes made 
by anti-Semites making fun of the same foibles and failures. Those 
jokes, made by Gentiles who ridicule the Jews, "are nearly all 
brutal buffooneries in which the wit is spoiled by the fact that the 


Jew appears as a comic figure to a stranger." The Jewish jokes 
which originate with Jews know and acknowledge the weaknesses 
of their people, "but they know their merits as well as their short- 
comings/' In a conversation, Freud agreed with me that the self- 
ironical and sometimes even self-degrading character of Jewish 
humor was psychologically made possible only under the premise 
of an unconscious or preconscious awareness of the high value and 
worth of one's people, of a concealed national pride. Only a 
person who stands on an elevated place can jump down. Only a 
proud man can stoop to ridiculing himself. 

In my thirty years of friendship with Freud I heard him, of 
course, frequently tell a Jewish anecdote or quote a witticism, 
but it was never for its own end, never for mere amusement. In 
most cases the comical story was used as illustration to a point he 
had made, a comparison of a certain situation or behavior pattern 
or as an instance of the human experiences we all share. It 
was as if he brought the joke forward as an example of how 
wisdom is expressed in wit and much more rarely wit in wis- 
dom. Most of the instances I remember were quoted in connection 
with subjects we had just discussed in our conversation which 
concerned private matters or professional problems as well as 
scientific questions. Some of those witty stories compared actual 
situations of that time with various aspects of the troubled life 
of the Jews. The need to make something very clear let him 
call up some funny Jewish anecdote from the treasures of his 
almost photographically faithful memory. On rare occasions 
such illustrative or comparative purpose was replaced by some 
whimsical or satirical trend in which he made fun of the stupidity 
or hypocrisy of some antagonist. 

It is regrettable that the psychological inquiry into the secret 
meaning and significance of Jewish wit as revealed in Freud's 
classical book has not been continued in psychoanalytic litera- 
ture. Very few psychologists have recognized the ramifications of 
Freud's exploration of this kind of humor. While he was still 
alive, I published several articles on Jewish humor in which I re- 


sumed his research and tried to discover new characteristics of 
Jewish wit. In a conversation with me, Freud acknowledged that 
I had succeeded in pointing out two features he had not empha- 
sized. "We laugh at those stories, but Jewish wit is not merry in 
its character. It is a kind of humor that leaves sadness in its wake. 
One of those profound proverbs proclaims: 'Suffering makes one 
laugh too/ Another characteristic feature of a Jewish joke is its 
emotional intimacy, a special atmosphere in which it is born 
and bred." 

Here are a few instances which show occasions on which Freud 
remembered a Jewish story and the special manner in which he 
used it. I discussed with him once the case of a patient whom he 
had referred to me for psychoanalytic treatment. The young man 
suffered from a compulsion neurosis, especially from syphilo- 
phobia, a fear of being infected by spirochete, and had de- 
veloped a complicated system of measures to protect him from 
the danger of venereal infection in everyday life. He refused, 
for instance, to sit down on a chair where a person had sat who 
could have been acquainted with another whom he suspected 
of having syphilis. The patient found out that on a certain oc- 
casion his parents had taken a man who was the uncle of such 
a suspected person to the theater in their automobile. The 
patient refused to use his parents' car any more. Pointing out the 
possibility of infection by touch, he insisted that they buy him 
a car of his own. In discussing the secondary gains of the neurosis, 
the different advantages the patient gains from his illness after it 
is established, Freud told a Jewish anecdote: A man in an insane 
asylum rejects the food there and insists on having kosher dishes. 
His passionate demand is fulfilled and he is served food prepared 
according to the Jewish law. On the next Saturday the patient 
is seen comfortably smoking a cigar. His physician indignantly 
points out to him that a religious man who observes the dietary 
laws should not smoke on Saturday. The patient replies, "Then 
what am I meschugge (nuts) for?" Since Freud told me that story 
I have often quoted it to patients, illustrating that they get 
various secondary compensations in the form of attention, love 
and even financial support from others from whom they expect 
help as a result of their neurosis. 


I still remember the occasion on which Freud told a story about 
Moses, because it was the first time he mentioned the theme of 
the Egyptian nationality of the leader, the theme he many 
years later dealt with in his book on Moses and monotheism. We 
discussed the typical forms of the myths of the birth of the 
hero which Otto Rank described and analyzed later on in his 
well-known book. Freud told me that the feature which recurs 
frequently in those myths namely, that the hero is drawn out 
from a lake or a river is a symbolical expression of the delivery 
process of the infant. He interpreted the situation as an archaic 
presentation of the embryo's position in the mother's womb, 
surrounded by amniotic fluid, and pointed to the stories in 
which the stork pulls babies out of the water. Returning to the 
origin of Moses, he quoted the following story: The boy Itzig is 
asked in grammar school, "Who was Moses?" and answers, 
"Moses was the son of an Egyptian princess." "That's not true," 
says the teacher. "Moses was the son of a Hebrew mother. The 
Egyptian princess found the baby in a casket" But Itzig answers, 
"Says she!" 

It was during the Psychoanalytic Congress at Munich in 1913 
(my God, is it really forty years ago?) that Freud told me 
another Jewish story, this time stimulated by the scientific 
conflict with C. G. Jung which came into the open at the sessions 
of the congress. It had become quite clear that Jung and his 
school were in full regression from the essential findings of 
psychoanalysis, and that they were reinterpreting and misin- 
terpreting the discoveries of Freud which they had acknowledged 
before, in the sense of a new "higher" concept. They wished to be 
recognized as psychoanalysts although they had replaced the 
concept of the libido, of the energy of the sexual drives, by a 
vague, general idea of the force of life, had put a general conflict 
between it and inertness in the place of the struggle of the ego and 
of the drives which psychoanalysis made responsible for the 
neurosis and so on. Freud spoke with me of Jung's disavowal 
of the importance and significance of sexuality for the etiology 
of the neurosis. He had mentioned before the fact of Jung's theo- 
logical history to which he attributed a decisive role in the new 
concept denying the forces of sex. It was perhaps this factor, as well 


as Jung's previous leanings toward anti-Semitic views, which 
brought a Jewish story to Freud's mind: A rabbi and a parson 
decide to found a new common religion. The new faith is to be 
established on the basis that the two priests will agree on certain 
compromises and concessions. The parson begins with the de- 
mand: "Instead of Saturday, Sunday has to be observed." The 
rabbi agrees. "In place of Hebrew, Latin has to be the language 
of the service." "Good," says the rabbi. The parson enumerates 
other concessions concerning rituals and religious observances. 
The rabbi concedes them too. At the end it is his turn, and the 
pastor asks, "And what are your conditions?" "I have only one," 
replies the rabbi. "Jesus Christus has to be radically removed." 
The meaning is clear: all those changes the pastor suggests con- 
cern only external things, are not essential for the differences 
between Judaism and Christianity. But if Jesus Christus is "radi- 
cally" out, what remains then but Judaism? Freud, by thus com- 
paring the attitude of the rabbi with that of Jung, wanted to con- 
vey that Jung, in removing the decisive role of sexuality from the 
concept of psychoanalysis, brings the new science back to the 
views of old psychiatry. 

Here is another instance of a discussion of scientific problems 
at which the memory of a Jewish joke occurred to Freud when 
he tried to find a simile for a certain attitude. The joke emerged 
as an afterthought by way of an illustration to an idea, but was, 
as always, poignant and pungent. We were speaking of a group 
of neurotic cases in whose symptomatology manifestations of 
instinctual drives are blended with expressions of unconscious 
guilt feelings. Freud pointed out that such an entente cordiale 
between the demands of the drives and the powers of conscience 
can often be discovered in the psychology of masochistic and 
obsessive characters. He told me of a case in which a grossly self- 
ish tendency, which was conscious, was put into the foreground 
disguising an intense unconscious need for atonement and pun- 
ishment. "Do you remember the anecdote of Jacob at the syna- 
gogue on Yom Kippur?" Freud asked. The premise of that story 
is based on the fact that seats for the service on the High Holidays 
have to be paid for, and poor Jews often cannot afford the price. 
Jacob pleads with the sexton at the door of the synagogue to let 


him enter because he has to convey an important business mes- 
sage to Mr. Eisenstein who is attending the service. But the sexton 
is adamant in his refusal, saying, "I know you, you gonnif 
(scoundrel)! You only want to get in to daven (to say your 

On another occasion Freud introduced a new point of view 
into the interpretation of Jewish humor, a point of view which 
was not considered in his book on wit. I told him a comical story 
I had heard at that time in Vienna. In the middle of the night the 
superintendent of the house of the Spanish ambassador in Vienna 
is awakened by the repeated ringing of the bell of the palace. 
He finally opens the door and finds two well-groomed, dignified 
gentlemen who say again and again one sentence: "Wir syn zwa 
Spanische Granden" ("We are two. Spanish grandees"). The 
Viennese is astonished to hear them repeat those words pro- 
nounced in unmistakably genuine Yiddish, but understands, 
finally, that the two men ask him urgently to waken the am- 
bassador, to whom they bring an important message from Spain. 
The ambassador, at last brought to the scene, greets the two men 
with great respect: they are really two Spanish noblemen of 
highest rank who have brought a diplomatic message from the 
king. The Viennese superintendent hears them converse with the 
ambassador in pure Castillian, and learns that the two men who 
cannot speak German had run into a Polish Jew on the express 
train from Madrid to Vienna. They made him understand who 
they were, that they would arrive at night in Vienna and asked 
him what they should say in order to get their message to the 

Freud not only liked the little story, but thought it worthy of 
an analytic interpretation at which he arrived by bringing the two 
Spanish grandees in intimate connection with the Polish Jew 
whom they encountered. He told me that the concealed meaning 
of the anecdote becomes transparent when one assumes that the 
two Spanish noblemen could have been Jewish. That means that 
one would have to look at the situation of the story from the point 
of history. There was a long phase in the history of the Spanish 
and Portuguese Jews during which they really became noblemen, 
served the kings of Spain in high functions, were diplomats and 


statesmen and so on. The Maranos, baptized Jews and descend- 
ants of Jews, played a very important role at the Spanish court. 
Seen in such a historical light, the secret meaning of the story 
becomes revealed: there is a subterranean tie between the two 
Spanish noblemen and the Polish Jew, a tie represented by tradi- 
tion and origin, the same which connects the Ashkenazim and the 
Sephardim. It is not accidental that the two Spanish grandees 
were confused with Jews by the Viennese superintendent who is 
taken aback by what they tell him. 

In his analytic investigations Freud often follows the develop- 
ment of Jewish wit back from mirth to misery, from the fanciful 
to the fateful. He shows us the unbroken spirit, the pride and 
dignity of his people because also from the ridiculous to the 
sublime it is but one step. 

npHE FOLLOWING three critical essays deal with Freud's writing 
JL in the 1927-1930 period. I have selected those on which Freud 
commented in letters or conversation. These essays were originally 
lectures given during those years in the Vienna and Berlin 
Psychoanalytic Associations. 

I shall not attempt a precis of Freud's essay, The Future of an 
Illusion, but rather an interpretation of the main themes. I 
hardly think it valuable to restate Freud's ideas here. I shall 
more or less play the accompaniment to his melody. 

When we carefully study Freud's essay, we shall become aware 
of three main divisions. The first concerns itself with present 
cultural conditions, the second discusses religion, and the third 
offers a picture of a future culture. We feel that the first division 
was originally intended to be the outstanding one; that Freud 
meant to develop it further. One passage seems to confirm this 

The composition of the whole, proceeding from broad prob- 


lems of civilization to a single cultural question, is admirable. 
Artfully, and yet with utter naturalness, everything inexorably 
centers around those problems which are most dear to the 
author. There is the eloquent overture, expressing the wish that 
we may get some inkling of the remote destiny of our culture. 
Then follows a passage dealing with the general cultural situ- 
ation, mainly from the psychological point of view; the considera- 
tion of the conditions which engender culture; the description 
of the psychological requirements of civilization the renuncia- 
tions, prohibitions, lacks, and compensations. Finally, Freud in- 
dicates what is the most significant element for the psychic in- 
ventory of a culture: its religious ideas. If we prefer to imagine 
this work as a symphony, this introduction represents the first 
movement. Here Freud sets forth a comprehensive psychological 
picture of the present state of culture. Sterling clarity and wisdom 
inform this picture, which for us serves the purpose of a cross 
section, disclosing all the strata formations of a culture. Totem 
and Taboo gave us an analytical account of the dark origins of 
our institutions. Here the institutions themselves are character- 

The future may judge this introduction, this all-embracing, 
serene portrayal of our culture, to be the most important essay 
Freud ever wrote. But not for the sake of its discussion of re- 
ligious problems, for these will be problems no longer. Critics, 
fettered as always to the present, may embroil themselves with 
Freud's attitude toward religious questions. But we can afford 
to take the longer view. Unmoved by opposition from analysts 
and non-analysts, we will continue to insist that this rich and pro- 
found introduction rather than the discussion of religion is 
the most valuable section of Freud's book. 

Let us compare this book with the one preceding it. Wherein 
lies the special value of this study about lay analysis? What part 
of its content will be considered its most significant one after 
twenty or fifty years? Perhaps the penetrating discussion of the 
problem and the elucidation of Freud's point of view? Not at 
all. Its significance will lie rather in this fact, that the essence of 
analysis is here represented with an impressive clarity never be- 


fore reached. The whole realm has been looked at closely by 
eyes that have not overlooked anything. 

The main section of the new book treats first the singular 
nature of religious ideas. It contains nothing with which we are 
not familiar from other writings of Freud. Even the role of 
infantile helplessness in the genesis of religion is not new, for 
Freud had discussed it previously in "Leonardo da Vinci." 

What follows is a dialogue, handled with the same conversa- 
tional grace and sharpness that we have come to know from per- 
sonal association with Freud. An opponent is introduced who 
follows the author's thought processes and extends or contradicts 
them. This opponent and gainsayer is no stranger to us; he 
played the same part in Freud's earlier essays. He was not always 
personified, but he was always present. In all his works Freud 
anticipated objections, replied beforehand to arguments. This 
alternate examination and self-assertion was a sign of his strict 

Let us consider the opponent for a moment. As always, the 
interlocutor is a cultured intellectual with the highest moral 
sentiments, accessible to reason, and not intolerant of strong 
emotions. Still, our impression is that this time Freud has treated 
his opponent somewhat cavalierly. The opponent might have 
raised more cogent objections and questions. Freud might have 
chosen a sounder opponent say, from among the real opponents 
of his ideas. I could, for example, conceive as a really competent 
opponent one of those subtle Catholic priests with whom it is 
a delight to debate. These are men full of life's wisdom and 
gifted with a remarkable intellectual sensitivity. They have been 
pupils of the stern logic that derives from Thomas Aquinas. 

At one point in Freud's debate there is no longer any basic 
cleavage between the two opponents. Suddenly Freud writes that 
their disagreement is not irreconcilable; it will vanish with time. 
He could never have forced such a conclusion in a dispute with a 
priest trained in the dogma. Here the end would have been un- 
relenting disagreement. But perhaps Freud deliberately wished 
to present a cultured, worldly scholar as the type of his opponent. 
We must not anticipate his intentions. 

But even accepting this type of opponent, the discussion still 


should have taken a different turn. The attitude of an intel- 
lectual of our times toward the religious question is insincere, 
and it cannot be made straightforward through discussion. The 
cultured class of mankind, or more strictly, the intellectual upper 
class, evince the same shamefacedness and evasiveness toward 
their religious needs that they do toward their sexual and eco- 
nomic needs. Indeed, in the religious realm these needs are often 
more equivocal, harder to name for what they are. The pious 
man and the freethinker are frequently not so far apart as they 
seem. They have their insincerity in common. The religious man 
believes and does not reflect too much on his faith. The free- 
thinker does not reflect too much on his lack of faith because 
he does not reflect very much about anything. We might sum up 
this strange attitude toward religion by saying that most educated 
people do not believe in God, but they fear him. Although 
science has proclaimed that God is dead, he lives on underground. 
And this is where scientific analysis must begin its work. The 
corpse must be exhumed and we must determine whether it is 
really dead. There is little doubt that official disbelief can live 
very comfortably alongside of unofficial belief. 

This unconscious insincerity regarding religion would naturally 
alter the course of the conversation. The opponent would probably 
accede to most of Freud's arguments and demonstrations, de- 
clare that he was himself an atheist, and yet cling unconsciously 
to the faith he had denied. It would be especially hard to reason 
with him just because he apparently shares our views. Similarly, 
many obsessional neurotics will accept fully all the results of 
analysis, but will nevertheless cling to their illness. 

Freud assures us that he himself considers his book quite harm- 
less. He warns, however, of the fierce reactions it will call forth 
and of the discrediting effect it will have upon psychoanalysis. 
Since the appearance of The Future of an Illusion I have heard 
all kinds of objections to it, and none of them has been 
from the religious point of view. I am prepared to refute them 
all, but I shall spare the religious objection, for these contradict 
themselves. The first assertion is that religion is unimportant 
today and that Freud exaggerates its importance for the human 
souL I do not believe this. I think the importance of religion in 


the psyche has not yet been sufficiently appreciated or investigated 
by psychoanalysis. Freud is still arguing in the spirit of the 
eighteenth century, these objectors claim; his reasoning continues 
the direct tradition of the Enlightenment. It is all so old-fash- 
ioned. Note that here, for once, psychoanalysis is attacked for 
lacking originality. quae mutatio rerum! 

Freud has, of course, emphatically indicated that views similar 
to his have been the common property of many great men. 
Nevertheless, that objection is all at sea. What a difference there 
is between Voltaire's passionate "crasez 1'infame!" the trench- 
ant, rationalist phrases of the French Encyclopedists, and the 
quiet, objective argumentation of Freud. And where, in the 
literature of the Enlightenment, do we find a study of the psy- 
chologic source of religious ideas? Where do we find an analytic 
explanation of them and an appreciation of the human meaning 
behind them? 

Like the former objection, also the second is voiced by people 
who are apparently completely in agreement with Freud's re- 
ligious views. They accept Freud's presentation, but immediately 
they point to the metaphysical value of religion. They claim 
that it contains transcendental truths in symbolic form; that 
it expresses the Absolute. 

This argument brings back through the window what has 
already been thrown out the front door; for what here appears 
as a transcendental absolute is nothing but disguised, emascu- 
lated, and intellectualized religion, in its true form an object of 
shame. Moreover, it is easy and convenient to make statements 
about the transcendental because they need no proof and by their 
very nature admit of none. These objectors know everything 
about the transcendental that has ever been known; that is, noth- 
ing at all. 

The last objection grants the logic of Freud's reasoning but 
challenges his right to extend to the collective psyche conclusions 
that have been derived from individual analysis. Now, psycho- 
analysts have often discussed this methodological question. What 
precautions are necessary in translating the results of individual 
research to the realm of folk psychology? What limitations must 
be imposed on such translation and what heuristic justification 


does it nevertheless have? We certainly do not wish to overlook 
methodology. But it is gradually becoming clear that up to the 
present methodology has always been the best scientific excuse for 
doing no scientific work at all. Nowadays it is possible to devote 
'oneself to restful vacancy of mind without danger of reproach; 
for it is easy to impress the philosophic layman with the declara- 
tion that one is busy with considerations of methodology. It has 
become a pretext against all unequivocal statements. Method- 
ology is the most convenient haven for intellectual sterility. 

I have expounded these objections because they represent the 
position toward religious problems of many cultured persons. 
What is common to all of them is the sidetracking of the main 
question. Moreover, we see that these objections all correspond 
to typical defense reactions that we meet in analysis. The first, 
which holds that religion is unimportant, is the exact counter- 
part of the minimizing defense mechanism, the reduction to 
triviality. The second, which insinuates metaphysics to the fore, 
corresponds to dual conviction in obsessional neurosis. The third 
objection, which emphasizes the methodologic point of view, 
represents the forepleasure stage of intellectual activity. This is 
a sort of Hamlet compulsion which inhibits all real scientific 
work by continuous delay of action. But all these objections 
show the common feature of the first: acceptance of Freud's 
reasoning. None of those who raised these objections took issue 
from the standpoint of the believer; but every one of them un- 
consciously was a believer. 

To my mind, then, the enemy acts, not so much by frank 
resistance to Freud's essay, but otherwise; paradoxically, by that 
very preliminary intellectual acceptance which is his facade, a 
fortress behind which resistance can develop. A concession is 
made so that it will not be necessary to draw the logical con- 
clusions. This implies that the book will not alter the mental 
indolence and inner insincerity which dominate our society. 

Since we are in the midst of considering religious problems, 
it will not be inappropriate if I remind you of the miracle of 
St. Anthony's fish sermon. It is recounted in the Book of Saints, 
and we also have it in the simple, lovely verse of our great 
collection of German folk poetry, Des Knaben Wunderhorn. The 


saint finds the church empty and goes to the fishes to preach to 
them. The carp come swimming up, and the pike, the cod, the 
crab. The tortoise, 

. . . as a rule 

A slow-enough fool, 

Rose from the depths in a hurry 

To hear the saint's story. 

Each and every word 

Delighted the cod. 

Fish great and fish wee, 

Of high and low degree, 

Turned their heads to the east 

Like reasoning beasts. 

And then the close, so powerfully and bitterly expressed in 
Mahler's F Major chords: 

The sermon now ends; 
Each on his way wends 
The pike remain thievish, 
The eels much love lavish, 
Upside-down walks the crab, 
Carp eats all he can grab 
The sermon was nice 
No one thinks of it twice. 
Each goes on as he begun 
And my story is done. 

There is another point we must raise. Freud emphasizes that 
psychoanalysis as a method of research is impartial and that the 
defenders of religion may also use it to determine the affective 
significance of religion. Certainly we will all agree to this. But 
analysis depends upon who practices it; and the situation is 
considerably changed when we are attempting to analyze the 
content of truth in religion. When a priest practices analysis, 
he does not cease to be a spiritual shepherd, and gradually the 
original aims are displaced, the ideational base shifts and con- 
tradictory tasks arise. When this happens, psychoanalysis pays 


the piper. Undeniably, many priests have shown a broad under- 
standing of analysis. But along with this is an inflexible, though 
cleverly concealed desire to put it to work in the service of the 
only Holy and Apostolic Church. For the first we thank them; for 
the second we say, no thank you. Everyone who has followed the 
literature knows that the Church is preparing to take over 
psychoanalysis. But it cannot be denied that the Church is one of 
the strongest repressive forces in our society. When it utilizes 
analysis, it places it in the service of repression. In our practice 
we have often noted how an obsessional neurotic not only cleverly 
weaves newly acquired knowledge into his system, but often uses 
it to enlarge his obsessional patter. This is precisely what happens 
to analysis in the service of religion. 

It it all very well to be tolerant toward the religious view, but 
we must guard against extending our tolerance also to analytic 
aberrations. One of our Berlin colleagues recently wrote that 
analysis, like religion, has the same basic belief in goodness; both 
demonstrate how powerful and triumphant the good is in us all. 
Certainly we cannot object to this, providing we stipulate that 
analysis can also demonstrate precisely the opposite. One might 
believe in a world order in which the good is unmercifully pun- 
ished and evil is its own reward. If our distinguished colleague 
clearly sees the hand of God guiding human destiny, we shall not 
venture to question him. But we may add mildly that the direc- 
tion in which that digitus paternae dextrae points is extremely 

At another point in Freud's discussion we should like to 
expand on his remarks. He points out that religion also may 
give license to sin freely once more after repentance. The brood- 
ing Russians have concluded from this that it is necessary to 
sin in order to partake of divine grace. But this is the attitude 
not only of certain Russian types. Long ago, in the beginnings of 
Christianity, there were many gnostic sects, such as the Cainites, 
the Carpocratians and others, whose contempt for the flesh went 
so far that they determined to gratify all its lusts in order to 
destroy it. Many a girl was burned on a medieval stake because 
she had been accused by a priest of valuing her hymen too highly, 
thereby prizing a thing which was of no value with respect to 


her eternal salvation. The Holy Mother Church often emphasized 
that asceticism was sinful. Only wanton pride inspired one to free 
oneself from the eternal curse of the flesh which God, in His 
inscrutable counsel, had made man's fate since the days of Adam. 
The Church here enjoins sinning. Extra ecclesiam non est salus. 

Freud's passages on the future of religion and its slow, fateful 
dissolution are so clear and impressive that we need only draw 
the reader's attention to certain portions. There are sentences 
here which in their courageous directness, their monumental 
weight, and diamond-hard clarity, are reminiscent of the open- 
ing of the Beethoven C Minor Symphony. Thus destiny knocks at 
the door of a culture. 

We turn now to the last section of Freud's book. Here he con- 
siders what the future will be like after religion disappears as a 
significant element in our cultural complex. The ideal of psy- 
chology, the supremacy of the intellect, will then take hold; 
education for reality will begin. The man of the future will con- 
front with resignation the limitations of his own nature and will 
renounce all illusions. 

Here, together with the opponent, we recognize the logic and 
importance of Freud's ideas; but our skepticism prevails. We feel 
inclined to counter not with a harsh "no," but with the gentle 
"]e doute" of Renan. While we cannot but agree with Freud 
that religion is doomed, that it has run its course, we cannot 
help doubting the suggestion that men are capable of living with- 
out illusions. Education for reality is certainly a consummation 
most devoutly to be wished; but the most striking attribute of 
reality is its unpleasantness. We secretly feel that reality is some- 
thing others should accept. The illusion of religion will vanish, 
but another will take its place. The supremacy of the intellect 
which Freud foresees would never be more than superficial; basi- 
cally men would still be guided by their instinctual desires. We 
do not deny the possibility that men will some day be ruled by 
science. But they will still be men, which is to say, frail, incon- 
stant, more or less unreasonable beings who are the slaves of 
their instincts and who will never cease to strive after ephemeral 
pleasure. And men will continue to pray, "Lord, give us this day 
our daily illusion." 


Experience must have convinced Freud that science has not 
made the scientists any better; that they are neither more patient 
nor happier nor even wiser. Science is by no means identifiable 
with the scientists. Freud himself once wrote the following lines 
which indicate that this view was not entirely strange to him. "If 
another form of mass education replaces religion, as socialism 
seems at present to be doing, the same intolerance against out- 
siders will persist. And if the scientific viewpoint ever gains a 
similar hold over the masses, the result will be no different" 
The rule of reason was instituted once before to the accompani- 
ment of "fa ira" and in its honor several thousand heads fell 
under the guillotine. The supreme intellect will at best be es- 
tablished as a puppet king for the powerful government of the 
instincts. I am afraid that the rule of reason will never prevent 
anyone from being utterly unreasonable. Freud overestimates 
both the extent and the strength of human intelligence. It is, 
in essentials, hardly different from the animal's intelligence; and 
in many instances even this comparison seems a low form of 

Freud points out that the supremacy of the intellect is only 
possible if mankind undergoes a profound change. He emphasizes 
the fact that the human psyche has certainly undergone a de- 
velopment since earliest times and is no longer what it was at the 
beginning of our history. He counts among these changes the 
introjection or "internalization" of the outward compulsion, the 
creation of the superego. No one denies this development, but 
development does not necessarily mean progress. What appears 
as progress subjectively is succeeded by retrogression, by reactions 
which annul all that has been attained and which distort its 
shape. The course of human history may be compared with a 
gigantic pendulum which swings back and forth as senselessly 
and unpurposefully as the life of the individual. The skeptic 
will even venture to question whether the strengthening of the 
superego is indeed such a valuable achievement of civilization. 
Perhaps this very internalization of outward compulsion has given 
.birth to ego impulses which either gradually smother the ego or 
break forth in a destructive explosion. At any rate, we see that 
in neurosis the demands of the superego restrain the individual 


from- the work of civilization as effectively as the demands of the 
ego. Indeed, these demands not infrequently coincide. The main 
question is one of proportion. The oversevere superego is just as 
cruel as external compulsion. It has ruined just as many lives 
and prompted just as many murders. The differences are not as 
fundamental as appears at first glance. We must remember that 
metamorphosis of the instinctual impulses from outer to inner 
compulsion does not imply any decrease in intensity. In fact, 
the process of repression itself strengthens these impulses. Fur- 
ther, in an organism which has been refined and differentiated by 
cultural evolution, stimuli of lesser intensity bring about the 
same effects which in a cruder, more resistant organism must 
result from extremely powerful stimuli. God has provided that 
the elephant can bear loads which would break the back of a 
horse. A blow which to a primitive man would have been like 
the prick of a needle would overwhelm a modern civilized man 
like a hammer blow. Perhaps man would actually be better off 
if God had not granted him the right of reason. 

In discussing the possibilities of cultural evolution Freud points 
to woman's intellectual limitations, which result, perhaps, from 
sexual prohibitions. But the peculiarity of feminine mental proc- 
esses does not imply inferiority. Analysis tells us, of course, that 
sexual censorship exercises a significant influence upon the 
thought functions. However, that is not conclusive proof that it 
alone is responsible for the special character of feminine intelli- 
gence. Perhaps here, too, peculiarities of the psychophysical struc- 
ture, anatomical differences which prevent their using their 
intelligence in the by no means always reasonable manner of 
men, account for the fact that women do not think as men do. 
Certainly, they have their feet more firmly on the ground and are 
far more submissive to reality than men. We would not have much 
trouble finding both religious men and unbelievers who agree with 
the opinion of St. Jerome: "Tota mulier in utero" 

We suspect, however, that the supremacy of the intellect must 
fall because of the fundamentally unchangeable nature of man 
and the power resistance this will offer to any attempts of the 
intellect at aggrandizement. Freud has shown us clearly that re- 
ligion makes many claims which it cannot prove. Nevertheless, in 


all justice we must admit that there are exceptions to this. Re- 
ligion tells us, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." And this assertion 
is by no means hollow. Many believers splendidly demonstrate 
the truth of the maxim. We need only summon to mind the 
many pious men and saints who were especially beloved of God. 
But life itself also testifies to the truth of this precept. I shall never 
forget the happy, indeed rapturous expression of a poor idiot at 
a psychiatric clinic, and the reflection of it, alas so faint, upon the 
face of the physician who was treating him. Nay, I do not believe 
that, for the sake of intelligence, men will renounce stupidity, 
Like "liberty, equality and fraternity," unreason is a sacred, in- 
alienable human right. The history of all countries, and especially 
of our beloved Austrian fatherland, proves that men know how 
to defend this principle, if necessary with sword in hand. 

Freud believes that the voice of the intellect, faint though it 
may be, will eventually make itself heard. And he believes this 
will be a great event. He also foresees that the great god Logos 
will not be all-powerful. But unlike his opponent in the dialogue, 
he does not feel that this is sufficient reason for despairing of the 
future of mankind and renouncing all interest in the world and 
in life. Here we may venture to interject that renunciation does 
not follow from a less optimistic conception of the future, for 
our interest in life and in the world is stirred mainly by othsr 
than intellectual factors. It is fed by powerful instinctual aspira- 
tions. Even though we believe that after us comes the deluge, we 
may still retain intense interest in this life perhaps even more in- 
tense because of that belief. 

We feel inclined to say that in the first part of this essay Freud 
has imparted knowledge. In the latter part he has made a confes- 
sion of faith. We shall not withhold our great admiration for this 
brilliantly delineated picture of the future; but it seems to us less 
compelling than the foregoing. Moreover, it is admittedly more 
dependent on subjective factors than the rest. It is not outside the 
bounds of possibility that this picture of Freud's will become 
reality; but it is certainly striking that his view of the future in 
the main seems to conform to our wishes, Whereas the main sec- 
tion of Freud's essay shows the future of an illusion, we may say 


with little exaggeration that this last section presents the illusion 
of a future. 

We might presume to sketch another picture of the future, 
without abandoning analytic principles. Human civilization is 
essentially constructed like an obsessional neurosis; it begins with 
reaction formations against the suppressed instinctual currents. 
The longer a civilization lasts, the more successful are these re- 
strained impulses in gaining the upper hand; the scales tip 
steadily in their favor. We can study this process in the decline of 
Greco-Roman civilization. On the one hand, the Logos as repre- 
sented by Socrates and the doctrine of Sophrosyne in Greece and 
by Marcus Aurelius and by the Stoics in Rome, was literally the 
highest principle* On the other hand, the instinctual forces which 
had been so long dammed up began to overflow the walls which 
reason had already undermined and wrought the destruction of 
this civilization. Other peoples of unassailed vitality, less spoiled 
by civilization, following their instincts with untroubled confi- 
dence, not yet exhausted by the struggle with the forces of repres- 
sion, were then able to deal this civilization the death blow. Then 
the cycle begins again, for all that is here brought forth anew 
"deserves in the end nonentity." There is nothing to oppose this 
assumption that our civilization faces the same destiny; that the 
culture of our little peninsula of Asia will also collapse within a 
measurable space of time and that more vital and primitive 
peoples will bring about its end. It is one possibility among many 
others, and no more unlikely than the others. It is well to remem- 
ber, of course, that Freud also has presented his picture of the 
future not as a prophecy but as a suggestion worthy of considera- 
tion. He emphatically warns us against taking these reflections for 
more than just that. 

The future is closed to us; we labor on our corner of civiliza- 
tion like those weavers who never see the tapestry they are weav- 
ing. We do our work because we have no choice and we will not 
deny it because it gratifies us. The ultimate wisdom remains, 
"Cultivons noire jardin" 

Mankind, in the course of its historical development, has suf- 
fered three great disillusionments and humiliations. Let us com- 
pare the positions which the representatives of these three disil- 


lusionments have had toward religion. Copernicus, who proved 
that our planet had small claim to be considered the center of 
the cosmos, closes his book with an impassioned hymn to God, 
the creator of the heavens and the earth. Darwin, who forced 
man to surrender his title of the "crown of creation," still clung 
to religious belief as a sort of reservation against his theory of 
evolution. Freud shows religion as an illusion which should be 
eliminated from our concept of culture. 

The devout and cautious Copernicus did not dare to publish 
his work. But during those same years a liberty-loving man, 
Florian Geyer, became the leader of a movement which de- 
manded freedom from the compulsion of the Church and justice 
and equality for all men; a movement which abjured all the con- 
solations of heaven and stood stoutly for the principle that our 
kingdom is of this world. His plain, straightforward, uncompli- 
cated mind had not yet grasped that profound necessity which, in 
the words of Anatole France, decrees that "the law in its majestic 
equality forbids both rich and poor to sleep under bridges and 
to steal bread." Because of his outrageous ideas he was hunted and 
cut down like a mad dog by the henchmen of the throne and 
Church. Within these four hundred years there has been no real 
change; despite all appearances we still live in an era of intellec- 
tual coercion. But through those four hundred years the words I 
have seen engraved on the sword of Florian Geyer still glow with 
fire, and these words might well stand as motto for Freud's essay, 
"Nulla crux, nulla corona" 

The foregoing critical discussion was first delivered at one of 
our Wednesday meetings in Freud's home in December, 1927. He 
was in complete agreement with me about my condemnation of 
methodological evasions and said, "Those critics who limit their 
studies to methodological investigations remind me of people 
who are always polishing their glasses instead of putting them on 
and seeing with them." 

However, Freud rejected my pessimistic outlook. Although he 
admitted that his more favorable prophecy did not apply to the 


immediate future, he said that "in the long run" he had faith in 
the critical and intellectual capabilities of man. He thought 
these would not fail to fulfill themselves. In the discussion he also 
conceded that there were useful illusions which advanced civiliza- 
tion; he granted that in the past religion had been valuable as a 
force for education and progress; but he believed that now it had 
become a brake upon the progress of civilization and must be 
cast aside. After the meeting he said smilingly to me, "You are 
not at all the skeptic you think you are. I would call you a posi- 
tivist, because you are so thoroughly convinced that man will 
not progress." 


Now I am going to discuss Freud's interpretation of A Re- 
ligious Experience and generalize on the psychological sig- 
nificance of his little essay. 

It must be emphasized that the material on which his interpre- 
tation is based is extremely scanty. It consists of a brief epistolary 
communication* The facts are as follows: One day Freud, in the 
course of an interview, expressed his indifference to the life after 
death. Shortly afterward an American physician wrote to him re- 
counting a religious experience which he hoped would have some 
telling effect upon the skeptic. The physician told of how, when 
he was yet a student, he had been profoundly moved at the sight 
of the corpse of an old woman with a serene lovely face; and 
how this event had determined his religious views. When he saw 
this corpse on the dissection table the thought had suddenly 
flashed through him: No, there is no God. If there were a God he 
would never have allowed such a sweet-faced, dear old woman to 
lie dishonored in the dissection room. This was not the first time 
he had doubted the teachings of Christianity; but on this after- 
noon he resolved he would never enter a church again. An inner 
voice had admonished him to think well before he denied God, 


And his mind had replied to this inner voice: If I can be shown 
with certainty that Christian doctrine is true and that the Bible 
is the Word of God, I will accept it. 

In the course of the next few days God instructed his soul that 
the Bible is God's Word, that all the teachings about Jesus Christ 
are true and that Jesus is our sole hope. "After this clear revela- 
tion I accepted the Bible as the Word of God and Jesus Christ 
as my Saviour. Since then God has revealed himself to me by 
many indisputable signs/' The young physician then expresses 
the hope that God will reveal the truth to Freud's soul also. 

Freud, in attempting to interpret the story on the basis of this 
scant psychological evidence, takes the situation in the dissection 
room as his clue. The corpse of the old woman reminded the 
young physician of his dearly loved mother. The mother-longing 
of the Oedipus complex is aroused, and is accompanied by re- 
volt against the father. The unconscious desire for the destruction 
of the father found its way to consciousness in the form of doubt 
of God's existence. This is possible because of the associative and 
affective connection of the two concepts: God father. The 
mother-longing could be translated to the reason as justifiable 
rage at the abuse of the maternal object, especially since the 
child's mind believes that the father abuses the mother in sexual 

This new impulse, then, is no more than another guise of old 
emotions which have been transferred to the religious realm. 
And this impulse suffers the same fate as the old emotions. It 
subsides under the tremendous pressure of inhibition. The psy- 
chic conflict ends in complete submission to the will of the Father- 
God. The young physician becomes and remains a believer. 

This remarkable interpretation has been met with the criticism 
that the paucity of material disallows such far-reaching conclu- 
sions concerning the emotional processes of the young physician. 
I think, however, that in spite of this handicap Freud has suc- 
cessfully and lucidly established the connection between the 
impression at the sight of the corpse and the subsequent reli- 
gious conversion. We must admit that the insufficiency of the 
material obviated an investigation into the details of the psychic 
process. For psychological analysis it would certainly have been 


preferable if we had possessed more exact and exhaustive informa- 
tion about the mysterious conversion. However, it may be in the 
nature of things that the conversion remain mysterious. Dogma 
maintains that conversion is a process which is psychically and 
psychologically all but incomprehensible, since, for the most part, 
it is a manifestation of God's Grace. St. Augustine has impres- 
sively described how, at death, Grace inclines the soul of the sinner 
toward the Faith (if this be his destiny), and how divine virtue 
takes possession of the human will "indeclinabiliter et insurer- 
abiliteS' so that it is transformed into a new will. 

The physician's letter was written a long time after the ex- 
perience; nevertheless, in this case the analysis was unable to take 
into account either the later changes induced by memory or the 
psychic stratification, both of which would be necessary for a 
thoroughgoing analytic investigation. 

Let us try to explore some of the lesser elements which Freud's 
more general analysis passed by. 

Whence comes the profound impression made by the naked 
corpse of the woman? Freud's answer is that the sight of the 
naked old woman reawakened the mother fixation. The memory 
of the mother, therefore, stirs up mingled feelings of tenderness 
and sensuality. When we consider that the corpse is lying on a 
dissection table, we see good reason for diagnosing that there is 
also present a strong sadistic component of the sexuality of the 
young man. This sadistic element, transformed into intellectual 
aggressiveness, later proceeds to question the divinity. When, at 
the sight of the corpse, there flashed through his mind the thought 
that there is no God, not only was the mother-longing completed by 
the revolt against the father, but there was also a transference of 
the sadistic impulse back to the original object of childhood. 

In other words, the sight of the dead woman, who here un- 
consciously appears as a mother-surrogate, did more than revive 
longing for the mother. It also stirred the negative Oedipus com- 
plex and permitted the counter-impulses, intensified by reaction, 
to press to the surface of the psyche. Only after that sadistic 


reaction does the mother once more appear to the physician as 
the "sweet-faced, dear old woman." Not until then is the old 
Oedipus reaction allowed to appear in its original intensity and 
form: as revolt against the father. It is by no means immaterial 
that it was a dead woman, a naked corpse which prompted the 
old emotions. The sight of the corpse, by reawakening the un- 
conscious sadistic impulses, also caused the revival of the whole 
emotional constellation of the child. As soon as the one instinc- 
tual goal had been attained by the revolt against the Father-God, 
this regression could take place. 

It is noteworthy that the religious conversion of the physician 
proceeded from a sight experience. The analyst is well acquainted 
with the intimate connection between the peeping impulse and 
desire for knowledge, the investigatory impulse. The child fre- 
quently experiences the frustration of the earliest forms of this 
impulse when he is punished for improper desires to look at 
what he is not supposed to see. Thus the little boy is scolded for 
his sexual curiosity about the body of his mother or his nurse. 
There is a regression to this early experience in the situation at 
the dissection table. Along with the unconscious memory of the 
mother, the old rage against the father is also aroused. The father 
always represented interference and prohibition to the child's 

It is significant that in the processes the physician describes, 
the sexual strivings appear to focus in the eye, while the forbid- 
ding and repressing forces take the ear for organ. The profound 
impression the sight of the woman's corpse made upon the young 
doctor was succeeded by doubts which manifested themselves in 
the form of an inner dialogue. A warning voice speaks within 
him and his mind replies to it. It is not hard to understand what 
aspects of the development of the child are here repeated. The 
inner voice is a manifestation of the superego, of the father of 
childhood who has been absorbed into the ego. It is he who warns 
against the release of the impulses and the defiance to God. Here, 
then, the uprising of obscure impulses is put down by the mem- 
ory of the father's voice and of the voices of his representatives 
whom the child revered and dreaded: the teacher and the priest 
There is a curious reaction to this prohibition. The ego ("my 


spirit") responds: If I can be shown with certainty that Chris- 
tian doctrine is true and that the Bible is the Word of God, I will 
accept it. Such demand for proof is an old story for theology. 
Again and again characters in the Bible and in the other holy 
books plead for some proof of religious truths which will be 
accessible to their senses. They want signs and miracles, and signs 
and miracles are always vouchsafed them. 

The counterpart of this religious phenomenon is to be found 
in obsessional neurosis. Often enough, in the treatment of obses- 
sional neurotics, we meet with those characteristic dependent 
clauses which are presumed to establish the strange connection 
between such an omen and an expected or dreaded event. Psy- 
chologically, there is no great difference between the religious 
pattern of the American physician and the obsessional idea that 
seizes upon a neurotic patient as he walks down the street: "If the 
streetcar passes that lamppost before the automobile does, my 
father's operation will be successful." Cause and effect notions of 
this kind derive their affective value from the belief in the om- 
nipotence of thought Such ideas are always arising out of the 
inexhaustible reservoir of the unconscious. Yet in this case we 
may also assume that preconscious memories of the tradition of 
Christianity were responsible. At any rate, the profound, linger- 
ing influence of Christian doctrine is indicated by the fact that 
three times in close succession the Bible is spoken of as the "Word 
of God." ("If I can be shown with certainty that ... the Bible 
is the Word of God"; "In the course of the next few days God 
instructed my soul that the Bible was God's Word . . ."; "After 
this clear revelation I accepted the Bible as the Word of 
God . . /') This inconspicuous, though for the analyst pointed, 
repetition serves as an unconscious confession. It leads us to 
believe that the reactionary tendencies may be traced back to 
the religious doctrines which were dinned into the ears of the 

We can now reconstruct what went on in the psyche of the 
physician during those anguished days when God revealed to 
him that the Bible was His Word. By reaction, the religious 
doctrines of childhood have been lent increased effectiveness in 
the unconscious memory. This effectiveness is based originally 


on familiar phrases heard so often about the parental household 
and carrying with them powerful affective overtones. This is 
particularly interesting in this connection because it is these very 
religious doctrines which contribute, at a certain age, to over- 
coming the infantile Oedipus complex, thus paving the way for 
the child's entrance into the social order. Freud remarks that the 
conflict in the young physician seems to have manifested itself 
as a hallucinatory psychosis. We might add that this auricular 
hallucination of the young doctor's was a regression to religious 
phrases with an aura of strong emotion. The conversion took 
place through unconscious, affective cathexis of childhood impres- 
sions, especially those pertaining to childhood doctrines and 

The poet, wishing to present such an experience in dramatic 
form, quite justly reproduces in objective action the process which 
appears here as subjective. Though he can rely for symbols only on 
sense impressions, he will nevertheless manage to convince us 
that his character has been experiencing profoundly affective 
childhood impressions. The young doctor's mysterious conver- 
sion, with its undercurrent childhood religious impressions, may 
remind many readers of the Easter Eve scene in Goethe's Faust. 
Here the sound of the Easter bells in the church and the singing 
of the Easter choral, "Christ Is Risen," makes the doubt-ridden 
and despairing Faust remember the days of his childhood: 

This sound, habitual to my dearest youth, 
Now summons me again into this life. 

It is these childhood impressions that make the sound of the 
bells and the choral song powerful, soothing, heavenly tones. In 
both situations the "holde Nachricht," the "sweet message," is 
reinforced by the overtones of the childhood feelings it once 

Though the release of the impulses has been accomplished and 
the unconscious memories reawakened, our young physician is 
once more seized with the old yearning. The religious teachings, 
the childhood fables which had gone to oblivion, become real 


to him again and he believes as fervently as he once had. The 
mother-longing is here isolated from the longing for the loving 
and protecting father. 

This, then, is the inevitable result of the conflict; love alone 
cannot resolve it. Freud's conception of the emotional process 
may be schematically outlined in this way: Sight of the naked 
body of the dead woman (unconscious) reawakening of the 
mother-longing; revolt (wish for the death of the father)-(con- 
scious) doubt of the existence of God; revulsion against this and 
conversion by reaction. This outline requires a psychoanalytical 
supplement: the wish for the father's death (in the displacement: 
doubt of God) unconsciously provokes the release of intense ef- 
fects in the young man, which essentially are nothing less than 
fear for his own life (fear of castration). These effects could not 
reach the consciousness; but they evidence themselves first in the 
emergence and later in the triumph of the admonishing inner 
voice. If we may translate unconscious processes into the lan- 
guage of consciousness, this is, roughly, the train of thought: If 
I revolt against the father and kill him (the Father-God), I shall 
be punished just as this woman was, who now lies on the dissec- 
tion table. Our analytic experience gives us ample justification for 
these deductions that 611 in the gaps in the emotional process. 
For analysis has indicated that fear is a reigning factor in the 

Once the death wish has emerged (i.e., the doubt of the exist- 
ence of God), the prevailing attitude is now no longer determined 
by ambivalence, but also by the alternation of defiance and uncon- 
scious anxiety. This vacillation between hatred and affection, 
defiance and anxiety, lasts for days. The denouement is a crisis 
in which the hate impulses, intensified by fear, attempt to force 
themselves into the consciousness in all their primitive might. 
And, involved as they are with the Oedipus complex, they 
threaten to drag this complex to the surface. At the height of this 
crisis the aggressive and hostile impulses are then thrown back 
upon themselves under the influence of the unconscious fear of 
castration. This is a re-enactment in a telescoped form of whaf 
took place when the Oedipus complex was first suppressed. Sub- 


mission to God and the religious tradition are therefore condi- 
tioned by the re-emergence of the fear of castration. 

The overpowering homosexual tendency of the young physi- 
cian, in its highly sublimated, religious form, now makes him a 
proselytizer; he strives to unite his brothers ("brother physician" 
in the letter to Freud), to unite all mankind in love for the father. 
The "saviour tendency" is a well-known peculiarity among cer- 
tain educated classes of the American people. How much stronger 
must this tendency become when the individual in question com- 
mands such profound and mysteriously won knowledge of the Ab- 
solute. But it cannot be completely concealed that even this all- 
embracing love is essentially nothing but a reaction to extreme 
rebellious impulses. Its explosive quality, its eagerness to convert, 
derives from those repressed aggressive impulses. Just so an un- 
conscious desire betrays its intensity by the severity of the inhibi- 
tion. The very violence is diverted to the service of the opposing 
factors. We can now understand the development in the uncon- 
scious of the young doctor's conversion as a regressive process. 
Thereby we have cleared up much of the mystery. Now we can 
also propound a better evaluation of the emotional situation 
which prevailed when the letter was written: 

The wild desires no longer win us, 
The deeds of passion cease to chain; 
The love of Man revives within us, 
The love of God revives again. 

His religious faith, which has been gained at the cost of so 
much conflict and which is retained despite all the arguments of 
reason, is therefore the counterpart of the extreme rebellious 
tendencies from which it was wrested. The fathers of the Church 
would doubtless describe the psychic experiences preceding his 
eventual enlightenment as one of those salutary ordeals which so 
frequently precede the conversio. 

Once more there wells up from the hidden sources of the psyche 
a wave of rebellion and anger, finally to be engulfed in the under- 
tow. The young man's revolt against a cruel and tyrannical God 
yields under the pressure of psychic reaction. "Die Trdne quillt, 


der Himmel hat ihn wieder." ("The tears burst forth, and 
Heaven has regained him.") 

So much for the psychological analysis of this case. Wherein lies 
the more general scientific significance of Freud's essay, the 
broader implications of this individual case? I believe that these 
four pages of Freud's essay analyzing this religious experience 
are a great advance toward a deeper general understanding of 
the conversion process. Modern religious science has collected a 
wealth of material on the psychology of conversion. These works 
treat of some of the points we must consider here.* William 
James finds the unconscious which he conceives in the old, static 
fashion of considerable significance in conversion. More recent 
literature on the psychology of religion deals with psychoanalytic 
findings as well. Nevertheless, the fundamental psychic processes 
of conversion were not clarified. However, we can understand 
them if we, disregarding the features peculiar to the case Freud 
has discussed, reflect upon the essential result of his analysis. It is 
well to proceed from cases just such as this, which are charac- 
terized by a sudden, mysterious illumination. When we arrive at 
an understanding of what motivates such "conversione fulminea" 
(so de Sanctis terms these cases, in contrast to the examples of 
"conversione progressiva")** we shall also approach an under- 
standing of the psychic processes in slower, more gradual con- 

Analytic psychology now presents the remarkable conclusion 
that the most important prerequisite for conversion is the uncon- 
scious emergence of powerful hostile and aggressive impulses di- 
rected against the father; that these undergo displacement and 
are expressed as doubts of God. The essential feature of the con- 
version process consists in the emotional reaction against this 
uprising in the unconscious of hate and revolt. The affection 

* Cf. Joh. Herzog, Der Beruf der Bekehrung, 1903; W. James, The Varieties 
of Religious Experience, 1903; E. D. Starbuck, The Psychology of Religion, 
1910. Further, the well-known more modern works of de Sanctis, Girgensohn, 
Oesterreich, etc 

** Sancte de Sanctis, La Conversione Religiosa (Bologna, 1904), p. 53. 


which has been born out of reaction to the "bad" impulses will 
then express itself in utter submission to the love object and 
faith in the doctrines, commands, and prohibitions it represents. 
The close resemblance between the effects of love and the phe- 
nomena of religious conviction will undoubtedly seem strange to 
conscious psychology; but pastoral theology for several centuries 
has accepted it as a matter of course. The turning point of the 
psychic process is the appearance of the unconscious fear (fear of 
castration) which follows in the wake of the emerging hate im- 

Freud's little essay has great significance because it clarifies 
this process. Within his discussion of the individual case there lies 
the solution to the enigmatic universal case. Conversion arises out 
of an eruption of the impulses which provoke unconscious hate 
tendencies toward the father. This in turn sets in motion a whole 
mechanism of reaction through fear and affection. All the various 
metamorphoses of conversion and the literature on the subject 
shows how many these are can be included under this psycho- 
logical explanation. Whether the psychic process is instigated by 
any special event, as here, or whether it results from prolonged 
conflicts, the ecstatic state of the ego is the product of that uncon- 
scious reaction. 

This essay of Freud's has also opened broader vistas for re- 
ligious science. Conversion is so closely related to revelation that 
the two expressions are frequently used interchangeably. It would 
be more accurate to say that the core of many cases of conversion 
is a kind of mysterious revelation. We do not realize the scope of 
Freud's little essay until we extend the results to the field of cul- 
tural history. The conclusions of this analysis prove to be valid 
also for phenomena of the collective psyche. Every revelation 
arises out of revolt against the divinity, and evinces that powerful 
reaction which results from fear and affection. The tradition of 
the Revelation on Mt. Sinai, upon which Jewish and Christian 
religion is based, tells how the Israelite tribes revolted against 
their chief, how they were intimidated and ultimately subjected. 
Here we have a personal, intrapsychic event represented as an 
external, historical happening; as uprising followed by threats 
and punishments which compel the people to obey. The voice of 


Jahveh becomes audible and pronounces the commandments, 
the "Thou shah" and 'Thou shalt not." Psychoanalysis has 
shown that these at heart are nothing but the suppression of un- 
conscious incestuous and insurgent impulses. What appears as 
"veritates a coelo delapsae" are distinctly of earthly origin and 
earthly motivation. Freud's theory about the case of conversion is 
equally valid for the Revelation on Sinai. 

For this reason I have hopes that the young psychoanalysts of 
religion, whom the official religious psychologists superciliously 
condemn, will come to even more revealing, and perhaps conclu- 
sive, discoveries. We are still a long way from a thorough psy- 
chological understanding of the arcane ways of religion; but ana- 
lytic research has come closer to piercing the mysteries than all 
previous research. 


rriHE essay "Dostoyevsky and Patricide" served as preface to 
A that great Dostoyevsky edition in which the sources, outlines, 
and fragments of The Brothers Knramazov are compiled and 
critically evaluated.* Unquestionably, this was the proper place 
for this study which offers such original and important insight 
into the life and creation of the great novelist. 

In their preliminary remarks the editors express their gratitude 
to Freud for composing "specially for the occasion this deeply pen- 
etrating analysis of Dostoyevsky and his Brothers Karamazov." 
Does this mean that the essay was merely an occasional piece? In 
more than one sense it was. Certainly, the occasion gave Freud 
the opportunity to put old reflections into an appropriate form. 
And it is equally certain that the occasion did not evoke these re- 
flections. But while we welcome the stimulus that led him to em- 
body his thoughts in writing, it would have been preferable had 

* F. M. Dostoyevsky, Die Urgestalt der Bruder Karamasoff, Editors: Rene 
Fulop-Miller und Friedrich Eckstein (Mtinchen: R. Piper & Co., Verlag). 


they not been composed "specially for the occasion." For in that 
case, there is little doubt that Freud would have added some very 
welcome material and would have gone far beyond the bounds 
set by a preface. And some of his remarks which now seem some- 
what forced interpolations could have been developed within a 
broader framework. 

Freud first pays tribute to the richness of Dostoyevsky's per- 
sonality. He describes him as a poet, neurotic, moralist, and sin- 
ner. It is as though Freud had slipped open a fan to reveal the 
curious lettering and interesting pictures on the folds. Little 
space is devoted to Dostoyevsky the artist, and Freud intimates 
that psychoanalysis must lay down its arms before the problem 
of the writer. But, we may assume, only before the biological 
aspect of this problem, before the question of special innate gifts. 
For psychoanalysis has a great deal to contribute in questions of 
artistic creation. It can explain much about unconscious instinc- 
tual forces and mechanisms, as well as the obscure psychic pre- 
dispositions which govern conception and form. Indeed, it has 
already done a great deal in this field. We have found that the 
processes of artistic creation are far less inscrutable than has been 
thought, although they are still mysterious enough. 

Freud feels that Dostoyevsky is most vulnerable as moralist. 
When we consider him as a moral man, we must seriously object 
to his ideal that only one who has experienced the lowest depths 
of sinfulness can attain the highest morality. He who alternately 
sins and then, in repentance, makes lofty moral demands of him- 
self, has in reality greatly simplified matters. For what is morality 
but renunciation? Dostoyevsky's own life, Freud continues, was 
torn between alternate outbreak of the impulses and repentance. 

Our first impression of this judgment is that it is stern but just. 
On second thought it seems sterner than just. Yet why does 
Freud's discussion of the concept of morality strike us as dubious 
and inadequate? It is because his negative statement seems to have 
more truth than his attempted positive formulation. We freely 
grant that his is not the highest stage of morality who alternately 
sins and then sincerely repents. But while once upon a time re- 
nunciation was the sole criterion of morality, it is now but one of 
many. If it were the sole criterion, then the upright middle-class 


philistine, to whose shabby imagination submission is natural, 
and to whose blunt senses renunciation is easy, would be morally 
far greater than Dostoyevsky. If we pursued this sentiment we 
would arrive at the proverb: A good conscience is the best rule 
of health. This is all very well, but it merely explains why there 
are so many sluggards, so many contented and satiated men who 
have gained "wretched self-complacency," as Nietzsche put it, 
out of renunciation. Renunciation in itself is, after all, not so 
important. What we respect is renunciation that is the victory 
over powerful impulses. We cannot overlook the intensity of 
temptation in our concept of that compromise we customarily call 
morality. Where there is no sin there is no religion. Religion 
would not last for a day if the heart of man were relieved of guilt 
(and affiliated ideas like taboo, unclean, and their like). 

Let us not succumb to shallow and conventional judgments; 
we must perceive that morality resides in the struggle with drives 
and not in the victory over them. In this sense the criminal who 
abandons himself to his vicious instincts can in many cases be 
considered more moral than the solid citizen who escapes his in- 
stincts by renouncing them. Satan, too, was an angel like the 
others and he remains a great theologian before God and against 
God. The concept of renunciation seems obvious only in the most 
superficial sense. Its full meaning unfolds to us only when we 
understand the part played by the instinctual goal. For psycho- 
logically, renunciation is another method of gratification of the 
instincts, a method which sacrifices crude material pleasure for 
the privilege of enjoying that pleasure in fantasy. The instincts 
are again victorious, but in sublimated form, and the victory can 
be attained at small cost. The differences between this kind of 
gratification and others are only quantitative. 

Freud believes that Dostoyevsky's kind of compromise with 
morality is a typically Russian trait. In reality it is a universal hu- 
man trait. Only in the extremes between one emotional state and 
the other is this a national peculiarity, that is, a quality depend- 
ent upon the history and destiny of a people. Such a struggle be- 
tween the demands of the instincts and the requirements of so- 
ciety will take a certain form and have such an outcome according 
to the period and the culture of the community. In the case of 


Dostoyevsky, these two factors have left their unmistakable im- 
print on his compromise with morality which is in itself a com- 
promise. Throughout his life the great artist unconsciously stood 
in the heavy shadow of that unfortunate error which nineteen 
hundred years ago separated mankind into saints and sinners. 
The dominance of this view in his psyche explains the hyper- 
trophy of his conscience and the radical swings between sin and 
repentance. We children of another age, which appears as a pro- 
gressed one to simpler spirits, are no longer capable of fully 
understanding the psychology of the Russian people of this pe- 
riod. No one who has not grown up in this cultural milieu and 
has not early undergone the profound influence of Christianity 
can project himself into the feelings of these people. Religious 
upbringing added a new, more refined form of gratification of 
the impulses to the old ways: the voluptuousness of giving one- 
self up for lost, of knowing that one was damned. It is very hard 
for us to comprehend emotionally the orgies of passion and suffer- 
ing which were the psychological aftermath of this attitude. 

It was such factors that prescribed the fate of Dostoyevsky's in- 
stincts. They also were responsible in part for his moral views. 
Dostoyevsky would never, for example, have admitted that a 
man, however moral he be, can experience inner temptation with- 
out that experience being a surrender to it. He would take an 
even sterner stand than Freud's, declaring that the very appear- 
ance of forbidden impulses is in itself immoral. He would insist 
upon the letter of the Saviour's parable: he who merely looks 
with desire upon his neighbor's wife is an adulterer. This urgent 
moral imperative leads us to a strange fatalism, for sinning in 
thought is inevitable. Therefore, the sinful act does not matter. In 
fact, the unconscious guilt feeling requires it. Whoever knows 
himself damned has no reason to shun any of the byways on the 
road to hell. Nor has the hangman who is leading a murderer to 
the gallows any reason to expect that the condemned man will 
be docile and make no trouble. Dostoyevsky's life shows that he 
harbored such temptations and fantasies always with a deep feel- 
ing of guilt, and with spells of violent abandon. 

To Freud's moral ideal the complete renunciation as soon as 
the temptation appears Dostoyevsky would rejoin that it was 


certainly the purest and most beautiful, but that God in His in- 
scrutable counsel had not designed this way for mortal man. 
Numerous saints of the Church are precedents, he would say, that 
above all he who attains virtue through sin and repentance is 
pleasing to God. In the light of human frailty, Freud's moral pro- 
gram would seem superhuman to Dostoyevsky. And how the 
pharisees would distort and make a mock of it, extolling their 
own renunciation to God, and putting by all suggestions that they 
have anything in common with sinners. 

It is understandable that, with such psychic predispositions, 
Dostoyevsky resolved this inner conflict by bowing completely 
before all secular and ecclesiastical authority. We may regret this, 
but we cannot condemn it. Freud points out that Dostoyevsky 
failed "to become a teacher and liberator of mankind; instead he 
joined forces with humanity's jailers." Freud adds, "The cultural 
future of mankind will have little to thank him for." 

Now it is perfectly true that Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoyevsky 
sought the shelter of the old jail that he was used to from child- 
hood. In keeping with his time and his milieu, he was not eager 
to inspect the spick-and-span new ones. Loving the old illusion, he 
did not care to exchange it for a modern one with the fine-sound- 
ing name of freedom. He saw that progress was marching stoutly 
along on the wrong track, and he chose to remain outside of the 
procession. He shared the admirable prejudice about a more 
splendid future for mankind; but he felt that life without re- 
ligion would be as empty and meaningless as is reality. He pre- 
ferred to cherish the old illusion and we cannot take him to task 
for this. 

"The cultural future of mankind will have little to thank him 
for." Very true, for everything points to this, that the men of the 
future will look upon thinking as a kind of infectious disease 
which prevents the possibility of being happy. (Perhaps they 
will discover with some satisfaction that already many of the 
scientists of our time have acquired immunity to this serious 
malady.) But whatever may be our opinion about this future, it 
is clear that gratitude will not be one of its virtues. We know 
that the men of our time are mediocre, capricious, petty, mean, 
and wretched. We know that they were thus in earlier times; and 


we have no reason to think that in the future they will be gen- 
erous, resolute, noble, helpful, and good. If they should turn out 
so, they would have to thank Dostoyevsky from the bottom of 
their hearts. Not, however, for the religious and political goals 
he sought. (The Russian soul will not be the redeemer of the 
human race any more than the German soul.) The future will 
have very little use for his Christian or national program. But 
then, neither do the ethics of Homer, the Bible or Shakespeare 
govern our lives any longer. Today Goethe's political views seem 
provincial and antiquated to us. The close of his Faust, in which 
the Catholic heaven opens, impresses us as a painful discord amid 
music of the spheres. Schiller's nationalistic and social ideas have 
meaning only for adolescents. For the apostolic life of the older 
Tolstoi, whom we revere as a poet and psychologist, we have only 
-pity and an almost superior tolerance. 

The political and religious opinions of great poets are simply 
not important. Reforming mankind is not their task on earth, 
nor do they hold the future of humanity in the hollow of their 
hands. Heavy industry and munitions works are much more in- 
fluential. Any petty boss in a political party can advocate politi- 
cal and social programs. The ward heeler's smile is mightier than 
the pen. Every statesman and political leader of today who helps 
the insulted and injured win their rights has a juster claim to 
the title of ethical liberator than the writer whose art portrays 
their wretched fate for us. 

But the poet can show us human beings who are mirrors of 
ourselves and to whom we are mirrors. And on this stage of the 
world he presents the drama of the human condition, its coldness 
and darkness and effort, the rise and decline of our fates. He ex- 
tracts some meaning from the misery of man as well as from his 
absurd aspirations and desires. Who can do this but one blessed 
of God a writer like Fyodor Michailovitch Dostoyevsky, whose 
political and religious ideas seem so abstruse, limited, and foolish 
to us? That future civilization which may owe nothing to Dos- 
toyevsky should nevertheless honor him for his creation of charac- 
ters whose terrible and calm genius shakes the utmost depths of 
oiar souls. He has offered the men of the future insights that are 
almost visionary. He has offered them wonderful and strange 


emotions which surely are beyond the power of social reformers 
or apostles to give. His religious and political beliefs have come 
to nothing his God has been dethroned long ago. But the prayer 
that was breathed by his creative spirit will be mightier than all 
the prayers he addressed to the God of the Christians. That 
prayer, in the words of the hymn of Hrabanus Maurus, goes: 

Veni, creator spiritus: 

. . . Accende lumen sensibus. 

Freud's critical attitude toward Dostoyevsky, for whom, cer- 
tainly, he has no great love, becomes gentler and more objective 
as soon as he leaves off making evaluations and steps into his own 
field of depth-psychology. Here there is no more caution, no more 
feeble argument, and he masterfully opens the hidden way to the 
life of emotions. All philosophical differences cease to matter, all 
divisions of period and culture disappear, and a man stands naked 
before us, shipwrecked in a tempest, but stranded on Prospero's 
island, where his most secret thoughts are recognized. Where 
Freud thinks as a psychologist and not as a moralist, he no 
longer bothers his head about the Commandments. He sees the 
man alone, suffering at the insufficiency of human existence, his 
genius caught in the snares of his environment. 

It was merely by chance that a great writer was the object of 
this analytic study. The advantage and desirability of such an ob- 
ject is that the man reveals himself as other men cannot. Those 
revelations are often oblique and obscure, sudden flashes which 
illuminate one corner of his being, leaving the greater part in 
even deeper shadow. 

But Freud's analysis of Dostoyevsky's unconscious attachment 
to his father fell like a long shadow upon his impressionable ego 
and colored forever after the nature and effects of his malady. 
The father's mysterious influence ruled his life and work. It was 
this force that drove him into the abyss and exalted him to the 
heights. With a few short strokes Freud draws a picture of the 
history of a man's psyche, of the determinants of his illness and of 
the meaning of his symptoms. Freud has thrown more light upon 
Dostoyevsky's being than has any literary critic or biographer. 


The crowning point in this analysis is the explanation of the 
writer's malady. Freud shows how a powerful instinctual desire 
may turn about and attack the desirer himself; how in an epileptic 
fit the "other self enters the ego and how the death of this other 
is well-nigh an experience of the death of the ego itself. 

From this point the analysis broadens and by subtle degrees 
Freud approaches the major problem, the essence of this person- 
ality. He provides the long-sought explanation of the daemonic 
elements in Dostoyevsky's life and work. He shows them to be the 
play of hidden emotional forces against opposing impulses. The 
daemon is not alien to the ego, but merely alienated. Daemonic 
impulses are not newcomers in the psyche; they are merely the 
reappearance of old, submerged drives. The inner relation be- 
tween Dostoyevsky's fate and that of his characters becomes 
clearer. In both there is waged the same struggle between ele- 
mental drives and the powers of conscience, a perpetuation of 
the more ancient struggle between the still feeble ego and the 
outer world. 

Freud has wonderful insight into how such conflicts were bound 
up with Dostoyevsky's religious and nationalistic views, however 
apart they may seem. He shows us how they figured in both the 
personality of the writer and of his characters, for these latter 
are personifications of the potentialities of the ego. They are the 
developed offshoots of the ego. When Freud links up Oedipus, 
Hamlet, and the Brothers Karamazov, drawing comparisons be- 
tween them as various facets of the same latent content, he thereby 
contributes profoundly to our understanding of the basic drives 
which impel men's lives, whatever the times, the culture, the 
race or the person. The laws have been obscure, but they are 
becoming ever more accessible. 

The last section of the study concerns itself with an extremely 
interesting interpretation of Dostoyevsky's passion for gambling. 
Freud's surprising, but persuasive theory is that this passion is 
derived from the masturbatory compulsion in the child. The un- 
successful efforts to overcome the habit and the resultant self- 
castigation find their parallel in the compulsion to gamble. This 
observation illuminates a complex and little-understood aspect 
of Dostoyevsky's life. 


We may notice an abrupt transition between this section and the 
main theme. Perhaps our impression is that the author has turned 
arbitrarily to this new subject because it interests him and not 
because it has any special connection with the whole. And yet 
there is a very definite organic connection. What inspires the ef- 
forts to suppress masturbation is nothing else but fear of the 
father. This Freud intimates in a single word at the end of the 

Unfortunately, Freud breaks off his analysis at this point. Had 
he continued, I believe he would have pointed out how the gam- 
bling passion later assumes a form whose motivation and mecha- 
nisms are akin to certain obsession symptoms. Gambling, which 
never had as its end money or gain, becomes a kind of question 
addressed to destiny. It is a form of oracle which the modern 
psyche readily accepts, although this latent meaning does not 
become conscious. Now, recalling that destiny is the ultimate 
father-surrogate, we see the significance in the unconscious of this 
questioning. Originally it sought to discover whether or not ex- 
pectation of evil was justified. In other words, would the threat- 
ened punishment for the trespass be carried out or would the 
angered father forgive the son? Good or bad luck stands as symbol 
of the answer. Observing the rules of the game is the psychologi- 
cal equivalent of obedience to the compulsive neurotic symptoms. 
Uncertainty plays the same role in gambling as it does in the 
compulsion complex. Take, for example, a game like patience. 
Here we can see clearly the oracular meaning, which is obscured 
in other games where new players may enter late and where the 
prime purpose seems to be gain. 

We have certain criticisms to make, even as we realize that this 
is the most valuable psychological work on Dostoyevsky we pos- 
sess. Our first criticism is directed to the section just discussed. 
In this section Freud adduces the example of a story by Stefan 
Zweig. Which are the connecting links? The following: here the 
gambling compulsion of Dostoyevsky, there the same passion in 
one of the characters of Zweig's story. Stefan Zweig has devoted 
himself to a study of Dostoyevsky. We must confess that these are 
few and very loose connections. They serve as the barest possible 


reason for dragging in such an illustration, but there is certainly 
no reason for the lengthy summary of the Zweig story. It seems 
strange that Freud, usually so good at ordering his material 
economically, should devote four pages out of a twenty-six-page 
study of Dostoyevsky nearly one-sixth, that is to a parenthetical 
illustration. With all due respect to Zweig's literary merit, we 
cannot help feeling that this is an error in proportion. It is as 
though a medieval artist painting the Passion of Christ should 
place in the foreground of the picture the bishop of his native 

There is another criticism, perhaps equally minor. In his intro- 
duction Freud separates Dostoyevsky's personality into four prin- 
cipal aspects: the poet, the neurotic, the moralist, and the sinner. 
Should he not have given recognition to another aspect, that of 
the great psychologist? (Perhaps Freud includes the psychologist 
with the writer, yet it would seem worthy of special mention,) 
Ours is a time when every mediocre psychotherapeutic practi- 
tioner thinks the soul is an open book to him and every assistant 
at a neurologic clinic who has read Freud with happy carelessness 
and thorough misunderstanding believes he knows the human 
mind up and down. In such a time as this, we feel, it would be 
fitting that one of the greatest psychologists should salute the 
writer who was one of his great precursors, a salutation out of his 
own solitude to the other's solitude. 

In this study the rapid, compressed style of Freud's last writings 
is evident, but here, in harmony with the subject, it is fluid and 
emotional in spite of its density. Many of his phrases are stamped 
forever in my memory because they were expressed in a language 
which was a rare union of succinctness and comprehensiveness, 
brcef ulness and delicacy, directness and richness of association. 

Our ultimate impression remains that this study of Freud's has 
an honored place in the scientific literature on Dostoyevsky and 
more. For this penetration into the deepest levels of the psyche, 
this revelation of a man's unique, hidden qualities and of the 
qualities he shares with all men such vision is something new in 
applied psychology, something which did not exist before psy- 



... I have read your critical review o my Dostoyevsky study 
with great pleasure. All your objections are worth considering, 
and certain of them, I admit, have hit the nail on the head. How- 
ever, there are some points I can advance in my own defense that 
are, you understand, not quibblings over who is right and who 

I think you have applied too high a standard to this trivial essay. 
It was written as a favor for someone and written reluctantly. I 
always write reluctantly nowadays. I know that you observed 
that this was so. Naturally, I am not saying this to justify hasty 
or distorted judgments, but merely to explain the careless archi- 
tecture of the whole. It cannot be disputed that the parenthetical 
Zweig analysis disturbs the balance. If we look deeper, we can 
probably find what was the purpose for its addition. Had I been 
free to disregard the place where the essay was to appear, I would 
certainly have written: "We may diagnose that in the history of 
a neurosis characterized by so severe a guilt feeling, the struggle 
with masturbation plays a special part. This diagnosis is com- 
pletely confirmed by Dostoyevsky's pathologic passion for gam- 
bling. For, as we see in a story by Zweig . . ." That is, the attention 
devoted to Zweig's story is not dictated by the relationship of 
Zweig to Dostoyevsky, but of masturbation to neurosis. Still, it 
did take an awkward turn, 

I will hold to my belief in a scientifically objective social 
standard of ethics, and therefore I would not .contest in the least 
the upright philistine's right to call his behavior good and moral, 
even though he has attained it at the cost of little self-conquest. 
At the same time I will grant your subjective, psychological view 
of ethics. Although I agree with your opinions on the world and 
present-day man, I cannot, as you know, share your pessimistic 
rejection of a better future. 

Certainly I subsumed Dostoyevsky the psychologist under the 
poet. I might also have charged against him that his insight was 
so entirely restricted to the workings of the abnormal psyche. 
Consider his astounding helplessness before the phenomena of 


love; he really only understands either crude, instinctive desire 
or masochistic submission and love from pity. You are also quite 
right in your assumption that I do not really like Dostoyevsky, 
despite all my admiration for his power and nobility. That comes 
from the fact that my patience with pathological natures is com- 
pletely exhausted in my daily work. In art and life I am intoler- 
ant toward them. That is a personal trait, not binding on others. 
Where do you intend to publish your essay? I think very highly 
of it. Scientific research alone must work without prejudices. 
With all other thinking it is impossible to avoid choosing a point 
of view, and naturally there are many possible ones. . . . 

Freud gave me permission in 1929 to publish this fine letter. It 
serves as an excellent refutation of the stupid allegations about 
Freud's dogmatism and his pessimistic view of life. 

The remark on Dostoyevsky's limited understanding of love 
gives me a welcome opening for quoting another of Freud's com- 
ments on love. "Les Cahiers Contemporains" published in Paris in 
1926 a little book called Au deld de I' amour which contained a 
questionnaire on the essence of love beyond the realm of sex. 
Freud wrote: 

My Dear Sir: 

It is quite impossible for me to fulfill your request. Really, 
you ask too much. Up to the present I have not yet found the 
courage to make any broad statements on the essence of love, 
and I think that our knowledge is not sufficient. 

Very truly yours, 



The Confessions of an Analyst 

The Confessions of an Analyst 

WE ARE all proud of certain experiences and qualities, and 
ashamed of others, but we sometimes meet people who 
seem to be proud of things we would not boast of and others who 
are ashamed of qualities and circumstances over which there is 
nothing to feel disgraced. Self-observation and comparison of 
ourselves with these persons tell us that the same experiences or 
qualities would not awaken similar feelings in us. We speak of 
false shame and false pride when we meet with such inappropriate 

The new psychology has added some significant features to the 
pictures of false pride and false shame. Psychoanalytic experience 
shows that men or women do not always know what they are 
ashamed or proud of. Qualities or experiences which most people 
are proud to have are anxiously hidden by some as if they were dis- 
graceful. Other qualities are conspicuously exhibited, although 
most people would be embarrassed to mention them. There is 
more in such concealment or demonstration than meets the eye 
of the average observer. The opposite feelings of pride and shame 
are not independent of each other. There is a secret tie between 
them, and in most cases we discover that displaced or distorted 
shame is connected with false pride. A careful analysis which 
penetrates to the origin of these puzzling feelings often discovers 
that they owe their intensity to a process of displacement which 
shifts the emotional accent from important issues to apparently 
insignificant details. 

Here is an instance from personal experience of false shame. For 
many years I carefully hid a fact which other people might have 



mentioned with harmless pride, namely, that in my nineteenth 
year I had read every line Goethe had published. I went through 
the Weimar er, or Sophien, edition, 55 volumes of poetic works, 
13 volumes of scientific papers, the diaries in 15 volumes, and the 
letters in 50 volumes. I also read the many collections of Goethe's 
conversations, as well as most books and papers on Goethe which 
the Vienna University Library then had, and that was a consider- 
able number of books. It is not important that I read all these 
volumes, but why did I never mention the fact? Why did I keep 
it secret as if I were ashamed of it? 

There were many opportunities later on, for instance in con- 
versations with literary friends and writers, to drop a remark 
about my Goethe reading. I remember such an occasion which 
came rather late. It must have been about 1926 or 1927, more than 
twenty years after my Goethe obsession. One summer afternoon, 
Franz Werfel, Alma Maria, the widow of Gustav Mahler who 
had become WerfeFs wife, a friend, and I sat in the library of 
the beautiful cottage which the composer had bought in Breiten- 
stein on the Semmering near Vienna. Mrs. Werfel pointed to the 
many volumes containing Goethe's letters and told me that Mah- 
ler used to say, "I reserve this reading for the years of my old age." 
During the ensuing conversation on Goethe I felt the temptation 
to reveal that in my nineteenth year I had read all of Goethe in 
print, but the impulse disappeared immediately. There were other 
such occasions, but with the exception of my own analysis I 
never spoke of my compulsive reading of Goethe when I was a 
youth. Why was I ashamed of it? 

To understand my secrecy, I must revive an important part of 
my young years, and awaken painful memories of grief and re- 
pentance. I do not agree with those writers who assert that such 
resurrection of the past is not difficult. To change the tenses is 
easy only on paper, but not in emotional experience. To recall 
feelings and impulses one is ashamed of, to admit emotions to 
others which one has not even admitted to oneself, is by no means 
an easy task. Our memories are conveniently derelict in such 
matters and we are only too apt to forget not only events, but 
also feelings and tendencies we did not like in ourselves. The 


dialogue which Nietzsche once imagined should be varied in 
this sense: "Thus I felt and thought/' says my memory. "This I 
could not have felt and thought/' says my pride. And my memory 
gives in. Such compliance of our memories with regard to un- 
pleasant recollections is unavoidable. When one endeavors with 
all moral courage and sincerity to reconstruct what has been sup- 
pressed and repressed, one should be satisfied with incomplete re* 
suits and not expect to attain the impossible and complete re- 
construction of the past. 

As for my compulsive Goethe study, more than forty years ago, 
my memory is somewhat bolstered by reference to a concrete event 
of those days. The emotional experiences out of which my strange 
labor emerged are vividly recalled in reading a paper about them 
I wrote a few years later. In this paper I tried in retrospect to 
understand my odd behavior by means of the newly learned 
method of self-analysis. The paper lies on my desk now, as I 
write. It is entitled, "On the Effect of Unconscious Death- Wishes" 
^Ueber die Wirkungen unbewusster Todeswunsche"). I wrote 
it in 1913, seven years after the experiences out of which my 
Goethe study emerged. This article was published anonymously 
in 1914 in Volume II of the Internationale Zeitschrift fur Aerzt- 
liche Psychoanalyse edited by Sigmund Freud. A short footnote 
contains the following sentences: "Most of the following analysis 
is made on a person whose mental good health I have no reason 
to doubt: on myself . It would be petty, if we analysts would re- 
frain from the analysis of our own fantasies after our master and 
some of his students have published interpretations of their own 
dreams. The personal sacrifice appears small compared with the 
profit which could accrue to research out of such reports. It is 
to be hoped that the intellectual interest of the reader in these 
complex problems will lead him to forget that the person analyzed 
is the analyst himself/' 

The spirit of these sentences would be more commendable if 
the author had signed his name to his paper. I can partly excuse 
him, since in his analytic report some persons were mentioned 
who were then still alive. Reasons of discretion made it necessary 
to remain anonymous, but I suspect that discretion appeared to 


him then as the better part of valor. The young man however has 
become an old man in the meantime, and he thinks it is never too 
late for moral courage and for overcoming the fright we feel in 
facing up to our own thoughts. He still believes in what he wrote 
then, more than forty years ago, as his creed for psychological ex- 
plorers. In the following paragraphs I shall follow that fragment- 
ary analysis o 1913 as it was then published, supplementing it 
only as it concerns my Goethe study, which is, of course, not 
mentioned in the paper. Here are the events and experiences 
which preceded it, the soil from which this strange plant grew. 

My father died of arteriosclerosis on June 16, 1906, 1 was eight- 
een years old. This blow hit me a few days before the final exam- 
inations that open the doors of the university to the students. In 
those days this final examination did not signify merely the com- 
pletion of high school. In keeping with its name (Maturitat* 
sprufung) it marked the student's arrival at maturity, in addition 
to academic achievement. 

(The subject in which I had been least successful during my 
high school years had been mathematics* When I returned to 
school, after my father's funeral, I often felt the glance of my 
mathematics instructor resting on me. I must have looked rather 
miserable because the old man, who resembled my father in figure 
and bearing, looked at me as though he felt sorry for me. On the 
day before the examination, he stopped me on the stairs of the 
school, said a* few casual words, and slipped a little paper into 
iny hand. On it were the questions he would ask me the next day. 
He said, shortly, "Adieu" and went downstairs. He died two days 
after the examination, of the same disease as my father. This 
episode was also woven into the pattern of my obsession-thoughts 
later on.) 

The death of my father threw me into an emotional turmoil 
of the strangest kind. I did not understand then what had hap- 
pened to me and in me. I was unable to grasp the meaning of the 
emotions and thoughts which beset me, and I searched in vain 
for a solution, groping about as does a blind man for the exit 
from a room. 

The emotional conflict in me had its point of departure in the 
rejection of a thought which emerged on the evening of the day 


my father died. The beloved man sat breathing heavily and groan- 
ing in an easy chair. Two physicians were at his side and one of 
them ordered me to go to the pharmacy to get camphor for an 
injection. The pharmacy was about fifteen minutes distant, with 
no bus or tram available. I was well aware of the urgency of the 
order, I knew the injection should be lifesaving. I ran as if for 
my own life. I soon had to stop and catch my breath, and then 
I ran on again through the streets. Suddenly, the image of my 
father as already dead emerged in my mind. As I passed from run- 
ning to quick walking, I excused myself because I was out of breath. 
But then it occurred to me how much depended on my speed and 
I ran the more quickly to make up for the lost seconds. I reached 
the pharmacy, and then I ran back. Near collapse, I stormed into 
our apartment. My father was dead. I still know that I was in a 
terrible panic as if stunned by a strong electric shock, and I 
threw myself before the body, in despair. 

The next days were filled with grief and mourning. An in- 
creasing longing for the familiar face, for his voice and smile, for 
his kind words, tortured me. When I came home from school, I ex- 
pected to see him in the living room and was again and again pain- 
fully reminded that he was not there. When I heard a funny remark 
or when I got a good grade, I thought, "I shall tell Father," and 
only after some minutes, in which I imagined he would enjoy it, 
did I become aware that he was dead. Then there emerged that 
doubt which had first occurred on the terrible evening. Could 
I have saved Father's life if I had run more quickly? The doubt 
soon changed into self-reproaches and guilt feeling. I asked my- 
self often in those days whether I would trade my own life for 
his. I answered at first that I would, of course, gladly die, if he 
could live again. But this was internally rejected by the sophisti- 
cal argument that my longing for him would not be appeased 
if I were to die. 

The stake was then diminished in my thoughts and I said to 
myself that I would gladly sacrifice a few years of my life if I 
could have prolonged his. Inner sincerity forbade that I make 
myself believe that I was ready to bring about this sacrifice. At 
the end of such trains of thoughts and fantasies I had to admit to 


myself, with terror, that I was unwilling to sacrifice a single year 
of my life for him. 

In the following weeks my guilt feeling increased when I caught 
myself laughing at a witty remark or enjoying a stimulating con- 
versation. I thought it was wrong to forget even for a moment 
that my father had died so recently. The worst of all self-re- 
proaches came soon afterward. To my consternation, a wave of 
sexual excitement swept over me, against which I fought with all 
my might I could not fall asleep because the power of the sexual 
drive tortured me, and though only a few days after my father's 
death, I searched for any opportunity to have sexual intercourse. 
When at last I found this opportunity, my self-reproaches became 
intolerable. They had the form: Now, when all my thoughts and 
feelings should be directed to the dear departed, I am indulging 
in sexual pleasure. The power of the sexual drive was, however, 
stronger than my will; each sexual act was followed by depression, 
self-reproach, and repentance. I remember that I shuddered then 
at myself. I did not consciously believe in immortality, or in a 
life in the beyond, yet I could not rid myself of the thought that 
my dead father knew all about me: that I had slowed my running 
in the hour of his dying and that I felt sexual excitement in these 
weeks of mourning. 

I often had a kind of expectancy of impending calamity as if 
my father would punish me for my deeds. All this is too sharply 
expressed, too definitely stated. It really had the character of fleet- 
ing thoughts, of vague ideas that occurred to me again and again. 
But this is just the nature of incipient obsessions; it is in this 
typical form that obsessive thoughts first transgress the threshold 
of the conscious. Thus I feared or thought it possible that my 
father would let me become ill (and eventually die), and this 
obsession-idea made me especially afraid of venereal diseases. All 
these thoughts and fears were, of course, contradicted from within 
and rejected by reason; but what could reason do against the 
emotional powers which forced me to think and act as I did? I 
first realized how much method was in this madness; soon after- 
ward, how much madness was in this method. When I began to 
study psychoanalysis a few years later, I recognized how many typ- 
ical traits weare in my attitude and that they had almost the clinical 


character of an obsessional neurosis. Obsessions and counter- 
obsessions fought each other in me, and I was for many weeks a 
victim of those strange thoughts, compulsions, and emotions. 

Out of this situation emerged a compulsive way of working as 
the most conspicuous symptom. It was accompanied by the con- 
scious wish to accomplish something extraordinary for my years. 
During my high-school years I had been rather easygoing con- 
cerning my studies. With the exception of a few subjects in which 
I was at the top I had been lazy and careless. My father had often 
been worried about me when I had bad grades in mathematics, 
physics, and chemistry. He expressed his anxiety that I would 
not amount to much, if I continued to take life so lightly. 

The thought that I had caused him grief in this direction had, 
of course, occurred among iny self-reproaches, but the decision 
to give myself entirely to study and work seemed to emerge in- 
dependently from my remorse. I still remember that it suddenly 
occurred to me that I wanted to become famous the connection 
of my ambition with the memory of my father emerged through 
a detour later on. I thought that I wanted to give honor to his 
name in making my own name well known. 
i* I can recapture only rarely, and for a fleeting moment, a faint 
echo of the emotions I felt then. (Some years ago, a playwright 
in psychoanalysis described to me the first night of his first play. 
His parents had been poor immigrants and had lived poverty- 
stricken on the Lower East Side of New York, but they had made 
every sacrifice to give their children a good education. When the 
cheering first-nighters called the playwright to the stage, his 
glance fell at once on his parents. They cried. My patient said 
this moment was the greatest triumph of his life. Other successes 
followed, but nothing approached the satisfaction experienced 
in those few moments when he looked at the two old people while 
bowing to the applauding audience. While I listened to him, I 
had a vivid feeling of envy, and on this detour I recaptured the 
memory of an old emotion.) During the last illness of my father 
I had studied for that final examination with all my energy. I 
wanted to prove to him that I was capable of a great effort. I 
wanted to show him that I could achieve something. I had often 
studied secretly in the night because I wished to surprise him with 


the results of the examination. During the weeks after his death 
I had the bitter feeling that I had been too late. Destiny had not 
allowed me this chance to convince him that I could make a place 
for myself in the world of men. 

I had a similar emotion when Freud died in 1939. In the politi- 
cal unrest of those years I had not published anything of value, 
and Freud had written in a letter dated January 4, 1935, "I hope 
that you will give us still very valuable accomplishments of the 
quality of your first studies/' I had not told him that for several 
years I had been working on an extensive book investigating the 
psychology of masochism.* The book was almost finished when 
the news came that Freud had died in London. Again I had the 
feeling that a malicious destiny had, just a short time before its 
realization, thwarted my hope to showthis time to the admired 
man who had become a father-substitute that I could achieve 
something of value. 

After the death of my father I found myself compelled by an 
invisible power to study and work with all my energy. I could, 
of course, justify this sudden zeal by the fact that 1 was now a 
student at the university, but there was no doubt that I was pro- 
pelled by a passionate ambition which had been alien to me until 
then. I must confess, somewhat shamefacedly, that ambition has 
remained a great force in my life and has decreased only in these 
last years which bring me near to the age at which my father died. 

The situation in which I found myself was responsible for some 
of my new zeaL My mother, my sister, and I now had to live on 
the small income which the pension of an Austrian government offi- 
cial yields to the family after his death. I had to earn enough to 
support myself by giving lessons. It was necessary to finish my 
studies as soon as possible. While the lessons secured bread and 
butter, the work in psychology satisfied an early interest. I was 
soon able to support myself and become known as a successful 
student in scientific psychology. 

If this new ambition was somewhat intelligible, another kind 
of decision appeared, as if it were dictated to me from within. It 
came as the surprise of my young life. I do not remember any 

* Masochism in Modern Man, first published in 1941 (and. ed.; New York: 
Farrar, Straus and Co., 1949). 


onger when and under what circumstances the mysterious iin- 
>ulse emerged. I only know that there was suddenly the inner 
;ommand to read everything that Goethe had ever written. 

The thought had all the characteristic features of an obsession- 
dea. It came, so to speak, from nowhere; that is to say, it emerged 
[rom unknown sources. It was as if an inner voice issued a com- 
oaand without revealing a motive. There were also no emotions 
connected with the thought, so it seemed. It was as sober as the 
promulgation of a law. There were, later on, many motivations 
and rationalizations, but I still know that the first version of the 
obsession-idea was simply the "order" to read all the collected 
writings of Goethe. The emergence of this thought would have 
been easier to explain if Goethe had then been my favorite poet. 
But if I had been asked whose poetry I loved most, I would have 
answered without the slightest hesitation, "Heinrich Heine's." I 
had also at this time become interested in the works of Dostoyevsky, 
Nietzsche, Hauptmann, and Schnitzler. In short, I was more inter- 
ested in modern literature, which we students discussed with great 
animation, than in the classics. I had, of course, read many of the 
poetic works of Goethe during my high-school years, and I loved 
and admired them more than those of Schiller, whom the Ger- 
man literary critics then put side by side with the great Olympian. 
Like many of my student colleagues, I knew the first part of Faust 
and a considerable number of Goethe's poems by heart a very 
modest achievement shared with so many people growing up in 
the German culture. 

My decision was certainly not born out of the desire to read all 
that a poet had written. It must have contained a meaning un- 
known to me. I did not then search for the motivation for my 
thought; I submitted to it without the slightest protest. I remem- 
ber that the thought appeared to me at first as a kind of whim 
or fancy, as an interesting project, and I tried to regard it at 
first as we do our good intentions. I tried to diminish the severity 
or strictness of the order. I had not the faintest inkling that the 
idea had the power of an obsession-thought. I did not know that 
the idea which I considered as a casual one had the importance of 
a solemn vow and had to be followed whatever the price and the 
sacrifice its realization demanded. It corresponds entirely to the 


character of an obsession when I describe the strange idea as fanci- 
ful and yet as important, vague, and definite at the same time. 
The thought revealed its true content and nature to me much 
later. What appeared at first as a whim or a caprice made itself 
the master or the tyrant whom I had to obey. 

Many years later I understood what Goethe then had meant 
to me and why the mysterious order had been issued. Psycho- 
analysis had shown that for many cultured Germans and Austrians 
the figure of Goethe represents not only the "great man/' but 
also the elevated father-figure for our unconscious thought. Freud 
traced the idea of the "great man" back to the father-image. He 
pointed out that the will power, the greatness of accomplishment, 
and the decisiveness of thought, and above all the self-sufficiency 
and independence of the great man are features of the father for 
the little boy. Also the divine unconcern, which can change even 
into inconsiderateness belongs to these traits. You must admire him, 
you can trust him, but you must also fear him. "Who else than the 
father of our childhood should be the great man?" (S. Freud, Der 
Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion, 1939, p. 195.) 
Freud names Goethe besides Leonardo da Vinci and Beethoven 
as "great men/'* It was thus the connection with the father-figure 
which, unrecognized, had propelled and compelled me to read 
all the writings of Goethe. 

I have already indicated the compulsive character of my reading 
of Goethe in this my eighteenth year. The most significant fea- 
tures of the compulsion which unmasked themselves later on were: 
the exclusion of other reading, perfectionism, accuracy. Repeated 

* It was strange to read much later in Freud's autobiography that it was 
Goethe whose influence made him decide to study medicine at the very age 
that I had the obsession-idea to read Goethe's collected writings. Freud re- 
ports that his father let him decide for himself what he wanted to study. "In 
those young years I felt no special interest in the position or the activity of a 
physician by the way, not later on either. I was rather propelled by a kind of 
desire for knowledge which concerned human situations rather than objects 
of nature, and which had not yet recognized the value of observations for its 
gratification. The theories of Darwin, however, attracted me intensely, be- 
cause they promised extraordinary progress in the understanding of the 
world. I know that a lecture on Goethe's beautiful paper 'On Nature' in a 
popular course, shortly before the final examination, brought the decision to 
matriculate in the school of medicine/* ('Selbstdarstellung/' Gesammelte 
Schriften, XI, 120.) 


reading was often demanded, out of fear that I might have omit- 
ted a word or a sentence. 

As an example of these features I can mention that I con- 
scientiously reread the first part of Faust and many poems which 
I knew by heart. I began then to recognize that the order or the 
vow had to be followed most literally. For instance, I could have 
read a considerable part of Goethe's works at home where we had 
an edition of his poetic works. This was forbidden. I had to read 
the Historical Critical Edition, which was published by order of 
the Grand Duchess Sophie of Weimar in the years 1887-1909 in 
133 volumes, because only the reading of this complete and 
authentic edition fulfilled all the conditions of my vow or my 
obsession-idea. I had to read every word, even the most insignifi- 
cant biographical note, all variants, and the smallest additions. 
I had to read all the letters and all ten volumes of Goethe's con- 
versations, collected by Woldemar von Biedermann (1889-96). 
After having read all of Goethe's works, I had to expand rny 
program. It was always possible that a biographer or a literary 
critic had quoted a remark or a line by Goethe not to be found in 
the complete edition. I therefore read all that I could find written 
about Goethe. 

This reading had to be complete in the most literal sense: every- 
thing Goethe had written. I remember that a fellow-student once 
casually remarked that a certain bookstore in Vienna had two 
lines in Goethe's handwritingthe address on an envelopein its 
window. I hastily said goodbye to him and ran through the streets 
to the bookstore, anxious to see the two lines of the address, and 
afraid a collector might have bought the envelope in the mean- 

I thus spent every free hour of my time, as much as lectures and 
tutoring permitted, at the university library. I was the first to 
arrive in the morning and the last to leave at closing time. It 
seemed that the inner order to which I was subjected demanded 
that I give all my free time to this reading. Social intercourse was 
restricted to a minimum, even the time for meals was shortened 
so that I could hasten back to the library. There was only work 
and no play. I remember that my attention sometimes lessened 
when I was tired or when my eyes began to pain. I had to read the 


sentence or paragraph twice in order to convince myself that I 
had really read it. Of course, I rationalized my compulsive ac- 
tivity. I tried to convince myself that only this kind of reading 
deserved the name of thorough study and that it was a test of my 
seriousness, of my capability to go to the end, to complete a task 
I had once begun. I was even secretly proud of the singleness of 
purpose which I considered a prerequisite for every achievement. 

I forbade myself to read anything but Goethe, although I had 
wished so much to read the modern writers. This was how I 
reasoned with myself in order to justify the exclusion of other 
reading: One has to know and to appreciate the achievement of 
the greatest writer (besides Shakespeare) because only then can 
one measure and appreciate the writers of our time. Only com- 
paring them with Goethe would enable me to think of their 
achievements in their real proportions. But I could not justify the 
necessity to read every line of Goethe, every bill written by him 
to a laundress, and every insignificant note to his servant. Since 
I kept my Goethe reading secret, nothing in my behavior revealed 
the strange compulsion which possessed me. My avoidance of so- 
cial intercourse as far as possible could be easily interpreted as an 
expression of my mourning. 

'/ All that is reported here is, of course, an emotional situation 
which is recalled only in its main features, its psychological prem- 
ises and its thought-content. It is very difficult for me to feel 
even any clear echo of the emotions which governed my life forty- 
six years ago. It is difficult to imagine now that I could not free 
myself from the enslavement of my compulsive reading. When- 
ever I now listen to the description of the strange compulsions of 
obsessive patients I think that the obsession I was subjected to 
when I was eighteen years old helps me to understand many of 
these puzzling traits. 

There are two sidesreally many more sides to every story, and 
to this one as well, I guessed many things about my strange com- 
pulsion before my own analysis (1913), but only in my analysis 
did I recognize the true meaning of my Goethe reading. A child- 
hood memory emerging in an analytical session helped me to un- 
derstand another meaning which had remained unconscious. At a 
certain point of reliving my life in recollection, I remembered a 


little scene of my early boyhood years which I had entirely for- 
gotten. When 1 was nine years old I kept a secret diary of what 
was happening in my young life. I wrote about my parents, my 
brothers and my sister, my teacher and my friends, but mostly 
about a little girl who lived in our apartment house and with 
whom I was "in love/* One evening I had fallen asleep on the 
couch in our living room. An elderly couple, my sister's piano 
teacher and her husband, had come to see my parents and had 
played cards with my father. I woke up but pretended to be 
asleep because I heard the lady visitor mention my name. I 
caught a glimpse of my father holding my secret diary in his hand 
and reading a few paragraphs to the couple. The lady seemed to 
like my childish literary effort which described how I had en- 
countered the object of my puppy-love on the stairs of our apart- 
ment house. The reactions of my parents were significant. My 
mother guessed who "she" was, and she guessed correctly! "It is 
Ella of the O. family who lives in the apartment below," she said. 
But my father said to his friend, "Well, perhaps he will become 
a writer or a poet." I was disturbed because my secret had been 
discovered, but I pretended to sleep on and I must have really 
fallen asleep again, because when my mother woke me the guests 
were gone. 

I *What my father had said sometimes occurred to me again in the 
following days. It was a new idea and I am sure I had no clear 
notion what a writer was. The closest I could come to such an 
idea was conveyed by the life-size bust of Goethe which stood on 
a bookcase. It is significant that I bought a similar bust of Goethe 
in Berlin forty years later. It now stands on my bookcase. I knew 
the name of the man and I had heard him spoken of as a great 
poet by my father. I am almost certain that he was the only poet 
of whom I knew when I was nine years old. I must have connected 
the idea of becoming a great writer with his image. My com- 
pulsive Goethe reading originated, however, also in the uncon- 
scious tendency to know all about the great man of whom my 
father had spoken with much respect. His pride in me and his 
high aspirations for me had to be frustrated, but my belated obe- 
dience to his wishes found its expression in my compulsive Goethe 
study. If I could not become a great writer like Goethe, I could at 


least know all about him or-better still-I had to know all about 

The famous Austrian literary critic Hermann Bahr defined 
Goethe philology as a profession like medicine or law.* It is 
difficult to convey the true meaning of Goethe philology to per- 
sons who did not live and breathe in the atmosphere of German 
literary scholarship before World War I. It is also doubtful 
whether so strange a plant as Goethe philology is to be found in 
any other pattern of culture, A Goethe philologist is a man who 
not only thinks but acts, breathes, and lives in the mental atmos- 
phere of Goethe. His entire and only interest in the world is the 
worshiped poet, to such an extent that everything he does and 
everything that has happened to him is seen through Goethe's 
eyes. His own life and that of others is understandable only in 
terms of Goethe's sayings. All things and events of the past and 
the present are tested according to Goethe's view. Everything con- 
cerning the divine figure is of vital importance to him. The 
weather of the day on which a certain line in a poem was written or 
whether Goethe liked Teltower carrots is a question of life and 
death to him. The Tibetan Buddhists worship their Grand Lama 
to such an extent that even his excrement is held as sacred and is 
carefully preserved. In a similar sense everything Goethe did and 
said, were it the merest trifle, is looked at with considerable awe 
by the Goethe philologist who collects even the refuse of the great 
man's life and work. 

I was indeed on the road toward becoming a Goethe philologist 
when I was eighteen years old. The psychological difference be- 
tween those German scholars and myself was only that I did not 
worship their hero in the same way, though I too was possessed 
by him, as people in medieval times were considered possessed by 
the devil or by a demon. 

* Goethe Bild f Prettssische Jahrbucher, Vol. 185 (1921). 


When I was eighteen, I had yielded to my obsession-idea but 
even when I was in bondage to my Goethe reading, I did not 
surrender without inner protest. Not all the pans of Goethe's 
huge published works interested me in the same degree. His life, 
perhaps his greatest work of art, had many phases which appeared 
unattractive to me. The statesman Goethe left me cold: I had no 
interest in his building of bridges and roads. His extensive geo- 
logical and meteorological studies as well as his optical theories 
did not strike any chord in me. The physiognomical fragments 
failed to arouse my admiration and the anatomical discovery of 
the inter-maxillary bone left me indifferent. But also many parts 
of his poetry did not appeal to me. There were many verses in the 
second part of Faust which I did not understand. There were even 
parts of Wilhelm Meister, of Werther, of Truth and Fiction, which 
had no emotional effect upon me. I read and reread them. I 
could even admire their style, the choice of words, the construc- 
tion of the sentences, the sequences and consequences of their 
thoughts, but the voice which spoke there did not speak to me. 
The wisdom and the profound penetration of Goethe's old age 
was only intellectually satisfying. What did I, a greenhorn, know 
about life? How could I appreciate that there, in a few lines, was 
the result of the emotional experience by incomparable percep- 
tion, the fruit of the mental labor of a long life? So much was 
beyond me and I was easily bored with issues which I only M un- 
derstood" without emotionally sharing the experience with the 
poet, the philosopher, and the scientist. When I read the same 
parts and passages in Goethe's writings many years later, they 
conveyed much that I had never seen in them before. They were 
entirely new to me as if I had never read them before. And yet I 
knew I had read every word of it when I was eighteen years old. 

Between Goethe and the boy there was not only the difference 
in intellectual quality, that astronomical distance which separates 
the greatest genius from a mediocre mind. Not only the difference 
of age, maturity, background, and experience prevented my pene- 
trating the depth of Goethe's thoughts. There was something in 
the character of the great man himself about which I felt uneasy. 
I often had an almost instinctive resistance to his way of thinking 
and feeling. Whenever I tried to understand his nature he often 


appeared to me as superhuman, sometimes inhuman, and very 
rarely human. Strangely enough, I loved and disliked him now 
more than I had before. For instance, I felt the passion in some 
poems as personal and as my own as if I had written them, and 
then there were passages in which I felt the detachment of a 
cold touch. There was an impenetrable wall around Goethe's per- 
sonality, a remoteness, and an icy atmosphere. 

Some traits of his character were merely disliked and others 
were condemned with the uncompromising decisiveness of an 
eighteen-year-old boy. There was his submission and servility to 
dukes and duchesses, to kings and empresses, his opportunism in 
certain situations, his coolness toward Kleist, Heine, and other 
young German poets. He seemed to favor mediocrity in poetry 
and music. Had he not been critical of Beethoven and Schubert 
whom he turned away, and had he not preferred insignificant, 
anemic, and academic composers? His rejection of the people's 
democratic demands, his aristocracy or should I say upper- 
middle class "bourgeois" outlook? contrasted with his storm 
and stress which knew neither measure nor modesty. 

Those were not the only contradictory traits which disturbed 
me. The same man who had shaped the heartbreaking scenes of 
Faust^ who had given incomparable expression to the misery of 
Gretchen, this same man, as a councilor of state, put his signature 
to the death verdict for an unwed mother who had killed her 
baby. Was he a God or was he a monster? He was indeed both; 
that made me shudder. Those terrible two words "I too," with 
which he introduced his approval of capital punishment, shocked 
me. There were other disturbing traits, both puzzling and terrify- 
ing, about the Olympian figure. There was passion along with 
cold egotism, an abundant imagination beside dry sobriety. There 
were so many contradictory and contrasting features that my 
vision was blurred. 

Behind the figure of Faust's Gretchen and of many other of the 
feminine characters which Goethe created, there emerged the 
image of Friederike, seventeen years old, in all her loveliness and 
serene sweetness. When I. reread Truth and Fiction, the romance 
of young Goethe with Friederike seemed the high light in the 
life of this college student. During my reading and daydreaming 


I wondered about this young genius and I doubted again that he 
was human. If he loved Friederike and his love for her seemed 
deeper and more tender than for all other women before and 
after-how could he desert her so coldly, so cruelly? I did not un- 
derstand it and I did not understand him. I remember how spell- 
bound I was when I read those pages in which Goethe calls up the 
memory of Sesenheim. I wished, of course, in the depth of my 
youthful feeling, to meet and love a girl as charming as Friederike. 
I knew I would not act as Goethe had in a similar situation. 

I was forty years old twenty-one years after my compulsive 
working through the Grossherzogin Sophie edition-when I read 
once again the story of the Sesenheim romance in Truth and 
Fiction. 1 saw it for the first time in its own light, illuminated 
from within. I read it with the eyes, the awareness, and the curi- 
osity of a psychologist. For many years I had been a psychoanalyst, 
but it had never occurred to me that Goethe could be the subject 
of a psychoanalytical study, that the new method could be applied 
to the life and the work of the great poet. In my student years such 
an application would certainly have seemed to me presumptuous, 
even blasphemous. It was as if to think of "psychoanalyzing" God. 

Such an avoidance even in thought was the more conspicuous 
since I had applied the analytical method in the psychological 
appreciation of the works of other writers. I had written two 
books which proved that crossing the bridge between the imagina- 
tion of creative writing and analytical research brought valid and 
valuable results. My doctoral thesis, Flaubert and His Temptation 
of Saint Antony, published in 1912, was a contribution to the psy- 
chology of artistic creation. My admiration for the great gift of 
psychological observation of a contemporary Viennese writer was 
expressed in Arthur Schnitzler as Psychologist (1913). Quite a few 
shorter publications during the next ten years expressed my active 
interest in various psychological problems of writers and their 
works. Yet I had never looked at Goethe's life and work from an 
analytical point of view. It was, no doubt, a residue of my awe 
before this monumental figure, before one of the greatest minds 
of mankind. 

Freud once pointed out in relation to Goethe how unjustified it 
would be to consider analytical research into the life story of a 


great man as an intrusion.* The biographer does not wish to 
degrade the hero but to bring him close to us. It is unavoidable 
that we will then learn of occasions in which the great man be- 
haved no better than do ordinary mortals. His distance from us 
will then be diminished. Nevertheless, Freud insists that the en- 
deavor of the biographers is legitimate. "The great man is only a 
continuation of the father and the teacher of our childhood, and 
our relation to these important persons was ambivalent, our ad- 
miration for them regularly concealing a component of hostile 
rebellion. This is psychological fate. It cannot be changed without 
violent suppression of truth. Our ambivalent feelings must be 
continued in our relationship to the great man whose life story 
we seek to investigate/' 

In the same address, delivered when Freud received the Goethe 
prize (1930), he admits that we analysts have not done so well in 
the case of this great man. That has its special reasons: Goethe 
was a poet, a fine confessor; but in spite of his abundant autobio- 
graphical writings, he was also a careful concealer of his real 
feelings. "The course of my life remained mostly a secret even for 
my friends," Goethe wrote in his Campagne in Frankreich (No- 
vember, 1792). This sounds paradoxical in a poet who speaks as 
freely as did Goethe about his emotional experiences. But in 
speaking his mind and his heart he could conceal perhaps the 
most important things. He who reveals himself in some facts 
makes it easy for himself to conceal certain other personal matters 
which he may wish to keep secret. 

Such deeper secrecy, which disguises itself under the mask of 
free expression and of confession, suggests why the abundant ma- 
terials of Goethe's life history still do not lend themselves easily to 
analytical investigation. They are difficult to penetrate because 
the analyst must pursue the smallest unnoticed* clues and indica- 
tions, those little signs of which a person is not aware when he 
speaks about himself. Only attention and observation dealing 
with the inconspicuous, the most careful psychological evaluation 
of unconscious circumstantial evidence can find here valuable in- 
formation. All other ways are blocked, all other methods of psy- 

* "Speech at the Frankfurt Goethe-House" Psychoanalytische Bewegung, 
H, Heft 5. 


chological investigation fail. The analyst can only hope that what 
is so carefully guarded will give itself away unconsciously. 

There was another important reason why I never felt tempted 
to approach the life story of Goethe from the viewpoint of psy- 
choanalytic psychology. He himself had often emphasized that he 
did not appreciate psychological analysis. In the same report in 
which he said his life remained a secret even to his best friends, 
he declared that he generally lived unconsciously, that is, with- 
out conscious self-analysis and self-observation. The reader should 
compare Goethe's attitude with the opinion of old Anatole 
France: "Far from knowing myself I always took trouble to ignore 
me. I consider the knowledge of oneself a source of worry, unrest 
and tortures. I came as little as possible to myself ... As a small 
boy and as an adult, young and old I have always lived as far 
away from myself as possible . , . Ignore yourself: this is the first 
prescription of wisdom."* 

Goethe spoke to Eckermann in April, 1829 about the claim to 
know oneself: "This is a strange demand which until now nobody 
has fulfilled and which in reality no one can realize. Man is with 
all his senses and drives directed toward the outer world and he 
has much trouble recognizing it as such and making it serve his 
purposes and needs. He knows about himself only when he enjoys 
himself or suffers. He learns thus merely through pains and 
pleasures what he must seek and what to avoid. After all, man is 
a dark being; he does not know whence he comes or whither he 
goes. He knows little of the world and less of himself. I do not 
know myself and God forbid I should." 

To Chancellor Mueller in 1824 he spoke in the same vein: "I 
declare man can never know himself as an object. Others know 
me better than I do myself." These are strong words, especially 
to the ears and minds of a psychologist who expects psychological 
insights of the poet into himself. In his "Sprueche in Prosa"** 
Goethe asks: "How can one learn to know oneself? Never by self- 
observation, but by activity." 

When I had read the Friederike story, at the age of eighteen, I 
was not concerned with understanding Goethe's behavior. I iden- 

* Michel Corday, Anatole France d'apres ses confidences (Paris, 1927), p. 58. 
** Gesammelte Werke, LV, 224. 


tified myself with another young man who loved and was loved 
by the gentlest and loveliest of girls, and I condemned this young 
man who deserted his sweetheart so casually. I called him a con- 
scienceless egotist and disliked him. When, having passed my 
fortieth year, I reread the Friederike romance, I understood young 
Goethe much better. My approach to the experience was differ- 
ent. It was no longer sympathy or antipathy which accompanied 
my reading; a new interest competed with the esthetic pleasure: 
the curiosity of the psychologist. 

When I read the story of the meeting of young Goethe with 
Friederike, how their romance started, developed, and ended, 
vague ideas about concealed motives of Goethe's attitude dawned 
upon me. They were not clear insights and at first did not have 
the character of psychological notions but were more in the 
nature of hunches. They were not definite enough to be formu- 
lated in words. They were preverbal, in that transitional phase 
from presentiment to recognition, fleeting impressions, embryos 
of thoughts. These first inklings became by and by more distinct, 
the impressions became condensed when I reread certain passages, 
compared them with the preceding story, and filled in the gaps 
with what I knew about Goethe's life from other sources. 

These psychological hunches were at first without tangible sub- 
stance and evidence. Unstable, they were difficult to grasp and 
threatened to elude me. When I decided to follow them, the task 
had more the character of reconnaissance than of recognition. I 
slowly became sure that there was a subterranean connection be- 
tween certain actions. Something hidden strove to communicate 
itself in those pages of Truth and fiction, but shied away from 
them at the same time. An unconscious process revealed itself by 
small signs, but another factor tried to conceal the clues. I was 
often thrown off the track after I had found it, but I pursued it 
to the end, to discover the unconscious facts behind the facts 
which Goethe's story reports. What had been a hunch originally, 
a dim preconception, had become an idea which could be exam- 
ined, tested, and verified by scientific research. I published the 
study on Goethe and Friederike, which is the result of this psy- 
choanalytic investigation, in 1929. 


"All I have written and published are but fragments of a great 
confession." This sentence from Truth and Fiction includes, of 
course, the wonderful presentation of the idyl of Sesenheim writ- 
ten when Goethe had passed his sixty-second year. The magical 
power of his prose revives the story of love and sorrow of the 
twenty-one-year-old student, Weyland, a friend of Goethe's, wished 
to introduce him to the family of Pastor Brion who lived in Sesen- 
heim, a friendly little village not far from Strassburg where Goethe 
studied. Goethe describes the old gentleman and his wife and 
speaks of their lively oldest daughter. When Friederike appears, 
"in truth, a star arose in this rustic heaven/* Her lucid blue eyes 
and blond braids, her loveliness and grace, the serene clarity of 
her talk charmed the young poet. In walks and at festivals, in 
solitude and company, in conversations and letters, the two glided 
into the sweetest of enchantments. Goethe felt "boundlessly 
happy" and the leave-takings became more and more a painful 
prospect when he had to return to Strassburg from his many visits 
in Sesenheim. His letters contain some of the masterpieces of Ger- 
man poetry. It is as if his love for Friederike gave to his language 
a naturalness and plasticity hitherto unknown. But there were 
already premonitions of an early parting: "My passion increased 
as I recognized more and more the true worth of this splendid 
girl, and as the time drew near when I was to lose, perhaps for- 
ever, so much that was dear and good/' At the time when the 
happiness of the two young people seemed flawless, Friederike 
fell ill. Then came the parting. He rode again as so often from 
Strassburg to Sesenheim to see Friederike once more- "Those were 
painful days, the memory of which has not remained with me. 
When, seated on my horse, I held out my hand to her, there were 
tears in her eyes, and I felt none too happy/' It was not until 
much later that he wrote the letter of farewell. Friederike's reply 


"broke the heart. It was the same hand, the same tone, the same 
feeling which had been fostered for me and by me. Now for the 
first time, I felt the loss which she was suffering. I realized that 
there was no possibility, nothing I could do to soothe her grief. 
I saw her as though she were present, I constantly felt the lack, 
and what was worse, I could not forgive myself. . . ." He felt 
guilty: "I had wounded this purest heart to the quick, and the 
period of melancholy, repentance, combined with the absence 
of the quickening love to which I had become accustomed, was 
agonizing, nay, insupportable/' Goethe began in the following 
years, when his feeling of guilt mounted, that poetic confession 
which reached its peak in Faust, where Friederike appears trans- 
figured into Gretchen. 

The description of the romance with Friederike does not ex- 
plain what it was that caused Goethe to part from the beloved 
girl. None of the many biographers of the poet could detect any 
plausible motives for Goethe's deserting Friederike, who meant 
so much to him. Least of all those biographers who assumed that 
the young poet had seduced the girl. It is not doubtful any more 
that nothing of this kind happened. Yes, modern biography has 
made it clear that Goethe suffered from emotional impotence 
which he overcame only after having reached his fortieth year. 
The plays in which Goethe shaped the fate of the seduced and de- 
serted girl, most touchingly that of Gretchen in Faust, present 
thus an emotional potentiality and not what really happened. 

My psychoanalytic analysis of the young poet's motives took 
its point of departure from the discovery of an error in Goethe's 
autobiography. He introduces the description of the Sesenheim 
idyl by describing the profound impression Goldsmith's The Vi- 
car of Wake field had made upon him* In the figures of this novel, 
which his mentor and friend Herder read to him, Goethe found 
the fictional characters which came to life shortly afterward when 
he visited the family Brion in Sesenheim. The peaceful life of the 
rural clergyman and his family, the destiny of his lovable daughter 
Sophie who is seduced by the ruthless Burchell, prepared young 
Goethe for his meeting the family Brion. But we know that 
Goethe did not know Goldsmith's novel when he first visited 
Sesenheim. The parallel between Goethe and that seducer Bur- 


chell is more than conscious. Goethe emphasizes it and seems to 
indicate that it was why he felt so guilty when he deserted Frie- 
derike. The psychoanalytic penetration of this and other slips and 
distortions led to the conclusion that there must be another un- 
conscious motivation for the long-lasting guilt feelings of the poet 
toward Friederike. A sideline leads to that secret: Goethe had a 
mysterious fear that a kiss of his would bring calamity and death 
to a girl. This superstitious fear tormented him when he kissed 
Friederike. His vivid imagination showed him the beloved girl 
already suffering from the effect of that curse. Torn between his 
desire for her and the fear that he could harm her, he experienced 
pangs of panic when Friederike became ill which seemed "to 
hasten the threatened calamity/* 

Afraid that she would die, he fled. 

We see here the young poet as the victim not only -of super- 
stitions, but also of severe obsessional thoughts that he himself 
later on recognized as expressions of magical beliefs: "A kind of 
conceit supported this superstition; my lips whether consecrated 
or accursed seemed to me more important than they had been 
hitherto. . . /' The continued analysis of Goethe's biography 
brings further proof that his guilt feelings toward Friederike can 
be traced back to unconscious death wishes against the beloved 
girl. When he left her, he had a strange experience. Riding home, 
lie saw himself in his fantasy riding on the same road, in a suit 
he had never worn. This "friendly vision" became reality when, 
eight years later, he visited Friederike again. Riding away from 
Friederike, the young man enjoyed the sight of the Alsatian 
landscape and felt relieved as if he had escaped a curse threaten- 
ing calamity and death. I compared the mood described in that 
part of Goethe's autobiography with that of the fourth movement 
of the Pastoral Symphony to which Beethoven gave the title 
"Joyous and Grateful Feelings after the Storm/' 

Goethe remained the man in Friederike's life. She never spoke 
of him and remained single. She died in 1813, when she was 
sixty-one. Her grave at Sesenheim has the lines: 

A ray of poet's sun fell on her 
So rich, it gave her immortality. 


When I reread the Goethe study sketched here, in 1938, ten 
years after it had been written, I was already in the United 
States and considering the translation of some of my books. I felt 
annoyed with myself while reading this one. My self-criticism 
concerned not only the things said in the book but also the man- 
ner in which they were said. It concerned the structure as well 
as several special parts of the study. I was impatient, for instance, 
with my frequent use of the editorial "we" in the scientific man- 
ner of German scholars. I would now prefer to say "I" not in 
order to assert myself, but because I was tired of a modesty which 
I felt was almost indecent. There was, I found, a shifting from 
minor to major and back again in the book. The tempi were not 
kept. I found many other things to criticize. 

Not only critical voices accompanied my reading; others of a 
different kind became audible, sometimes made themselves heard 
as counterpoints to the points made by self-criticism. I had sud- 
denly come upon my own trail. I was surprised to come upon 
circumstantial evidence whose psychological significance could 
not be ignored. The clues were small and inconspicuous, but 
they could not be belittled. It was at first as if islands of an un- 
known landscape, long flooded, emerged from the sea. It was 
my past life returning and appearing suddenly in a new light. 
Most of the facts that I remembered had not been forgotten, but 
their significance, the connection between them and their psy- 
chological influence upon my life, had not been recognized. It 
was one of those "stillest hours" of which Nietzsche speaks when 
I faced facts now, certain experiences of my own, reflected in the 
study I had written. I had not known ten years earlier that I was 
speaking of myself when I tried to penetrate into the secret emo- 
tional life of a young man in love, dead almost two hundred years. 

Psychoanalysis has claimed that we do not live, but that we are 
lived, that is, that the greatest part of what we experience is not 


of our conscious doing, but is "done" by unknown powers within 
ourselves. Psychoanalysis has asserted further that we realize only to 
a very small extent what we experience, or what is happening to 
us and in us. An experience is like an iceberg, its greatest part 
submerged, unknown to us while we live it. An event whose full 
psychological significance and bearing we were able to recognize 
would not deserve the name of experience. Its power would ex- 
plode in a moment and it would be without deeper and lasting 
emotional effects. The stronger this conscious effect, the less en- 
during is the experience. What is strongest felt and expressed at 
the moment is doomed to perish soon. What is sensational is for 
the day. What is lasting needs a long time until it reaches the 
deeper levels of our emotional life. It takes many years before we 
recognize what our own experiences mean to us and what their 
psychological nature and repercussions, their effects and after- 
effects, -really are. Nietzsche uses a beautiful metaphor: "Deep 
wells take a long time to realize what has fallen into their 

Strangely enough, even the psychological clues that emerged 
while I read my book at first appeared in the form of literary 
criticism. They occurred to me as I wondered about certain 
strange features of the material. There is a passage at the begin- 
ning of the book which I passed by in my first reading, but which 
re-echoed as if to recall something to mind. It occurs in a de- 
scription of the scene in which Friederike appeared and young 
Goethe looked into her clear blue eyes. The features of Friederike, 
I read in my book, "become the prototype of a girl that calls up 
in every man's memory the charming and the most beloved figures 
of his youth." The image of Friederike as Goethe describes it in 
all its charming details was at once transformed into a familiar 
face: serious blue eyes looked into mine and the name Ella was in 
my mind. It was as if my own words had called up the dear figure, 
as a line spoken on the stage gives the cue for the appearance of 
the leading lady. Ella's image emerged suddenly out of nowhere 
and I saw her as I had seen her again, when I was a youth of 
nineteen. She appeared and stood alive before me, yet I did not 
think of her when I wrote the sentence about Friederike calling 
up in every man's memory the most loved figure of his youth. 


I did not think of any particular girl; it was a general statement 
and the appropriate thing to write in this context. Perhaps I 
thought of her without being conscious of her, and her image in 
the background of my mind dictated the sentence. Perhaps the 
vision as I had met her first was only a re-vision. I wondered, 
dismissed the thought, and read on. And then I stopped again, 

There is a chapter entitled "Joyous and Grateful Feelings after 
the Storm/' It begins with the words: "About the same time that 
Goethe was sketching the plan for his autobiography, in Heiligen- 
stadt, near Vienna, Beethoven was daydreaming the abundance of 
melodies into a symphony he latef called Sinfonia Pastorale." I 
read that the Sixth Symphony might well stand as a counterpart 
of Goethe's description of the landscape and atmosphere of Sesen- 
heim. "This is a hell of a transition!" I thought. The connecting 
links between this part of Goethe's biography and Beethoven's 
symphony certainly are few: it is true that both were conceived 
at about the same time. But what a leap from the parson's house 
in Alsace to the hills surrounding Heiligenstadt, from the Rhine 
to the Danube! The tunes of the Pastoral, as the musical 
counterpart of the idyl in Sesenheim! No doubt was possible any 
more. It was no accident. Such a connection in thought is uncon- 
sciously determined by associations of a very personal nature. 
"Involuntary" memories now crowded one another; image after 
image appeared before me as if the waves brought forth precious 
long-buried goods, from the depths of the sea to the shore. The 
excursion to Heiligenstadt; Ella and I walking from Klosterneu- 
burg to the place where Beethoven conceived the tunes of the 
brook scene. Our first kiss. . . . No, it was no accident, I decided, 
when I read the title of another chapter, "Freundliche Vision." I 
swear I did not think when I wrote the chapter title that this 
was the title of the song by Richard Strauss. But now I seemed to 
hear Ella's warm voice singing: 

Nicht im Schlafe hab* ich das getraumt 

... the Strauss song . . . and I remembered. 

And now I turned the leaves of my book again and read with 
new eyes. There was an abundance of personal, even of intimate 


things in it that I had had no inkling of. It was full of allusions 
to little events and sayings from the years of my courtship and 
marriage. There was an overflow of references to later experiences, 
even to Ella's ill-health, and I had not had the slightest notion 
of these hints. I had written a scientific study on a certain phase 
of Goethe's life, an objective psychological essay about an experi- 
ence in the youth of a writer who lived two hundred years ago, 
and I had not known that I had written about my own experience, 
so similar to his. How many references to my own conflicts had in- 
visibly crept into the objective report! 

The astonishing thing about it was that the study of Goethe 
was objective and subjective at the same time, and that these 
personal references were so well concealed that they remained 
unknown not only to the reader but even to myself. And some 
of these references, especially in the chapter titles, were so conspic- 
uous that they could scarcely be disregarded! It was as if those 
memories were put into the window and I had passed them by 
unobserved. There were not only the Beethoven symphony and 
the Strauss song, there was the chapter "Interlude." But Interlude 
is the title of a play by Arthur Schnitzler. Ella and I had seen a 
performance of it at the Vienna Burgtheater, There were other 
telltale titles calling up happy and tragic memories. 

My attention turned slowly to psychological problems. What 
did it mean that I had become so interested in the Friederike 
story as a boy of nineteen, that I had lost this interest shortly 
afterward, and had regained it nineteen years later to such an 
extent that I wrote a study on the romance? Why had I not real- 
ized for so long that my own youthful experience had crept into 
the investigation of Goethe's period at Sesenheim? It was difficult 
to solve these two problems separately. They had to be dealt with 
together; it is easier to crack two nuts by working one against the 

I also learned some unknown or unrecognized things about my- 
self and about the most important aspects of my youth. I must 
write of it now and I hope to do so with the greatest objectivity 
of which I am capable. It is well known that such objectivity is 
highly limited by the nature of the subject and by one's own 
nature. Some of these interferences can be relaxed when the frag- 


ment of one's life that Is to be presented is remote from one's ego, 
because of the passage of time and emotional developments of 
a decisive character. One's own experience then appears as if it 
belonged to another person, as if it belonged to another's life. 
The ego has changed to such an extent that it encounters its 
past self as that of a stranger. The example of Goethe himself 
who as a man of sixty years looked back at his romance with 
Friederike is itself one of the best examples of such an attitude. 
Yet Goethe, dictating to his secretary, sometimes had to control 
his tears. 

The romantic experience I had at nineteen is told in the follow- 
ing chapters. It is viewed from a distance of forty-five years and 
is presented differently than if written after five or ten years. It 
is also likely that it is in its final shape because the ego loses its 
plasticity in old age. The picture of the past is not subject 
to great changes any more. The distance from my youthful ex- 
perience is secured by other factors. The Vienna of my boyhood 
years does not exist any more. I said farewell to the place of my 
birth, twenty years ago. The home town was turned into a vision 
of hell when its citizens celebrated Hitler's entry into Vienna. 
"Wien, Wien, nur du allein sollst die Stadt meiner Traume sein"? 
The city of my dreams became the city of my nightmares. I have 
been living in the United States for many years now and consider 
America my own and my children's country. My first love, of 
whom the following pages tell, has rested for many years in the 
Vienna Central Cemetery. Almost all of the persons I shall refer 
to in these chapters are dead. I have married again. The external 
and inner circumstances of my life have changed since the time 
of which I shall write. 

I have become a stranger to the young man who had these experi- 
ences and I believe I can tell the story as if it happened to an- 
other person. There is so little in common between the nineteen- 
year-old youth in Vienna who went forth into life and the old 
man approaching the end of the journey. 

The experience of my youth has re-emerged again and again 
as wanted to be shaped and presented in the light of the in- 
sights I had gained. It was not only lack of moral courage and 
the discretion which, according to Freud, "one owes also to one- 


self" that made me postpone the writing of this psychological 
study. It was also the doubt that I would be capable of grasping 
any unconscious material, which is so elusive, reluctant, and re- 
calcitrant against presentation. I feel, however, that I cannot af- 
ford to procrastinate any longer. An external date helped me to 
action: Goethe started his autobiography when he reached his 
sixtieth year. (I have passed sixty.) Did the old pattern of uncon- 
scious identification still persist? 

It is certainly unnecessary to emphasize the decisive difference 
between the presentation of the romantic experience of Goethe, 
one of the greatest achievements of autobiographical writing, and 
my own. One of the greatest writers of all time has painted an 
incomparable picture of a youthful experience, the same experi- 
ence which gave Faust to the world, and which became the sub- 
ject of a poetic creation and magical reconstruction in the pages 
of Truth and Fiction dedicated to the Sesenheim time. This 
sketch will be a small contribution to psychological research 
using autobiographical material. The following chapters make 
my own experience the object of psychological investigation and 
analysis. The difference in objectives determines not only the di- 
vergence of style in presentation, but also the material to be pre- 
sented. In Goethe's creative achievement persons and events are 
plastically placed before the eyes of the reader. The hidden emo- 
tions and thought-processes of the young man were only alluded 
to or presented in an indirect way, yet artistically in so much 
more powerful a manner than by direct discussion. The material 
events, the outside of an experience, have but a very small place 
In a psychological investigation. The emotional processes are the 
real subject of the exploration. Beauty and significance are the 
aim of the poet; understanding, the goal of the psychologist. What 
Goethe achieved in his magical description is not even within 
the reach of the psychologist. He is incapable of creating the at- 
mosphere of fatefulness in his description. He cannot present his 
own experience in such a light that it becomes only an image of 
a general human situation. He has to be content with so much 
less and will be satisfied when he succeeds in finding and demon- 
strating a few of the hidden threads running through the texture 
of unconscious life. 


Looking back at the experience of my youth, I could speak as 
the great poet does: 

Ye wavering forms draw near again as ever. 
When ye long since moved past my clouded eyes. 
To hold you fast, shall I this time endeavor. 
Still does my heart that strange illusion prize? 
Ye crowd on me? Tis well! You might assever 
While ye from mist and mark around me rise . . . 

As to the poet, so memories bring back to me many familiar faces 

. . . many dear, dear shades arise with you 

Like some old tale that Time but half erases 

First Love draws near to me and Friendship too . . . 

And with those memories the present seems to withdraw and 
the past becomes alive again: 

. . . what I possess as if it were far from seeing 
And what has vanished, now comes into being. 


WHEN the boy and the girl met, they were both children. My 
family then lived on the second floor of a modest apartment 
house in Vienna. We were of the lower middle class; my father 
was an employee of the railroad company, and the family often 
had difficulties making ends meet. Below us, on the first floor, in 
a larger apartment lived the family of the journalist, Mr. (X Mrs, 
O. was, it seemed, a kind, warmhearted, and simple-minded woman. 
She was of Jewish descent. Her husband was a social climber 


who was an anti-Semite. We could not decide whether this was 
because or in spite of his wife's Jewish origin. An elderly spinster 
aunt, the sister of Mrs. O., a tall, slim, severe-looking woman with 
a sour disposition, lived with the couple. The two daughters, 
Mary and Ella, attended the same grammar school as did my sis- 
ter Margaret. Mary was two years older than Ella, who was a 
classmate of my sister's. We heard that the two girls were friendly, 
but were allowed to have only a selected few girls visit them." 
They were not allowed. to play on the street and could walk in the 
park only if accompanied by their mother or their aunt. They 
had to keep much to themselves, as did the whole family. Their 
father, we were told, was a disciplinarian and had odd ideas 
about the education of girls. He considered it necessary that the 
two girls, children of nine and seven, always be escorted. 

This father was much younger than my father, but was in con- 
trast very dignified-looking. Also, in contrast to my father, he 
wore very elegant suits and behaved much as a man about town. 
We children often saw him on the street or met him on the stair- 
way of the house. We wondered about the monocle he frequently 
pressed into his eye and through which he looked at us critically. 
All in all, his fashionable suits, his top hat, his cane with the 
golden knob which he would whirl around gave us the first idea 
of what a dandy was. My father and Mr. 0. leaving the house 
about the same time often met and walked a few blocks together. 
They chatted in a friendly manner. I heard my father tell my 
mother that in his opinion Mr. O. was a snob and an upstart. 
Mr. O. called himself chief editor of the Kurortezeitung (a 
monthly for summer and health resorts); he seemed to be a wealthy 
man. He often spoke of his trips to Germany, France, and 
Italy, and he was really frequently away from home, sometimes 
for months on end. He seemed to be a great hunter and he 
showed several guns to my father who was not much interested 
but too polite to express his lack of enthusiasm. (Much later I 
heard my father quote a Jewish proverb whose melancholic wis- 
dom remained in my memory: "What a blessing that not only 
the hunted but also the hunters get tired/') 

Mr. O. often spoke of his, friends to whose castles or hunting 
lodges he was invited. There were dukes and barons, Graf voa 


Kinsky and Fuerst Esterhazy and other members of the Austrian 
nobility. We children were deeply impressed. Mr. O. seemed to 
be on most intimate terms with all these high aristocrats. This 
friendship seemed to be reduced to rather superficial acquaint- 
anceship later on, to something very far from familiarity. We 
realized, also much later, how right my father was when he 
thought that Mr. O. made people believe what he wished. 
He was chief editor of the Kurortezeitung, that was true enough, 
but he did not reveal that he was not only the only editor but 
also the only person who owned, edited, wrote, and sold this 
monthly magazine. The journal was mostly filled with articles 
secured by Chambers of Commerce and publicity agents for ho- 
tels, vacation spots, and health resorts. Its larger part was de- 
voted to advertisements. Mr. O/s far-distant trips had as their 
main purpose the securing of these advertisements and collecting 
the fees. I did not like the man, but of course, I had the respect 
of a boy of ten toward an adult. He interested me only as the 
father of the two girls, especially Ella. 

We often heard the two sisters play the piano. Mary, who was 
two years older than her sister, was technically superior; but 
Ella's playing expressed more emotion. Ella also played the violin 
and sang with a warm and gentle voice many of the lieder by 
Schubert and Schumann, and later on, songs in French and Eng- 

Both girls were tall and had very good posture. Both were 
blond, but Mary's hair was much lighter than Ella's. Mary was, 
without doubt, the prettier of the two. All her features were reg- 
ular and her face was of a classical beauty. Ella's darker hair 
and her eyes of a deeper Hue were, at first sight, overshadowed 
by her sister's doll-like prettiness, but you felt more strongly and 
more lastingly attracted when you looked at Ella. Mary was, it 
seemed, more lively and cheerful; her eyes sparkled and danced 
when she smiled. Ella was serious. 

I fell in love with Ella when I was eight years old, but it was 
not love at first sight. I remember that I had seen her often 
enough on the street or had met her and her sister on the stair- 
way without paying the slightest attention to her. Like other boys 
at this age, I was not interested in little girls and devoted myself 


more to football and was an active member of a gang, which had 
frequent feuds and fights with another gang in the alleys of a 
park called Augarten. A boy of eight years who seems to be in- 
terested in girls is looked upon as a sissy by other boys in Vienna 
as in New York. If I showed any pronounced attitude toward the 
two sisters at that time, it was cold contempt, the disinterested 
behavior of the superior male toward little girls. 

One afternoon something strange happened. I was strolling 
home from school. I saw Mrs. O. and her younger daughter, Ella, 
who stood before the house talking with a girl friend. The two 
girls said goodbye to each other. At this moment I accidentally 
glanced at Ella's face and I looked at it as if I saw it for the first 
time. Her eyes were serious, but there was a smile around her lips 
that was of a loveliness and sweetness I had never before seen on 
a face. It was as if her features were suddenly illuminated from 
within. The contrast of the quiet and earnest eyes with this smile 
appeared to me of a unique beauty. It was at this moment that 
I fell in love with her. Much later I understood what I really 
wished in my boyhood daydreams. I wanted her to smile at me 
in the same way. All my childish and clumsy attempts to turn 
her attention to me had this goaL It was as if I silently implored 
her: Smile at me the way you did then at your friend! 

Nothing in my behavior changed for some time. I played hide- 
and-seek with myself or I made a brave attempt to conquer my 
infatuation, but I know that I felt my heart beat faster whenever 
I saw her. It must have been a considerable time later when I had 
the courage to greet her in passing her on the stairs. I argued 
with myself whether she had nodded and it made me impatient 
to meet rier again. From this time on I took my cap off to her 
and her sister as if it were merely the thing to do and not a 
most daring deed of a boy of eight. 

People say that the years after puberty, the late teens and 
early twenties, are the times when romance blossoms. I believe 
that the romantic infatuations of those years are only like a 
second or even a third edition of an original work. The real 
character of romance is much clearer in childhood. When I think 
of those silly things I did to arouse the attention of my beloved, 
the foolishness of young men's passion seems almost to be wise. 


I knew, for instance, approximately the time when the two girls 
went with their mother or aunt to shop or to take a walk. It could 
be accidental that I came down the street so that I met them 
and took my cap off to them. But having passed them, I turned 
into a side street and ran a few blocks ahead so that I met them 
once again and could greet them again. I thought I was artful in 
handling the situation; it dawned upon rne only later that run- 
ning into the same person twice or even three times within a 
quarter of an hour could rouse suspicion. I pretended, of course, 
that I strolled through the streets, but my casualness, my sur- 
prised glancing up when 1 saw the girls again, and my taking off 
my cap with a friendly smile these were telltale giveaways. I 
am sure that I behaved so awkwardly at these chance encounters 
that it seemed pitiful. 

Once I was nine years old I did a terrible thing. One winter 
afternoon I walked home from school as usual with my classmate 
and friend Otto. Suddenly and without the slightest provocation 
I threw him to the ground. We rolled in the snow, in a fight in 
which I was victorious on account of my surprise attack. The next 
day, my father got a very indignant letter from Otto's father, who 
demanded payment for his son's torn overcoat. I had behaved so 
crazily because I had seen a certain little girl at the first-floor 
window of our apartment house. 

I was not aware then that my desperate attempts to arouse Ella's 
interest had the character of wooing. If I had known Goethe at 
the time, I could have said in his words, "When I love you, what 
does this concern you?" But my actions called my bluff. They 
were directed to the aim of awakening a friendly response, espe- 
cially that smile. It never came. It is strange that I did not feel 
frustrated and disappointed in the six years that I so pursued the 
shyly beloved girl. Her sister Mary smiled in a friendly enough 
way at me and nodded vivaciously; but Ella's greeting was hardly 
perceptible. She looked at me and looked away immediately. Only 
once her eyes met mine and rested there for a few seconds. It was 
a glance whose significance I could not understand. It was the 
first ^nd only time that I felt she looked attentively at me, I was 
puzzled by this look. What did it mean? 

The same evening my father told my mother at the dinner 


table that Mr. O. had bought a country house with many acres of 
garden and vineyard in Klosterneuburg, one hour from Vienna, 
and that the family was to move to this town in a few days. He 
added that Mr. O. had some silly idea that it was better for his 
daughters, approaching puberty, to live in the country where they 
would be protected from the many dangers which threatened girls 
growing up in Vienna. He planned to take them from public 
school and to let them be taught at home by private teachers. 
Ella was then ten years old. 

During the six years of my first love I had never spoken a word 
to its object. Mrs. O. asked me several times about my progress 
in school and about the health of my mother. Once I even made 
some casual remarks to Mary, on the stairway, but I was tongue- 
tied toward Ella who stood silently beside her sister. Only much 
later did I realize how rude my behavior had then been. 

I do not remember that the news that Ella and her family 
would move shortly or the fact that I would not see her any more 
produced any strong emotional reaction in me. The following 
months are only dimly remembered, but I know that I made a 
special nuisance of myself at home and in school and that my 
father often reproached me. It was rather a gloomy time, and I 
felt unhappy because I was a naughty boy and was often scolded. 
(But perhaps I was naughty because I felt unhappy?) 

In the following years I did not think of Ella any more. Out of 
sight, out of mind. I followed the many interests of a boy of this 
age and later I had the usual troubles of puberty as did the other 
boys. I flirted, joked with, and kissed the girl friends of my sister. 
At home Mr. O. and his family were not mentioned any more. 
Ella's image, which had been so vivid before my mind for some 
years, had evaporated. There are things one must forget. * 

The period from the twelfth to the nineteenth year sees many 
and decisive changes in a boy's life. It is the phase in which he 
makes the transition from childhood to manhood. 


I have already attempted to describe my reaction to the death 
of my father shortly after I had reached my eighteenth birthday, 
and my exclusive and compulsive preoccupation with Goethe's 
life and works. Whatever were the unrecognized thoughts under- 
lying it, my Goethe compulsion lost its uncontested power over 
me by and by and I re-emerged from my solitude. 

During my high school years I had a friend named David E. 
He was a year older than I, of a cheerful, easygoing temperament, 
popular with the boys as well as with the girls. He had become 
a young man about town just at the time when I became increas- 
ingly introverted; he was a realist while I was an idealist and a 
daydreamer. His versatility and smartness as well as his social 
poise contrasted with my shyness and slowness. He had decided 
to go into his father's furniture business. After we had passed our 
final examination we met but rarely. 

Just at the time when I hesitatingly recovered the path to so- 
ciability I ran into him on the street and we took a walk together. 
Strolling along the avenue of trees in the Prater, we talked of our 
past school experiences and our plans for the future. He suddenly 
stopped and said: "Look, the other day two very pretty girls asked 
me how you are and what you are doing." He then told me that 
he had met Mary and Ella O. His sister, who had been a class- 
mate of Mary's, was frequently invited to the country house of 
the O/s. He then described to me the strange life the two girls 
had led. It seemed to him that their father was a fool who sub- 
jected his wife, his sister-in-law, and his daughters to his idee fixe. 
He did not allow them to speak to anyone but women. No man, 
old or young, was permitted to enter the house except the mail- 
man, the gardener, and the grocer's boy. The two girls were 
strictly forbidden to speak to men. They could take a walk and 
occasionally shop in Vienna, but, of course, only if accompanied 
by their mother or aunt, who had given a solemn promise to 
keep every man at a distance from them. Calling him a son-of-a- 
gun, David asserted that Mr. O. seemed to have a very low opin- 
ion of women's virtue, that he wished the two girls to become 
old spinsters. To forbid two very attractive girls of nineteen and 
seventeen even to speak to young men was unheard of. The man 
was a dangerous lunatic, who really threatened to shoot any man 


who entered his sacred house. He should be put into the Insane 
asylum at Gugging, near Klosterneuburg. 

David then reported how he had met the two girls. His sister, 
who was sorry for Mary and Ella, had arranged the date. The 
country house in Klosterneuburg was in a side street. Near the 
church of the small town a narrow path led from the church hill 
upward along the large vineyard and garden of the O/s. Near 
the top of the hill, a ten-minute walk and invisible from the 
windows, there stood a garden-house in which the girls spent 
many summer afternoons. There was a meadow, surrounded by 
fruit trees. Nearby, a small door in the fence of the garden was 
almost hidden by the boughs of trees hanging over it. The girls 
had opened this door which was to remain locked by order of 
Mr. O. David had visited the two girls and his own sister in this 
part of the garden and had spent an afternoon in their pleasant 
company some weeks previously. It was summer and it was good 
to be in cool, fresh country air as often as possible. He had fre- 
quently spent free afternoons in the beautiful garden in Kloster- 
neuburg as the guest of the two girls. God forbid that Mr. O. 
should ever learn that a young man had entered his garden or 
had had a conversation with his daughters 1 With the discretion 
due such matters at the time, David made some remarks which 
gave me to understand that he was falling in love with Mary. 

Returning from his vivid talk about the situation in Kloster- 
neuburg to his initial remark, he told me that Ella had asked 
about me. The image of a little girl walking straight ahead and 
looking forward emerged and passed. I was suspicious of David 
who had liked to tease me in past years. Had his sister perhaps 
realized that I had been infatuated with Ella many years ago 
when I was a boy? In short, I did not believe David and told him 
to go climb a tree, preferably one of the apple trees in the garden 
in Klosterneuburg, But he insisted that he spoke the truth. 

About a week later, to my astonishment, David appeared in 
the university library where, as he knew, I was to be found at 
certain hours still reading Goethe or about Goethe. He called 
me out and told me that he had been in Klosterneuburg again 
and th^t he had promised the two girls he would bring me 
to their garden. He added that they were both very curious about 


me and asked me whether the day after tomorrow, a Tuesday, 
was convenient for me. I had to trust him. 

We took the train from the Franz-Josef Station and rode to 
Klosterneuburg-Kierling which had been familiar to me since 
my childhood. Arriving at the town, we took the bus which 
brought us to the church of the village Kierling. David led me 
to the path which went along the garden of the O.'s and we 
climbed up the hill and stood before the little door, half hidden 
by bushes, exactly as he had described it. And then we were in- 
side the garden; there were the meadow, the big trees, the sum- 
merhouse, and the bench some steps away from it. And there 
was Mary, who greeted me. She was as I remembered her, only 
taller, a beautiful woman; there were the classical features and 
the light blond hair and the easygoing, cheerful manner. 

We sat in the summerhouse and looked down on the church 
and the vineyards. It was early afternoon and all was quiet in the 
village. There was a spiral path, which led in curved lines from 
O.'s cottage upward to our spot. 

"Where is Ella?" asked David. Mary pointed to the path which 
was roofed and covered on both sides by vines. "There she is," 
answered Mary. We caught sight of a figure in a blue dress which 
came nearer, and Ella suddenly stood before me. She was ap- 
parently a bit breathless from climbing the hill. I looked into 
her blue eyes which were deep as a mountain lake and then I 
heard her warm voice. "How do you do, Mr. Reik?" 

I listened to this voice andjelt as if the bell of the church down 
there in the village had begun to ring. There was at last the smile 
for which I had longed many years ago, that same contrast of 
the serious expression of the eyes with the smile around the lips 
which had fascinated me when the little girl had said goodbye to 
her friend. 

I looked at her as if she were an apparition. Here was the girl 
I had known and yet a girl who was unknown to me. This feeling 
of the blending of strangeness and familiarity confused and 
startled me. The fusion of half-forgotten memories and of new 
impressions caused the sensation that I had experienced this 
situation before. Goethe must have had a similar feeling when 
he met Frau von Stein: 


Speakl Why is it this destiny engages 
Us in bonds that cannot broken be? 
Surely once in unremembered ages 
Thou wert sister or wert wife to me.* 

The psychological difference was that I had really known this 
same girl when she was seven years old and that I saw her again 
as a woman with all the charms of sweet seventeen. 

Ella wore a simple dress of light blue material. It followed 
the lines of the body. The wide skirt reached almost to the shoes, 
according to the fashion of the time. On her arm hung a straw 
hat with a wide brim. While David and Mary walked away, we 
sat on the bench and talked as if we had been old acquaintances. 
But were we not old acquaintances although we had never spoken 
to each other? Ella told me much about herself and her sister, 
how they had spent the years during which we had not seen each 
other. She had studied music and foreign languages, and was 
interested, it seemed, in literature. Just as now we spoke of my 
family and of hers. She told me that her father was frequently on 
his travels and that he always brought home nice gifts for both 
girls. College instructors tutored the sisters at their home. She 
asked about my studies and showed interest in my plans for the 
future. We exchanged memories of our childhood and of the 
people in the apartment house in which we both had lived. She 
told me that she had discovered Gerhart Hauptmann, whose The 
Weavers she loved, and I praised another writer whose plays and 
novels I had "discovered" in the meantime and whose name 
Arthur Schnitzler she had never heard. She was so natural and 
spontaneous, so sweet and friendly that I was overwhelmed. 
Where was the proud and haughy girl who had only once looked 
at me with a strange glance whose meaning puzzled me? 

(Many years later Ella told me that my silly behavior as a boy 
had made an impression on her and that she had been aware that 
it was a kind of silent courtship. She had wished I would speak 
to her, but, of course, she could not speak to me first. Little girls 

* Translation by Ludwig Lewisohn (Goethe, The Story of a Man, New 
York: Farrar, Straus and Company, 1949). 


have their pride. Her indifference, she told me, had been pretense. 
She had often heard her mother and her aunt say a woman should 
never show a man that she cared for him, because he would lose 
respect for her. I understood later that she had for hours day- 
dreamed about me, since the family moved to Klosterneuburg, 
and she showed me a snapshot of me as a boy of ten which she 
had secured from a girl friend. Ella had looked at it almost daily 
during these six years. She told me she had often whispered 
"Theodor" as if she could call me, and when David appeared, she 
hoped that her daydream would come true. On what meager diet 
can the illusion we call love live! An adolescent girl had spent 
years of her life daydreaming about a boy she had never spoken 
to and about whom she knew nothing but that he silently cared 
for her. And what a fool I had been! I had never suspected that 
I could be the object of her affection. Nothing in her behavior, 
not a single sign had shown that she paid attention to my clumsy 

It seemed she knew much about me and my family from the 
girl friends who had visited the sisters in those six years since 
they had moved to Klosterneuburg. We spoke of a hundred things 
and persons and we found we had many interests in common. 
David had to leave earlier than L I stayed another hour chatting 
with the girls, who had brought sandwiches of ham and eggs 
from the house. But twilight descended upon the garden and I 
had to leave. Before saying goodbye, I asked Ella to sing one of 
the lieder which I had heard her sing in my boyhood. She nodded 
and extended her hand to me without speaking. Then she walked 
slowly down to the house with her sister along the vine-covered 
spiral path, and I followed her with my gaze until she was not 
visible any more. I left the garden and approached the house, as 
near as I could without being seen. And then I heard the first 
bars of the Schubert song. Ella accompanied herself on the piano. 
Her sweet and warm voice sang the well-known words, the famil- 
iar tune of the Schubert lied I had heard her sing in Vienna: 

Du bist die Ruh 
Der Friede mild 
Die Sehnsucht du 


Und wassie stillt. 
You are sweet peace and rest, 
You are the haven blest, 
You are that bliss of yearning 
And all that cools its burning. 

In this moment these simple verses conveyed to me the essence 
not only of their gentlest creature but of all femininity of what 
is best in all women: that they are self-contained and that they 
have the center of gravity in their own soul, in contrast to the 
restlessness and destructiveness of men. 

I had missed the bus to the station and I walked the two miles 
apparently on the hard highway, in reality on clouds. The image 
of Ella accompanied me. I saw her face and her eyes and her 
smile before me. In my imagination I followed the lines of her 
figure down the wide blue skirt. I compared this image to a blue- 
bell in clumsy verses which ran through my mind. But again and 
again the tune of the Schubert song emerged and I sang half 
aloud, "Du bist die Ruh." 

People who met the young man on the road and saw his silly 
smile or heard him singing must have thought that he had 
escaped from the asylum at Gugging nearby. But I did not care 
about public opinion because I felt that I had discovered the 
most precious secret in the world. I was sure that I was its only 
possessor. Nobody could have convinced me to the contrary. I 
was nineteen. No use to talk to me. 

We were married seven years later, almost to the day. 

During those seven years I would take the train from Vienna 
to Klosterneuburg, the bus from the station to the village, and 
I would walk up to that garden gate whenever Mr. O. was ab- 
sent. (Much later I used to joke with my wife that I had served 
seven years for her as Jacob had for Rachel, in the Holy Scrip- 
ture.) Sometimes I could stay with Ella only half an hour or less; 


but neither snow nor hail, neither cold nor heat could keep me 
away from Klosterneuburg. During those seven years I never set 
foot in the house of the O.'s and never spoke a word with my 
future father-in-law. Mary and Ella both implored me not to ap- 
proach him. It would unavoidably mean the end of my visits, 
which had to remain a secret. After some months it became neces- 
sary to tell Mrs. O. about the clandestine visitor. She was terrified 
and so scared of her husband that she cried. She could be per- 
suaded to keep the secret from Mr. O. only when Ella threatened 
to leave home and never to return. The aunt was, of course, not 
let into the secret. The people in the village must have wondered 
about the young man who, almost daily, in every weather, went 
up from the church square to a certain garden gate. They must 
also have seen him with the young girl through the gaps of the 
garden fence; but they did not give us away to Mr. O. as though 
they respected our secret engagement. 

As far as I remember, Ella and I made only two excursions to- 
gether during those seven years. We were too afraid of being seen 
together by acquaintances of Mr. O., on the train or on the bus. 
It is strange but true that Mr. O. did not know about the clandes- 
tine visitor in his garden until Ella told him a few weeks before 
she came of age and left her home. (In Austria at this time peo- 
ple came of age at twenty-four years.) Mr. O. had a violent temper 
and was a bully toward wife and daughters, who were afraid of 
him. He would have perhaps made good his threat to shoot 
every man who trod upon his ground. 

Our first excursion is as vivid in my memory as if it had hap- 
pened yesterday. It was perhaps six weeks after my first visit to 
Klosterneuburg that we decided to make an excursion. We 
wanted to walk over the Kahlenberg, the well-known mountain, 
to Heiligenstadt, and return by a different road. We met at a 
certain place outside the village, where it was unlikely that we 
would encounter acquaintances of Mr. O. I still remember how 
lovely Ella was in a dirndl dress, walking toward me early that 
Sunday morning. The September sun was pleasant and we took 
our time. We walked slowly passing cottages and vineyards, chat- 
ting with the farm folk we encountered, often stopping to look 
at the view. We soon arrived at the wood and we began the ascent 


to the summit. Near the peak, we chose a spot among the pine 
trees, where we could rest comfortably and look down into the 
valley. Before us was the Vienna Wood, the vineyards around 
Nussdorf and Heiligenstadt, the small towns on the Danube, 
which looked like a silver ribbon, and there the city in which we 
both were born. Ella had modestly pulled her wide dirndl skirt 
over her ankles when she sat down. We were both silent. I 
smoked a cigarette and, as if under a spell, I looked at Ella's 
profile, following the beautiful curve from the hair to the throat. 
Her face was in repose, of the loveliness and serenity of a Botticelli 
madonna. I felt as if I had met the Holy Virgin on the Kahlen- 
berg on a Sunday noon. 

She seemed so remote, so out of reach, so far above me at this 
moment. In these last weeks we had become familiar enough; we 
had talked about so many things, but we had not spoken about 
our feelings toward each other. The girl had been friendly and 
natural, but would she not be as friendly with any other young 
man? I had so often wished to kiss her, but she seemed so cool, 
so self-sufficient and exquisite, that one did not dare touch hen I 
was shy and I was afraid she would be offended if I approached 
her. All around us was quiet; only the birds hopped from one 
bough to another. A gentle breeze made the grass and the 
meadow flowers bend with a rustling noise. It was as if nature 
held its breath in expectancy. 

For a long time Ella looked quietly down into the valley with- 
out moving. It was as if she was far away in her thoughts. Slowly 
she turned her face to me and looked seriously into my eyes. At 
this moment I did not hesitate any more. What propelled me 
was stronger than my shyness. I took her into my arms and kissed 
her. It was only some seconds, but it seemed to me a small eternity 
until I felt that she lifted her face to me and that her lips re- 
sponded to my kiss. I stammered words of love and endearment 
and did not want to let her go. I implored her to say something, 
to answer my passionate questions, but she only bent her head 
back and looked into my eyes, without speaking. And then came 
that slow smile, while the eyes remained serious, that smile known 
to me so well since I was a child, and she said in a low, but firm 
voice, "I have waited so long for this/' 


I was flabbergasted. I had never thought that she expected to 
be kissed by me. (What fools young men are in all these things! 
A young Parisian lady once taught me an unforgettable lesson: 
We were speaking about a friend of mine, who had no secrets 
from me. She took it for granted that he was in love with a certain 
girl. My friend had often talked to me about his emotions about 
different women, As a matter of fact, he had also spoken about 
that girl, but I had not received the impression that he felt espe- 
cially attracted to her. I am sure that my friend himself would 
have denied it at the time. I therefore expressed my definite dis- 
belief when the Parisian lady remarked that my friend was in 
love with the girl. My charming partner in conversation looked 
at me with a smile which expressed a mixture of pity and amuse- 
ment, shrugged her shoulders, and said, "Stupide comme un 
hommel" A few weeks later, my friend had discovered to his 
great surprise that he was in love with that girl a fact which 
had remained unknown to him, but not to the girl or to her 
friends. Women are ahead of us men not only in their sensitive- 
ness about such feelings; they are also much more realistic about 
them than men, who are the true romantics. Not long ago an old 
lady said to me, " While a young man thinks over how to tell a 
girl that he worships her, she already considers how to furnish 
the drawing room.") 

After the kiss my shyness had evaporated and I could speak 
freely about us and our future. The sun, the pine trees, the song 
of the birds, and all the sweet scents of summer were changed. 
The world was flooded with glory. Holding hands, we walked 
down the Kahlenberg and I felt boundlessly happy. We arrived 
at Heiligenstadt where we had lunch at a small restaurant. Later 
on, we passed a Heurigen, one of those inns where the wine of 
the year is served. Most of those places are in the open; people sit 
around small tables under trees, drinking the sweet wine which 
has grown on the surrounding hills and listening to the "Schram- 
inel quartet," We too sat down and heard some of the familiar 
tunes played by the three violins accompanied by an accordion. 
When we walked along, we moved in the three-quarter measure 
of the tune following us. 


The air was full of promise. The faces of men, women, and 
children coming our way seemed to be carefree and smiling. It 
was as if they all shared our happiness. We followed the Sunday 
crowd to a place where people danced to the playing of a small 
orchestra. It was a typical Austrian peasant dance, with its peculiar 
kind of merrymaking, not at all refined, but rustic and earthy, 
accompanied by jokes, laughter, and teasing. Sometimes a couple 
did more stamping than dancing and quite a few young men 
flung their girls into the air, to catch them again in their arms. 
We looked on; Ella said, "Isn't it exactly like a hundred years 
ago, when Beethoven composed the Pastoral here? There are the 
peasants; these are the same kind of dances as then/' 

I had not thought of Beethoven. This was indeed Heifigen- 
stadt, where Beethoven composed his Sixth Symphony; the same 
place where he wrote his famous will, that somber, heartbreaking 
document of a suffering genius. "Let's hope that there will be no 
tempest as in the Sixth," I said, but the sky was cloudlessly blue 
and serene. As it was still early, we decided to walk on and we 
turned toward Grinzing. At a certain point Ella stood still and 
said, "But we must be near the Schreiberbach here." I had never 
heard of this brook. 

"What is so remarkable about the Schreiberbach?" I asked. 

"Don't you know?" She told me then that it was at the Schrei- 
berbach, between Heiligenstadt and Grinzing, where Beethoven 
composed the brook scene. We asked one of the peasants we met 
where the Schreiberbach was. On the way there, Ella told me 
that Beethoven had heard in the bubbling murmur of that brook 
the lovely tune which the first violins play in the Pastoral. We 
found the brook. Ella told me (how much the girl knew about 
the great composer's life!) that later Beethoven had made an ex- 
cursion to this very point with his loyal friend Schindler. He had 
pointed out this spot, and had added, "The birds composed with 
me/' alluding to the joke of the bird song at the close of the 
movement. We returned to the Heiligenstadt station, where Ella 
took the train home and I another one to Vienna. 

What had surprised me in rereading my objective study of 
Goethe was the sudden transition from Truth and Fiction to 
Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, the jump from Sesenheim near 


Strassburg to Heiligenstadt near Vienna. What were the con- 
necting links? Goethe wrote his autobiography about the time 
when Beethoven made his sketches for the Pastoral; the tunes o 
this symphony could well describe the rural idyl at Sesenheim. 
The movement after the storm expressed a mood similar to 
Goethe's, when he felt that he had escaped the doom of the curse. 
"Grateful Feelings after the Storm/* the words that Beethoven 
had written in his scorethe words which I had chosen as the 
title of that chapter-were appropriate to the picture of the young 
poet when the Alsatian landscape quieted and consoled him, 
after his leave-taking from Friederike. The threads between the 
Sesenheim story and the Pastoral were so slender that the con- 
nection between them appeared to be artificial. But the title, Bee- 
thoven's sentence, had emerged spontaneously and my thoughts 
had really led from Sesenheim to Heiligenstadt when I wrote 
that chapter. Now I realized that my own memories had un- 
consciously influenced my train of thought. The memory of our 
excursion to Heiligenstadt had determined the title of the chap 
ter of my Goethe study "Joyous and Grateful Feelings after the 
Storm." This same memory made me introduce the Sixth Sym- 
phony into a psychological investigation of young Goethe's mood, 
as he rode away from Sesenheim. It cannot be accidental that the 
chapter described Goethe's situation after he left Friederike, 
while my unconscious thoughts had circled around the time when 
Ella and I first spoke of our love for each other. If we accept that 
our train of thought is unconsciously determined, then the con- 
trast of the two situations must have its secret psychological sig- 
nificance. In that chapter the end of Goethe's romance is 
sketched; my memory of the excursion to Heiligenstadt marks 
the beginning of a romance. 

But before we try to penetrate into this darker area, a tie be- 
tween the two situations becomes clear, when one compares them. 
Goethe describes in the third part of Truth and Fiction how his 
journey through Alsace mitigated his sorrow and that he again 
found himself looking at the landscape. The sense for the beauty 
of nature had been sadly neglected in my education. My early 
interests were almost exclusively directed to human relations. 
Later, time and occasion to correct that deficiency were lacking. 


I had been scarely aware of it until I met Ella. The excursion to 
Heiligenstadt is one of my earliest memories to recall that what- 
ever little sense for beauty of nature I possess was awakened by 
her. She showed me the pretty or remarkable qualities of flowers 
and trees and the beauties of landscapes and views. I began to 
see shapes and colors in the country and found increasing pleas- 
ure in the observation of woods, rivers, and hills. I saw with her 
eyes. But was not my teacher the loveliest creation of living 
nature? When she made me see beauty in flowers and trees in the 
garden of Klosterneuburg, in the view from the Kahlenberg, it 
was as if the landscape surrounding us was only an extension of 
her own charm. 

In contrast to Goethe, who received his best and most signifi- 
cant impressions through the eye, I was, as the French psycholo- 
gists would say, a "type auditif" I was not just blind as a bat, 
but most of my impressions and memories were of an auditory 

These psychological considerations lead me to comment on the 
differences between the presentation of the Sesenheim romance 
and my report. In Goethe's story the reader sees forms and colors 
of persons and things. It is as if what happened almost one hun- 
dred and eighty years ago, in Strassburg and Sesenheim, is res- 
urrected, happens again before the reader's eye. It does not 
occur to me to compare my own poor presentation with Goethe's, 
in regard to artistic values. But it is noteworthy that most of the 
recollections presented here are connected with music. The tran- 
sition from the story of the Sesenheim idyl to Beethoven's Sixth 
Symphony is only one of the significant examples. 

In reading the first draft of these memories, I myself was sur- 
prised at how many of them are connected with music, with 
sounds and tunes. It is as if musical compositions are the pearls 
on which these recollections are engraved. This fact can be easily 
understood. The Vienna of my youth was the most musical city 
of the world. It was not only on account of the great tradition 
that the most prominent composers lived here and left their im- 
print on the cultural life of the city. A concert of the famous 
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, a first performance at the Opera 
(both directed by Gustav Mahler) were for weeks the subject of 


vivid discussion among the upper and middle classes of people. 
"Let me go where'er I will, I hear a sky-born music still" Emer- 
son's words could have described the atmosphere of Vienna at 
that time. There was scarcely a house out of which you did not 
hear song, piano, or violin. My own family, as well as the O/s, 
were very interested in music. My mother and sister played the 
piano rather well and my older brother was an amateur violinist 
who won very favorable reviews after some public performances. 
I had been the only one in the family who did not play a musical 
instrument. But in my early twenties I could not hear enough 
music. Indeed my recollections of those years appear intimately 
connected with music; especially those memories which concern 
my romance with Ella, who was an excellent musician. When I 
listened to her playing a Mozart concerto on the piano or singing 
a Schubert lied, I felt as the Duke did in Shakespeare's play: "If 
music be the food of love, play on." 

Most of the clues which proved that my own memories had 
sneaked into my objective study on Goethe are to be found in the 
titles I had given to the chapters. I had not searched for them; they 
simply occurred to me. For that reason, those personal experiences 
secretly found their way into the research. This very fact shows 
convincingly that we cannot keep secret thoughts to ourselves; 
they ooze out from us without our knowledge. 

Later I understood why those hidden memory-traces gave them- 
selves away in the chapter titles. The psychical mechanism of 
isolation was operating here. It is a defense mechanism which 
separates two spheres originally belonging together and isolates 
an idea from the emotions associated with it. Two areas of 
thought are thus prevented from having contact with each other. 
By putting an interval in time or place between the two areas of 
ideas, they remain apart. This isolation mechanism is operating 
in our daily lives, For instance, we try to exclude or eliminate 
emotional associations when we want to think objectively. To 
keep away personal thoughts from a scientific and objective task 


is necessary in the interest of logic. By this isolation the bridge 
between one sphere and the other is drawn; there is no longer 
any connection between them. I had written a psychoanalytic 
study on Goethe and nothing or almost nothing in its text 
showed that it had any connection with my experiences. But I 
had unconsciously given myself away in those telltale titles, which 
were set apart and had a place of their own. By this unconscious 
device of isolating, I had avoided recognizing that the two spheres 
of thought, the Sesenheim romance and my own, came in contact 
with each other. I had maintained the thought-avoidance so care- 
fully that I myself had not recognized the subterranean connec- 
tion until ten years later. The titles and the content of the chap- 
ters were thus separated, and their distance from each other 
helped to conceal the fact that there was a secret tie between the 
Goethe story and my own. What astonished me most was that 
these titles, which were so revealing, were at the same time so 
appropriate to the subject; were so well in keeping with the con- 
tent of the chapters. They fitted so well that not the slightest 
suspicion could be aroused that they had another, personal mean- 
ing. In choosing them, I let hidden memories slip into my re- 
search. In isolating them, in setting them apart as titles, I had 
disconnected their emotional significance from the objective in- 
vestigation. At the same time, the wording of the titles had made 
a significant contribution to the study. 

Take, for instance, "Freundliche Vision" the title I gave to 
the chapter describing the mysterious apparition Goethe had seen 
when he rode away from Friederike, the vision in which he had 
seen himself in a very elegant costume, riding back to her. Is the 
title not well suited to the content of that chapter? I knew, of 
course, when I wrote it that the "Freundliche Vision" is a song 
by Richard Strauss, a song I had heard several times. I chose it, 
or rather it occurred to me, because the words "Friendly Vision" 
gave the real, emotional content of the story; but I did not then 
think of how closely this title was connected with a personal ex- 
perience. I had not forgotten this experience, but it had never 
occurred to me that it had its significance in this place. The dis- 
connection thus amounted to a distortion, because it interrupted 
the electric current between the two emotional areas and made 


its existence unrecognizable not only to the reader but also to 

The Strauss song has its place in my recollections of the second 
excursion Ella and I made together. That was probably during 
the next summer (1908) and this time our destination was nearer 
to Klosterneuburg: the little town of Nussdorf, about two hours 
from Ella's house. We met near the Klosterneuburg station it 
was again on a Sunday and we again walked slowly on the high- 
way. We had an early lunch of goulash and a glass of the famous 
Nussdorfer wine in a small restaurant on the roadside. The 
friendly innkeeper chatted with us in broad Viennese dialect 
(which we both spoke) for a little while and then left us alone. It 
was a small room, with a few tables nicely covered with white 
linen, ready to make the Sunday customers welcome. From the wall 
the picture of our old Kaiser Franz Josef looked benignly down 
on us. Against the other wall stood a piano. I asked Ella to play. 
She sat down and played a Mozart minuet. When I asked her to 
sing, she was undecided what she should choose. "Why not Schu- 
bert?" I asked. 'The 'HeidenrosleinT' She nodded and sought 
on the keys for the first bars. The next minute, I heard her gentle 
and expressive voice sing the well-known lied: 

Sah ein Knab 3 ein Roslein stehn, 
Roslein auf der Heiden. . . . 

Saw a boy a rosebud there 

Rosebud in the heather 

Tipped with dew and passing fair, 

Swift he ran to pluck it there 

In the golden weather. 

Rosebud pretty, 

Rosebud red, 

Rosebud in the heather. 

Said the boy "I'll pluck thee now, 
Rosebud in the heather!" 
Said the rose "I'll stab thee now, 
For my thorn is sharp, I trow. 
Bear it will I never." 


Rosebud pretty, 

Rosebud red, 

Rosebud in the heather! 

But the boy, he broke in scorn, 
Tho she stabb'd him with her thorn 
Yet she died that summer morn 
In the golden weather. 
Rosebud pretty, 
Rosebud red, 
Rosebud in the heather. 

Ella's warm voice died away. We were both silent a moment, 
but then I spoke about the poem. I described to Ella how young 
Goethe had met the famous theologian and writer, Gottfried 
Herder, in Strassburg, and how the friendship with this older 
and matured man had amounted to a kind of mental revolution 
in the young genius. Herder had stated that poetry originates in 
the, folk song and reflects the emotions and thoughts of the 
people. In contrast to most German contemporary critics, he 
despised the making of verses that imitated the smooth, gallant, 
and elegant French poetry. Poems, he said, should be born out 
of the true and deep feeling of the average man. Under his in- 
fluence, young Goethe, who had until then made playful and 
frivolous verses in the French manner, began to compose those 
youthful poems which expressed his deepest emotions and ex- 
periences. Young Goethe began to collect old folk songs, while 
he wandered around in Alsace, The " Heidenroslein" was, no 
doubt, a poetic transformation of an old folk song to which 
Goethe had given a new shape. Herder published the "Heiden- 
roslein" in 1773 for the first time in his magazine Von deutscher 
Art und Kunst. A stream of beautiful poems, masterpieces like 
"Welcome and Leave-taking," the "May Song/' and others 
emerged, as if a floodgate had been opened. It was not only the 
influence of Herder that freed the young poet from the imitation 
of formalistic and conventional French poetry. He had fallen in 
love with Friederike, who was then seventeen years old. 

I told Ella then and there the story of Sesenheim, and tried to 
give her a vivid picture of that romance, of its blissful beginning 


and its tragic end. I pointed out to her that Friederike was the 
primal image which lived in so many of Goethe's girl-figures, and 
which made him shape the loveliest of them all, Gretchen, in 
Faust. As far as I can remember, that was the only time I talked 
about Friederike to her. And did I talk! I must have given her a 
lecture like a professor of German literature. My compulsive 
Goethe reading had been done not so long ago. Where was there 
a boy of twenty who knew more about Goethe than I? No doubt, 
I wanted to impress my girl, to show off to her. I talked learnedly 
and, I am afraid, pedantically. I quoted chapter and verse and 
that literally, because I advised her which section of Truth and 
Fiction she should read and I recited Goethe's poems of the Sesen- 
heim time which I knew, of course, by heart. I could give her the 
data when the young poet visited his sweetheart and when he left 

I, spoke about Goethe's experience with Friederike, without 
much psychological understanding, I am sure; like a young man 
who tells his sweetheart about the romance of another young man 
one hundred and eighty years before. I was a student of psychol- 
ogy, it is true, but I heard the name Sigmund Freud for the first 
time in a lecture of the following year. 

"And what happened to Friederike afterward?" asked Ella. 

I told her what I knew about it; that Friederike became a gen- 
erally loved aunt and died as an old spinster, perhaps without 
having read the description of the Sesenheim romance in Goethe's 
autobiography. I also recited the beautiful lines on her tomb- 
stone. Ella listened without interrupting me. After I had told her 
about Friederike's destiny, she was silent and looked thought- 
fully ahead. What did she think? It was as if she was far away in 
her thoughts. 

What she said then could it possibly have any connection with 
the story of Goethe and Friederike I had just told her? "Do you 
know any songs by Richard Strauss?" "No, but I do not like the 
man/' I answered. I was a bit annoyed because I felt that she was 
not interested in my Goethe story or did not appreciate it. Why 
had she dropped the subject so suddenly and asked about some- 
thing which was so remote from it? 

As a matter of fact, at this time (1908) I had not yet heard any 


musical composition by Richard Strauss, and I really did not 
like him. I knew and loved only one of the contemporary com- 
posers, Gustav Mahler. A few months earlier, Mahler had yielded 
to the stupid intrigues of his enemies and had left Vienna, to go 
to New York. Like many young Viennese who realized that Mah- 
ler was a genius, I felt it as a cultural loss that the loved and 
admired man had left our city. Richard Strauss appeared to me as 
Mahler's victorious rival. The public of Vienna and of Germany 
preferred his operas and songs to Mahler's symphonies. He re- 
ceived all the appreciation and honor which, in my opinion, 
Mahler deserved. I had been a passionate "Mahlerite" and I had 
felt antagonistic to Strauss, because I had the impression that he 
was pushing forward and strove for cheap laurels. 

Ella then told me that her father had made the acquaintance of 
Strauss in Dresden, and that the two men had become friends. 
She herself liked some of the songs by Strauss, for instance, 
"Freundliche Vision." The friendship of the composer with Mr. 
O. did not make me feel milder toward him. (The company he 
keeps!) And then we got into a real lover's quarrel and said a lot 
of silly things. I called Strauss a poseur and a "phony," a money- 
grasping man without conviction and integrity, and Ella repeated 
some of the stupid gossip she had heard about Mahler; that he 
was inhuman and tyrannical, and that he had many affairs with 
the singers of the Vienna Opera, whose director he had been. We 
argued about the merits and demerits of the works of both com- 
posers and their places in the music of our time. The funny thing 
was that Ella had never heard a composition by Mahler and I 
never one by Strauss. We suddenly realized how childish and silly 
our argument was, and began to laugh. We kissed and made up. 

Ella then did the only thing which was reasonable in the situa- 
tion. She went over to the piano and started to play. I still re- 
member how the quietly floating tune of "Freundliche Vision" 
sounded and that she sang the words: 

Not in slumber did the dream arise, 

But in day's broad light I saw it all ... 

Our conversation, especially the argument into which we 
glided, often came back to me in later years. How did it start? 


With my story of Goethe and Friederike. Later on, during the 
years of our marriage, we sometimes talked about Goethe. We 
saw Faust and Tasso together, and I read some poems to Ella; 
but, as far as I remember, Friederike and the Sesenheim time 
were never again mentioned. 

Hearing the ic Heidenroslein" had led to my talking about 
Goethe and Friederike, but why had I suggested this particular 
song? Schubert composed six hundred and three lieder why just 
this one? He composed seventy-two Goethe poems, and among 
them are pearls like the "Erlkdnig," "Rastlose Liebe/' "Wan- 
derer's Nachtlied" "Der Fischer" the "Mignon" and the "Suleika" 
songs. Yes, he even composed a poem of Goethe's from the Sesen- 
heim period "Willkommen und Abschied" Why then did I 
wish to hear the "Heidenroslein"? I do not believe in accidents 
in a choice like this. Psychoanalysis has convinced me that there 
are undercurrent, unconscious thoughts which determine why 
our mind goes in one direction and not in the other. When 
Goethe wrote the poem, he had thought, of course, of Friederike. 
The plucking of the heath rose is a symbolic expression for the 
deflowering of a girl. Was not my unconscious mind directed to 
the same aim? Did I not choose the "Heidenroslein" because my 
train of thought ran along the same road? And then I had talked 
about the Sesenheim time, about the romance of the two young 
people, and of Goethe's leave-taking after he had fallen in love 
with the girl. 

Without having an inkling of a notion that I thought this, I 
must have unconsciously hinted at such a possibility in my case. 
I myself must have unconsciously played with the idea of flight. 
There was, I am now sure, a subtle threat in my telling Ella the 
story of young Goethe and Friederike. It wasr as if I conveyed the 
possibility that I could leave her as Goethe left his sweetheart 
Nothing was further from my conscious mind than such a possi- 
bility, but the logical and more than thisthe psychological 
sequence of our conversation does not allow any other interpreta- 
tion. It was as if I had expressed in a hidden and subtle manner: 
You see, Goethe left Friederike because she did not yield to his 
desires, because she did not give herself to him. The fact that I 
wanted to hear the '' ' Heidenroslein" and then told the story of 


Goethe's romance-that Ella and I were about the same age as 
that other young couple and in a similar situation only points 
to the psychological truth that the undercurrent of my talk con- 
tained this secret meaning, 

Ella had silently listened to my story, but I felt somehow that 
her very silence expressed disapproval and condemnation of the 
subject of my tale. You sense such unspoken emotions in the at- 
mosphere. It was not only disapproval of young Goethe's attitude 
but also of my own, because she must have unconsciously felt 
that his behavior betrayed a psychical potentiality in me. (But did 
I not consciously, at least disapprove of Goethe deserting his 
sweetheart?) She had then asked what had happened to Frie- 
derike afterward, and I had told her. Did she not unconsciously 
identify herself with Friederike, compare herself with Goethe's 
girl? She must have thought of us two, of our future and of what 
would happen to herself. It was a moment in which the uncon- 
scious of one person spoke to that of another, without words and 
beyond words. While she sat there quietly, her hands in her lap, 
looking ahead of her, she must have thought: What has destiny 
in store for me? Will I be another Friederike? 

And then she had asked me whether I knew any songs by Rich- 
ard Strauss, and I had felt annoyed as if she had paid no atten- 
tion to what I had told her in words and without words. She had 
turned away from the subject and from me, it seemed then. But 
now when I look back at it, her thinking of the "Friendly Vision" 
did not mean a withdrawal from the problem, which we had not 
discussed but which we both secretly had in our mind. It was the 
continuation of our theme in another direction. She had pursued 
her train of thought, but it had led her to another station. She 
had turned away from the picture of Goethe's desertion and 
Friederike's loneliness in her thoughts, but not from us two. She 
had been led to another, happier image, to the "Welcome 

Nicht im Schlafe hab ich es geseh'n . . . 

to the dreamlike song, which calls up a friendly vision indeed of a 
young married couple walking arm in arm to a beautiful, cool 


cottage, in the summer. If I had been able then to look below 
the surface, to "listen with the third ear," I would have recog- 
nized that Ella, instead of envisioning a possible future like 
Friederike's, had turned to this other, more promising vision be- 
fore her mind. She did not want to face the music, or rather she 
wanted to face another one, the tune called up by the Strauss 

Not in slumber did the dream arise . . . 

But I did not know that when I was twenty. What did I know 
then about the thoughts and the deep feelings of a young girl? 
I merely had the impression that she wished to drop the subject 
and had turned to a song by Richard Strauss, whom I did not 

When I try now to reconstruct what perhaps went on in her 
mind, sensing rather than reasoning, when I now consider what 
was hidden in her reaction, as in a concealed answer to an un- 
spoken question, I can perhaps guess what she may have been 
thinking. She rejected the unconscious suggestion hinted at in 
my speaking of the "Heidenroslein" and Friederike, the sugges- 
tion of intimate relationship, which the song indicated. Her 
thoughts must then have gone to her father, in whose eyes a love 
affair would have appeared as criminal. . . . She thought that 
her father was at the time on a journey and in Dresden. ... He 
had sent her some songs by Strauss, whom he knew personally, 
from there. . . . "The Welcome Vision" is one of these songs. 
. . . The image which this song calls up is of a young couple, in 
their beautiful garden and their quiet house. Her thoughts, 
which had repelled the possibility of a future like Friederike's, 
were attracted by this other vision of future happiness. 

I was young, unfeeling and cruel. I did not guess what went on 
behind her clear forehead. If youth but knew ... I had un- 
consciously interpreted her silence and her question about Strauss 
as lack of interest and withdrawal of affection. At the same time, 
it amounted to a rejection of what was concealed in my talk. In 
reality it was as if I had said, "I want you to become my mistress 
or I shall leave you," and she had said, "No, I want to be mar- 


ried/' because that was what the "Freundliche Vision" uncon- 
sciously meant. 

In the argument about Strauss and Mahler, the concealed con- 
flict between our views had been continued. In striking at Strauss, 
I had hiddenly attacked her father, had called him "phony" and 
"poseur." She had called Mahler tyrannical and sensual or even 
lecherous; she must have meant me, without knowing it. All my 
anger against Mr. O. must have broken forth in displaced aggres- 
sion against the composer, who was his friend. She had uncon- 
sciously defended her father, when she protected Strauss, and had 
rejected my views which were so contrary to her father's. I had 
insisted that Mr. O., as well as Strauss, had to be brought down 
a peg; she had said that Mahler and I were conceited and intol- 
erant. The quarrel about those two was only on the surface. In 
reality it concerned a much more important contrast, one which 
was more personal and more vital and had to do with the core of 
our relationship. It was a clash of wills behind the clash of opin- 
ions about two musicians. Not what we thought of them, but 
what we thought of each other had a concealed expression in 
this lover's quarrel. It was a communication between our uncon- 
scious thoughts. 

I do not know how far the reconstruction attempted here is 
correct. If it did not hit the target, it at least struck near home. 
It was really ridiculous, I thought later on, our first quarrel. We 
had argued about Mahler and Strauss, of all things! But we had 
been reconciled and we had kissed each other. All's well that ends 

But it did not end so well. It was still early afternoon when we 
left the inn at Nussdorf. We walked around in the little town and 
finally arrived at a public dance hall. Its door was open and we 
could see many couples dancing waltzes. I had danced at student 
balls during the last winter, but I had never danced with Ella. I 
asked her to go in to the hall with me, but she hesitated to enter 
the place, which was respectable enough. Was a trace of ill-humor 


or injured feeling left in her? I took her arm and led her into the 
wide hall. 

Just when we entered, the orchestra began to play "Roses From 
the South," a favorite Strauss waltz. We danced well together and 
we enjoyed it. When the waltz came to an end, the people 
clapped their hands and forced the orchestra to strike up the next 
waltz immediately. 

"Let's skip this one, darling," Ella asked. But I had my arm 
around her and the tune carried me away. Inconsiderately I 
insisted that we dance at least this last waltz. In the middle of it, 
I felt that Ella's hand, which lay lightly on my shoulder, had 
glided down. Panic-stricken, I looked at her face, which seemed 
suddenly changed. It appeared swollen, the lips almost blue. She 
fought to get her breath. 

"I can't. I can't any more," she said. It took an effort to say these 
words. It seemed that she would fall- to the ground the next min- 
ute. I carried her to a neighboring room, where she sank down 
on a couch. I was very frightened, watching her gasp for breath. 
The beloved eyes were closed, and she seemed unable to answer 
my worried questions. I wanted to call a physician, but she did 
not allow me to. 

"Give me only a few minutes. I'll be all right/' she said. Slowly 
she recovered her breath and looked as she had before the dance. 
She explained that she had sometimes had such attacks. They 
lasted only a few minutes and had no bad aftereffects. She 
seemed all right now. I insisted that she rest half an hour, and 
she smilingly complied. We sat there quietly and listened to the 
orchestra, which played familiar Viennese tunes. When I asked 
her how she felt, she seemed in a good mood, but I sensed some 
sad undertones in her gaiety. After some time, she wished to take 
the train home. I took her to the station and saw her off. Com- 
fortably installed in her compartment, she spoke to me and blew 
me a furtive kiss, when the train began to move. 

I had planned to stay much longer with Ella. There was time 
on my hands, so I decided to walk from Nussdorf to Vienna. 
Marching along, I thought of Ella but I was not worried any 
more about her. Her sudden illness was perhaps due to the heat 
iirthe dance hall or to the glass of wine, because she never drank 


alcohol. It occurred to me also that our argument had upset her 
and perhaps caused her attack. I felt guilty. Why had I hurt 
the beloved girl? I reviewed our conversation, which still pre- 
occupied my thoughts. There was something in our argument 
which I could not fathom. . . . Why, we had talked about 
Goethe and Friederike what was there to get upset about? 

I had decided to follow the course of the river on my march 
to Vienna. "On the beautiful blue Danube," I murmured me- 
chanically as I walked along and looked at the waves, which 
rolled along and looked rather grayish in the light of the ap- 
proaching evening. And then suddenly verses of Goethe's "To 
the Moon" came to my mind. I was not Goethe-possessed or 
Goethe-crazy any more at the time, but our conversation of this 
afternoon had, of course, brought my thoughts back to him again. 
I was speaking the lines half aloud. To my own surprise, they 
were verses of a lost love, of looking back at a happy time of 
romance which had tragically ended. Walking along the Danube, 
I was reciting: 

Echoes murmur once again 
Of days bright and dour, 
Hold me between joy and pain 
In my lonely hour. 

Flow, beloved river, flow! 
Joy from me has gone, 
Old embraces perished so, 
Troth that was undone. 

Once I had the better part, 

Things that precious be, 

And that haunt the tortured heart 


River, roll the dale along 
Without pause or ease, 
Answering unto my song 
With thy melodies . . .* 

* Translated by Ludwig Lewisohn, Goethe, 1949. 


Why was I depressed? It suddenly occurred to me that Mrs. O. 
had told me a few months ago that Ella had had rheumatic 
fever as a child, and that she had to be careful not to overexert 
herself. Dr. W., the family physician in Klosterneuburg, had as- 
sured Mrs. O. that Ella's heart functioned almost normally, as 
long as she was not subjected to great physical demands. I 
thought that Ella's indisposition was perhaps due to a heart ail- 
ment, but had not Mrs. O. told me that there was nothing seri- 
ously wrong with Ella's heart? Had Ella not recovered within 
a few minutes? Perhaps she had to be cautious and remain aware 
of overexertion and excitement. I argued with myself that I was 
unduly worried and that Ella was basically healthy. I decided to 
dismiss these unfounded scruples and to think of more pleasant 
things, for instance, of Ella's and my future together. I called 
up her lovable image. It was as if I had invited her to accompany 
me on my lonely walk. 

When I came to the suburbs of Vienna, evening had already 
descended upon the city. The streets were full of the Sunday 
crowd, of people enjoying themselves. Young couples sat at tables, 
on which wind-protected candles stood in the open air, and 
listened to and sang with the three fiddlers and the accordion 
player. I still remember that I heard the people sing one of the 
Viennese hit songs of those days, and I remember the tune and 
the words in Viennese dialect: 

*s wird schone Maderl'n geb'n 
Und mir wer*n nimmer leb'n. 

There will be beautiful girls galore 
And we shall not live any more. 

A strange characteristic of the Viennese folk songs of that time 
-special features of their words and their tunes differentiated 
them from the songs of other people. Mostly in waltz-measure, 
they were simple and tuneful. Their artistic value might be small, 
but they represent Vienna and the Viennese of that era so well 
that hearing them after many years still awakens nostalgia for the 
past. What characterizes them is a mixture of enjoyment of life 


and sentimentality. In the middle of a vivid expression of joie 
de vivre, even of an ecstatic feeling, the thought of death emerges. 
But the feeling of the fleetingness of life does not lead to gloom, 
but functions as a stimulus to enjoy life, which is so short. It is 
a vivid "memento vivere" (Goethe's expression). There is a per- 
manent vacillation between the two moods and often enough a 
blending of them. The one does not exclude, but includes the 
other. The thought that death is near leads to all intensification 
or reinforcement of the pleasures of life, to a kind of orgiastic "I 
should worry'* feeling. It is stranger still that this reminder of 
death results sometimes in a softening of anxiety and grief, in a 
kind of sorry humor or glad sadness. 

This special mixture is typically Viennese and it is not re- 
stricted to the folk songs. You will hear it in the Viennese dances 
by Beethoven, in the middle of a movement of Mozart's or Schu- 
bert's symphonies, in the scherzi and adagios of Bruckner and 
Mahler and the waltzes of Johann Strauss. Once an acquaintance 
visited Schubert, whom he found composing. "Why do you al- 
ways make such sad music, Mr. Schubert?" asked the visitor. "Do 
you know any merry one?" answered the composer.* 

Yet unalloyed sadness is not to the taste of the Viennese. They 
needed a long time until they began to like the North German 
Brahms, because he appeared to them stodgy, heavy, and obtuse. 
I remember being told that one of Brahms's Viennese friends, 
the journalist Julius Bauer, used to tease him: "When Johannes 
is in a specially good mood, he composes a song, 'The grave is 
my greatest joy/ " That character of the Viennese people impreg- 
nated their daily lives and even pervaded politics. When near the 
end of World War I the united German and Austrian armies 
had suffered decisive defeats, the Viennese satirist Karl Kraus 
once characterized the different moods in the two capitals thus: 
'In Berlin the situation is considered serious but not desperate; 
in Vienna, desperate but not serious." This is exactly what so 
many Viennese folk songs express. Death looks over the shoulder 
of people on their most beautiful holiday, but the nearness of the 
end invigorates their enjoyment of life. This is the kind of folk 

* Jessica says: "I am never merry when I hear sweet music." Merchant of 
Venice (Act V, scene i). 


song that was sung in Vienna, sad and glad at the same time. It is 
the same mood which found the words: 

There will be beautiful girls galore 
And we shall not live any more. 

(The same mood emerges in the last movement of Mahler's 
Sang of the Earth.) Walking along and pursued by the familiar 
melody, I suddenly felt very depressed. Life appeared empty, no 
future was promising and the end was near. Was it only this 
tune and these words which cast a gloomy spell upon me when 
I walked home through the streets in the evening? A feeling of 
the evanescence of life and of the nearness of death went with 
me. It was as if a shadow had fallen upon my young life. There 
was no escape from this feeling of impending calamity. Tomor- 
row was doomsday, so it seemed. 

I tried to reason with myself, but I could not shake off my de- 
pression. Now, from a distance of more than forty years, I can 
well understand or, rather, I can now reconstruct what had 
caused my depression. During the afternoon an unconscious 
death wish against Ella must have emerged, was energetically 
rejected, and had been turned against myself. Perhaps the proc- 
ess would be better described this way: The slight annoyance I 
had felt in Nussdorf had, in its continuation into the realm of 
the unconscious, resulted in a murderous wish: You should die! 
Such impulses, surprisingly emerging from unconscious depths 
against persons near and dear to us, accompany our most tender 
and loving attitude toward these persons. Only people who do 
not want to penetrate into those dark recesses of the mind, or 
who play hide-and-seek with themselves, deny the existence of 
these subterranean tendencies or disavow their emotional signifi- 

No doubt, I was myself one of those people because I had not 
the slightest idea of what took place within me. I was only aware 
of a sudden feeling of gloom. The way to such an intense emotion 
is well known to psychoanalysts. The death wish against Ella 
had been repressed as it threatened to become conscious. In its 
place emerged the emotional reaction, dictated by my affection 


for her and my guilt feeling death fear for myself. My own death 
would be the only atonement possible for the evil wish that had 
occurred to me. My melancholic mood and that astonishing feel- 
ing that death is close by had nothing to do with any danger 
threatening from without. Instead my mood reflected the danger 
from within. When Ella suddenly felt ill, there must have been 
a moment of panic, of intense superstitious fear that what I had 
thought could become a reality: that Ella would really die. In 
the thought of death for myself, fear of retaliation had hit back 
at me. The folk song I had heard had been the last link in a 
chain. It is noteworthy that the song's melancholic reminder (in 
three-quarter measure) that there will be beautiful girls and we 
shall be dead is a reversal of my thoughts. Had I not wished that 
Ella should die and I live on? 

It is conspicuous that psychoanalysts, as far as I know, have 
not yet recognized that mental preoccupation with the problem 
of death is strongest in our youth. From puberty until the early 
forties, rather than later, these thoughts are prominent. It seems 
that fear of death then slowly decreases and, if the thought oc- 
curs, has another character: fear of dying. The two emotions have 
to be differentiated. The first, fear of death, seems almost a meta- 
physical anxiety. It is really a problem of an obsessional kind, 
namely, thought-preoccupation with the question of what death 
is and what it means. It is akin to other problems on which ob- 
sessional thinking is often concentrated, like that of immortality, 
of existence of the soul, of a beyond and of reincarnation. It is 
clear that this fear of death is connected with the thought of non- 
existence, of the neant, with the menace of annihilation and noth- 
ingness. It is the same kind of mental preoccupation, of mysteri- 
ous fear, doubts, and questions, that Hamlet puts into his famous 
monologue. It is not fear of dying which frightens him, but 
whether to be or not to be, what dreams may come in that sleep 
of death. "The dread of something after death" puzzles the young 

The fear of dying is psychologically very different from this 
metaphysical fear of death and of the end of individual existence. 
It has nothing to do with such problems as that of immortality of 
the soul, reincarnation, and so on, and is of a realistic character. 


Man is afraid of suffering and suffocating, of the only real enemy 
he has on earth. In maturity, especially in old age, the fear of 
being dead is evaporated and only the fear of dying remains. 
Young people often risk their lives as if they were not afraid of 
dying, although the thought of not living fills them with terror. 
Old people, on the other hand, seem not to be worried about not 
existing; yes, they sometimes wish not to be any more, not to 
carry on a life which has become burdensome. What they are 
afraid of is the last struggle. Is it not paradoxical that youth, the 
time of life that is remotest from death, is so haunted by the one 
problem, while old age, in spite of its nearness to death, is almost 
free from it? 

My answer to this question is founded on my psychoanalytic 
experience of more than forty years. It is, of course, not accidental 
that this question emerged in connection with the analysis of my 
own preoccupation with the theme of death, as described in this 
chapter. I believe that the prominence of thoughts about death, 
the brooding and speculation about death, is an unconscious re- 
action to secret aggressive and murderous thoughts and impulses. 
Such anguish occurs to young, temperamental people when their 
strong wishes and desires are frustrated. Aggressive impulses then 
emerge against parents and teachers, in short, persons of author- 
ity. Under the influence of guilt feeling, those unconscious tend- 
encies often revert against oneself and finally take the form of 
intense preoccupation with the abstract problem of death, which 
makes its highly personal origin unrecognizable. What emerge 
now are speculations, doubts, and meditations about death as 
such; only rarely, about one's own death. The intensity of this 
preoccupation with the death problem corresponds to the inten- 
sity of the drives of lust and power, sex and dominance which 
insist on immediate gratification. When the impulses and tend- 
encies toward sex and ego satisfaction become less urgent, as in 
old age, wfyen their force becomes less imperative, then the fear 
of death as such, of death as punishment and atonement, the pre- 
occupation with the death problem decreases. It is not accidental 
that Hamlet's profound meditations on death emerge when he 
plans to kill the King, and that in connection with it even 


reflections and doubts about "the undiscover'd country from 
whose bourn no traveler returns," are generalized thoughts about 
his own death as atonement and punishment for murder in 

When that sudden sadness hit me, when gloom and despair 
without any apparent reason engulfed me, I was twenty years 
old. My desires were most urgent and my impatience when they 
were not satisfied was great, my love as strong as my hate, my 
rage as immediate as my tenderness. But also the severity of the 
inner demands on myself and my moral self-condemnation were 
not yet mitigated. I had become prey to the moral reaction that 
had set in after murderous impulses against my sweetheart had 
threatened to reach the threshold of conscious thinking. 

That evening I slowly walked through the streets of the sub- 
urbs of Vienna. Having arrived at home, I ate dinner with 
mother and sister. I felt sad and tired from my long walk from 
Nussdorf to Vienna so I went to bed early. How I could sleep 
when I was twenty! Whatever disappointment, grief, or misery 
the day had brought me, I could quickly fall asleep. Looking 
back now, when sorrows about the present and anxiety about 
the future often keep me awake, I almost envy the young man 
who could so easily fall asleep. That day I had been deeply un- 
happy before going to bed. Some dark power seemed to reach 
out for me and clutch me; life had seemed hopeless and all lost, 
but I what a blessing! fell into a long, uninterrupted sleep. 

The "pursuit of happiness" is a butterfly hunt. Butterflies can 
be caught, but they cannot be kept alive at home for a long time. 
Happiness is restricted to hours, if not to minutes. The feeling 
one has when one glides into a deep sleep marks one of those 
happiest moments. It does no credit to life when the upshot of 
it is that happiness in it can be attained only in forgetting it. In the 
end, love and friendship, fame and achievement lose their lure 
and a low voice in us speaks: "Sleep, what more do you want?"* 

* The five stanzas of Goethe's "Night Song" end with these words. 


Psychoanalysts of all countries agree that long engagements In 
which young couples decide not to have sex relations and isolate 
themselves are psychologically unhealthy. Kissing and embracing 
cause sexual excitement, and desires are roused which cannot be 
gratified. Such frustrated excitement is especially harmful when 
this state lasts many months. I am of the opinion that young 
people in such a situation should either avoid being alone to- 
gether for a long time, or they should break through and have 
sexual intercourse. 

Take our case. Here we were together almost daily, fair 
weather or foul, alone and unobserved. In winter, we were en- 
closed in the summerhouse, which was then boarded up, planked 
in like a chalet, and dark. We kissed and embraced each other, 
of course, but there was nothing of what is technically known to- 
day as "heavy petting/' Ella did not want this and I respected 
her wishes. Her upbringing had filled her with strong sexual 
inhibitions, but there must have been intense fears and scruples 
in myself, also. And this went on for seven years! What a waste 
of energy, what a luxurious and, properly seen, silly effort and 
restraint! How much better would it have been for both of us 
if we had broken through! The harm caused by permanent, 
frustrated desire was so much more serious than the doubtful 
service to a conventional, moralistic code. (But you cannot be 
young and wise.) We both became nervous and fidgety. I had the 
impression that the situation was tougher and more difficult for 
me than for Ella; but who can say that his own view in such 
things is right? 

In those years, I considered sexuality as a kind of enemy rather 
than as a powerful and strength-giving source of enjoyment. It 
was not a friendly power, but an evil demon against which one 
had to fight. It was the "thorn in the flesh." I was uncomfortable 
and I wanted, not sexual gratification, but to be free from this 
persistent stimulation. I wanted to be able to work, to study and 
to write, to think of worthwhile things, to achieve something. I 


fought this battle with myself for almost three years. I worked 
and studied like a slave, and I tried to divert my thought from 
the images which emerged again and again, but I could not get 
rid of them. Nowadays psychoanalysts speak much about the 
"sublimation" of this drive, but I do not believe that the crude 
sexual urge can be "sublimated." Sex has such a terrific singleness 
of purpose. Finally, I gave up the fight. I had a few brief intima- 
cies with different girls, none of whom had more than a fleeting 
and purely physical appeal to me. I had, of course, met the same 
difficulties as other young men in similar situations. There was 
the risk of making a girl pregnant, the fear that she could become 
emotionally involved with me, and the fear of venereal disease. 
When I met a decent girl, and wanted to "make love" to her and 
nothing else, she wanted to be told that I loved her. But I was 
not able to pretend that I felt tenderness while I felt only sexual 
desire. My aim was so much more modest; but without being 
loved no "nice" girl would be ready to go to bed with me. 

After a few interludes, some of which were successful neverthe- 
less, I met Vilma. She was a woman of (she said) thirty-five years, 
and had become a widow two years before. She was thus twelve 
years older than I and she had a son who was exactly ten years 
younger than myself. (Psychoanalysts will not fail to point out 
here, that Vilma, mother of a boy and so much older than I, was 
a mother-representing figure and that she was the object of an 
unconscious incestuous desire. "Elementary, my dear Watson" or 
"my dear Dr. E." or "my dear Dr. K.," as the case might be!) It 
is significant that my memory has not retained the details of how 
and where we met. I still remember that, shortly afterward, I 
made a pass at her and was rejected. A few weeks later, on a visit 
to her apartment, I tried my luck again and was even more ener- 
getically rejected. After this, I sat there silently when, to my great 
astonishment, Vilma gently took the cigarette from my hand, sat 
suddenly on my lap, threw her arms around me, and kissed me 
on the mouth. 

(Do we ever understand women? Vilma told me later that when 
she had rejected me, I had looked like a disappointed and sullen 
little boy, with defiant lips. She said that she had then urgently 
wished to kiss me on these lips! I am smiling, because it just 


occurs to me what a patient of mine, a young newly married 
man, told me the other day. He and his wife were dressing in the 
morning when the young woman, standing before the mirror and 
examining her appearance, asked him, "Do you love your el- 
bow?" My patient, telling me about it in his analytic session, 
shouted, "Did you ever hear such a silly thing? Do I love my 
elbow! It is as fantastic as if you were asked whether they have 
fancy dress balls on Sirius. What is there to love or not to love 
about an elbow? I am sure that such a thought has never occurred 
to a man since the beginning of creation.") 

That evening Vilina gave herself to me, and we had an affair 
off and on for the following three years. Vilma was rather tall and 
slim, had light blond hair, vivacious eyes, and long, slender 
hands. She was the "sweet little girl/* as Schnitzler has painted 
her, fifteen years after her first adventure. I was not her first lover 
after she had married, as I found out, nor was I the last. She was 
not very intelligent but sly and shrewd. She had the cajolery of 
a cat and similar morals. She lived in a tiny apartment, kept very 
clean, in the slum section of Vienna; had a small pension left by 
her husband and earned a little money as a dressmaker. She said 
she did not want to marry again because she did not wish to 
sacrifice her independence. What attracted her to me was, I be- 
lieve, that I was young and intelligent and perhaps that I was 
rather shy with women at least until after the first kiss. 

Vilma made no demands on me. She was always ready when I 
wanted her, but the trouble was, and she sensed it, that I did not 
want her but just a woman. On many evenings I left her after 
a lustful hour, determined not to come back; but a few evenings 
later I found myself again on the trolley car that led to her house. 
When I was there, all intentions to restrain my desires evaporated 
The swishing of her skirts, the silken underwear, and the smooth- 
ness of her flesh, the touch of her breasts, did things to the young 
man for which he was sorry half an hour later. I rarely stayed 
more than an hour with her, sometimes less, but she seemed to be 
content with this. She was at first subtly, and later on less subtly, 

When we were together, I knew, while she talked about a hun- 
dred inconsequential things, that she thought of sexual inter- 


course as much as I. She had her own way to lead up to it, either 
by caressing me while she sat on my lap, or by showing me her 
own increasing excitement. Much more experienced than I was, 
she made me believe that the sexual initiative was on my side. 
She preferred the lecherous aspects o sex and tried successfully 
to awaken the taste for it in me. I remember an occasion when I 
once rang the bell to her apartment and she told me, when she 
opened the door, that her mother, who had come to see her, was 
in the next room. I wanted to leave immediately, but she led me 
to the dark bathroom and, while she talked to her mother 
through the door, she half undressed herself. We had sexual in- 
tercourse there, she sitting on the table and I standing. This 
situation, she told me later, was the most exciting for her during 
our affair. She was not a lady and just this was then sexually 
stimulating. It seems to me that there is only one situation in 
which a woman can use four-letter, "dirty," and very vulgar 
words: a few minutes before the orgasm. The habits and manners 
are different in the new generation. Vilma was not careful with 
her language in this direction, also outside the one situation. I 
still wonder why it did not disturb or sober me more. 

She was, in so many directions, the opposite of Ella; very sen- 
sual, where Ella was chaste; mature and motherly, while Ella 
was girlish in every fiber of her nature. Vilma gave herself freely, 
while you always felt a certain restraint in Ella. Vilma was down- 
to-earth in behavior and language, while Ella was refined and 

Here was, it seemed to me at first, a convenient way out of an 
emergency situation. If I could not have satisfaction with Ella, to 
whom my real desire went, I could get it from Vilma. Here was 
an easygoing relationship, without obligation on her or my side, 
and with the mutual understanding that a deeper emotional in- 
volvement or a permanent tie was excluded. I had never said to 
Vilma that I loved her. Once, in an outburst of brutal frankness, 
I had even said that I often disliked her, and that my need for 
her was a purely sexual one. After a few months, I told her about 
my love for Ella and our clandestine engagement, but she had 
already sensed something of this kind and said, "I always knew I 
would lose you in a short time. Let's make it beautiful as long as 


it lasts." She accepted the state of things, put up with my moods 
and inconsiderateness, and never complained. And inconsiderate 
and sometimes brutal I was, especially when she wanted affection 
from mel I had none to give her, but this was no reason to be un- 
kind. Or was it? 

Did I feel guilty because I could not be tender, and take it 
out on her? I often wondered about why I had to succumb at 
least twice a week to this dark, imperative urge, which immedi- 
ately evaporated after a release was reached. Why did this body 
first appear to me as the goal of my desires and a few minutes 
later appear to be without charm, just a body like others? Then 
I saw sharply the creases on the neck, the crow's-feet around the 
eyes, the blots and blemishes on the skin. (With the sensitiveness 
and delicacy of feelings most women have, Vilma never showed 
herself nude after sexual intercourse.) I knew that I would not 
have the same reaction with Ella, and strangely enough I some- 
times felt resentful against her, as if she were responsible far my 
disillusionment in Vilma. 

The Jews in East Galicia have a strange proverb: "If you eat 
'Khaser, 9 let it be fat." Khaser is a Hebrew word and means 
"pork." The proverb proclaims: If you violate the sacred law, 
choose a fine, fat piece of the forbidden meat and enjoy it. In 
other words: When you do something that is forbidden, don't be 
a fool; relish it, get all the pleasure out of it. I knew this bit of 
practical wisdom since my childhood, but I was stupid enough 
not to make it my own. 

In having the lecherous affair with Vilma, I "sinned" (thus I 
felt then) but under protest against that which drove me to it. I 
did what was forbidden, but I withheld my consent to it. I sinned 
with a bad conscience, as if this made the forbidden deed less 
serious or less real. But I made it only more senseless. I do not 
see that such an attitude is especially promoting the salvation of 
the soul or serving the morals. On the contrary, it is psychologi- 
cally harmful to commit a forbidden deed and then feel too 
guilty about it, because this intense guilt feeling becomes an un- 
conscious incentive for committing the deed again. My remorse 
about my unfaithfulness to Ella had not the effect of making me 
faithful. It only made me feel unhappy. I agree with Nietzsche, 


who once stated that feeling remorse about what one has done 
is as futile and stupid as when a dog bites into a stone. 

My reason told me that I had reached, if not an ideal, at least 
a tolerable solution to the problem which so many young men 
have to face. It presented itself as a clear, clean-cut division. One 
woman for the soul, the other for the body. (Maupassant's Une 
Vie, which I read then, shows such a picture.) But things are not 
as simple as they often appear to our reason, to which we some- 
times attribute a totalitarian power in our psychical household. 

I know that I have to interrupt the presentation of my story 
at this point, to meet the moral indignation of my readers. 
"What," they will say, "here is a young man in love with and en- 
gaged to a lovely and sweet young girl, who deeply cares for him, 
and he has a back-street sexual affair? How could he make his 
romance agree with such a lecherous adventure? Was he not 
ashamed of leading a double life? He confesses to being in love 
with this girl, while he indulges in sexual intercourse with that 
other woman! Is such a division psychologically possible and, 
above all, is it excusable?" Let me first state that I told myself 
these very things and I condemned myself then with more severity 
than my readers are inclined to. As a matter of psychological 
fact, I am now looking back at the young man I was then with 
more leniency and I am judging him with more clemency than 
I did then. I understand him better now than he understood him- 
self then, when he was confused in a tangle of emotions. 

I can partly explain to myself what the emotional situation was, 
between Ella and Vilma, with the help of an analogy which was 
taken from the field of physics and which I transferred to the 
area of psychology: the analogy with interference. We all 'know 
this expression from the disturbances which annoy us, when our 
radio reception is impaired by electrical causes, undesirable sig- 
nals, etc. Interference is, however, a phenomenon not only re- 
stricted to sounds. It is also in general the mutual influence of two 
waves or vibrations which produce certain characteristic phenom- 
ena. When two trains of waves meet (for instance, on the surface 
of the water), the result is under certain conditions an increased 
intensity; under others, a neutralization or superposition of the 
waves. The action of one wave can, for instance, be neutralized or 


weakened by that of the other, or it can be twice what it would 
be without the other. Such encounter of waves in all media (for 
instance, in the air, the water, the ether) results in different fig- 
ures, which are known as interference patterns. Still photography 
and slow-motion pictures can now give us an excellent idea of 
what these various interference patterns look like. 

The physical term "interference patterns" seems to me very 
appropriate for the description of processes in which two different 
waves of emotion meet. I would like to borrow the name from 
physics and introduce it into the field of psychoanalytic psy- 
chology, because it fits so many emotional phenomena. The visual 
character of the phenomenon and its plastic nature recommend 
the expression for presenting the various and changing pictures 
in emotional conflicts. The waves of different feelings for Ella 
and Vilma fought each other and formed some strange interfer- 
ence patterns. 

It often happened that I left Vilma and, on the way home, 
felt an intense yearning for Ella; such a strong urge to hold her 
in my arms, as if the union with her would purify me and sweep 
away all sordidness of my relations with Vilma. But it happened, 
also, that when I was with Ella, I sometimes felt a sudden urge 
to be with Vilma, to be engulfed by her desire, to enjoy her 

I tried to "isolate" the one relationship from the other, to 
drown the thought of the one girl when I was with the other. I 
did not succeed, because the image of the one often appeared 
when I wanted to concentrate in my thoughts and emotions on 
the other. I did not call it up. It was uncalled for in more than 
one sense, but it emerged against my will. 

There was also an attempt to bridge the abyss between the two 
women, and to find something Ella-like in Vilma.* I tried to im- 
agine it was not she, but the beloved girl whom I held in my 
arms. I forced my fantasy to call up this other image, to give the 
satisfaction a quality beyond the physical one, and to make it 
deeper and more personal. The reality was too strong and I 
failed. But the other effort, to find something Vilina-like in Ella, 

* We know the two mechanisms of isolating and connecting two different 
emotional and intellectual spheres best from the study of neurotic symptoms. 


was unsuccessful, because I could not bring Ella down from the 
pedestal on which I had put her, I had to admit to myself that 
there was a sharply drawn line of demarcation not only between 
these two figures, but also between the two emotional areas of 
tenderness and sexuality. A last desperate attempt, to take a 
cynical view, to persuade myself that there was not much differ- 
ence between one woman and the other in the sexual situation 
(do you remember "Cover their face with the Stars and Stripes 
and it is the same"?) was short-lived and vain. 

Once I had decided not to see Vilma any more. I did not see 
her for two weeks. She wrote me pleading letters in which she 
said that she did not understand my behavior, and asked why I 
did not come, since she had done nothing wrong. Later, she must 
have sensed what my conflict was, because she once wrote that 
I should not think that I was unfaithful to Ella when I visited 
her, and that I should not torture myself with superfluous 
scruples but enjoy life, and that the affair with her would not 
interfere with my love for Ella. Stronger than her emotional 
appeal was her sex appeal. I returned to her, to break with her, 
and returned again until I went to Berlin in 1913. I got some 
friendly lines from her a few months later, congratulating me on 
my wedding. Then I never heard from her again. 

Before her twenty-fourth birthday, the date when she came 
of age, Ella told her father about us, listened silently to his raging 
and storming, packed her things, and followed me to Berlin, 
where we married. After seven years of being together almost 
daily, she was a virgin and I was a damned fool. 


How FAR we are from our own experiences! How remotely we 
live from this hidden self, which is the core of ourselves, 
and which .thinks and feels and acts in a manner quite different 


from how we consciously are thinking, feeling, and acting! My 
romance with Ella started when I was nineteen years old. My 
book on Goethe was written when I had passed forty. Not before 
I had passed fifty, more than thirty years later, did it dawn upon 
me that there must be a subterranean connection between 
Goethe's romance in Sesenheim, near Strassburg, and mine in 
Klostemeuburg, near Vienna. 

I never consciously thought of it during the experience (al- 
though it must have been several times near the threshold of 
conscious thoughts, for instance, when I spoke of Goethe and 
Friederike to Ella, in Nussdorf, and when she sang "Heiden- 
roslein"). I did*not think of it while I wrote the study on Goethe. 
I spoke, of course, about Goethe and especially about my com- 
pulsive Goethe reading, in my analysis, which was in 1913 seven 
years after I met Ella but I had not the slightest inkling of an 
idea that there might be a secret connection between Sesenheim 
and Klosterneuburg. When I discovered those clues in my own 
book, more than twenty-five years after my analysis, the first 
notion emerged that my own experience was connected with that 
of young Goethe, by some invisible threads. But before this, I 
had not a drop of insight into what happened then to me and 
in me. 

It would tickle my vanity, as a psychoanalyst, if I could truth- 
fully say that I early became conscious of this side of my experi- 
ence. Since I do not want any embellishment or any "interior dec- 
orating" of the soul, I must shamefully record the facts. I am 
quite prepared to accept the criticisms of "colleagues/* who think 
I was lacking in analytical cleverness. I can now take their barbs, 
blows, and broadsides imperturbably. (My head is bloody, but 
still unbowed.) I am full of admiration for a speed with which 
one rapidly understands one's own experiences and those of 
others, but I have a suspicion that what can be so swiftly and 
easily fathomed must be shallow. 

When at last it dawned upon me what had happened more 
than thirty years ago in Klosterneuburg, it was as if a curtain 
were slowly pulled up. Finding those clues in the Goethe study, 
and remembering the events and the emotions, was but prepar- 
atory work. The real questions appeared later on. What did it 


mean that those unconscious memories emerged while I was in- 
vestigating an early love experience of a poet of one hundred 
and fifty years ago? And why had I become interested in this 
subject now? Why did my own memories reveal themselves in 
those telltale titles of an objective, scientific study? In accordance 
with psychoanalytic principles, this could not have been acciden- 
tal. There must have been a connection, in my unconscious 
thoughts, between Goethe's experience and my own. 

The next answer, of course, would be that one experience was 
comparable to the other. But this answer is clearly wrong. Goethe 
fell in love, was haunted by many superstitious fears, and left 
his sweetheart after a few months. I waited seven years, and I 
married my beloved girl-not to mention the overflow of the 
dissimilarities, which are so apparent. There are so many and 
such clear differences that they put some possible similarities into 
the shadow. 

Something warns me that I am in danger of making a rash 
judgment, as if my view is too hasty. Let us first look at our ages. 
When Goethe first met Friederike, he was just twenty years old; 
she was nineteen. When I met Ella, I was nineteen and she 
seventeen. In both cases it is the age of romance. Goethe was a 
student of law; I was a student of psychology. 

There are a few similarities in the external circumstances. The 
friend, Weyland, who knew the Brion family, asked Goethe to 
come with him to Sesenheim. As Goethe reports in the tenth 
book of Truth and Fiction, the girls had asked Weyland about 
Goethe. (These two men usually had their meals together in 
Strassburg.) Weyland and he rode together from Strassburg to 
Sesenheim. There is a similar situation: when David invited me to 
Klosterneuburg and we took the train there together. There is, 
furthermore, the contrast between city and country. Goethe was 
born in Frankfurt and had stayed in Leipzig and Strassburg all 
three big cities. Scenery and life in the village of Sesenheim were 
quite different. I was born and lived in Vienna. When I was with 
Ella, in the garden of Klosterneuburg, life had another atmos- 
phere and another rhythm. A few miles from Vienna as Sesen- 
heim was from Strassburg there was a different world, nearer to 


nature and yet not too remote from the cultural life of the 
great city. 

There were specific similarities in the local features. Goethe 
reports, for instance, there was a little wood on a hill near the 
garden of the Brions' and "there was a cleared place with benches, 
from each of which one had a pretty view of the landscape. Here 
was the village and the steeple of the church, here Drusenheim 
and behind it the wooded Rhine islands. . . ." The young man 
sat there on a bench called "Friederikens Ruh" (Friederike's 
rest). From the garden of the O/s, you looked down into the 
village. There was the steeple of the church, here Klosterneuburg, 
and behind it the Vienna Wood. We sat down on a bench which, 
as Mary told me, was called "Ella's bench" and was reserved for 
her, because she liked to sit there. In the Brion family was an 
older sister, whom Goethe calls Olivia, but who was really Maria 
Salomea. Goethe describes her as well formed, vivacious, and 
rather violent in temper, while Friederike was quieter than her 
sister. But this was exactly the difference between the tempera- 
ments of Mary and Ella. 

There were other similar, small circumstances. When Goethe 
first visited the family in Sesenheim, Friederike had not yet come 
home and everybody awaited her. When I first visited Kloster- 
neuburg, David, Mary, and I sat in the summerhouse waiting 
for Ella. Goethe describes Friederike as he saw her for the first 
time the long blond braids, the clear blue eyes, the national 
Alsatian costume, the round white skirt, the bodice, and the black 
taffeta apron "Thus she stood on the frontier between a peasant 
and a city girl. The straw hat hung on her ann, and thus I had 
the pleasure to see and recognize her at the first glance in all her 
loveliness and gracefulness." 

But Ella also was blond, with large blue eyes, and Goethe's 
description of Friederike's appearance fits Ella's splendidly. When 
I saw her the second time, she wore an Austrian dirndl dress, 
and later on she preferred those rustic dresses when in Klosterneu- 
burg. Friederike played the piano and sang Alsatian and Swiss 
folk songsagain a similarity to Ella. These are only a few of 
them, and their comparison is restricted to the first meeting. 
Later on, others became apparent, as Friederike's tubercular dis- 


ease and Ella's heart ailment, similarities in temperament of the 
two girls and also of their two lovers. It is perhaps sufficient to 
enumerate only those similarities which must have unconsciously 
made an impression upon me, when I first saw Ella. I emphasize 
again that I had never consciously thought of a comparison be- 
tween the situations, views, or persons, at this time or later. 

I recognized the real character of the subterranean connection 
between Goethe's experience and my own when I remembered 
the story thirty years later, especially when I looked back on the 
first visit to Klosterneuburg. I remembered, namely, what Goethe 
said about the time immediately preceding the visit to Sesenheim. 
What an idiot I had been not to think of this in the first place, 
as it is so much more important than any real or imagined simi- 
larity! The reading of The Vicar of Wakejield had made a strong 
impression upon the young poet. The Vicar and his wife, their 
older daughter, Olive, beautiful and rather extroverted; and the 
younger, Sophie, lovable and rather introverted, the parson's 
house in rural surroundings, and the vicissitudes of the family- 
all these things left vivid traces in his mind. Goethe himself, 
looking back in his sixtieth year, wrote: 

"The work I mentioned had left a great impression, of which 
I myself was not aware. I felt in agreement with that ironic mental 
attitude of Goldsmith, which soars above things, above luck and un- 
happiness, good and evil, life and death, and thus arrives at the 
possession of a truly poetic world ... In no case could I have 
expected to be transported very soon from this fiction world into 
a similar, real one." 

What Goethe here alludes to is, of course, the excursion to 
Sesenheim. When he saw himself with the pastor, Brion, and his 
wife, with Olivia and Friederike, he became more and more 
aware of the resemblance of the Alsatian family to the Vicar's. 
"My astonishment, about seeing myself really in the Wakefield 
family, was beyond description." It seemed that here were doubles 
of those figures in the Goldsmith novel. The conversation at 
table seemed even to enlarge the appearance of the family cirde 
and of its environment. "As the same profession and the same 
situation everywhere, wherever they appear, produce similar, if 
not the same effects, several issues were discussed, several things 


happened similar to what had already taken place in the Wake- 
field family." 

But this impression was not only Goethe's. His friend, Wey- 
land, who had introduced him to the Brion family, had realized 
it before Goethe. When the two young men were alone in the 
guest room, Weyland prided himself on having surprised his 
friend with the resemblance of this family to the Primroses. 
"Really," said Weyland, "the story is quite the same. This family 
can very well be compared with that, and you in your disguise 
can take over the role of Mr. Burchell." Weyland alluded to the 
villain in Goldsmith's novel, the young man who seduces the 
Vicar's daughter. 

Young Goethe is not only aware of all these similarities, but 
also of the unconscious potentiality in himself of playing a role 
in Friederike's life similar to Burchell's in Sophie's. He sensed 
in himself the psychical possibility of seducing and deserting 
Friederike. He gave the most wonderful plastic presentation of 
this potential destiny, later on, in the tragedy of Faust and 
Gretchen. No doubt it is possible that Goethe flirted with the 
idea of reliving the story of The Vicar of Wakefield, as the French 
writer Brion says, "de vivre un roman de Goldsmith" For the 
reader of Truth and Fiction who can read between the lines, it 
is clear how strong this temptation must have been in the fantasy 
of the young poet. 

All this was, of course, very well known to me. It had even oc- 
cupied my thoughts a short time ago. Yet such knowledge was, 
so to speak, on another level from my own experience, was sep- 
arated from it by an impenetrable emotional wall of isolation. 
Otherwise, how was it possible that for more than three decades, 
I had remained unaware of it; that I had wanted to relive a 
romance of Goethe's? When David told me about Ella and Mary, 
their cottage and garden in Klosterneuburg, and we went to- 
gether to the village, I must have unconsciously thought of Wey- 
land, Goethe, and Sesenheim. So many things there reminded me 
of the idyl in Alsace, and all was emotionally prepared for the 
romance, as in the case of Goethe. Without having the faintest 
notion of it, I must have identified myself with him, as he de- 
scribed himself at this visit at Sesenheim. I saw everything and 


everybody with his eyes, and compared Mary with Olivia, Ella 
with Friederike herself. 

It was less than a year before that I had been absorbed in 
thoughts of Goethe's Sesenhcim tale, and my compulsive study 
of his works and life had reminded me again and again of 
Friederike, in these last months. I had reread the story of the 
young poet who had fallen in love with the gentle girl, and had 
been greatly moved by it. I was then near Goethe's age. What 
young man would not have wished to love and be loved as he 
was and as he had described it? And then all seemed to fit, as if 
it were a repetition of the Sesenheim story. If it did not fit, I 
unconsciously adapted it to Goethe's tale. I must have uncon- 
sciously compared his disguise as a poor candidate of theology 
with the secrecy of my visits to Mrs. O/s garden. I can remember 
a characteristic feature, which shows how near the thought of 
Goethe was to the threshold of the conscious surface and that it 
was, nevertheless, prevented by strong inner powers from break- 
ing through to this level. I still remember that in my first letter 
to Ella I compared life in Vienna with that in Klosterneuburg, 
and I wrote that the great city appeared to me so empty. Com- 
pare this with a passage from the letter young Goethe wrote to 
Friederike, after he returned from Sesenheim to Strassburg. "You 
would not believe that the noise of the city would grate on my 
ears after your sweet country joys. Certainly, Ma'mselle, Strass- 
burg never seemed so empty as now." (I said, of course, "Fraulein 
Ella/' instead of "Ma'mselle"!) It is clear that I must have uncon- 
sciously thought of Goethe's letter. 

There was, however, a decisive difference and it explains from 
a psychological point of view why the story of Sesenheim, so well 
known to me in all its features, remained so long isolated from 
my own experience; why the threads did not become transparent 
to me. I was in love with Goethe, but my admiration for him was 
accompanied by strong resistance. I was, so to speak, his most 
recalcitrant reverer. And among the things I minded and resented 
in Goethe then was his behavior toward Friederike* How could 
he, who loved her so dearly, desert her so cruelly? With my wish 
to find a girl as lovely and charming as Friederike must have 
emerged a decision that I would never leave such a precious 


sweetheart. I would marry her and stay with her until "death do 
us part/' It became clear to me that I must have repressed any 
thought of deserting Ella. This very thought interrupted the con- 
nection between his story and my romance and isolated the one 
from the other. 

I recognized, so late in life, what had taken place so early in 
It: that the unconscious wish to experience something like Goethe 
in Sesenheim was an important factor in the genesis of my love, 
and that a subterranean resistance against the behavior of the 
young genius had contributed to my course of actions and my 
train of thoughts. There must have been many times when the 
temptation to desert Ella emerged in my unconscious thoughts. 
But when those thoughts threatened to become conscious, I 
drowned them immediately. After that excursion to Nussdorf, 
there were, I am sure, doubts about Ella's heart ailment, fears 
about the influence of her illness on our future common life. 
But I was one and twenty. . . . And I was unconsciously not as 
sure of my destination, nor as aware of the deeper needs of my 
nature, as Goethe was of his at the same age. 

Looking back at this phase of my life, I am astonished at how 
great the influence of literature, especially of the great poets as 
Goethe was then on the lives of us young men. They not only 
prepared us for our experiences; they helped to shape them and 
to give them a certain development. We young men were not at 
all aware of this substructure of the house we then lived in. 

I wonder whether literature will have a similar influence on 
the life of future generations. Fiction and poetry seem to decrease 
in their social function and certainly in their pattern-giving value 
for romance, which is as great an achievement of imagination as 
poetry. Will it not degenerate, if it is not nourished by appropri- 
ate food? But one need not be worried about the future gen- 
*eratiom. Even if poets should become extinct and all great writ- 
ing were to disappear, other means would give food for romantic 
*emodons, and would help to promote the birth of love. Future 
generations will perhaps . . . But here let me tell about my 
.grandchild Loretta when she was three years old. The little girl 
-was left alone in the room and played with her dolls, while the 
rradio was turned on and a crooner sang. Suddenly, she came 


running into the kitchen to her mother, pointed to the radio, 
and said quite excitedly, "He says he loves me so!" 

When I now look back at the years of my own romance at Kloster- 
neuburg, which is here compared with Goethe's stay in Sesen- 
heim, it seems there were an abundance of obsessional fears, 
doubts, and ideas such as Goethe felt. But the picture which pre- 
sents itself to memory is neither distinct nor fixed. It is elusive 
and kaleidoscopic. While I know that I had then many obses- 
sional thoughts, quite similar in character to those I later ana- 
lyzed in Goethe, none of them becomes clear enough to be 

In this emergency of a psychologist facing wide gaps in his 
recollections, memory, which has failed me, gets an unexpected 
welcome support. In the paper, "On the Effects of Unconscious 
Death Wishes," written in 1913 and anonymously published in 
1914, 1 tried to analyze some of those obsessional fears and doubts, 
those oracles and superstitious beliefs. This article speaks of cer- 
tain obsessional thoughts, which occurred to the writer lately, 
and reports some events which happened only the other day. In 
other words, the compulsive and obsessive doubts and fears were 
almost present ones; were looked at and observed when they were 
new and fresh in my memory. 

Reading this paper, I am meeting an unknown young man of 
twenty-four years. Was I this, really? No doubt, here is the un- 
known piece of a half-forgotten self, in cold print; its identity 
with myself now cannot be denied. But it seems, at first, as if 
this was a report about the thoughts of a stranger. In reality, it 
is only an I from which I became estranged. Yet, I remember the 
young man, his moods and his crises, very well, as I read this ana- 
lytic paper in which he tried to give an account of some strange 
emotional phenomena of his own. Not only the authenticity of 
the self-observation and the identity of the observer are ascer- 
tained. It is also clear that these obsessional thoughts and fears 


are those which preoccupied my mind at the time. They are the 
special obsessions for which I was hunting in my memory. 

Here is the report which I shall translate, omitting many 
points. "The girl whom I want to marry became seriously ill and 
I visited her in N. I had planned to return on a certain train 
from N. to Vienna. I departed, almost too late, on my way to the 
station, which is about half an hour distant from the cottage of 
Dora's parents." (Out of reasons of discretion, I had called the 
village N. instead of Klosterneuburg, and had given Ella the 
name of Dora, in this paper.) "During my march to the station, 
my thoughts were, as is understandable, occupied with the illness 
of Dora, which made me very worried. Suddenly, the following 
thought emerged: // / do not walk now to my sister in K., Dora 
will die. This thought became, by and by, so obsessive that I 
turned around when I was near the station N., in order to walk 
over to K, (three-quarters of an hour distant from N.) where my 
sister spent the summer weeks." (My sister, Margaret, spent the 
summer in the village of Klosterneuburg-Weidling.) I tried, in 
vain, to argue with myself and to convince myself that the thought 
was absurd. I was, nevertheless, afraid that the calamity would 
happen, if I did not follow the mysterious warning. In trying to 
find out what deeper motives should have propelled me to visit 
my sister, I remembered a note I had received from her a few 
days before. Having arrived at home, I reread it. This is its 

Dear Theodor: 

I forgot to tell you that we have to light Jahrzeit on June 
28th. If you want it, I shall also light a candle for you; but come 
then on -Friday, so that you are present at the lighting. If you 
do not come, I shall assume that you "light" for yourself. Please 
go to the synagogue, also. 



PJS. Would you not once go to the cemetery? 

Let me first explain here that Jahrzeit is the name of a religious 
ceremony of the Jews, who light wax candles on the anniversary 


of the death of their nearest relatives. I had not been to a syna- 
gogue, and had not performed any religious ceremonies for many 
years now. I considered myself an infidel Jew, but I had not inter- 
fered with the religious beliefs of my sister Margaret. To please 
her, I had been present before at the ceremony of lighting the 
candles at the anniversaries of the deaths of our parents. Her 
letter had irked me, because I did not like to be told what I 
should do. Especially the postscript had given me reason to feel 
cross-tempered. My sister considered regular visits to the graves 
of our parents a duty. I sometimes had had arguments with her, 
in which I insisted on the view that true piety does not mean to 
visit the graves of our dear dead, but to live in a way which gives 
honor to their memory. I had said to her, "That our parents did 
not live in vain is shown through our existence. That they did 
not die in vain should be shown by our way of living." 

I had been determined not to go to Margaret on this day, but 
my decision was now overthrown by my obsessional thought. It 
showed that I had attributed a real significance to the lighting of 
the candles on the anniversary of my father's death, against my 
conviction that the ceremony had symbolic meaning only. Fol- 
lowing this train of thoughts, we arrive at a first correction of 
the text of my obsession-thought. In the shape in which the obses- 
sional impulse first emerged, a connecting link is missing, which 
contains the most important fact and which can now be recon- 
structed and inserted into the train of thoughts. The complete 
text of my obsessive thought or fear is thus: // I do not go to 
Weidling and if I do not honor the memory of my father, by 
"lighting" Ella will die. This reconstruction of the original text 
appeared, of course, in the published paper. Why was it that this 
intermediate part and, with it, the real reason of my visit to my 
sister was left out? 

That can be psychologically explained by the situation in which 
I found myself, and by the events just before the obsessional fear 
emerged. I have told how I could not see Ella at her house, even 
when her tyrannical father was not present. There was the aunt, 
who was the executor of his will and of his severe prohibitions, 
and even his wife, who had only reluctantly allowed us to meet 
in the garden. I could not see the beloved girl, who was now 


seriously ill. Her mother came into the garden to tell me news 
about Ella's illness. My exasperation at this abnormal situation 
and my fury against Mr. O. increased. At this visit in Klosterneu- 
burg (Mr. O. was absent) I could not control myself any longer. 
I gave sharp expression to my indignation and to my rage, when 
I spoke to Mrs. O. My hostile attitude to Mr. O. was now intensi- 
fied on account of Ella's illness, because I made him responsible 
for its aggravation. He should have called another physician, as 
the first symptoms of her illness appeared, not just Dr. W., the 
doctor from Klosterneuburg (whom I consciously appreciated), but 
the best specialist for heart diseases, Professor C., in Vienna. I 
accused Mr. O. in my thoughts; he spent plenty of money for his 
private pleasures on his journeys, but he was saving when the 
life of his daughter was at stake. How nonsensical and unjustified 
these accusations were can be realized from the fact that Mr. O. 
was on a trip and knew nothing of Ella's illness at this time. My 
excitement was increased by my fear that he was expected to 
return in the next few days; that I could then not even get any 
news about Ella's state of health, and that I would be tor- 
tured by uncertainty and worries. 

I told Mrs. O. that if her husband were not half crazy I could 
visit Ella in his presence and could see with my own eyes how 
she was. It was inexcusably rude and I had offended the good 
woman. In this same conversation, she had reproached me for 
trying to estrange Ella from her father. She had added that such 
a way of acting was sinful. "Don't you know," she had said, "that 
the Bible says; 'Thou shalt love thy father and thy mother?" 
"The Holy Scripture says nothing of this kind," I had replied, 
"because love cannot be ordered. It says only, 'Honor thy father 
and thy mother.' And even this you could only do when they 
deserve it." 

All these thoughts must have echoed in me, on my way back 
from the O/s cottage in Klosterneuburg to the station. They must 
have been the soil from which suddenly my obsessional thoughts 
sprang. From Ella's father, Mr. O., runs a subterranean thread to 
thoughts of my own father, who had died a few years ago, and to 
the commandment to honor one's father. On the way, my 
thoughts must have met with the remembrance of my sister's 


note, admonishing me to light the candles at the anniversary of 
Father's death, to honor his memory in a religious sense. And 
now, from the emotional underground of a religious belief I had 
thought I had overcome long ago, emerged the mysterious order 
to go to my sister and to light the candle in memory of Father. 
With this command was connected the menace that the person 
dearest to me would die if I did not fulfill my religious duty, or i 
I failed to honor his memory. 

The student of human emotions, who is familiar with the psy- 
choanalytic insights into unconscious processes, will here recog- 
nize that two inescapable conclusions are to be drawn from my 
obsessional thoughts. The first concerns the unconscious connec- 
tion in my thoughts between Mr. O. and my own father. 

In an earlier chapter, I pointed out that Mr. O. appeared to 
me in every way as the opposite of my father, when I was a small 
boy. He was elegant, yes, even a dandy; my father was neatly but 
poorly dressed and did not pay much attention to his appearance. 
He could, of course, not afford to be elegant. But I doubt if he- 
would have dressed stylishly, if he had the means for it. He was- 
poor and Mr, O. appeared, at least to us, wealthy and lived on a 
high standard, compared with that of our family. My father was- 
an agnostic Jew, who scarcely kept any religious ritual, but had 
a deep feeling of emotionally belonging to the Jewish people.. 
Mr. O. was, at least in his creed, a Catholic and an anti-Semite. 
He appeared to us children as cruel, not only because we became 
aware that he was a tyrant in his own family, but also because he 
went hunting that he killed deer and hare. When accidentally 
the door to his apartment was opened and we children glanced 
into the hall, we saw big stuffed heads of deer, antelope, and bear 
on the wall, besides a whole collection of rifles and other arms. 
The impression that this made on us was a mixture of fear and 
admiration, a kind of distasteful respect. My father was gentle. 
Nothing could be less connected with his figure, in our thoughts 
or emotions, than cruelty or the idea that he would kill animals 
for pleasure. 

In spite of these and many other features, which let Mr. O. 
appear as the opposite of my father, there was, in the production 
of my obsessive fear, a clearly discernible line of thoughts, which 


led from Mr. O. to my father. In that conversation with Mrs. O., 
did not the theme of honoring one's father appear? Was it not 
continued in my thoughts until it emerged in the form of a 
command, to light the candle for him? Here, toward Mr. O., I was 
full of hatred. I declined to honor a father who, in my view, did 
not deserve the name. There, toward my father, the urge to honor 
his memory had emerged, not only as a duty, but as an order. 
Toward the one, I had very conscious murderous thoughts and 
evil wishes; toward the other, my own father, I had affectionate and 
respectful feelings. According to all experiences we analysts make 
in our practice, we are led to a conclusion. I must have split the 
image of the original father-figure unconsciously into two parts, 
in such a way that all tender feelings were turned to my own 
father, while all hostile tendencies were directed against Mr. O. 
But both of these contradictory feelings and impulses were once, 
in childhood, directed to my father and formed the main emo- 
tional trends of an attitude which psychoanalysis calls ambiv- 
alence. In a typical manner, that what was once united in a 
single emotional attitude, toward one person who was loved and 
hated at the same time, appeared now divided and was allotted 
to two figures, who formed a contrast in my thoughts. The same 
distortion, by division, operates, for instance, in the fairy tale of 
"Hansel and Gretel," in which the good mother is contrasted with 
the witch, who wants to kill the children. It is the same mecha- 
nism of splitting, which allows the great writers and poets to 
shape figures like Antonio and Shylock, Prospero and Caliban, 
King Henry and Falstaff contrasting figures to whom they at- 
tribute emotions that contradict each other in the poet himself. 
When Goethe felt that 

. . . two souls contend 

In me and both souls strive for masterdom, 

Which from the other shall the sceptre rend 

he personified the one striving in the figure of Faust, the other in 
Mephisto, the one in Tasso, the other in Antonio. To my knowl- 
edge, no analyst nor any Shakespeare commentator has yet 
pointed out that King Henry IV and Sir John present the two 


aspects of one figure. That the two persons are, so to speak, per- 
sonifications of emotional potentialities of each other, becomes 
psychologically transparent, in reading the delightful scene (Part 
I, scene 4), in which Falstaff playfully acts the part of the King 
and speaks about Falstaff. The charm of the scene is even height- 
ened, when later on the prince takes over the role of his father 
judging himself and Sir John: a forecast of his own future. 

The evil wishes against Mr. O. form a great part of the under- 
ground out of which the obsessive thoughts emerged. When you 
consider its text, you will realize that there is a conflict implied 
between the duty to my father and my love for Ella. This conflict 
appears in the obsessional fear already as an emotional measure 
of protection. I have to light the memory-candle. Otherwise, Ella 
will die. Traced back to the original form, the connection be- 
tween the two parts must mean: If I do not go to Weidling to 
do honor to my father, he will take revenge on me by letting my 
sweetheart die. Such expectations of impending calamity are 
typical emotions of obsessive neurotics. These fears emerge as 
emotional reactions against unconscious aggressive and rebellious 
wishes. I shall be punished for them, either by dying myself or 
by the death of persons very dear to me. Otherwise put, I am 
afraid, because I have unconsciously wished death to my father, 
and he could wreak his vengeance for it by letting my beloved 
girl die. This must be the real origin of the unconscious obsessive 
thought. In the later form, we already meet with a measure of 
protection against this magical threat. I must do him (or his mem- 
ory) honor. I must show him affection and respect. Then he will 
be reconciled with me and will not deprive me of my love. The 
obsessional thought or the magical threat emerges in the shape 
so characteristic of this way of morbid thinking, in the form of 
an if-sentence, which announces a certain action or the perform- 
ance of a certain duty and threatens calamity, perdition, or 
death, if the order or prohibition is not obeyed. // / do not go to 
Weidling and if I do not light the candle, Ella will die. The re- 
ligious ceremony has thus the character of an atonement, of a 
petition of pardon for my unconscious death wishes against my 


Is it not astonishing that the memory of my father is connected, 
in my thoughts, with Ella's illness, although my father could not 
yet know anything of my relationship with her? The unconscious 
supposition is, of course, the superstitious belief that my dead 
father knows all about my bad wishes against him, and also about 
my desire to atone for them. I remind the reader of a previous 
chapter in which my obsessive fear is described, that my dead 
father would punish me for my sexual indulgence, by venereal 
disease and death. 

But the situation out of which the original obsessive thought 
sprang had nothing to do with my father, but with Ella's father, 
Mr. O. His wife had reminded me, in that conversation, of the 
duty to honor one's father. My thoughts had really taken their 
point of departure from my lack of respect, my dislike for, and 
my death wishes against Mr. O., and had led to honor to be given 
to my own father, only later on. The "day-remnant," the actual 
intermediate thought, was of the letter from my sister, admonish- 
ing me to light the candle in my father's memory. We have thus to 
reconstruct a primal form of the obsessional fear, which remained 
entirely unconscious and which does not concern my father but 
Ella's father. This unconscious text of the fear could be formu- 
lated thus: // / do not honor Mr. O., Ella will die. We meet here 
again with traces of a secret or unconscious identification of Mr. 
O. and my father, two persons who are not only sharply different, 
in my conscious thoughts and feelings, but appear also as oppo- 
sites the one hated, the other loved. We were thus led to assume 
that both feelings were originally present toward the one father- 
figure, from which Mr. O. was later split off as my prospective 
father-in-law. The hostile and aggressive feelings against my 
father originated in the prehistoric years of my childhood, and 
were later on displaced to this father-substitute.* 

* The analysts will recognize that the case of obsessional thinking presented 
here confirms the analogy which Freud has shown between compulsive actions 
and religious ceremonial (Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. X). As I already pointed 
out in that paper published in 1914, this is striking, because the content of 
the obsessional thought is just a religious ceremony, and allows tracing back 
to the same psychical mechanisms of defense or protection. Lighting the 
candle has the unconscious meaning of a sacrifice to my father and should 
prevent him from punishing me for my unconscious death wishes against him. 
It is significant that this very ceremony confirms the result of my wish: Father 


Nobody who knows the complicated nature and the overde- 
termination of psychical processes will be astonished at the fact 
that, in the analysis of my obsessional thought, other emotions 
also appeared responsible for the formation of its text. It was 
already mentioned that one of the main reasons for my hatred of 
Mr. O. was his violent anti-Semitism, which had taken the most 
absurd forms in the last years. (Remember, that was the time a 
certain young man, called Hitler, grew up in Vienna.) 

I myself am astonished that I recognized the psychological 
meaning of my obsessional thinking so early, as a young man of 
twenty-five years, before I had been in analysis. 

The anonymous writer of that self-analytical report gives an- 
other instance of an obsessional idea which emerged in these days 
of worry for Ella. Returning home one evening, I had the 
thought: // / chat with Miss Daisy tonight, Ella will die. Daisy is 
the daughter of my landlady, who had the friendly habit of com- 
ing into my room on some evenings to chat with me, which I, 
consciously at least, considered as an unwelcome interruption of 
my work. Immediately after the obsessive thought occurred to me, 
I had the impulse to lock the door of my room: in a literal sense, 
a measure of protection. Self-analysis, in this case, did not take its 
point of departure from this thought, but from the preceding 
feeling of jealousy, which had tortured me. This impulse was not 
only entirely unjustified, considering Ella's affection for me and 
her character, which I now knew for several years. It was the 
more absurd, since I knew that Ella just now was in bed, seriously 
ill, being taken care of by her parents. 

Self-analysis and analysis of others has since made me realize 
that one of the unconscious roots of jealousy is the inner per- 
ception of one's own erotic temptation. This unconscious aware- 

is dead. This compulsive action is psychologically analogous to the origin of 
sacrifice in all religion. Freud remarks that the significance of the sacrifice is 
"that it gives satisfaction to the father, for the insult inflicted on him, in the 
very action which continues the memory of the terrible deed" (Totem 
and Tabu). 


ness of one's own sexual attraction is then projected to the love 
object, in a mechanism of rejection. It is as if I had refused to 
acknowledge that I was attracted to Daisy. It can be expressed in 
a formula: No, I do not feel attracted to another girl, but she, 
Ella, is attracted to another man. 

Analysis of the obsessive connection I had made in my thoughts 
between my conversations with Daisy and Ella's condition leads 
to the original text of my idea. One arrives at it, when one fills 
in the gaps which made the unconscious meaning of the thought 
unrecognizable: tf I chat with Daisy tonight and feel attracted to 
her, Ella will die. That means, of course, that I had unconsciously 
felt attracted to Daisy, who consciously did not appeal to me. The 
fear, the meaning of which is distorted by ellipsis and omission 
of intermediate thoughts, is: If 7 become unfaithful with Daisy, 
Ella will die. The unconscious death wish, which can easily be 
guessed beneath the obsessional thought, is directed against Ella, 
because the loyalty I owed her prevented me from responding to 
the advances that Daisy had made toward me. Unconsciously I 
wanted Ella removed, in order to have sex relations with Daisy. A 
memory, emerging then, helped me to reconstruct the missing 
links in the text of my obsessional thoughts. 

Some time ago, Ella had told me about a dream of hers in 
which she caught me being intimate with another woman, and 
cried to me, "I can't stand this. I am going to drown myself in 
the Danube." My thought must have referred to the memory of 
this dream. Reconstructed, its text means: // 7 chat tonight with 
Daisy and feel attracted to her (so that I would like to become 
unfaithful to Ella) Ella will be so grieved about it that she will 
commit suicide. This thought occurred to me in a form distorted 
by omissions, so that it appeared as absurd or senseless. The emo- 
tion connected with it was, of course, fear that Ella could die. 
The impulse to lock my door should thus, in a magical sense, 
protect the life of the beloved girl. In reality, the measure of de- 
fense in barring the entrance has a secret meaning: To protect 
myself from my own drives, to defend myself against the sexual 

This is, in general, the sense of obsessional measures of pro- 
tection. They should secure the patients against the power of 


their own hostile and sexual wishes, which were felt to be incom- 
patible with the demands of civilization and the moral claims 
of the individual, and are therefore rejected from within. Fear 
of retribution and punishment, threatening the life of the patient, 
or of persons dear to him, explains the intensity of the reaction 
against those unconscious impulses. 

The anonymous report continues here, in analyzing another 
obsessional idea, which had its roots in the same emotional under- 
ground of jealousy. It is now difficult for me to recall this strong 
emotion of those days; but I was as jealous as the Moor of Venice. 
As with him, even the thought that my bride had deceived her 
own father for me was used as a reason for suspecting her, and 
worked upon me in those months as a slow but sure poison. After 
Ella's recovery, we paid a visit to my sister, who spent the summer 
nearby. We met there a few girls and boys. In a discussion which 
developed about a general question (I do not remember which 
one, and the report does not specify), the view I expressed was 
at variance with that of the company. My main antagonist was 
a young man who was very popular with the girls. In my antip- 
athy toward him and forced by his good arguments, I led the 
expression of my opinion to extreme and even paradoxical con- 
sequences, so that all those present turned against me. Ella, also, 
rejected my attitude. It appeared to me that in her criticism of 
my opinion there was a certain sharp note and an inclination to- 
ward my antagonist. Upset, I dropped the subject of our discus- 
sion, with a wisecrack that was as cheap at is was farfetched. 

When evening came, I accompanied Ella from my sister's back 
to Klosterneuburg. On the way, I tried to show her which (con- 
sciously unjustified) conclusions I had drawn in my exaggerated 
jealousy. The shortest way back from Klosterneuburg, where 
Ella lived, to Weidling, where my sister spent the summer, was 
a road over a hill, called "the black cross/ 1 because a marble 
monument was erected there, in the form of a cross. It had be- 
come dark by now. I felt a certain uneasiness, better known as 
fear, in walking on the path through the wood to the "black 
cross" because, at the time, there was some talk of a murder hav- 
ing been committed there. I thought that I would choose a more 
frequented detour through the city of Klosterneuburg. After I 


had said goodbye to Ella, I walked back to Klosterneuburg. 
When, on this way, I approached the spot where the ascent to 
the hill departed, a kind of obsessive command suddenly occurred 
to me: You must walk the path across the "black cross." I tried, 
in vain, to defend myself and to resist this mysterious order, ap- 
pealing to my increasing anxiety. In the middle of the road, it 
became clear to me that this compulsive action presented a kind 
of trial or test, in the manner of medieval ordeals, in which God 
was supposed to determine the guilt or innocence of an accused 
person. The difference between ordeals and oracles was, in many 
cases (as in this one) often not very clear. The text of this obses- 
sional ordeal, as it appeared now, was namely: // Ella remains 
faithful to me, nothing will happen to me on this way. If she be- 
comes unfaithful, I shall be attacked and killed. I tried to over- 
come the reluctance against this second part of the alternative 
and against my anxiety, by telling myself that life without Ella's 
loyalty would be worthless to me anyhow. 

The uncertain and displaceable character of the doubts operat- 
ing in such thoughts will be made clear by the fact that the alter- 
native was modified by me, after I had made half of the way. As 
no sign of an attack showed up, I imagined the following pos- 
sibility, to determine the ordeal: // I do not run into anyone of 
whom I feel afraid, Ella will remain faithfuL In the opposite 
case, she will become unfaithful Accident decided that, near the 
end of the path, I should run into a man with whom I almost col- 
lided in the darkness. In a second, the alternative changed in my 
mind: // he now gets rude, Ella will become unfaithful. If he does 
not make a fuss, Ella will remain loyal. The man politely apolo- 
gized and walked on. Strangely enough, the collision with him had 
the result of removing my anxiety for the rest of the dark road. 
Now a new doubt appeared. Did I feel afraid when I ran into 
him? Was the man suspicious of me? Might I conceive of the 
collision as a decision of the ordeal? It seems I could not acqui- 
esce to the favorable turn given by destiny. The doubt in obses- 
sional states is really the emotional area of infinite possibilities. 

Self-analysis later on led me back to the discussion scene, which 
had been the origin of my present doubts. In the moment when 
Ella had turned against me and had approved of the view of my 


antagonist, I had felt a violent, fleeting impulse, which could 
have been translated in words like: I hate her so that I could 
strangle her. The intensity of this impulse is, of course, only 
explicable because I had conceived of Ella's words as an expres- 
sion of her inclination to become unfaithful to me. My com- 
pulsive action, or rather the thought (I must walk the path over 
the "black cross") presents itself as a self-punishment for my 
murderous impulse. Because I wanted to kill Ella, I myself should 
be killed. Tooth for tooth, eye for eye, the oldest unwritten law 
of retaliation of talion operates here in the unconscious. Also, 
in the substitution of my obsessive thought, my own death is 
connected with a possible infidelity of Ella, as the death wish 
against her first emerged when I thought that she could turn her 
affection to somebody else. Many of such obsessive ordeals or 
oracles that appear in the thoughts of neurotic patients are emo- 
tional reaction-formations against aggressive wishes, and are orig- 
inated in tendencies of self-punishment. 

Not all unconscious oracles which were formed in my mind at 
the time were of such a somber character. That old article of mine 
mentions one which brings my mother back to my thoughts. In 
an early chapter of this book, I reported that she had correctly 
guessed the object of my puppy-love, at a time when no one 
could know of my secret and mute courtship. When, almost ten 
years later, I saw Ella again and told my mother about it, she 
seemed to be inclined to look upon my feelings as a passing in- 
fatuation of a nineteen-year-old boy. Later on, she realized that 
it was more serious, and began to be interested in Ella. My girl, 
accompanied by Mrs. O., paid a visit to my mother, who told me 
that she liked her well. It appeared to me full of significance that 
she kissed Ella cordially, when saying goodbye. 

My motfier was then already ill. After my father's death, she 
had lost most of her interests in life and did not leave the house. 
She lived only for her memories and caring for Margaret and 
myself. We saw her often in tears. She was mostly melancholic. 
When she became ill and the physician tried to give her en- 
couragement, she answered him, "I am not afraid of death, Doc- 
tor. I am tired of life and would like to die." A few days before 


she passed away, she seemed to emerge from her melancholic 
mood and was inclined to speak to us. 

Just before she fell into a coma, which lasted a few days, I had 
a conversation with her of which I frequently thought later 
on, as if it had been pregnant with many presentiments. It was 
a heart-to-heart talk, although much of it was spoken haltingly 
on both our parts. We spoke of my brother Otto, who, fifteen 
years older than myself, was destined to lead an embittered and 
joyless bachelor's life, which found its end when the Nazis killed 
him in Vienna. My mother said that he was often depressed, and 
she searched for reasons for his "nervousness." She said, "He will 
never make up his mind whether to marry a girl or not. Maybe 
he has already missed the bus." I asked, "Do you think I should 
marry early?" and she answered, "Yes, and you have already 
found the right girl." There were resemblances in the appearance 
and in character of Ella to my mother, and they had uncon- 
sciously determined the choice of my love object. Now, the ap- 
proval of my mother had been added to my decision. 

On the forenoon of the day of her death she was in a coma I 
sat near her bed and looked at her face, which seemed peaceful. 
The bell rang. It was Ella, with her mother. This visit appeared 
to me as a hint of destiny. My mother passed gently away, and to 
console me for the terrible loss, a successor was here, to whom I 
could give my tenderness. I was then twenty-two years old. 

This is, it seems, the appropriate place to insert the letter Freud 
wrote me at the time: 

Karlsbad, August 5, 1914 
Dear Herr Doctor: 

I cordially congratulate you on your wedding which has taken place in 
the middle of the turmoil of war. I certainly expect that you have found 
the right companion in Miss Ella. I hope that the neurotic phase of your 
life that has lost its meaning has now collapsed, and that your talent will 
freely work for the sake of our science and for yourself. You know that 
you can rely on me. 

Cordially yours, 



I had gone to Berlin to finish my analytic training, but the 
outbreak of the war made it necessary to return to Vienna. There 
our son Arthur was born, in 1915, and in the same year I was 
called to the army. I wish to insert here another of Freud's letters: 

Vienna, May 25, 1915 
Dear Herr Doctor: 

Returned from my Whitsun trip, I shall not postpone any longer 
cordial congratulation to your dear wife on the happy occasion of the 
birth of your son. It is to be hoped that ahead of us lie better times than 
those in which we are aging. 

I am very pleased also to see that at the same time your production in 
other fields has advanced remarkably. Your scientific achievements also 
deserve to experience better times. 

I ask you to receive the enclosure as my contribution to the care of 
the dear confined one. 

Cordially yours, 

I had luck and could stay almost a year with my family while I 
attended officer's training courses in Vienna. All this time, and 
later also, on the front line in Montenegro and Italy, I continued 
my analytic research and wrote articles and books. 

The year 1916 saw me as a young lieutenant in the Austrian 
army corps, which marched into Montenegro, the Balkan state on 
the southern frontier of Austria-Hungary. Our army had taken 
Cetinje, the capital of this country of the black mountains, and 
had occupied the greatest part of its interior. The Austrians are 
a belligerent people. Their history is full of wars. There are only 
few nations in Europe which can boast that they have not de- 
feated the Austrian army. I do not want to speak of war, but of 
a personal experience in w r artime. 

We were then in Kolasin, a small town in the southern part of 
Montenegro, near the Albanian frontier. The resistance of the 
freedom-loving and brave mountain tribes had been broken only 


superficially. There were numerous ambushes and attacks upon 
small bodies of our troops, and behind every rock could be the 
enemy who knew how to shoot and to hit. A severe martial law, 
threatening the death penalty, had forbidden the natives to 
possess arms. 

I once had to be present when an old man and his son, who 
had been held as hostages, were hanged in the marketplace. The 
old man walked with dignity to the gallows, and said a few words 
before the rope was put around his neck. I understood only the 
first word, bredjen (brothers), but I was told, later on, that he 
said he was glad to die for the freedom of his people. The grim 
spectacle made a strong impression on me, and I have been a de- 
cided opponent of the death penalty ever since. To this day, I 
cannot see that the government, any government, should be al- 
lowed to commit that lawful murder, misnamed capital punish- 

About a month later, I was ordered to function as defense at- 
torney before the court of martial law. While the judge advocate 
and the prosecuting officers were lawyers in the Austrian army, 
the task of the defense attorney was, at the time, often assigned to 
officers whose civilian profession was not law. The defendant was 
a Montenegrin boy of seventeen or eighteen years who had been 
caught with a rifle in his hands by our soldiers. He had killed a 
man, apparently without any motive. The boy belonged to an 
Albanian tribe, to one of those half-civilized, black-haired people 
who have preserved primitive organization and law. In those 
mountains, the law of the clan is as alive today as in old times. 
In the frequent feuds between the clans, the revenge for murder 
is murder of a member of the hostile clan. The boy I had to plead 
for had been an avenger. A relative of his had been shot, and he 
had killed a man of the clan on which revenge had to be taken. 
I spoke with the boy through an interpreter. He could not under- 
stand how what he had done could be considered a crime. He had 
only obeyed the law of his tribe. 

As his defense attorney, I tried to put all legal arguments at my 
disposal before the court. They were poor. I then attempted to 
make the deed of my client psychologically understandable. I 
pleaded before the officers who formed the court that the morals 


of these half-civilized mountaineers were different from ours, and 
that we had no right to judge others according to our ethical 
standard. I reminded the officers of the Holy Scripture. When, in 
ancient Israel, a member of one of the tribes was killed, it was 
not said, "The blood of one of us is shed," but "Our blood has 
been shed/' because the common blood is the most important 
tie between the members of a clan. 

While speaking, I felt under high emotional pressure. It was as 
if I were responsible for the boy's life, as if his fate depended 
on my pleading. I was never a good orator, but if I was ever 
eloquent, it was on this occasion. Dark motives identified me with 
this boy who had committed murder and thought himself justi- 
fied in killing a man. No doubt, under the influence of these 
secret emotions, my pleading itself became emotional. I asked 
the court to consider that the reputation of our army, in this 
hostile country, would be helped if we did not obey the letter of 
the martial law, but tempered justice with mercy. 

At this point, out of the deep well of forgetfulness, suddenly 
some verses occurred to me, verses which Goethe had once written 
into a copy of his drama Iphigenia in Tauris. I finished my pas- 
sionate plea for the boy's life, asking my comrades that their 
verdict should be in the spirit of these words of Goethe: 

Go forth, and everywhere proclaim 
Whatever crime man does commit, 
Man's spirit does atone for it. 

The officers were not unaffected by my plea. The judge advo- 
cate came over to me, shook my hand, and said, "You have spoken 
beautifully/' but he added in a low voice, "You know that our 
hands are tied by orders/' "Why then the farce of this court?" I 
replied, full of indignation. 

While the court deliberated, I walked around and smoked, to 
steady my nerves. Behind the lines of our soldiers, who stood 
guard with fixed bayonets, the place was crowded with people: 
men, women, and children. I heard the buzzing of their voices, 
and I was aware that they talked about me. But their glances 
were not unfriendly. While I looked at these barren, bleak moun- 


tains around the town, I thought that we were surrounded by a 
determined enemy, hidden in these small houses and behind 
those rocks. 

I asked myself, much later, why I had been so stirred up when I 
pleaded for the boy, why I had trembled and been aware of my 
inner tension, of heart beating, and of short breath. It became 
clear to me that my unconscious identification with the boy was 
founded on the fact that I, myself, had committed a thought- 
murder when I was about his age, that he represented an emo- 
tional potentiality of myself. He had done what I had only 
thought. If they took him to the gallows, I could say, "There, but 
for the grace of God, goes Theodor Reik." 

I wondered why at the end of my speech those verses of 
Goethe's that I had forgotten suddenly emerged. They were cer- 
tainly out of place in the sober, rnatter-of-fact atmosphere of a 
court of martial law. No doubt, I had pleaded for myself. The 
verses that had welled up in me were remembered from the time 
of my compulsive Goethe reading after my father's death when I 
was the same age as this boy. And Goethe's drama puts the 
murderer, Orestes, on the stage and shows how his terrible deed 
is atoned. And did not the old Goethe say there was no crime he 
thought himself incapable of committing? 

I was called into the courtroom. The sentence was death by 
hanging. I went to my room and fell asleep. Later something pro- 
pelled me to see the boy in jail. The verdict had been made 
known to him, and he had been visited by the Greek Orthodox 
priest. When I came into the prison, I found him sitting on the 
bench, his head sunk to his breast. I called him by name and put 
my hand gently on his black-haired head. He looked up, recog- 
nized me, and stammered only, "Gospodine . . . Gospodine!" 
("Oh, sir!") And then he was on his knees before me, kissing my 
hand. They hung him two hours later. 

Late that evening, when I returned from dinner at the mess 
hall, an old man in Montenegrin costume passed by me. He 
stumbled just when he was near me and I helped him up. He 
thanked me humbly, but in doing this he mentioned my name. I 
had never seen the man. It was strange that he knew me by name. 
At home, when I fumbled for matches in the pocket of my jacket, 


I found a small package in brown paper, tied up with a thread; 
in it were twenty flashing gold coins. On the paper were a few 
words, written in Cyrillic script, which I could not read. (An in- 
terpreter told me later on that the note said: "God bless you.") 

What should I do with the coins? They were perhaps the life sav- 
ings of those poor people. I was sure I could not find that man. 
He perhaps lived somewhere in the mountains, miles away. 
Should I give the money to my commander? That was certainly 
not the intention of the unknown giver. He wanted me to have it. 
But was it not treason to accept money from the enemy? I decided 
to keep the ducats. When I was on leave in Vienna much later, I 
sold them and used the proceeds to complement and improve the 
food for Ella and Arthur. "If this be treason, make the most 
of it." 

I had, however, some serious conscientious scruples about an- 
other experience, which happened shortly afterward in Kolasin, 
that small town in the interior of the Cerna Gora (Black 
Mountains). . . . 

Napoleon once played a kind of parlor game with a group of 
his generals and diplomats. Each of the persons present was to 
tell a story of some mean deeds he had done. When Talleyrand's 
turn came, the statesman started his tale with the words, "I have 
done only one mean thing in my life . . ." "But when will this 
end?" ("Mais quand sera-t-il finif") asked the Emperor. Unlike 
Talleyrand, I believe I have done quite a few mean things or at 
least things I considered mean. The following tale presents one 
of them. 

One evening a young, pretty woman approached me on the 
streets of Kolasin. She wore the braided and embroidered na- 
tional garment of the Montenegrin women, but she seemed 
cleaner and more carefully dressed than the girls of the small 
town. I had not seen her before. "Parlez-vous fran^ais, Monsieur 
le Docteur?" she asked. I was, of course, astonished to hear a na- 
tive of these wild mountains speak French. She told me then 
that she had been at college in Belgrade. She spoke better French 
than I and was, as was shown in our conversation, well educated. 
She was married to an officer who fought in the Serbian army 
against our troops. She had heard nothing from him for three 


years. He was, she said, perhaps dead for a long time. She asked 
me whether I would give her some bread. She was hungry. The 
Montenegrins were at this time half starved, and our army did 
little to help the poor people. 

From then on, I often met Ivanka somewhere outside Kolasin 
fraternizing with the natives was, of course, forbidden and 
brought whatever food I could save for her. I tried to help her as 
well as I could "ga va sans dire." She lived with her in-laws in 
one of those miserable, one-window houses on a hill near Kolasin. 
Frequently now, I asked my orderly to saddle my horse and rode 
a few miles to a certain place in the mountains, not too far from 
the house of her in-laws, but also not too near to it. I brought her 
bread and other food in the saddlebag. 

My horse was tied to one of the few trees and Ivanka and I sat 
on a rock and chatted. She told me about her home. She admitted 
frankly that last year she had been the mistress of an Austrian 
major who spoke Serbian. What should she have done? She did 
not want to starve. Once, she called herself a coorva, which is the 
Serbian word for whore. She seemed not only grateful for my 
help, but became obviously fond of me. We kissed, but something 
prevented me from going further until one evening she asked me 
whether I did not feel like "faire amour" with her. . . . She was 
natural, unashamed, and passionate. We then met regularly 
somewhere high in those mountains, where she knew every little 
path. "A loaf of bread, and thou" the poet had not meant it 
this way. Ivanka sometimes sang one of those melancholy Serbian 
love songs. But her presence "beside me, singing in the wilder- 
ness" did not perform that miracle of transformation, that "Wil- 
derness is Paradise Enow." 

I did not feel guilty because I had a mistress. I was twenty-eight 
years old, many months away from home and sex-starved. But 
there were other things which made me feel very uncomfortable 
and awakened discomfort. She was the wife of another man, and 
sometimes I felt guilty toward the unknown husband. He was an 
enemy, but I did not hate the Serbians and Montenegrins. I was 
supposed to hate them, being an Austrian officer, but hate can be 
as little commanded as love. Often, in my imagination, I put my- 
self in his place and I felt then a kind of hostility or resentment 


toward Ivanka. (I remembered a sentence of the Viennese writer 
Karl Kraus speaking of a man who imagined the jealous tortures 
of the husband he deceived so vividly that he felt he wanted to 
strangle his mistress.) Even the neurotic belief in magic retaliation 
from a punishing destiny occurred to me. Oftentimes, I thought it 
possible that Ella, in Vienna, would become unfaithful to me with 
an officer. Once, when I had a letter from her in which she wrote 
that our little son was sick, I was haunted for days by the fear 
that he would die as a punishment for my transgression. I really 
avoided Ivanka for a week, using some pretext. I tried, with some 
success, to overcome my obsessional and superstitious thoughts. 
Ivanka remained my mistress until I was transferred to the 
Italian front. 

More than my adultery, the fact that I had used the emergency 
situation of a woman to get sexual gratification from her troubled 
me. I told myself that I was not her first lover and that she had 
offered herself to me, but this thought was cold comfort. If I had 
not taken her, I said to myself, she would have gone to another 
officer who would have made use of the opportunity. My God, 
why are the others not so conscientious! . . . " A la guerre comme 
a la guerre . . /' It bothered me, nevertheless. It had been a 
mean thing to do. But, I argued with myself, I saved her from 
starving. I could have saved her from starving without sleeping 
with her this was the counter-argument. I got into a lot of ethi- 
cal reflections and speculations. I pondered on the problem of 
whether a person is entitled to use another human being this way. 
I came to the conclusion that I was far from being a real Don 

The doubt as to whether my behavior then had been mean 
sometimes occurred to me long after the first World War. I still 
know when it emerged in my thoughts the last time. That was 
perhaps twelve or thirteen years later, when we lived in Berlin. 
Someone had recommended to me a novel by the Berlin writer 
Georg Hermann, The Night of Dr. Herzfeld. I read a scene in a 
coffee house where a group of middle-aged bachelors and married 
men writers, artists, and connoisseurs regularly meet to banter 
and joke and discuss the state of the world. One evening, a 
woman in the uniform of the Salvation Army approaches the 


table of this group and holds the collection box out to them. She 
asks, "Please, for fallen girls!" One of the middle-aged men says 
casually, "I am giving directly/' 

I smiled, of course, when I read the witty remark, but then I 
thought of my first sexual intercourse. This was with a prostitute, 
and I was eighteen years old. Suddenly, the thought of Ivanka 
occurred to me. Yes, that had been mean and I felt ashamed of 
myself. (At the same time, the memory of her passionate sur- 
render emerged in after-enjoyment. How strange we human be- 
ings are!) But the thought bothered me not more than a few sec- 
onds and was quickly dismissed. I was now over forty, as those 
men in Hermann's novel, and I had become hard-boiled and a 
cynic. Or, at least, I thought of myself as a cynic. 

Freud told me I could bring my bride to the psychoanalytic 
congress, in 1914, and we went together to this great meeting, 
where 3 analysts from all countries assembled. When I introduced 
Ella to Freud, and she spoke a, few words apologizing for her 
presence at this learned meeting where she had no place, the 
great man said with old Viennese gallantry, "But you are the 
pearl on this congress." She blushed, and I believe, from this 
moment on, she loved Freud, about whose work she then knew 
almost nothing. 

She did not love Mrs. Freud so much. After our return from 
Berlin to Vienna, we were asked to tea by the Frau Professor, as 
we called her. It was, of course, quite informal as you would ask 
a young newly married couple. In the course of the conversation, 
Mrs. Freud, who was a magnificent housewife, said to Ella, "You 
see, I always use those cups with double rims for every day." It 
was good practical advice for a young Hausfrau, but my wife 
minded it, since it seemed to her that Mrs. Freud had lectured 
her in the presence of her husband. A few minutes later, Ella 
must have said something about having been nervous the other 
day, because Mrs. Freud said, "Nervous? I couldn't afford to be 
nervous. Everything in the household has to run smoothly. Other- 


wise, how could my husband do his work?" It was known in 
Vienna that for many years Mrs. Freud had renounced the pleas- 
ure of attending an opera performance, because she wanted to be 
present at dinner, which Freud liked to have at a certain time. Ella 
did not relish the subtle reproach she had felt in the words of the 
old lady. Yet, she had much respect for her. There is at least one 
conclusive proof that Mrs. Freud's remark had made a lasting 
impression on her. Many years later, I heard Ella say to a young 
bride who visited us, "You see, I always use those cups with 
double rims for every day." Where had I heard this same sen- 
tence? . . . The Frau Professor had not been Ella's cup of tea 
at all, and yet . . . 

Living every day with a person you love has quite a different 
character from spending a few hours daily with her. The read- 
justment of two people to each other, one of the essential features 
of wedded life, brings divergencies to light that had not been 
recognized before. I was worried about the future, dissatisfied 
with the present, and, paradoxically enough, often took this out 
on my young wife, who looked at life much more optimistically 
than I. The fact that I could not offer her more than an existence, 
without comfort and devoid of pleasures, made me spoil for her 
even the few and small amusements she could have. I was a joy- 
killer. She was not only ready, but also happy, to share this very 
modest form of life with me, and did not understand why I was 
not satisfied with it. But I did not understand it myself. 

I tried unsuccessfully to awaken in her an interest in psycho- 
analysis. Something in her personality was reluctant to see people 
and human relations in such an objective light. I understood, 
much later, that a certain psychological predisposition and in- 
clination are necessary to consider men the way psychoanalysis 
does. There are thousands of fine and profound mindsmany o 
the greatest, as Goethe's, among them who do not want to look 
at individuals and groups in this manner. 

Ella was happy when I was successful in my work, and enjoyed 
each sign of appreciation my early books received but it was her 
love for me, not interest in analysis, that made her feel this way. 
She copied neatly and conscientiously almost all my manu- 
scripts, but the subject matter did not appeal to her. Insensitive as 


I was, I wanted to share with her my insights in this direction. I 
no longer think that husband and wife should necessarily have 
all interests in common, but I had not grasped this simple fact. 
Neither had I realized that my wish to share everything with Ella 
was one-sided. It was as if a man demanded from another: "Give 
me your watch and I'll tell you what time it is." 

This common, everyday life let her see all my shortcomings 
and faults, and, looking back, I am astonished at how many of 
them she silently put up with. The few weaknesses and failings I 
discovered in her did not diminish, but rather increased her 
charm. They were, so to speak, only the reverse side of her many 
excellencies. Her way of looking at people and things, so differ- 
ent from mine, every small trait and detail of behavior spoke of 
her femininity. Her preference for human interest in art and life, 
which expressed itself in harmless gossip with her girl friends, her 
strong feeling for the poor and suffering people, her superstitions 
and prejudices, the attention she paid to dresses and hats there 
was so much I had to understand about women. 

I learned, by the great interest she took in our small apartment, 
that a room has for women the unconscious significance of an 
extension of their own bodies. Where I was sentimental, she was 
practical; and often where she felt moved, I looked at things 
realistically. Why did she cry when we left the apartment in 
which we had spent the first months of our married life? Did we 
not change it for a better and more convenient one? I could be 
courteous and obliging but, to speak with Goethe, she had the 
"politeness of the heart." There were irreconcilable differences. 
For me, a police officer was the personification of the law; for her, 
he was only a man in a blue uniform. She often appeared childish 
to me, and then again as if she were born older and wiser than 
myself. (I read, later on, what the wife of Tolstoy wrote about her 
famous husband, at the time when he wanted to reform the 
world. "Never mind what the child will try; the main thing is he 
should not cry.") When I was defiant and rebellious, and paced 
the room, saying, 'Til show them . . . 1" I sometimes caught her 
side glance, which seemed to see in me a pigheaded, uncom- 
promising, overgrown boy, challenging others or meeting the 
challenge of other boys. She was suddenly transformed into a 


consoling and comforting mother. A few minutes later, she was 
a little girl who enjoyed small things to which I had never even 
given a thought. She could argue well, but, at the same time, she 
was the most inconsistent woman, without the slightest respect 
for logic. The elementary truth, that a thing could not be itself 
and at the same time its opposite, simply did not exist for her. 

So many little things she said and did gave me surprising in- 
sights into a delicacy and depth of feeling which we men do not 
possess. But there were, also, some little tricks which were alien 
to me, an indirectness of approach to a subject, a subtle way of 
getting around me and reaching an aim by a detour, an astonish- 
ing lack of fairness when personal emotions were in play, a kind 
of irrationality in things where only reason should have a voice, 
and not sympathy and antipathy. Furthermore, there were some 
days in each month when mysterious depressions and a strange 
wish to make order in drawers and chests appeared. A young man 
has so much to learn about women's ways. 

There is a current misconception among young and unyoung 
men that to know women, you have to have many affairs. They 
confuse understanding women with "knowing" them in the sense 
that the Old Testament gives to the word, namely, to have sexual 
intercourse with women. In this sense, an expert on women is 
often considered as a man who has seduced many women, a Don 
Juan. But this is as if a waiter, who knows exactly what tip he 
can expect from the kind of customers he serves, would be con- 
sidered an expert in psychology! He knows only a tiny bit of 
human behavior, and even this only as far as it is useful to his 
immediate aims! It is, I think, sufficient to know one woman 
thoroughly, in all aspects of her being, to understand women's 
character the essence of femininity, its evanescent and its perma- 
nent features, its shallowness and its unfathomable depth. 

The physicians had declared that the condition of Ella's heart 
made it advisable that she should not have a child. They told her 
that it was not certain whether she would survive the labor. But 
she said, "I want the child, whatever happens to me afterward." 
When a year after our wedding our son Arthur was born, I was 
often reminded of those medieval madonnas, who smilingly look 
at the baby on their breast. She was the kindest and gentlest 


mother, but she was strong, too. Patiently she could listen to the 
crying and shouting of the baby in the night, when she knew 
that nothing was the matter with him. When I could not stand it 
any longer, took the child up and paced the room, singing to him, 
she smilingly warned me that I was going to spoil him. Eleven 
years later, Arthur became dangerously ill with an inflammation 
of the leg bone and its marrow (osteomyelitis). My wife, then al- 
ready seriously suffering from her heart disease, stood before the 
operating room. When the surgeon came out, I tremblingly asked 
him whether it would be necessary to amputate the leg. "That is 
not the question," said the physician. "We don't know whether 
we can save his life." Then all went black before my eyes it was 
the first fainting spell of my life. It was Ella's arm that caught me 
as I fell. 

But to return to the psychological problems of the first year of 
our marriage and to the comparison with young Goethe in my 
study, written so many, years later, I had shown that the poet 
must have suffered from psychic impotence which he did not over- 
come until he approached his forties. His enthusiastic love or 
infatuation for so many women, Gretchen in Frankfurt, Frie- 
derike in Sesenheim, Lotte in Wetzlar, his engagement with Lilli, 
and finally the long, soulful, and morbid relationship with Frau 
von Stein they were all affairs of the heart only. They were pas- 
sionate, but they were also pathetic. None of them resulted in 
sexual union; each, in the flight of the lover. He used his passion 
in the production of beautiful poems and plays. He had, it seems, 
never made a serious advance toward any of these women. "His 
wooing was aimless," as Thomas Mann put it. Some invisible 
power, stronger even than his vivid sensuality, prevented him 
from making sexual objects out of the objects of his passion. Some 
mysterious fears forced him to control his desire, until he could 
not stand it any longer and took to flight. 

Nothing of this kind can be reported in my case. Yet, there 
was something which could be at least reminiscent of the much 
more serious inhibitions in young Goethe. Was not my restraint 
in the seven years of clandestine engagement comparable to the 
inhibition which forbade Goethe to approach Friederike? 

When Ella and I married, a puzzling phenomenon appeared 


which cast a shadow upon our happiness of being together. We 
were sexually not in tune. Our physical union, so long and so 
ardently desired, was not successful. There was certainly no 
psychical impotence as in Goethe's case, but the natural develop- 
ment, from sexual tension to a climax, was prematurely inter- 
rupted by an untimely emission, which released it, but did not 
relieve it. This too sudden and too early finale left my young wife 
high and dry, and left me unsatisfied. What had been so spon- 
taneous and natural in the relation with Vilma and other women, 
what appeared as the result of an understanding of two bodies, 
striving to become one, and had been taken for granted, could 
not be accomplished here, and filled me with the shame of failure. 
Artificial restraint and postponement were of no avail. Nature 
cannot be deceived. 

This premature emission, technically known as ejaculatio 
praecox, appeared to me as a milder or different kind of psychical 
impotence. Why had such an embarrassing and discouraging ex- 
perience never happened before? I had to admit to myself that it 
must have its psychological cause in the very relationship with 
my wife, whom I dearly loved. Perhaps an old sexual inhibition 
had been reawakened. Was it possible that the menace connected 
with the image of Mr. O.'s guns and revolvers continued to work 
unconsciously upon me, even now when we were legitimately 
married? There was, I told myself, the emotional aftereffect of the 
unnatural restraint exercised during seven years. I remembered 
an anecdote (was it not from De I'amour, by Stendhal?) about 
a French hussar officer who had passionately wooed a woman who 
did not surrender to him. Unexpectedly, she yielded and, to his 
shame, the officer found himself impotent. Was there also in me 
a trace of unconscious resentment against Ella, because of the 
long control? I could not discover anything of such feelings in 
my conscious mind, but I had already learned from Freud that 
you can conclude from the effects of an action or attitude (at 
least) one of its unconscious motives. And was not this effect that 
my wife remained unsatisfied? All these questions and consider- 
ations were elucidated and confirmed during my psychoanalysis 
with Dr. Karl Abraham, who in a relatively short time succeeded 
in removing this embarrassing symptom. 


The thread which connects this fragment of my own story with 
the experiences of young Goethe becomes conspicuously thin at 
this point But it is not broken, because my imperfection in sex 
can well be compared with Goethe's psychical impotence toward 
those women he worshiped. The phenomena in my own life ap- 
peared simultaneously, while those with which they could be 
compared in Goethe's life showed themselves in succession, fol- 
lowing each other. I had fallen in love with Ella, as Goethe had 
with Friederike, and I had taken a mistress who was at least 
twelve years older than myself and who had a son. Only a few 
years after the romance with Friederike, Goethe, then twenty-six 
years old, found Frau von Stein, who was then thirty-three and 
had seven children. In the following twelve years, Goethe had 
been in bondage to this mother-representative, a strange and 
neurotic woman, who allowed him only spiritual favors. 

When he then secretly fled to Italy, he felt reborn. He became 
a pagan, earthly in his sexual life. "Desire followed the glance, 
enjoyment followed desire." This is the description he gives of 
his Italian sex life, in his Roman Elegies. He gets rid of his sensi- 
tive conscience, confesses to a free sensuality; yes, boasts about it 
so that his friends call him "Priapus." The ladies and the gentle- 
men of the court at Weimar were taken aback. This whole esthetic, 
refined, and restrained society was shocked and shaken when 
the great poet took a pretty, uneducated flower girl, Christiane 
Vulpius, into his house and made her his bed companion. He did 
not give a damn about the opinion of those ladies and gentlemen, 
and lived in voluptuous sin for many years, with a woman who 
did not understand one line of Faust, What had taken place in 
Goethe's life successively had co-existed in my youthful years. 
The differences between him and myself were as great as those 
between a half-god and a human being. But on this darker and 
lower level, where also this immortal genius was mortal, where 
also this superman was human, there were, 1 1 understand now, 
similarities originating in unconscious emotions and secret in- 

But to return to the psychological problem of impotence or its 
qualified, moderated form of premature emission. A great num- 
ber of men can develop their full sexual potency only with 


women they do not respect, yes, those upon whom they look 
down. They fail sexually with the other group of women, for 
whom they feel affection or tenderness and whom they consider 
in the category of mother- or sister-figure. These men can enjoy 
all the pleasures and the deep satisfaction which sexuality gives 
with women they despise. They can reach the heights of devotion 
and idealization with the other kind of women, who appear to 
them untouchable and sexually unapproachable. The extreme 
figures in whom these two contrasting types appear to human 
imagination are the madonna and the whore. Between these types 
is erected an insurmountable wall. The one is desired with all 
burning passion of the flesh; the other, worshiped and elevated 
with all the faculty of fantasy. 

Ella and Vilma represented for me, at this time, the two types. 
Had I not often enough compared Ella to the madonna, in my 
thoughts? Was she not for me the embodiment of the noblest and 
best in womanhood? But I paid a high price for this idealization. I 
could not reach full sexual gratification with her. On the other 
hand was the personification of the merely sexually alluring 
woman, for whom I had neither respect nor affection, who ap- 
peared to me "fast," a woman for all men. She could give me full 
physical satisfaction. 

Madonna and whore these were the two types which a student 
of psychology had sharply differentiated, and contrasted only a 
few years before, in the confused book of a genius. The older 
students of psychology, who had known him at the Vienna Uni- 
versity, told me about him. The tide of the book was Sex and 
Character,, and its author, Otto Weininger, had shot himself in 
the house in which Beethoven had lived, in the Schwarzspanier 
Strasse. But later I learned from Freud how typical this division 
of love and sexual behavior is for so many men in our culture 
who cannot love where they sexually desire, and who do not func- 
tion well sexually where they respect and idealize women, I 
understood, in my own analysis, how deep the roots of this divi- 
sion between tenderness and sexuality reach into the area of 
childhood and puberty impressions. Later on, when I treated 
neurotic patients, I understood why many men need a kind of 
degradation in their fantasy or in their action with women they 


highly appreciate or love. They have to degrade them, in order 
to bring them down from the elevated level which forbids the 
intimate physical approach. A short time after I started my 
analytical practice, two patients showed neurotic symptoms, 
which led to the conclusion that they originated in this typical 
attitude of men in their sexual life. The one was potent with his 
wife only if he called her dirty names, used extremely vulgar 
language before and during sexual intercourse. She had to tell 
him that she wanted and enjoyed sex, and had to use certain 
lecherous terms. The other, a serious case of obsession-neurosis, 
was tortured by blasphemous thoughts, which frequently oc- 
curred in church or during prayer. When he looked, for instance, 
at pictures of the Madonna with the Christ child, he was com- 
pelled to think of her legs lifted and straddled in sexual inter- 
course, in a lascivious movement. When he wanted to pray to 
Jesus, he often had to think, "Bastard!" 

How near this kind of thought is to the threshold of conscious 
thinking can be recognized in two anecdotes, which Anatole 
France tells in one of his novels. An Italian girl sends the follow- 
ing prayer to the Holy Virgin: "O Thou who hast conceived 
without sinning, give me the grace to sin without conceiving!" 
Having prayed in vain for rain to Jesus, a Sicilian peasant returns 
to the chapel with the statue of the Madonna with the child, and 
says, "I do not speak to you, son-of-a-bitch, but to your holy 

In these clinical cases, as in the anecdotes, a psychical counter- 
mechanism is operating, which tries to annul and undo the re- 
sult of that isolation. This mechanism of connection tries to 
bridge again the abyss between the two parts that had once 
formed indivisible unity. Is it true that never the twain shall meet? 

It became the great fashion among American psychiatrists and 
psychoanalysts to speak of "psycho-sexual maturity" as the most 
decisive criterion of individual development. It cannot be denied 
that almost all the greatest men whose life stories we know never 
reached "psycho-sexual maturity." To cite only the two titans of 
mankind mentioned in this chapter: Goethe had never possessed 
one of those women he so passionately adored. Between Frau von 
Stein and Christiane Vulpius was an unbridgeable abyss. The one 


was the real mate of his soul in whom he fully confided and 
whom he never touched. He shared with Christiane his bed and 
not much else. He was, as someone put it, "as little married as 
possible." Beethoven could not approach sexually any of the 
beautiful aristocratic ladies of Vienna. On one side is the Im- 
mortal Beloved; on the other, the slut, from whom he acquired 
syphilis. In Goethe and Beethoven, as in all great men, there was 
this deep split, this discord which had to be resolved again and 
again. They all felt as Faust, that 

. . . two souls contend 

In me, and both souls strive for masterdom. 

Which from the other shall the sceptre rend! 

The first soul is a lover, clasping close 

To this world tentacles of corporeal flame. 

The other seeks to rise with mighty throes 

To the ancestral meadows whence it came. 

A few years after my return from the war, my wife showed the 
first symptoms indicating a deterioration of her heart ailment. It 
had been aggravated by the labor of Arthur's birth and by the 
household work without help. The slowly proceeding inflam- 
mation of the inside walls of the heart chambers frequently occurs 
to a heart already damaged by rheumatic fever. There appeared 
that zigzag fever, so characteristic of the growth of germs.* For 
many months my wife was in a sanatorium, wavering between 
life and death. The doctors gave very little hope that she would 
pull through. All means were applied to find and to fight the un- 
known germs and to strengthen the weakened organism against 
their fatal power. Some teeth were pulled, and her tonsils were re- 
moved because they were suspected of being the seat of the in- 

* The name, endocarditis lenta, used at this time for the slowly progressing 
heart inflammation, is now obsolete and the currently preferred diagnostic 
term is subacute bacterial endocarditis. 


fection. But the illness, it seemed, could not be stopped and took 
its slowly progressing course. 

I still remember how Professor Chvosteck, perhaps the best 
specialist for internal diseases in Vienna, who was called into 
consultation, started his examination. He wanted to look into 
Ella's throat, and the nurse offered him an electric flashlight. But 
he waved it aside contemptuously and said, in pronounced Vien- 
nese dialect, "Give me a wax taper!"* (At that moment, I not 
only remembered that I had heard many anecdotes about this 
queer and magnificent physician, but also something which filled 
me with foreboding.) After careful examination, the famous 
doctor said to Ella, "I'll tell you, madam, you will recover from 
this illness, but it will take an awfully long time. And after that, 
you will have to live with a weak heart which is not compensated. 
I am telling you the truth. Why should you say later on that 
Chvosteck was an ass?" This ruthless honesty worked more favor- 
ably upon my wife than the smooth and consoling speeches of 
other physicians. 

She told me, a few years later, that at a certain moment she had 
been ready to give up, that she had wanted to die. But her tired 
eyes followed me, pacing the room, and she was filled with pity 
because I looked so miserable and desperate. She decided to 
gather all her energy to fight her illness and to live. I know that 
such a belief will appear non-rational to many physicians, but 
I have seen many instances of serious infectious diseases, in which 
a strong mind showed itself victorious in its struggle with the 
great enemy. 

But, pacing the sickroom, I did not think of myself, but of our 
little son who was so devoted to his mother. What would happen 
to him, if she should die? If I had believed in God, I would have 
prayed that He let her live, at least long enough so that Arthur 
could fend for himself. She lived longer. She saw him leave our 
home and marry. After many months, the fever slowly subsided, 
and Ella could leave the sanatorium, but treatment had, of 
course, to be continued at home. 

I have often stated that a neurosis does not evaporate after 

* He used a word which is old-fashioned, even in the very conservative 
Viennese dialect, namely, wachsel, meaning a long, wax candle. 


analysis and does not disappear into thin air without any traces. 
What remain are scars, as after an operation, and they make 
themselves felt when, later on, serious inner conflicts occur and 
unfavorable circumstances threaten a person's security. When my 
wife was so dangerously ill, I felt those scars; the old wounds 
became sensitive in stormy weather. During Ella's illness, a new 
train of obsession-thoughts emerged, which I had to fight. I was 
again haunted by that expectancy of impending calamity. But 
now I had, of course, good reason to be afraid, because I had 
been told how dangerous Ella's disease was. 

Oftener and oftener thoughts emerged which seemed to herald 
the catastrophe in magical connections. There were, it is true, 
some strange accidental circumstances which favored the recur- 
rence of those old, consciously disavowed beliefs in magic. Here 
are a few of them: It was on the day after my wife and I had 
attended together a performance of Mahler's Song of the Earth 
that Ella had felt her first fever attack. When we left the concert 
hall, there was storm and rain, and my wife complained that she 
felt shivery. When she became very ill the next day, we thought, 
at first, that she had caught a cold. But it soon became clear how 
serious her condition was. When Mahler composed this sym- 
phony, he was already ill and foresaw that he would soon die. He 
shuddered at the thought that none of the great composers, 
Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, had written a tenth symphony. 
Each of them had died after the ninth. Mahler, who was super- 
stitious, tried, so to speak, to play a trick on destiny and called 
his ninth symphony, Song of the Earth. He died before he could 
finish the tenth symphony. 

I took the concert as a bad omen. The idea that some magical 
connection was there recurred when my wife was brought to the 
Loew Sanatorium, the same clinic and the same ward where 
Mahler had died ten years before. When Ella's physicians then 
suggested that Professor Chvosteck should be called, I remem- 
bered that Alma Maria, Mahler's wife, had called the same physi- 
cian to Paris, when the composer returned from New York in 
1910. Chvosteck had then told Mrs. Mahler that her husband was 
lost. But as if there were not enough coincidences: at first, Ella's 
disease was diagnosed as poisoning of the organism through un- 


known bacteria; but later the specific agent was ascertained as 
streptococcus viridans. It was the same as that which caused the 
heart of Mahler to fail. There were four incidental things: the 
attendance at Mahler's last symphony, the same hospital and 
ward, the same consulting physician, and the same disease well, 
they were incidents and coincidents. Some of them could easily 
be explained by local and temporal circumstances, and some did 
not need any kind of explanation. But it was difficult to shake 
off the notion that there was a mysterious connection. The coin- 
cidences were unconsciously interpreted as omens that my wife's 
fate was sealed as Mahler's had been. These obsessional thoughts, 
whirling in my head, were taken very seriously, when the danger 
was greatest. Sometimes, they were considered only as fancies and 
playful caprices quite in accordance with the character of most 
obsessional ideas. I had an excellent insight into the psychology 
of obsessional thinking; yes, I had even made a special study of 
it, and most of my books, until then, dealt with it. But it 
seemed all this did not help rne much when destiny knocked on 
my own door. Slowly, I mastered the power of those magical 
thoughts. Later on, another much more serious neurotic phenom- 
enon, which gave me a lot of trouble, took their place. I shall 
report it soon. 

As by a miracle, the inflammation seemed, at least in its acute 
symptoms, to come to a standstill. In the following years, the 
basic cardial disease took its slow course and the bacterial growth 
finally occluded the kidneys. A very painful attack made it neces- 
sary to remove a kidney stone and, a few years later, the kidney 
again my wife was in the Loew Sanatorium for months. When we 
returned home, we decided to consult different physicians. After 
the operation, three specialists in their field held a consultation 
in our apartment. I was called in, and the youngest of them 
said, "She is doomed. The only thing that can be done is to pro- 
long her life by sparing her in every direction." 

I had long before decided to put all my energy into this task, 
had given up all pleasures or distractions, and had buried my 
scientific ambitions. I returned to an old pattern of living. I had 
again condemned myself to forced labor. My "travaux forces" 
were this time not of the kind of the Goethe compulsion. They 


concerned my analytic practice. I worked eleven and twelve hours 
daily with patients, in order to earn enough to pay all the doc- 
tors, the expensive sanatoria, cure places and medicinal baths, 
to secure all possible domestic help (Ella was forbidden to do 
any work), and, finally, to give my wife as much comfort and 
pleasure as possible. Besides this, I had, of course, to support 
her parents. This went on for many years. The words "She is 
doomed" echoed in my mind and, whenever I was exhausted, 
the reminder of the end I thought near roused me to new efforts 
and even greater self-sacrifice. 

Strangely enough, I found in this forced labor, in this exhaust- 
ing no-stop work, a kind of painful pleasure, in renunciation, a 
grim enjoyment, and in ruthless self-sacrifice and suffering, a con- 
cealed satisfaction. It w T as much later that I recognized that such 
a limitless suppression of all self-interest, such cruel slave-driving 
of oneself, deserved the name of martyrdom attitude, and that it 
was clearly of a masochistic character. This kind of masochism, 
which Freud called moral, on account of its essential psychologi- 
cal character, really gets gratification out of suffering, because it 
anticipates an appropriate reward for it. It is as if the person who 
has deprived himself of so much and has undergone so much 
suffering has acquired a claim to a fulfillment of his wishes, has 
earned a right to gratification of his drives. There was no doubt 
that my own masochistic attitude had, also, the character of an 
atonement and self-punishment for all my unconscious cruel and 
evil tendencies toward Ella, in the past, renewed and reactivated 
by the present situation. At the same time, my ego could uncon- 
sciously get a great advantage from such self-sacrifice and forced 
labor for others. It not only helped my self-respect; it made me 
unconsciously feel noble and kind, yes, even better than others. 
The more I worked and labored, the more exhausted I felt, the 
more hidden sweetness was in it, the greater and surer was my 
claim that I would, in the near future, gather the fruits of my 
self-torture. And self-torture it was; it was sadistic, cruel satisfac- 
tion, sadism turned upside down, turned against myself. 

When I now look back at these ten years of my life, I have to 
say that the inner court, which condemned me to forced labor 
and to solitary confinement (because I was lonely), was extremely 


and unjustly severe in judging my thought-crimes. The punish- 
ment was not only strict. It was barbarian. When I worked like a 
slave and denied myself everything, like an early Christian monk, 
it was almost an orgy of masochism. There was, furthermore, the 
confusion in my mind about being kind, noble, and suffering, as 
if they were identical. And how much concealed conceit, how 
much secret holier-than-thou attitude was in this luxurious suf- 
fering! What business had I, an average man, to act like Jesus 
Christ? Why had I to be unhappy in order to be happy? It took 
a long time until I understood that I am certainly not better, 
and perhaps not even much worse than others. 

But all this I did not know then. I discovered it at first not in 
myself, but in my patients during analysis. It is odd or perhaps 
it is not oddthat I recognized how strong the masochistic trend 
in myself had been, only after I had studied, for three decades, 
the phenomenon of moral masochism in others; and had written 
about it in a book of a few hundred pages.* 

Slowly, I also had to admit to myself that a change of character 
had taken place in my wife. It appeared first in the form of a self- 
centered egotism, which is so understandable in persons who are 
seriously handicapped by a chronic disease. But, during the fol- 
lowing years, it took an unexpected turn. At first, it seemed as 
if what she wanted was only recovery. She went to Baden, near 
Vienna, and later to Wildungen and Gastein, to take the mineral 
springs. All possible treatments and cures were tried; she went 
from one medicinal fountain to another, to test their curative 
effects. It was as if she trod in the footsteps of her father, going 
to the same resorts and health places where he got orders for 
advertisements for the Kurortezeitung. 1 knew it was in vain, 
but who would have the heart to tell this to a person who was 
so dangerously ill? 

But there was also an increasingly perceptible change in tem- 
perament. As if she wanted to make up for the years we had 
been so poor and for the war years, Ella wished now to live 
luxuriously without any regard for how much I could earn. We 
had to rent a big cottage in the suburbs of Vienna, to buy new 

* Masochism in Modern Man, 1941 (and ecL; New York: Farrar, Straus and 
Co., 1948). 


furniture. Two maids had to be hired. When Ella felt relatively 
well, expensive boxes had to be ordered for first-night perform- 
ances for herself, Mrs. 0., and Mary. To have her parents near, 
I had to finance their moving from Klosterneuburg to Vienna, 
and to pay the rent for the new apartment. Nothing appeared to 
her too expensive for our son and for herself. It was as if she 
had, so late in life, adopted the habits and airs of her father, 
as if only now an earlier unconscious identification with him 
had come to light. I had guessed, from some remarks she had 
made years before, that she had once as a small girl loved him 
very much, but that he had deeply disappointed her on a certain 
occasion, in not keeping a promise. Since that time, an estrange- 
ment had taken place between Ella and her father. She obeyed 
him and honored him, but it seemed that her love had been re- 
placed by an unconscious identification, which had only now be- 
come evident. 

As we know from analysis of numerous patients, such latent 
identifications, as a substitute for love, are quite frequent, at 
least in childhood and early youth, when the personality is still 
very plastic. We often observe them in women after the loss of 
a love object. The lover who has deserted a girl has vanished as 
an external love object; the loss of the object has been apparently 
overcome. But his character traits have been unconsciously in- 
corporated; the woman now appears to be changed. The old love 
object has become a part of herself. What once had been love 
has been replaced by identification and the object is preserved 
within the personality, which is transformed by this absorption. 
The observer gets the impression that the character o the woman 
has undergone a change, and he connects it correctly with the un- 
happy love affair. He fails to see that this transformation of the 
ego is the price for the overcoming of the failure. The object is 
not really expelled. It becomes part and parcel of the person. 
Its monument is erected in her character. Its memory is immor- 
talized in the core of the self. 

I cannot say what now brought this old identification with 
her father to the foreground. Perhaps Ella's disease and the or- 
ganic changes in her had an influence upon this evolution. It is 
also true that the identification was not total and did not mani- 


fest itself in those features of Mr. O. that were hateful to me, 
his anti-Semitism, his narrow-mindedness, and his tyrannical and 
stupid self-righteousness. It showed itself instead in an urge to 
act the great lady, to live beyond our means, and to maintain 
standards which were beyond and above our situation. 

There was decidedly a tendency in the direction of luxury 
which did not correspond with my income and which made it 
necessary for me to work with the utmost exertion I was capable 
of. Together with this trait appeared an increasing impatience 
and irritability, which before had been entirely lacking in my 
wife's character. She was dissatisfied with herself and with the 
people around her, with the place rented for the summer, with 
the food served, with her bridge partners, as well as with her 
maids. She was quickly annoyed and lost self-control easily, 
raised her voice and criticized everybody. What had become of 
the gentle girl I had loved? The physicians declared that such 
outbreaks and the whole character of impatience and irritability 
were significant and often met with in patients suffering from 
serious kidney troubles. Such moods of excitability alternated 
with others, in which Ella was almost apathetic and had no in- 
terest in her environment. 

As was unavoidable, we had our tiffs but I can fairly say to my 
credit I showed an almost superhuman patience in these years, 
developed an affection which had its deep source in pity, and 
tried to fulfill every wish of my wife. I yielded to every one of 
her moods, and silently bore her outbreaks of anger. This has 
nothing to do with any innate kindness of my nature. If it would 
not sound funny, I would dare to say, almost the contrary. There 
was the persistent thought that she was so ill and had perhaps 
not long to live. I told it to myself ever so many times, whenever 
I was exhausted from overwork and thought I could not go on: 
She lives on borrowed time. I could not deny her the luxuries she 
cared for, and I worked on and on to secure them. I could not 
afford to argue seriously with her, because I had to think: The 
next week, the next month she might be dead. 

Most men, after years of wedded life, ask themselves: What 
happened to the romance we had? And what happened to us 
both? Is it not possible to recapture these glorious days and 


months? Are they gone forever? They are. Short revivals are pos- 
sible, but romantic love undergoes a change. Understanding and 
affection will take the place of that fancy and fantasy which is 
the essence of romance. This unavoidable transformation of ro- 
mance also took place in our wedded life; but there was a factor 
which had nothing to do with this change. Ella's disease affected 
the situation. 

Pity is incompatible with romantic love; this emotion, however 
noble, almost excludes the others connected with passion.* Ro- 
mance means to idealize the object, to see perfection in it, to 
endow it with excellencies we missed in ourselves. Pity sees the 
object miserable or poor. In romance, one feels humble. The 
person we pity can be admired and loved, but, in one direction 
at least, one is in a better position, and the fact that the object 
is not considered a supreme being any more almost excludes 
romantic feelings. To see the romantically transfigured woman 
in pain will fill us with deep sympathy, but not with romance. 
To give her the bedpan and to render the other little services 
of the sickroom, the sight of pus and blood all this pre- 
vents romance from prospering. Charity can easily overcome dis- 
gust, and so can sexual desire, but romantic love stops before 
this hindrance. 

My deep feelings for my wife were not diminished in those 
many years of her illness. I took the best care of her and gave her 
all my affection, but romantic love yielded to pity, sometimes to 
the degree that I became a fellow-sufferer. And yet, it was some- 
times possible for me to see her in all her charm and loveliness, 
as before. 

When my sister Margaret and I were children, we often heard 
our grandfather, who was a Talmudic scholar and a very re- 
spected but strange man, say, "When a man knows, after two 
years of married life, what his wife really looks like, he has never 
been in love with her/' We snickered because it sounded funny 
to us. A man should not know what his own wife looks like? It 
is true, nevertheless. He knows, of course, what she looks like, 
but the image he had once painted of her can extinguish the 
reality, and stands gloriously before his eyes, while the material 

* A Psychologist Looks at Love (New York: Rinehart & Co., 1943). 



object, the real woman he looks at, is different This psychical 
reality created by his own fantasy can be stronger than what his 
eyes see. The image from the past, which he carries within him- 
self, is separated from the reality and is indestructible and im- 

Here was Ella, ill and prematurely gray, with hollow cheeks 
and bags below her eyes, the forehead full of wrinkles, the face 
aged long before her time; I saw her clearly and distinctly. And 
yet, there was how often the other image. . . . There are the 
$ights, the sounds, and the smells of a summer forenoon in a 
garden. And a lovely girl of seventeen comes toward me on the 
narrow path across the meadow. Her full blue skirt touches the 
flowers on both sides, as in a gentle caress. She walks in beauty. 
. . . Now she has seen me, and there emerges this heavenly smile 
around her lips, while her eyes remain serious. And I hear an 
unforgettable, gentle voice say, "How do you do, Mr. Reik?" The 
present had vanished and I felt as Faust toward the image that 
memory has called up: 

To this very moment I would like to cry, 
Oh, linger yet! Thou art so fair. 

What happened in the next ten years must be presented here 
in a very condensed form. I was discharged after the end of the 
war in 1918. The years after my return to Vienna were happy 
ones. I worked successfully in my analytic practice, continued 
my scientific research, and enjoyed the confidence that Freud 
showed in my future development. We lived modestly enough, 
but we were able to save some money for a rainy day. We could 
not know then that the rain would rain every day. We understood 
each other as much or as little as a young man and a young 
woman in love can understand each other, and preferred each 
other's company to any other. We were now also sexually in tune. 


Then came the outbreak of Ella's illness and those eight years 
of lingering disease, often interrupted by long phases of acute 
complaints. I described before that I went into a kind of forced 
labor which was now directed to earn enough money for the 
treatment* I do not want to speak of those masochistic self-tor- 
tures, but would rather describe how it came about that a rep 
etition of old emotional experiences occurred after some years, 

I do not believe that healthy and average men can for long 
periods remain chaste in the flower of manhood. It is well known 
that the ideals of the Y.M.C.A., clean thought, clean speech, clean 
action, are difficult to realize in those best years. It seems that 
the blessing of unperturbed chastity is restricted to those few 
whom God loves especially: to the saints and to the poor in mind. 
In other words: to ill persons. It should not be denied that many 
healthy men can live without sexual satisfaction for some time, 
when they are possessed by an idea. This victory of mind over the 
needs of the organism cannot, however, be lasting. 

In these years of my wife's illness I was in the unfortunate situ- 
ation of making extensive self-observations on this very subject. 
There I was, between thirty and forty years old, condemned to 
sexual abstinence or to the refuge of masturbation if I wanted 
to remain "faithful" to my wife, who was so ill. When the theme 
of masturbation is discussed in literature it is mostly in connec- 
tion with guilt feelings, especially in the childhood years. I do 
not agree with my New York colleagues that this relationship is 
as direct as they present it, nor do I think that guilt feelings are 
the only negative reaction to masturbation. A man of, say, thirty- 
five years whom external or inner circumstances compel to take 
his refuge in masturbation usually does not feel guilty and cer- 
tainly not in the sense of a boy of nine or ten years. It ain't 
necessarily so. In many cases this form of sexual gratification can 
produce other different negative reactions, for instance, shame. 
This means the man feels it degrading, harmful to his self-respect 
as a person and as a man that he, as an adult, has to regress to this 
infantile procedure. He feels it incompatible with his age and his 
maturity. It is as if the president of the Guaranty Trust Company, 
instead of going to the golf course, should join boys of five and 
six years playing marbles at the street corner. 


I tried at first to live in sexual abstinence and to divert my 
thought to my work. Being submerged in my forced labor I had 
some success. But then those imperative urges could no longer be 
driven off. Whenever they seemed to be kept away by strong 
mental effort in the following months, they returned through a 
side entrance, interfered with the demands of the day and the 
sleep of the night. Their re-emergence endangered the work to 
which I had given myself. 

In my manhood I was forced to revert to a practice of my 
youth, at the time of our secret engagement. I searched for casual 
relations with women who were willing to have "fun," to release 
me from the unrest and the pressure, and to help me to work 
again without disturbance. To tell the truth, I did not want to 
find a sweetheart, because I loved my wife, but merely a sexual 
object, a physical relationship, if possible, without emotional 
involvement. I was not haunted any more by scruples whether 
one had the right to use a decent woman in this way. Reasons of 
caution as well as of taste forbade me even to consider promiscu- 
ous women. But what decent girl would be content with this kind 
of relationship which was the only one I could offer? I had de- 
cided not to pretend to be in love, and to be as frank as possible 
about my intentions and my emotions. I often asked myself: 
What have I to offer to attract a nice young woman? I had not 
even time to pursue my chances, if there were any, because I had 
to give almost the whole day to my practice and I wanted to be in 
the sanatorium near my wife in my spare time. 
- The astonishing thing was that I nevertheless found what I 
searched for a few such casual relationships lasting some months, 
relationships which were as little time- and energy-consuming as 
possible, and with women who did not resent my troubled, impa- 
tient, and irksome personality. One of my patients, who is at psy- 
choanalysis at this time because he has difficulties in work and in 
his relations with women, the other day reported a casual sexual 
experience. "It was nothing to write home about," he said, and 
added humorously, "if you write home about such things at all." 
This is indeed the question here: whether to write about such 
things at all. It is, at the moment, the great fashion in American 
novels to give a detailed report of the sexual doings of the hero 


or the heroine. The main part of many contemporary novels is 
a sequence of bedroom and barroom scenes. I do not think of my- 
self as prudish. In reading them I feel neither morally indignant 
nor sexually excited but bored. If the description is only a vivid 
report of sexual acts without any insight into the emotional 
processes, without any individual and characteristic features, why 
put it into a book which is not supposed to be pornographic? If 
it is meant to arouse sexual excitement, why not declare it as 
pornographic? I am of the opinion that the presentation and 
discussion of sexual problems deserve a large place in fiction be- 
cause sex has such an important part in the lives of men and 
women. But it is not the subject matter itself which gives this 
presentation its value, but the writer's way of dealing with it. 

None of those casual relations meant more to me than they 
were supposed to mean, and that was not much. I often thought 
that the game was not worth the candle, yet I thought this only 
after the game, or in the time between the games, never during 
them. Here is an instance of how an affair of this kind started 
and developed. It is not chosen at random, and its analysis will 
be significant for my emotional situation. In the pauses between 
the analytic sessions and after them I hurried to the sanatorium 
and stayed in Ella's room as long as possible. This was true, of 
course, also after the kidney operation, which was followed by a 
longer period of recovery. I could not smoke in the sickroom, but 
often took a walk in the hospital corridors. It so happened that, 
turning a corner on one of these walks, I collided with a young, 
pretty nurse who was hurrying to an operation. I said t4 Sorry, 
sister/' and that was that. 

It was not strange that I ran into this same nurse several times 
in the following days, because she served in a neighboring ward. 
There were no more collisions, but once in the attempt to let 
each other pass in the narrow corridor we stepped aside in the 
same direction. Instead of one giving way to the other, we stood 
thus in each other's way. We both smiled and corrected the faux 
pas, but we stepped again simultaneously to the same side. The 
same thing occurred the next day. I said a few words about my 
awkwardness and she answered humorously. Next day I ran into 
her again and we exchanged a few remarks. A week later the old 


gauche situation repeated itself, and I asked her which day she 
was off duty. This was the beginning of this song and what fol- 
lowed these first bars was the necessary continuation of the tune 
to its climax. 

The interest of the psychologist will be turned here to the un- 
conscious significance of the successful wrong step, to the con- 
cealed motive of the clumsy cleverness. The seeming awkwardness 
in stepping into each other's way, and the following turning to 
the same side, this finding each other in avoidance, was uncon- 
sciously stage-managed. This comedy of errors had concealed de- 
signs. In not watching one's step, one unconsciously watched 
one's step. We wanted to get away from each other, but some- 
thing led us to each other. The wrong step was unconsciously 
dictated by the wish to let the other one not pass, to stay together. 
I must have wished to make the acquaintance of Louise the 
name of the young nurse but this wish was then unknown to me. 
Jt expressed itself only in that symptomatic action, in my clumsy 
movements at the encounters. The effect of those symptomatic 
actions speaks clearly enough for the character of the hidden 

There must also have been in Louise an unconscious tendency 
to meet me halfway, not only figuratively, but literally. Only 
when her own unconscious wishes corresponded with mine did 
this to-and-fro make sense. She told me later on that she had ob- 
served me several times before our encountershe knew about the 
disease of my wife and she felt sorry for me, I learned also that 
she had broken off an affair with a man a few months before 
and was feeling lonely. 

It seems to me that psychoanalysts, submerged in the pathologi- 
cal problems of the neurosis and psychosis, scarcely pay attention 
to those little accidents and those inconspicuous symptomatic ac- 
tions which are so revealing. How is it otherwise possible that 
their discussion does not appear more frequently in analytic 
literature? To prove my point, I am adding here another fre- 
quent accident which, to my knowledge, has never been men- 
tioned or interpreted in analytic books. I mean the accidental 
losing of one's partner in a crowded place or street. Here is a 
good example from psychoanalytic practice: A patient walked 


with a young woman he had known several months on the fre- 
quented Kaerntnerstrasse in Vienna, in lively conversation. The 
next moment he found himself at the side of a lady whom he had 
never seen and to whom he talked animatedly. He had lost his 
companion in the crowd and had continued his conversation with 
the stranger as if she had been his partner. The patient smilingly 
reported this little incident next day in the analytic session and 
denied that there was any meaning in it. His following thoughts 
nevertheless gave the solution of the little psychological riddle 
posed by losing his partner. 

He and Sophie, his companion, had just been discussing Mabel, 
a mutual acquaintance. Sophie had made some remarks which 
the patient called "catty" about Mabel's superficiality and flirta- 
tiousness. The man was ungallant enough to agree with his com- 
panion. It was just at this moment that the couple "accidentally" 
got separated in the crowd. It was, it seemed, a moment of perfect 
understanding. Why should the separation occur just then? 
Should we assume that God had put asunder what men wanted 
to join together? 

The circumstances of the situation are revealing. During the 
last months Sophie had shown my patient ill-concealed signs 
of her inclination, while Mabel, in contrast to her usual flirta- 
tiousness, had treated him rather coolly. (Later on it became clear 
that Mabel's reluctant attitude was a clever tactical move to 
attract him.) Mabel was younger and prettier than Sophie. The 
patient felt more attracted to her, although he realized that she 
was as coquettish and as shallow as Sophie had said. 

He was just going to agree wholeheartedly with Sophie in her 
criticism, when he found himself removed from her and speaking 
to a stranger- It cannot be difficult to interpret the psychological 
meaning of the losing of Sophie, and of my patient's confusing 
her with another woman. Translated into the language of con- 
scious thinking the hidden emotion could be expressed: "I want 
to get rid of you and I would prefer to walk and talk with Mabel." 
The stranger was a substitute for Mabel. When one is consistent 
in one's conviction about the psychical determination of such 
symptomatic actions, and when one puts the unknown woman in 
the place of Mabel as in an equation solved, one arrives at the 


following meaning: The patient would have preferred to tell 
Mabel herself what he thought of her. But this was just what 
the man had uttered a few days ago in an analytic session he had 
been annoyed with Mabel and had decided "to give her a piece 
of my mind/' In spite of such a critical attitude he could not deny 
to himself that his thoughts had been preoccupied with the pretty 
girl, and that sexual fantasies with her had occurred to him. Now 
the attraction he felt to Mabel had found an expression at the 
moment when he was going to agree with Sophie's derogatory 
remarks about her. On the other hand, his dislike of Sophie had 
got the better of him. The accidental loss really means: lose the 
person, make her disappear. In some cases I analyzed, an uncon- 
scious feeling of annoyance or irritation, sometimes only of bore- 
dom, found its expression in such a separation. The complication 
of the continued conversation with a stranger whom one confuses 
with one's acquaintance at one's side allows the interpretation: I 
am fed up with you; I would like to change my company. I would 
prefer to speak with someone else. 

Although very little has been written about the unconscious 
meaning of such small accidental mistakes lately, their psychologi- 
cal evaluation appears very important to the analyst. As my 
acquaintanceship with Louise started with those awkward steps, 
indicating an unconscious wish to meet her, so the end of our 
relationship, a few months later, announced itself in advance 
by a number of mistakes which made us annoyed with each other. 
We misheard or could not catch each other on the telephone, and 
we misunderstood the place or the time of a date, so that we 
waited in vain for each other* Small real incidents, as unexpected 
professional detentions^ keep a date, did not help matters and 
were unconsciously conceived as purposeful. The last time we got 
into an argument was because I waited for Louise in one cafe- 
teria, while she thought we were to meet in another one two 
blocks away. All these incidents appeared as trifles, but out of 
them emerged cause for friction, a feeling of irksome impatience 
and intolerance. We did not understand each other any more. 

What I had experienced, I found repeated in the lives of my 
patients in different forms and confirmed in its psychological 
evaluation. Soon afterward, I treated a patient who reported that 


she had wavered between two men for a considerable time. The 
one, Hermann, had been her first lover, had deserted her tempo- 
rarily, and turned to another girl from whom he repentantly re- 
turned to her. He asked her to marry him. She had resented his 
infidelity, and had in the meantime become the mistress of an- 
other man, Jim, who had wooed her before. She now rejected 
Hermann, and promised to marry Jim. She and Jim were to meet 
the next day to go to the office where marriage licenses were 
issued. The place of their date was a subway station in 
London, from which they could conveniently reach the office. My 
patient waited one hour. Jim did not turn up. He waited, too, at 
the entrance of the station, while Kate stood waiting downstairs. 
It was due to this "accidental" misunderstanding, or rather to 
its emotional repercussions, that in the end Kate did not marry 
Jim but Hermann. 

On the day after she was "stood up," Kate went to the analyst 
who -was treating her at the time. He seemed not to pay much 
attention to her complaints about her "bad luck/' He seemed to 
think that there was much ado about nothing. He considered the 
fact that she had waited downstairs, while her fiance had waited 
upstairs, as just an accident, as "just one of those things, you 
know." He was therefore astonished when a few days later she 
announced that she had broken with Jim. I am of the opinion 
that the analyst should have paid more attention to the concealed 
meaning of that misunderstanding. He should have, it seems to 
me, thought then that the privilege of his patient's sex also in- 
cluded the possibility of changing her unconscious mind. 

Those little dissonances, misunderstandings, and misconstruc- 
tions which interfered with my relationship with Louise indi- 
cated an unwillingness in each of us to continue our affair. In 
each of us, I am sure, operated powers of unconscious conscience 
which interfered with what we both wanted. As far as I was 
concerned, I became aware of self-reproach, because the affair 
with Louise had, so to speak, developed under the eyes of Ella. 
Louise was not in the same ward, but she knew of my wife and 
her illness. She seemed to accept the situation, but it must have 
disturbed her somewhat. She almost never mentioned Ella, but 
she must have been in her thoughts to a great extent. There were 


stronger scruples in myself, although I tried to fight them. The 
proof of their existence and emotional effect came in the surpris- 
ing form of new obsessional thoughts and doubts. 

It was the subterranean work of these obsessional thoughts 
that brought our affair to an end. It was not the material fact 
of my infidelity, nor my delicate conscience in its conscious mani- 
festations that interfered with it. I now considered sexual satis- 
faction a biological, or rather psycho-hygienic necessity. The con- 
flict within me was displaced to the fact that the affair was with 
a nurse of the sanatorium in which my wife was seriously ill. I 
looked at this first not as at a thing of bad morals, but of bad taste. 
I showed lack of tact in picking up Louise who was nursing in the 
neighboring ward. But had I really picked her up; was it choice 
and not rather making use of the circumstances? Where had I 
occasion to meet a girl who would be compliant to my wishes 
when I spent my time in the office most of the day, and went out 
only to see my wife in the sanatorium? And was it not, after all, 
to be reasonable, a satisfactory arrangement which saved time 
and trouble? I tried to convince myself that it was only a ques- 
tion of expediency. If (I argued with myself) I have an affair at 
all, why should I not have one with one of the nurses in the 
sanatorium, why rather with some girl outside? Thus spoke the 
voice of reason. 

But there was another voice and it presented the counterpoint: 
Delicacy of feeling should have prevented me from getting into 
an affair in this place. But why? My reason rebelled. The fact 
that Louise was a nurse in the same hospital did not affect Ella. 
It did nothing to change the fact of the affair, did not contribute 
a sordid or shameful note to it. Yet there was the feeling that just 
this fact was an offense against Ella. I tried in vain to reason with 
myself. Louise was in another ward, had never seen my wife, had no 
influence upon her treatment, and my wife had no knowledge 
of Louise's existence. But my feeling was more stubborn than 
my intelligence. 

This inner argument was not brought to a decision because 
one of the contestants had the last word. A new voice became 
audible and drowned the others: an obsession- thought. It was at 
first vague and indefinite. It emerged in the form of a mental 


potentiality and was devoid of all emotion. At first, I played with 
the thought, but later the thought played with me. It appeared 
originally in the form: If I sleep with Louise, something will 
happen to Ella; she will get worse, or she will have a relapse. 
That was just at the time when the recovery of my wife made 
progress after the operation. From this phase of the obsession to 
its practical consequence was only a small step. The clear formu- 
lation of the obsessive thought which appeared, the decision of 
the inner oracle, amounted to a forbidding: You must not sleep 
with Louise any more. I rebelled against it and continued to see 
Louise. But my anxiety increased, and at this time all those small in- 
cidents and misunderstandings which interfered with our relation- 
ship multiplied. Finally, I decided to break up the affair. Now I 
was convinced that the game was not worth the candle, especially 
35 the candle did not give as much light and comfort any more 
as at the beginning. I could not hide from myself that there was 
a kind of glow of satisfaction in my renunciation as the subtle 
self-torture connected with it. More important, however, was the 
release from the pressure of anxiety which I had carried so long. 
This relief is mostly felt when one obeys those obsessive com- 
mands and inhibitions. 

It was easy enough to judge later on that my doubts and con- 
flicts were of the nature of shadow-boxing, but those shadows 
which were cast by myself appeared fateful. I knew, of course, 
that my affair with Louise had no influence upon Ella's state of 
health, but such clear thinking had little power compared with 
the onslaught upon my unconscious convictions. There must be 
a germ of psychological justification even in the magical thought- 
connection I had built. Which was it? 

When one traces back the obsessive thought to its origin and 
inserts the missing links, the hidden meaning becomes clear. As 
the obsession-thought first emerged, in a very abbreviated and 
distorted form, it did not make sense, and yet there is a good 
psychological sense in it. Here is the reconstructed complete text: 
If I have sexual intercourse with Louise (and Ella should learn of 
it), my wife would reproach me and despise me, which would make 
me very angry. In my fury I would wish her to die, and this wish 
would have an influence upon her recovery she would really 


have a relapse and die. Deprived of the connecting links, the 
thought appeared in the form: If 1 have intercourse with Louise, 
Ella will get worse. My affection for my wife and the anxiety 
which the imagined possibility awakened in me led to the myste- 
rious forbidding and to the end of my affair. In the sense of my 
magical thoughts this was a measure which protected a life dear 

The consideration that it was mean of me to start an affair, 
in the sanatorium in which Ella was ill does not only concern an 
aggravating circumstance. It was not just the nearness itself that 
bothered me; but what it indicated psychologically: a special in- 
considerateness, a lack of finer feeling, an absence of delicacy. 
The nearness appeared as an allusion to the fact that the thought 
of Ella's serious disease did not disturb me more in my sexual 
desire. It concerned the immediate and unconditional character 
of my sensual appetite. There was a special indecency in picking up 
a nurse in the same sanatorium. My sexual misbehavior or my in- 
fidelity could, it seemed to me, be judged more mildly by myself 
if I had taken a mistress outside the sanatorium. That it was 
possible that I could make a date with Louise, after I came out 
of the sickroom of my wife seemed indelicate, the expression of 
a special cynical attitude against which something in me resisted, 
although something in me welcomed it too. 

But besides and beyond those subtler feelings, there was a 
magical belief, a hidden obsession-thought. It already indicated 
itself in the fact that Louise and I very particularly avoided men- 
tion of my wife. The subject seemed to be taboo and had to be 
left out of our conversation as if it were a sore spot. We could, 
of course, not avoid it in our thoughts, and the more we tried to 
exclude it from the small ground common to us, the more it 
recurred. It could not be entirely avoided because sometimes I 
could not keep a date when Ella felt badly, and Louise had to 
be informed about it. The obsession-thought which was going to 
emerge and was caught in the state of being born had this em- 
bryonic form: I was afraid that Louise would have hostile feelings 
against Ella and these emotions would lead to a deterioration of 
my wife's health; in continuation of this thought: would lead to 
Ella's death. 


It is psychologically obvious where this flicker of an obsessive 
thought originated and what was the germ from which it grew. 
When I once told Louise that I had to stay with Ella and so could 
not keep a date that evening, I saw an expression of disappoint- 
ment in her face. Once she asked me whether it was really neces- 
sary to stay with my wife and whether I could not postpone it 
to another evening. From here it is not a far cry to the half- 
unconscious assumption that she had jealous and hostile feelings 
toward Ella. 

Magical fears like the one I have mentioned (scruples about 
Louise being a nurse in the same sanatorium, and our mutual 
silence about Ella) are generally at the roots of feelings of social 
delicacy or decency. These very obsessional thoughts are the ones 
which prevent us from acting tactlessly. Those superstitions and 
fears are perhaps the soil from which many social feelings grow. 
Here they develop as measures of protection against the dangers 
which threaten from our hostile, aggressive, and envious tenden- 
cies. The defenses against those destructive impulses acquire, 
later on, a solid form and establish themselves as guarantees of 
the society against many powerful selfish drives. 

Some other relations of a similar kind followed that with 
Louise. In spite of my conscious decision to consider them as "so- 
what affairs," I always took them too seriously, and never suc- 
ceeded in dealing with them in a lighthearted way. I was con- 
vinced, at the time, that those few extramarital adventures, those 
back-street experiences signified that I was not true to my wife, 
and I appeared to myself as a low kind of villain. It was as if a 
provincial came to New York and sat alone with a highball at 
the Stork Club, watching the couples dance and imagining him- 
self to be thoroughly depraved and taking part in an orgy. Men 
would rather think of themselves as scoundrels than admit that 
they are just average men. Vanity of vanities! To think of oneself 
as particularly evil is also an expression of conceit. We are neither 
patterns of virtue nor of vice. We are not first-class scoundrels 
either. The sober truth is: Man is nothing first-class. 



Ella, recovered from the kidney operation, had returned from 
the sanatorium. She had to avoid every physical effort on account 
of her weak heart, but she could now sometimes go out to bridge 
parties and theater performances. 

The first time we were sexually together again became a ter- 
rible experience: to see my wife fighting for breath, her face 
bloated, the bluish shine around her lips so well known from 
observation on the sickbed in the last years. The fear that her 
weak heart, this poor heart always threatened by the uncompen- 
sated deficiency, would suddenly fail shook me to the depths. 
Would this heart be up to the extraordinary effort? This fear 
made sexual gratification impossible because it did not leave me; 
or, if suppressed, recurred at the critical moment. I had to admit 
to myself that the temptation to approach my wife sexually was 
associated with the vision that she could die in my arms. The 
most attractive image of a beloved woman melting away in the 
rapture of sexual pleasure was thus changed into the image of 
passing away. The moment supreme appeared at the last moment. 
The eyes, which showed the moist gleam and change of expression, 
seemed to grow suddenly dim. It was as if Ella had unconsciously 
sensed my concealed fear, because she seemed in a subtle way to 
encourage my love-making, but I am sure this was only under the 
impression that sexual satisfaction was a necessity for a man. 

That panic which Goethe experienced in those nightmares in 
which he saw Friederike pale, ill, and close to dying, after he 
kissed her, those terrible pictures in which he saw her as the 
victim of a mysterious curse, what were they compared with my 
own fears and images which were not created by imagination 
only? The dark Angel with the bare sword stood invisible at the 
end of our bed, and I shudderingly felt His nearness and presence. 

Here was a situation which, although so different from Goethe's 
fear of kissing, secured the mold from which the first vague 
guessing of Goethe's unconscious processes sprang. I was not 
aware of the emotional connection between my own expression 


and Goethe's when I wrote that study on the Sesenheim affair. It 
is, in my view, also not essential that I had this experience in 
reality. The only factor which matters in cases of this kind is the 
psychical reality. 

It so happened that there was in my life a real situation which 
could lend itself to a psychological comparison with Goethe's be- 
cause its emotional repercussions were similar to his, whose actual 
experience was so dissimilar to mine. Love-making appeared in 
its consequences as an instrument of destruction. As Goethe was 
afraid of the tragic consequences of his kissing Friederike, thus 
was I terrified by the image that sexual intercourse might en- 
danger my wife's life. In Goethe's obsessive fear magical and obses- 
sive motives were prominent, although some considerations of 
reality concerning Friederike's tuberculosis were in the back- 
ground. In my own anxiety the reality justified my fears much 
more, but they were superstitions and obsessive thoughts hidden 
behind those considerations. 

The fears which were brought to the surface by my wife's 
disease were hidden in the unconscious depths a long time be- 
fore they emerged. They were dormant in the emotional subsoil, 
waiting for the day when they could pierce the crust and appear 
in the form of a thought-connection between sexuality and death. 
Deeply rooted in the dark emotional underground and originated 
in childhood impressions, these thoughts associated sexual union 
with one's own or the partner's death. There was a vague and 
superstitious expectancy of impending calamity following inti- 
mate intercourse, a thought-bridge between sexual gratification 
and annihilation. In Goethe's case the expression "kiss of death" 
was not a melodramatic phrase, but marked a psychological situ- 
ation of a very definite and definable character. 

I wondered for a long time why this hidden thought-connection 
in Goethe was not discovered previously, and recognized by the 
Goethe philologists and literary critics who left not a single line 
of the great poet undiscussed. It becomes so transparent to an 
attentive reader who follows Goethe's poetic production with 
psychoanalytic understanding. Often veiled, but sometimes very 
clear, this sequence of thoughts, which reveals itself psychologi- 
cally as a consequence in thoughts, appears in his novels, plays, 


and poems. I am restricting myself here to quoting two instances 
from his ballads as representative of an abundance of material 
of this kind. In "The God and the Bajadere" it is the lover whom 
the girl finds dead after the night's sexual pleasures, and she 
desires to share death with him as she did sexual union a few 
hours before. In the "Bride of Corinth" the dead girl warms her- 
self in the embrace of the youth to whom she was once promised 
and who will die soon after touching her. 

Here are survivals of superstitions or obsessive fears of sexual 
intercourse, remnants of a magical fear of sexual touch. It cannot 
be incidental that in those two famous classical ballads the 
lovers are again and for the last time united on the funeral pile. 
It cannot be accidental that in both poems it is religion whose 
prejudices interfere with their intimacy: 

Sacrifice is here 

Not of Lamb nor Steer 

But of human woe and human pain. 

But why refer to instances from poems, novels, and plays? The 
reader who follows Goethe's life story will recognize that it was 
this very obsessive and superstitious fear that prevented the 
temperamental poet from approaching a woman sexually until 
he almost reached middle age. For the psychologist the life 
Goethe lived is stranger than the fiction he wrote. 

Freud was the great teacher of inner courage and sincerity to 
all of us young psychoanalysts in Vienna. He taught us to face 
the truth about ourselves. We came to him not so much for help 
and advice, but for insight which made advice superfluous. He 
also helped me in the emotional emergency situation with which 
this part of my story is concerned. To a psychologist who takes 
an objective position and observes from without, the events of 
the subsequent period of my life reveal an increasing pressure, a 
logic of their own. This became clear to me many years later. 
At the time I lived through those events, their deeper logical and 


psychological significance was hidden from me. I still consider it 
strange how the obvious eluded me then, and that I did not catch 
a glimpse of the dark emotions in myself. Yet I had good psycho- 
logical insight into similar experiences of my patients and I 
could well explain their secret meaning. It seemed that my psy- 
choanalytic understanding was often profound; it stopped only 
in my own case. 

The Moving Finger writes, and having writ, stops. I am now 
reflecting on the extraordinary value of the experience of those 
days I owe to Freud. I became suddenly ill. I suffered from at- 
tacks of dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhoea. The onset of these 
attacks was unexpected. I remember that the first sensation of 
this kind surprised me one day when I left the sanatorium after 
visiting my wife. I suddenly felt so giddy and unwell that I had 
to cling to the wall of the house to keep myself from falling. In 
the following weeks and months these attacks repeated them- 
selves, grew worse and became more frequent. They occurred in 
the middle af the street, or while I attended a theater perform- 
ance, at the bridge club or at home, while I was analyzing, when 
I was alone, or when I was with my wife and son. The dizziness 
in which I found myself became so severe that everything seemed 
to spin around me, and I had to lie down immediately. The 
character of the attacks seemed to indicate a serious disease. 
Their onset was accompanied by an overwhelming sensation of 
the end, by the anxiety that annihilation was very near, as in the 
spasms of angina pectoris. The breast was oppressed as in those 
dangerous attacks, and the physicians were at first inclined to as- 
sume that my complaints were those of angina pectoris. Once I 
had to be brought home in an ambulance, and nothing suc- 
ceeded in giving me relief. These attacks sometimes lasted only a 
few minutes, sometimes many hours during which I was con- 
vinced that the end was near. 

As far as my emotions were concerned, I died a thousand 
deaths in those spasms, because I experienced the most vivid 
sensation of dying. I had experienced the fear of death often 
enough under artillery fire during the first World War, but I had 
never felt anything like the overwhelming terror during those at- 
tacks. The physicans, at first, thought of a heart disease, then o 


nicotine poisoning. I gave up smoking, and followed the doctors' 
orders, but there was no improvement of my health. Then, some 
physicians thought that the attacks, accompanied by sudden loss 
of equilibrium and violent dizziness together with vomiting, in- 
dicated the ear disease known as Meniere ailment. I was exam- 
ined many times and treated in different ways, but the attacks 
continued and their stormy character increased rather than di- 
minished. I was given calcium injections, but they did not help. 

My complaints had continued quite a few months before I 
casually mentioned them to Freud. He said he did not believe 
that they indicated angina pectoris, because I was too young to 
have this disease. I asked Freud for help. I was now convinced 
that my attacks were of the nature of conversion-phenomena. 

It was much later that I used the summer vacation to go to 
Freud, who then lived in a cottage he had rented in the suburbs 
of Vienna. There I saw him quite a few times. Then already an 
analyst of many years* experience, I found myself on the analyti- 
cal couch as a patient of Freud. It was an extraordinary situation, 
and became an emotional and intellectual experience which I 
shall treasure to my last day. But I do not want to talk about the 
general character of these analytic sessions with Freud, of the 
indelible impression they made on me, and the lasting mental 
value they acquired in my life, but of the special theme of those 
mysterious attacks which, strangely enough, did not occur while 
I was in Vienna. 

I told Freud all that had happened in my life since I had left 
my native city and gone to Berlin. He knew, of course, of the 
dangerous disease of my wife, had often asked me about her, and 
had always shown sympathy and friendly feelings toward her. 
Once before I had mentioned that I spent almost all the time I 
could spare near her bed in the sanatorium. I had felt his side 
glance, and heard him say, "Perhaps this is not so good. It might 
be better to stay only a short time, perhaps a quarter of an hour, 
then go somewhere else, and return after some time to stay with 
her again only a short time/' I was astonished and could not 
figure out what he meant. 

Now, lying on the couch, I followed the train of my free 
thought-associations, in which, of course, Ella's disease and my 


relationship with her played an important part. I told Freud 
about my fears of the dangers of sexual intercourse with Ella, 
about the terrifying impression of the breathing difficulties dur- 
ing it all this had occurred some years earlier-and I described 
to him the conflict in which I had found myself later on. I had 
made the acquaintance of a girl who, many years younger than 
myself, attracted me in many ways, not only sexually. I confessed 
that the thought had sometimes occurred to me to get a divorce 
from my wife and marry this girl, but I added that I knew, of 
course, this was impossible: you cannot divorce a wife who is 
dangerously ill. And then, I knew too that Ella remained dear 
and near to me, although I felt the increasing attraction of this 
young girl who seemed to care for me. I spoke then of my forced 
labor in those last years, of the difficulties of earning enough to 
make treatment and sanatoria possible for Ella, of my reluctance 
to lead a life which I considered beyond my modest standard of 
living. I spoke of these and other things too, but from time to 
time I returned to the description of those attacks of dizziness 
accompanied by the panic of the end which had interfered with 
my work. I confessed that I was in mortal fear they could recur. 

I spoke of them also in the last analytic session before my re- 
turn to Berlin. Freud had said almost nothing during this hour. 
He had silently listened to my reports, my complaints, doubts, 
accusations, and remorse, to the confused tangle of my emotions 
and to the clash of thoughts which reflected the many contradic- 
tions in myself. Near the end of this last session, I heard for the 
first time his low, but firm voice. He said only a few words. It was 
a simple question, but it echoed in me long afterward. The ques- 
tion had followed my repeated description of those spells of diz- 
ziness, and came to me as a complete surprise. The first moment 
I heard it, I entirely failed to understand what bearing its con- 
tents had on my report or the train of my associations. I failed 
to grasp its connection with what I had spoken of during this 
hour. I waited as if I expected an explanation, but none came. 
There was only silence. 

But something else happened: there was for one second and 
for this second onlya sudden faint dizziness, just enough to be 
felt, nothing comparable to the sensation in the attacks, only an 


allusion to the sensation, an echo of a familiar tune. It vanished, 
and I then understood what the question meant. I heard myself 
say, "Oh, that is it?" I knew I had arrived at the unconscious 
meaning of these spells. 

The surprising question was: "Do you remember the novel 
The Murderer by Schnitzler?" Did I remember the novel? The 
question was not only surprising because I did not understand 
its connection with the subject I had talked about just then, but 
surprising also with regard to its content. Freud must have known, 
of course, that I remembered the novel. Had I not many years 
before written a book under the title Arthur Schnitzler as Psy- 
chologist* in which all the works of this Viennese writer were 
discussed from the psychoanalytic point of view? Freud knew 
my book which had been dedicated to himself. There were not 
many people in Vienna who knew the writings of Schnitzler as 
well as I. Had I not even dug out in some long-forgotten Viennese 
magazines a few early poems and novels Schnitzler had published 
in his youth, and which remained unknown to the general public, 
and had I not written a paper on them?** Of course, I knew The 
Murderer well. Yes, I had once spoken about it with its author. 

The outline of the novel: A wealthy young man, Alfred, has 
a long-standing affair with a girl, Elise. Alfred slowly becomes 
tired of his gentle, pretty mistress. He meets Adele, the beauti- 
ful daughter of a manufacturer, and falls in love with her. Adele 
responds to his wooing, and Alfred looks forward to the day he 
may marry her. He has not enough strength of character to tell 
Elise about his new love, and carries his aifair further, postpon- 
ing the unavoidable talk with Elise. Once, he finds the girl 
rather tired and hears she had kept it a secret that from time to 
time she suffers spasms of the heart. The next day Alfred goes to 
Adele's father to ask for her in marriage. The manufacturer is 
friendly, but insists that Alfred should spend a year in travel 
abroad to test the stability of his feelings. There is to be no cor- 
respondence between the two young people during this time. If 
they should feel the same way about each other after this year, 
the father will have no objections to their marriage. 

* Minden, 1912. (Not translated into English.) 

** In the magazine Pan, Berlin, 1912, edited by Alfred Kerr. 


Alfred immediately starts the journey with Elise. He hopes that 
during this year of waiting his relations with Elise will dissolve 
in one way or another. They spend many months in Switzerland 
and England, visit Holland and Germany, and, when fall ap- 
proaches, go to Italy. In Palermo Elise suddenly has a heart 
attack but recovers quickly. Alfred worries about her, but when 
she gratefully kisses his hand, he feels a wave of hate against her 
which astonishes him. At the same time, a passionate desire for 
Adele makes him impatient. 

Alfred and Elise continue their journey. The girl "did not 
know that it was no longer she herself who was now in his em- 
brace, in the silent dark nights at sea, but the distant bride who 
was called up in all fullness of living." But then fantasy fails 
Alfred and he keeps away from Elise, giving as his reason for 
restraint a slight recurring symptom of her heart disease. Once, 
when he finds Elise on her bed, almost faint from an attack, he 
feels a dark hope awaken in him. On the way back, on board 
ship, Elise has several attacks, and the ship's physician admon- 
ishes Alfred, in appropriate but no uncertain terms, to spare his 
beautiful wife in every direction. 

Alfred is inclined to obey the physician, but Elise pulls the 
resistant lover to her as if she wishes to reconcile him by her 
tenderness. But when she melts in his arms, he feels a smile come 
to his lips out of the deepest ground of his soul, which he slowly 
recognizes as one of triumph. He has to admit to himself that the 
realization of the secret hope would not only mean the end of his 
conflict, but that Elise herself if the end is unavoidable and she 
has a choice would wish to die under his kisses. Night after 
night he observes the signs of her blissful melting away and feels 
as if deceived when, grateful to him, she awakens to a new life. 
When he arrives at Naples, Alfred finds no letter from Adele 
whom he had passionately asked to write. He is disappointed and 
realizes that he could not imagine life without her any more. He 
thinks of confessing the truth to Elise, still on board ship, but he 
is afraid of the fatal consequences of such an open confession. 
Preoccupied with such desperate thoughts, Alfred walks on the 
seashore, "when he suddenly felt dizzy and near fainting. Over- 


whelmed by anxiety he sank on a bench and sat there until the 
spasm was dissolved and the fog before his eyes evaporated." 

Schnitzler's novel goes on to tell that after this Alfred decides 
to kill Elise. He poisons her to make himself free for Adele. Elise 
dies a few minutes after sexual intercourse. Alfred returns to 
Vienna, finds that Adele has been engaged to another man, and 
hears from her own lips that she does not love him any more. The 
unorganic end of the novel lets Alfred be killed in a duel. He 
finds atonement in his last moment for the murder of the girl 
whom he had loved. 

Before I heard myself say, "Oh, that is it?" I had remembered 
the essential content of Schnitzler's novel as in a flash, or rather, 
I had a series of quickly passing visual images which presented 
certain scenes of the story to my mind. But even before these 
images occurred, there was this moment of dizziness which signi- 
fied not only the confusion in which I found myself, but the be- 
ginning of my reorientation. It marked the point where the first 
vague understanding of myself entered in the form of a tempta- 
tion to reproduce the attack. There was, for the length of a 
heartbeat, the possibility of experiencing the attack instead of 
experiencing the insight into its origin and motivation. This 
fleeting sensation of dizziness must have emerged when in my 
thought-associations I saw the scene in which Alfred, in the 
garden in Naples, suddenly is overcome by dizziness, a sensation 
of fainting and anxiety. It was thus a moment of identification 
with the leading character of Schnitzler's novel, of an identifica- 
tion founded on the similarity of the emotional situation and of 
the dynamics of the psychical processes. 

Freud's mention of the novel corresponds thus to a psychologi- 
cal experiment which worked in an indirect way. In remembering 
the outlines of the novel, I found an unconscious approach to 
understanding myself. It was as if you were shown the photo- 
graph of an unknown person who reminds you of someone, and 
then you realize that the subject of the photograph resembles 
yourself. He is not you, but a double of yours, your Doppelganger; 
not yourself, but your second self. This second self is the whole of 
one's emotional potentialities, the personification of the possi- 
bilities dormant in us, the representation of the life we did not 


live but could have lived. The Schnitzler story gave a terrifying 
picture of a possible destiny hidden in my character. The double, 
the Doppelganger, is the deed of what we only thought. 

Strangely enough, facing the reality of what I had thought did 
not get me into a panic but quieted me, and secured this distance 
I had not had before. In showing me what could have happened, 
it convinced me that it was destined to remain a potentiality, 
could never have happened to me. It could never have changed 
from thought to deed. These shadows were always shadows, could 
never become substance. Just seeing them in a mirror brought 
the clear recognition that it was all over, that my fright and my 
anxiety were exaggerated. It was as if the sudden light which 
fell upon them let me see them as mere products of my imagina- 
tion, let me recognize their true nature. A man who comes into a 
dark room at night can, for a moment, imagine that there is a 
burglar or killer waiting for him in the corner. He is terrified and 
fumbles for the electric switch; as the room is lit, he sees that 
what he took for the figure of a man is only a chest. The cruel and 
aggressive tendencies and impulses which are repressed in all 
of us acquire a specially dangerous appearance when they try to 
pass the threshold of conscious thinking in the area of emotional 
and mental twilight, where thought and deed seem to be identi- 
cal. They seem to threaten to become reality, so that a new strong 
effort has to be made to reject them, and to ban them into the 
nether world. 

This is what had happened to me: when I once left the sana- 
torium, I must have thought Ella would die, or I would find her 
dead, when I returned the next time. This thought, or rather this 
wish, must have been rejected with great power because of my 
conscience and the affection I still had for her. But the repression 
of the death wish was already a reaction to the unconscious satis- 
faction I had from this daydream, which must have threatened to 
be so vivid as to attain reality I must have unconsciously en- 
joyed the image of my wife dying or dead. The dizziness signi- 
fied the transition from this unconscious abandon to a secret hope 
for the realization of the dream. It marked the moment of awak- 
ening from the daydream to the life of the day. I became dizzy 


when the reality around me made me aware that I had day- 
dreamed and had been lost to this world of reality. 

This dizziness showed that a new orientation to reality became 
necessary. Many of our patients have a moment of dizziness at 
the end of the analytical session as they get up from the couch. 
The change of position is not important, it supports only the 
more essential emotional change: for almost one full hour the 
patient has lived in the world of psychical reality, where there was 
freedom for all thoughts, emotions, and impulses, where he could 
give himself entirely to fantasy, where actions were carried out 
only in imagination. He has to get up suddenly and has to face 
the world of material reality, has to live again in the sphere of 
hard facts, conventions, rules and regulations. This transition 
expresses itself often enough in the passing symptom of dizziness, 
in the sensation of giddiness, which disappears after a few seconds. 
The reorientation to the real world has been achieved. 

If my dizziness thus marked the rude awakening from a day- 
dream, what did this terrible attack of illness, this feeling of 
dying, mean? The symptom that I condemned myself to death 
for my murderous thoughts, for the imagined possibility of kill- 
ing. If I experienced all the horrors of annihilation, it could 
only mean that I unconsciously felt I had to die because I wanted 
my wife to die. Our unconscious life follows here the oldest and 
most primitive law of talion: the same unwritten law expressed 
in the sentence: eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The person who 
murdered should be killed. The man who commits a thought- 
murder has to punish himself with the sensation of dying. The 
character of the punishment corresponds to the nature of the 
crime. From the imagined punishment you could conclude what 
was the deed committed in thought. 

Whenever, during the following months, I had my unconscious 
fantasy, or whenever the repressed wish that Ella should die 
threatened to become conscious, the forceful rejection was ex- 
pressed in the form of my attacks: in this attempt of reorientation 
and in the following feeling of terrifying illness. Each murderous 
wish was followed by the image and the sensations of dying iny- 
self. I did not know what hit me. I only knew that, out of a 
clear blue sky, something let me feel that my end had come. 


With such severity I punished myself for my thought-crime. I 
never thought consciously that my wife should die. The pos- 
sibility of her sudden death had often enough occurred to me, 
but always accompanied by panic. My obsession-thoughts show, 
of course, clearly enough that those murderous wishes must have 
been there. My anxiety and my measures of protection prove 
that these thoughts were working in me, but they were always 
with a negative sign. 

Something new must have entered the stage of emotional proc- 
esses, otherwise those repressed thoughts could never have won 
power to approach the threshold of conscious wishes, yes, of 
hopes. It is easy to guess what this was: my infatuation with that 
young girl. The thought must have emerged: If Ella dies, my 
conflict will end; I could marry the young girl. From here to the 
thought, or rather the wish, that my wife should die was only one 
step. In fantasy this step was taken. It expressed itself, so to 
speak, in an unconscious action of will, in a thought-murder. 
When the thought threatened to become conscious, returning 
from the area of the repressed, all counter-forces of morals and 
of the old affection were mobilized to prohibit the thought from 
entering. The success of this prohibition was achieved, and only 
the punishment I had inflicted upon myself showed that a 
thought-crime had been committed. 

The sentence of the Roman lawgiver "Nulla poena sine 
crimine" ("No punishment without a crime") is valid also in the 
sphere of unconscious thoughts. The punishment points to the 
criminal deed that was imagined. The thoughts, first playfully 
dealt with, I had disposed of in my obsession-thoughts and doubts. 
Now they threatened to come across the footlight of conscious 
thinking, pushed there by my desire for that young girl. How 
dangerous they must have appeared to me is shown by the serious 
symptoms of my attacks. All powers of mental defense were 
called up to fight the intruder. I thought I would have to die, 
because I had such intense and vivid murderous wishes against Ella, 
or, I thought I would prefer to die myself rather than see her 
die or dead. Both these interpretations of the attacks are, of 
course, possible: one does not exclude the other. They can co- 
exist; yes, the special nature of unconscious processes allows even 


a fusion of both in the form: the other person dies in one's own 

Let me add a few remarks about the psychoanalytic signifi- 
cance of Freud's words. He must have known a long time before 
this last session what was the unconscious meaning of my attacks. 
I must have given him enough unconscious material to arrive at 
a psychological conclusion which was so remote from myself. 
Why did he wait so long with the explanation, and why did 
he choose the special form of tying it in with Schnitzler's novel? 
I think I can guess the .reasons for his analytic tactics, and I 
have learned not only to admire them but to follow them in my 
own practice. 

Only the unexperienced psychoanalyst, the greenhorn in our 
craft and art, will yield to the temptation to tell the patient im- 
mediately what he, the analyst, has guessed and understood of 
the unconscious motives and origins of his neurosis. Analytic ex- 
perience recommends rather to wait until the patient is psycho- 
logically prepared for the interpretation the analyst has to give 
him. In most cases it means waiting until the patient seems to 
need only a few steps to arrive at this explanation himself. 

It is difficult to define when this time arrives. Certain uncon- 
scious signs, perceived by the analyst, indicate that the patient 
is psychologically prepared or ready to receive and absorb the 
explanation.* In certain cases it will be necessary often due to 
external reasons, for instance, pressure of time, but more often 
to some factors in the emotional situation of the patient to 
work with a psychical shock. That means to give the patient a 
psychoanalytic explanation or interpretation at an earlier mo- 
ment, when the analyst's explanation would come entirely un- 
prepared so that it is bound to have the effects of a shock. Also 
in these cases it will be necessary to secure at least a certain 
amount of preparation, or to bring to the patient the material- 
which will come as a surprise and will stir him up in a form 
that will soften the emotional blow and soothe the discomfort. 

In my case Freud postponed his explanation as long as was 
possible within the time we had at our disposal. Jf he had told me 

* More about this point in my book Listening With the Third Ear (New 
York: Farrar, Straus & Co., 1948). 


immediately after he understood the unconscious meaning of my 
attacks, "You want your wife dead so that you can marry this 
other girl/ 7 I would not only have been shocked, but 1 would 
not have believed him. My repeated description of my actual 
conflict secured, analytically, an emotional preparation which 
made me more susceptible. 

It is a special psychological problem why words which are 
spoken by us have another emotional effect upon us than the 
same words only thought by us, but it is an undeniable fact that 
they work differently. It is as if pronouncing them, saying them, 
already secures a certain externalization, removes them from the 
sphere of secrecy. The words you say face you and allow you to 
win an emotional distance from their content. My report of the 
situation made the approach to the material I had repressed 
easier just through this effect of objectivation, of the coming 
into the open of something which had been caged in so long. 

The surprise was also softened by the indirect form Freud 
chose. I would emphatically deny that this form was consciously 
well considered by him, "figured out," determined by conscious 
reasoning. It was, I think, his unconscious response to my tale. 
While he listened to me "with the third ear," his thoughts, stim- 
ulated by the emotional similarity of the situations, must have 
led him to the comparison with Schnitzler's novel. But why did it 
not remind me? 

The unconscious motives of the leading figure in that novel 
and my own were of a similar character. The sole difference was 
that Alfred committed the crime which I only thought of. Also, 
the emotional reaction of Alfred and myself to the thought when 
it first emerged from the repressed was different only in degree. 
While he was overcome by dizziness and anxiety feelings only 
for a few seconds, my attacks often lasted several hours. The sen- 
sations of oneself dying are lacking in Schnitzler's presentation. 
In my case these reactions were of great violence and awakened 
greatest anxiety. It seems thus that Alfred experienced no un- 
conscious guilt feelings, did not turn the murderous wish against 
himself, and this lack of deep reactions makes it possible for him 
to commit in reality the murder which remained only IB the 
sphere of my thoughts. 


The similarity of the two characters and of the conflicts was, 
nevertheless, strong enough to have led Freud's thoughts to Schnitz- 
ler's novel: there was the man between two women, the heart 
disease of the one, signs and symptoms observed during intercourse, 
the "kiss of death." Another factor helped to bring about this 
association: Freud had read my book on Schnitzler, and he knew 
that I had often talked with the writer whom he knew, too. It 
was thus not an analytic tactical maneuver which Freud per- 
formed, but a crossing of a thought-bridge which built itself in 
his unconscious reaction and was perceived as appropriate and 

The reader who understands haw psychoanalysis works will ap- 
preciate that Freud's technique in this case was a stroke of genius. 
One will appreciate it the more, considering that Freud dealt with 
the problem not in a mechanical manner, prescribed by a rigid tech- 
nical conduct, but as a sovereign, following his intuition. After he 
had let me tell my story for some hours, and thus made me gain a 
certain emotional distance from my own experience, he did not 
give me a direct and immediate analytic explanation, but he 
made me find it myself. He did not accompany me the whole 
way to the goal, but brought me to a certain point from which I 
could follow the way. There was, no doubt, a good deal of trust 
in my intelligence and moral courage in this procedure, but he 
was right in not trusting them too much. If I had had sufficient 
moral courage, I would have faced the unpleasant truth in myself, 
and the neurotic escape into the attacks would have been super- 
fluous. If I had been brave before the dangers of my own thought, 
if I had not shied away from them, as a horse does before his own 
shadow, I would have arrived at the analytic insight without his 
help. He acted thus as a father who does not take his little son 
to the door of the school but to the corner of the street from 
where the boy can without fear continue on his way by himself. 

The question: "Do you remember the novel The Murderer by 
Schnitzler?" is also surprising, as seen from the point of view of 
analytic technique. I wonder how many of us psychoanalysts, now 
experienced, would dare to choose such an entirely unconven^ 
tional approach not to mention the ingenuity and the psycho- 
logical wisdom of the choice. 


The reference to Schnitzler's novel seemed not only to work as 
a surprise, but put a new unexpected hindrance in the way, 
created a stop which made a mental effort on my side necessary, 
namely, to remember the content of the novel. The question thus 
seemed on first sight to work as a diversion. Nearer and clearer 
seen, the deflection was in this case the best manner of attacking 
the problem; the detour, the shortest way to the goal which was 
difficult to reach otherwise. Taking this hurdle, seemingly put 
artificially at this point, meant winning the race; marked at the 
same time arriving at the goal which had been concealed but be- 
came suddenly visible. When the surprise was overcome, and the 
contours of the novel were remembered, I found myself on famil- 
iar ground. Remembering the plot and the situations of the 
novel served thus as a guidepost to self-understanding. 

The indirect interpretation by introducing Schnitzler's novel 
brought me nearer to the solution, but in doing so produced the 
impression that I had found the secret springs of my behavior 
myself. I recognized my own image in the mirror of Schnitzler's 
novel, but I realized only a few seconds later that it was a dis- 
torted picture, an image of oneself comparable to those you see in 
convex and concave mirrors, in which, you see yourself with gro- 
tesquely enlarged hands and feet. I came face to face with myself 
there, but almost at the same time I knew that here was not my 
real face, but one I imagined or feared to have. This was not 
myself, but how I had unconsciously conceived of myself as a 
ruthless murderer. This indirect interpretation allowed identifi- 
cation with Alfred. I saw him as a potentiality of myself, but also 
became aware of the distance from him, understood that he repre- 
sented only the dark fringes of my personality. After I had felt 
how near I was to Alfred in my imagination, I recognized how re- 
mote I was from him in fact. The encounter with this double o 
mine whom Freud had called up for me had two phases, follow- 
ing each other in the space of a few seconds. The first implied the 
recognition that he only did what / wished to do. The second 
moved the emphasis in this sentence: He did what I only wished 
to do. The effect of the first phase was that it made clear the psy- 
chological problem. The consequence of the second was that it 
cleared it up. 


After having said goodbye to Freud I walked out into the sum- 
mer afternoon, and I wandered for a few hours in the half-rural 
streets of Vienna's suburbs. I felt strangely quieted and encour- 
aged. I had not only gained distance from my own experience, but 
began to accept myself. It was an uplifting feeling such as I had only 
experienced before after some achievement. But this sensation 
of strength and of a new courage was not the result of any achieve- 
ment, but of relief from the pressure of unconscious guilt feeling. 
I understood, while I walked through the familiar streets and 
over the hills of Doebling and Grinzing, what had made me the 
victim of those terrifying attacks, and I knew that they would not 
come again. They never did. 

Strangely enough, the experience which gave me new heart let 
me also see the present and the future in a more hopeful light 
I felt the strength in me to overcome all hindrances on my way, 
was not any more oppressed by the thought that I would not 
earn enough to support my family and myself, and was confident 
that some of the aims of my ambitions were within my reach. The 
future did not look as gloomy as it had in the last years. I felt 
strong enough to challenge my destiny. I was, after this session 
with Freud, in a mood similar to Faust's after seeing the sign of 
the ghost of Earth: 

I feel the courage, forth into the world to dare, 
The woe of earth, the bliss of earth to bear, 
With storms to battle, brave the lightning's glare 
And in the shipwreck's crash not to despair. 

Also experiences which are helpful and raise our spirit, situa- 
tions in which we overcome our unhappiness, are not immedi- 
ately perceived and understood by us as far as their emotional 
significance is concerned. They too can have the character of an 
emotional shock, and need time to become part of our conscious 
possession. The emotional meaning of this final session with 
Freud became only fully understood in later years. Although its 
effect was immediately felt, its aftereffects had much more impact 
for my life as a man and as an analyst. When Freud asked me 
whether I remembered the novel by Schnitzler, I had been in a 


momentary haze. I came out of it when it was remembered, -and 
the words "Oh, that is it?" marked the beginning of my under- 
standing. But only the beginning; it was as if a hole had been 
torn in a dense fog. When I later took that long walk in the sub- 
urbs of Vienna, this opening was enlarged. The fog receded and 
the view became clear; but this view showed only the recent past 
and had no great depth dimensions. 

What the truth I had learned, and had learned to face, meant to 
me became clear to me only later when it unfolded itself in all its 
aspects and depths. This truth had more than one simple reso- 
nance. Freud had said at the end of that session, rather astonished, 
"I would have thought you stronger," This sentence often re- 
sounded in me. Freud did not consider my hidden and forbidden 
impulses and the punishment to which I had subjected myself 
from the point of view of morals. He did not evaluate my be- 
havior according to the categories of bad and good, wicked or 
noble, but thought of it as weak and strong whether the ego 
was weak or strong. If I had been strong enough, I would have 
faced the terrible thought squarely and would not have needed 
to punish myself when it recurred. I would have considered its 
emergence as human and natural under the circumstances. I 
would not have condemned myself to the death penalty, the pun- 
ishment for a murderer. 

To stand one's ground in the face of such wicked, cruel, hostile, 
mean thoughts, which everybody has and of which everybody be- 
comes sometimes aware, to look at them with open eyes and to reject 
them consciously without becoming panicky, this is what Freud 
meant by strength of the ego. The basic conception of the strength 
or weakness of the ego became one of the valuable acquisitions of 
this session. I knew it before, but it remained just theoretical knowl- 
edge, was not experienced in my own life. I felt its significance 
when I walked around on that summer day in Doebling and 
Grinzing, when my breast was at last free from pressure, when I 
could breathe again and look forward to a future which was preg- 
nant with possibilities of grief and joys. I knew from books and 
courses what the strength and weakness of the ego was, knew 
that this ego-part of us has to fight a two-front battle against the 
intense urges of the instincts and against exaggerated demands 


of the superego, that severe and punishing power of conscience. I 
had often enough seen patients being punched alternatively or 
simultaneously from both sides until their ego was hanging help- 
lessly on the ropes. But all this had remained pale and dry, gray 
theory, until I found in my own experience what it meant to be 
strong or weak. 

I understood it even better when I met similar situations and 
reactions with my patients, when I observed how they took to 
flight before some thought-temptations and produced neurotic 
symptoms on account of the same weakness of the ego which often 
contrasted strongly with their intellectual gifts, and initiative. I 
saw men and women, who had achieved remarkable things in 
their lives, break down before a terrifying thought, before a tempta- 
tion which had emerged in them. They ran in wild panic into 
neurotic symptoms, inhibitions, and anxieties which made them 
emotional invalids. I even saw some patients give themselves into 
helpless bondage out of guilt feelings toward a wife or a friend 
whom they hated. I saw men who carried invisible chains on 
their arms, tying them to unworthy mates because they felt an 
intense guilt feeling toward them. If Hamlet had been born or 
brought up in New York, he would, perhaps, have said, "Thus 
conscience doth make suckers of us all." I often saw, later on, 
persons of great energy and capability behave as if they were un- 
consciously paralyzed by such terror of their own thoughts, and 
I realized why what they had planned lost "the name of action." 

I had thus plenty of opportunity to examine experiences simi- 
lar to my own with regard to their origin and motivation, to 
compare the emotional dynamics in the cases of my patients with 
the ones in my case, which had been understood long ago. But 
in spite of all I knew, I believe, I could look at this knowing as 
being my own only for a few years. I then treated a psychiatrist 
who, among many other problems, suffered great anxiety before 
entering the clinic in which he was an assistant. We soon dis- 
covered that the main reason for his anxiety was the unconscious 
thought that he might learn that the professor, whose position he 
coveted, had died during the night. I was astonished that this 
clever man had not seen the danger from which he had escaped 
into his anxieties. At the end of my analytic interpretation I 


expressed my astonishment with the words "I had thought you 
stronger/* Only afterward did I remember when and from whom 
I had heard the same sentence. 

In the years when we lived in Berlin and The Hague we used 
to spend the summer vacations in the Austrian mountains. The 
beautiful village of Alt-Aussee near Salzburg was the place where 
we spent the summer after my visit to Freud. My wife felt rela- 
tively better at the time. She could even take little walks if she 
was cautious and avoided every exertion. Her mood oscillated 
between depression and those characteristic flutters of great Ir- 
ritability. She was full of discontent and felt dissatisfied with 
everything, with people, the cottage we had rented, and even 
with the charming landscape. Impatient, she sometimes picked 
quarrels with me and others about trifles, and sometimes turned 
away from me and others apathetically. 

There had been no sexual relations between us for a long time. 
I did all I could to make life comfortable for her. I spared neither 
trouble nor expense to secure all comfort. She was, nevertheless, 
dissatisfied, and she often put my patience to a hard test. She 
could not resign herself to two things which deeply disappointed 
her. Our son Arthur had fallen in love with a Dutch girl and had 
told us of his plan to marry her. He had joined us here in Alt- 
Aussee with Judith, his bride, to say farewell to us, because he 
wanted to emigrate with his wife to Palestine. 

Ella, whose whole love had been concentrated on our son, 
could not stand the thought that he could leave her for another 
woman, and could go from us to a country so far away. She saw 
herself deserted by me and him, and the certainty that her only 
child would leave her cast a shadow on her life, which had been 
so gloomy for so many years on account of her disease. 

The second fact to which my wife could not resign herself was 
my relationship with the girl, which I have mentioned before 
and which had been continued now for quite some time. Sexual 
intercourse with Ella was made impossible on account of her 


heart ailment which had been aggravated in the last years. I had, 
of course, taken every possible precaution to conceal from her 
that I had searched for sexual satisfaction outside our home, but 
secrets of this kind have a tendency to reveal themselves and 
"accidents/* whose psychological character are not always inci- 
dental, give them away. The discovery of my extramarital rela- 
tions filled Ella with indignation and she felt deeply hurt. She 
could not understand why a man in the best years should not be 
able to live a chaste life, why he had to go to women to get re- 
lief from sexual pressure. The puritanical education of her child- 
hood and young girlhood had left deep traces in her character. 

With great distaste my wife finally accepted the fact that I had 
to see other women occasionally to get sexual relief. But when 
she discovered that this girl meant more to me than just a sexual 
object, Ella could not stand it. She felt humiliated. She was well 
aware of the saying among Viennese women: "One girl is more 
dangerous than many girls." Yet I never neglected my wife, never 
thought I would desert her for another woman, yes, in a kind of 
attempt to offer her every comfort for so much she had to miss- 
on account of her disease, I worked the harder for her the more 
sorry J felt for her. Through many years I went to operetta per- 
formances that bored me stiff, I spent many hours with the mem- 
bers of her family with whom I had nothing in common, just 
to please her. I sat beside Ella many hours looking on at her 
bridge-playing, often until late in the night, fighting desperately 
against sleep and extreme fatigue after eleven hours of analytic 
work. Looking back at that time in which I never hesitated to 
make every sacrifice, I tell myself now that my pity for her was 
exaggerated and that I was then not, as I had flattered myself, a 
good fellow but a stupid fellow. There is no doubt that my un- 
conscious guilt feeling toward her made me do things I would 
never have done otherwise, and made me carry burdens which 
were almost too heavy for an average man to bear. 

But to return to our summer in Alt-Aussee: Ella had discov- 
ered that the girl of whom I have spoken lived near that village 
and that I had seen her at her place. My wife discussed this with 
me and reproached me severely for my unfaithfulness. She got 
more and more excited the less I had to say, and what was there 


to be said without mentioning her disease? At the end she was 
carried away by her fury and shouted, "You are a scoundrel." It 
was like a blow on the head. I left the room silently and walked 
into the garden that surrounded the cottage. 

There had been tiffs and disharmonies between us before as 
in every marriage of many yearsmost of them in the first years 
because of my impatience and intolerance, many in the later 
years because of her irritability originated mostly by her illness. 
There had never been any name-calling, never a scene like this 
one. I felt as in a daze. I still remember it was a beautiful sum- 
mer afternoon and everything was flowering. The air was so quiet 
and the landscape presented its most beautiful view. The Dach- 
stein, a high mountain wall on the right, seemed to look down 
on me majestically. On the left the forest sent the subtle smell of 
pine trees over the meadows. I walked round and round along the 
garden paths which encircled a large flower bed. The scenery was 
so harmonious. God or the artist we imagine by this name must 
have created it when he was in a Mozartian mood, in the same 
divine humor which so often filled the music of that human 
genius born in the city of Salzburg, not far away. 

I walked around the big flower bed and there was, it seemed to 
me, not a single thought in my head. I did not feel depressed. 
There was apparently a heavy load on my breast because I could 
not breathe freely. It seemed nothing mattered any more. I was 
far away from myself, walking there, and in a kind of deperson- 
aUzation, in one of these states of mind in which one is a stranger 
to oneself. I do not know any more how long I walked around 
the small garden paths automatically and unthinking, in the 
quietness of that summer afternoon. Suddenly I heard myself say, 
"I am not a scoundrel/' and again and again many times, "I am 
not a scoundrel/' 

Something seemed to loosen itself within me. That pressure on 
my breast seemed to become lighter. And then I looked up because 
my cheeks were wet. Was there one of those fine thin-string rains 
(Schnuerlregen) which so often occur in the middle of a beauti- 
ful sunny day in the Salzburg region? No, I had cried and had 
not known it I returned to the apartment and spoke to Ella in 
a quiet and very friendly way. I did not feel reproachful and I 


understood, or sensed, that what she had said was not meant seri- 
ously, was shouted on the spur of the very angry moment. Our 
conversation was friendly and it did not concern the subject of 
our discussion a short time before, but the prospect of Arthur's 
marriage and departure. We both now felt that we belonged to- 
gether. There was, however, a new tone in my voice. It was gentle 
enough, but it was also firm, and it did not sound guilty any 
more as it had sounded a few hours ago. 

What had happened? While I walked around in the garden I 
had experienced indescribable emotions, but their character and 
the development they took can well be guessed in retrospect. I 
had been unexpectedly hit and had suffered an emotional shocL 
I had felt guilty for a long time and now had an open and clear 
accusation and condemnation coming from the very person to- 
ward whom I had felt guilty. For a few minutes I must have felt 
cast out, utterly reprehensible, lower than the worm in the dust 
I am sure when I first walked on those circular paths, I felt 

I saw myself with Ella's eyes as a scoundrel. Just when I felt 
lost, I had suddenly found myself. Something in me protested in 
passionate upsurge against submitting to the verdict that I was a 
heel or a rascal. This something had to do neither with thoughts of 
self-justification nor with reasoning or measuring. It had nothing 
to do with weighing my good qualities against my bad ones. The 
protest came from the depth of my character. I knew I had often 
been inconsiderate, impulsive, and violent, often perhaps im- 
patient, proud, weak, and pulled by many drives hither and 
thither. I had not been a scoundrel. 

I had yielded at first to the emotional temptation to surrender 
to the condemnation which I had heard, but then from some, 
deeper source emerged the counter-reaction and with it strength. 
Freud's words had echoed in me and enabled me to stand the sud- 
den assault. They gave me strength not to yield to the terrifying 
wave of self-hate and guilt feeling which towered over me. The 
attack had had the effect of a powerful blow, but I had regained 
my equilibrium and I had recuperated, thanks to some hidden 


I rarely thought of this summer afternoon in later years. Some 
incident brought the memory back to me only a few weeks ago. 
A patient told me that his little son Peter, three years old, had 
made a clumsy gesture at the dinner table and spilled his orange 
juice over the whole tablecloth. His mother, a kind but nervous 
woman, had scolded the boy and had put him to bed. Half an 
hour later the young parents sat in the living room reading 
they heard a loud voice from the bedroom of the child: "Peter 
not a bad boy! Peter not a bad boy!" and again, in passionate 
protest and between sobs: "Peter not a bad boy!" 

After Arthur had left us to go to Palestine with his young wife, 
Ella felt very lonely, and every attempt to distract her failed. She 
could not get accustomed to life in Holland, where we thought 
ourselves safe from Hitler. Ella's longing for our son became 
stronger and finally unbearable; in spite of her weak heart, she 
decided to undertake the long journey to Jerusalem. She arrived 
safely and Arthur and Judith did everything in their power to 
make her sojourn there comfortable. Although under the care- 
ful supervision and treatment of excellent physicians, her heart 
ailment got worse. Oscillating between depression, apathy, and 
great irritability, and living with the newlywed couple, she did 
not find the peace of mind she had searched for. Her letters to 
me were always affectionate. There was never a trace of bitterness 
or complaint in them. 

After several months in Jerusalem, she decided to go to Vienna 
to see her parents. She undertook the journey from Haifa, crossed 
the Mediterranean to Italy, and took the train to Vienna. She 
must have felt that the end was near, and she wanted to be with her 
parents in her last hour. On the train she became very ill. When 
she arrived at her parents' home in Vienna, the physician, called 
in all haste, saw that her life could last only a few minutes. She 
spoke a few sentences to her mother and father and breathed 
her last Again her strong mind had proved its power over matter; 
she lived long enough to die at home. 


Ella was buried in the family plot. At the time of her funeral 
I was in Holland and I have never seen her tomb. When the 
news of her death reached me in The Hague, it did not awaken 
very intense emotions. Too often, and for so many years, had I 
anticipated her end with feelings of anxiety and panic. Too often 
had I forced my reluctant imagination to face the terrible event 
which cast its long shadow on my life. This anticipation in 
thought had taken place so often that I only later understood 
its magical significance. It was an unconscious measure of emo- 
tional self-protection, which would prepare and harden me 
against the blow of destiny, but would soften it too. The basis 
of it was a magical or superstitious belief that I could perhaps 
avert the catastrophe when I imagined it and what it would mean 
to myself and my small son. 

On the other hand, there was the expectancy that the blow 
would not hit me so terribly if I anticipated it. You could call this 
particular piece of thinking, which anticipates in thoughts the 
worst, magical discount. I have an obsessional patient who bets 
against himself in thought. He tries to convince himself that the 
opposite of what he really wishes will happen, so that his disap- 
pointment, if his wishes should not be fulfilled, will not be too 
severe and depressing. He can also console himself then that he 
foresaw the unfavorable outcome and obtain a confirmation of 
his belief in the power of his thoughts in this case of his fears. 

All that is so long past, and what came afterward is separated 
from it by a sharp stroke; the breakdown of Europe and the second 
World War, and with it the collapse of the civilization in which 
I grew up. 

While writing the preceding pages, I often wondered why I felt 
so guilty about mere thoughts and wishes, and why I did not feel 
guiltier when I was inconsiderate, malicious, rude, or even cruel 
in fact, as I had no doubt often been toward my ill wife. I was, 
it is true, a slave-driver of myself, I had subjected myself to forced 
labor to secure all that was necessary or only comfortable for her. 
But I was not really gracious and generous because I wanted the 
sacrifices I made to be appreciated and praised, and I often 
spoiled all my service by bad humor and reproachfulness, I often 


acted like a good cow that gives plenty of milk but afterward, 
lashing out, overthrows the milk tub. 

All the obsessional thoughts and anxieties I had felt had evap- 
orated, and I did not feel guilty any more of my thought-crimes, 
my evil wishes and impulses. There was, however, a remnant of 
magical thinking in the form of a special half-formed belief when 
I thought of my wife's death later on. 1 often thought that she 
died, so to speak, as a vicarious sacrifice for myself. The fleeting 
idea was that I should have really died, and that she died in my 
place, that destiny had taken her life in place of mine which was 
forfeited. The emotion accompanying this magical or supersti- 
tious thought was a mixture of guilt feeling toward Ella and affec- 
tion for her. Guilt feeling because she died, so to speak, for my 
sin for which I should have died, affection because I felt that she 
would have gladly given her life to save mine. Once it occurred 
to me that the origin of this magical belief was in a religious 
ritual which I had seen as a child. Religious Jews sacrifice a 
chicken on the day of atonement (Yom Kippur) as a vicarious 
victim for their own sins, for which their own life is forfeited. My 
grandfather, who lived some years with us, took a chicken by its 
legs on this highest holiday, and waved it several times around 
my head, when I was a boy, saying a prayer or a formula. This 
formula says that the chicken was, so to speak, to take over my 
sins, and would be slaughtered as atonement for them in my 
place. My superstitious belief must have been a remnant of this 
childhood memory. I do not know where I originally found the 
impudence to think that my life was more precious than my 
wife's, and why hers should be taken instead of mine, but at 
the end of this train of thought I always felt a wave of affection 
and gratitude for her, and a feeling of unworthiness, as if I did 
not deserve so great a sacrifice. 

I felt sincerely sorry because I was often inconsiderate and 
cruel toward Ella. But also these feelings were of a fleeting nature. 
It sometimes seems as if I could not feel any more those intense 
emotions, as if it were very difficult and sometimes impossible to 
remember their intensity, yes, even their existence. Has old age, 
and the emotional change associated with it brought this about? 
Have I already become so much cooler? It is as if the intensity of 


emotions which youth once had has already yielded to clarity, 
circumspection, and cool-headedness. All I experienced during 
those years appears as if seen from a great distance, and the fig- 
ures appear sharp but small, as if looked at through the other 
side of opera glasses. 

Yet I know, and I know it to the core of my being, what 
Freud and Ella, what the master and friend, and what the wife 
meant to me in those years I was growing and maturing. They 
were not just persons who had become very important for my 
development; they meant more to me. Meeting Freud and Ella 
in those years was a stroke of luck. They became primal images. 
Ella was not just a single girl to me, but the model of a girl, girl- 
hood that had become personified. Freud was not only a great 
man to me, but the model of a man. It was as if in his personality 
were combined all the qualities, I thought, a man should possess: 
integrity and moral courage with strength and ingenuity. What 
Ella and Freud were to me in those young years left deep traces 
in my character which remained indelible. I was not blind to their 
human weaknesses and shortcomings, but thinking of them, leads 
always to the feeling: Their memory shall be blessed. 

Having arrived at the end of this "fragment of a great con- 
fession," I become aware that it covers a very small segment of a 
man's life, and even this little piece is unsatisfactorily presented 
Childhood and boyhood were scarcely mentioned. The descrip- 
tion was confined to a certain phase of life, and of one aspect of 
this period; my life in relation to my sweetheart and my wife. 
Other relationships with colleagues, friends, and relatives were 
hardly touched upon; various activities and interests not even 
mentioned. Also the relationship with Ella was psychologically 
not as completely and as precisely pictured as would be necessary 
for the purpose of scientific research. What is presented here is 
thus a fragment of a fragment of a great confession. 

Why, I ask myself, is it that such confessions when spoken by 
an unknown person almost always awaken our interest, and why 
do we demand certain qualities, which we do not require in 
life, when they appear in a book? It seems that our human inter- 
est in the person to whose confessions we listen remains alive 
because we do not only hear his words, but also what is said and 


left unsaid between and beyond the words. We do not only listen, 
we also look at the person, observe him, become aware of peculiari- 
ties of his gestures, of his posture, of the movements of his body, 
and of his facial expressions. All these features tell a story be- 
sides and beyond the story he tells in words. We miss them in a book 
except when the writer has a very personal or expressive style. Con- 
fessions for confessions' sake bore us easily when we read them. 
When they are nothing else but confessions they do not speak to us. 
They must have other added traits which interest us. The great 
confessions of world literature fascinate us just by these addi- 
tional features which, strictly speaking, are not inherent to con- 
fession as such: the Confessions of Augustine by the religious 
conflict in the writer and his zeal, the Confessions of Rousseau 
by their merciless self-observation, Goethe's Truth and Fiction by 
the incomparable plastic quality of the artistic presentation. The 
writer of this fragment has nothing to offer which could be lik- 
ened to such excellencies. He can only hope that the interest of 
the reader is attracted to the psychological problems which are 
contained in these self-analytic pages. If this interest is lacking, 
nothing else recommends them to the reader. 

Many psychoanalysts will find fault with the form of presenta- 
tion of this fragment because many emotional processes and trains 
of thought are not properly labeled. They will complain that the 
appropriate scientific terms are not applied, that, for instance, in 
the description of my relationship with Ella the psychoanalytic 
expression ambivalence is not to be found. 

I was, of course, ambivalent toward Ella, in this typical emo- 
tional tension between love and hate. But does this explain the 
specific nature of my obsessional thoughts and fears, does it make 
me understand why I felt such a sense of terrible responsibility 
for her and why I was filled with choking anxiety when she felt 
worse? We are not only tied to a person by love or by hate, or by 
a combination of both feelings. It would be much more to the 
psychological point to stress that I was then tied to Ella by un- 
conscious guilt feeling. But I was not trying to explain what is 
obvious. Putting labels on psychological phenomena does not 
appear very important to me. The question is not whether the 
labels we put on things are correct or not, but whether they are 


essential and significant for the individual case. It is due to such 
psychoanalytic labels that people in most case histories do not 
appear as living persons, but as pasteboard figures. The psycho- 
logical impact of emotions and thoughts gets lost in the waste- 
land of such schematic, verbalized classifications, and what was 
real life, vibrant with feeling, is banned into the shadow exist- 
ence of technical terms, of "Psychoanalese." I am told that a six- 
year-old girl who was taken to the Museum of Natural History 
with her school was asked where she had been. She answered, 
"In a dead zoo." When we read descriptions of neurotic and 
psychotic people in many psychoanalytic books, we too could 
say we had been in a dead zoo whose specimens were neatly 
labeled but poorly prepared by their taxidermists. 

I shall try to demonstrate how narrow and inappropriate, how 
poor and pitiful the effect of psychoanalytic terms can be, com- 
pared with emotional experience. Here is an instance 'from my 
present analytic practice. A patient, Anne, a pretty girl of sixteen 
years, told me that she spent some time of the past summer to- 
gether with her father and his present wife, Margaret, in the 
country, near the Hudson River. Anne had a pleasant time there, 
and often sailed and swam with Margaret, whom she liked. She 
once suggested to Margaret, who is much older than she, that they 
should swim together in the nude. Margaret first hesitated, and 
then rejected the suggestion; Anne did not know why. Let me add 
to the report a few facts which are not unimportant for its psycho- 
logical understanding. Anne's father had had a love affair with 
Margaret while he was still married to Anne's mother. He finally 
won a divorce and married his mistress. Anne had first taken 
her mother's side, and had turned against Margaret, but during 
the last months she had made friends with her, and had spent 
much time with her, especially in the summer vacations. 

What unconscious meaning or motivation, if any, would the 
average psychoanalyst attribute to Anne's suggestion to swim 
together in the nude? And what to Margaret's refusal? Is there 
anything psychologically significant in this little incident at all? 
I asked several psychoanalysts; they all answered it was immedi- 
ately obvious to them what Anne's suggestion meant. It was, they 
stated, the expression of her voyeurism and of her homosexual 


tendencies. At the same time, they added, the plan to swim in 
the nude was a manifestation of Anne's exhibitionism. In other 
words: Anne wanted to get sexual gratification from looking at 
Margaret's nude body and from showing her own body to Mar- 
garet. The homosexual component expressed itself in the wish 
to be in the nude with the older woman. 

Does this psychoanalytic interpretation explain the hidden 
motives of Anne's behavior? Does it allow us to catch a glimpse of 
the dark stirrings within the young girl? It seems to me that these 
analysts looking at that phenomenon have a poor sense of color, 
they see only the most conspicuous differences. Are they not sup- 
posed to see and to observe the finest shades and nuances? Should 
they not be able to recognize the infrared as well as the ultra- 
violet in the prism at their disposal? Is the aspect of hidden hu- 
man agents in the case here presented really caught in the words 
voyeurism, exhibitionism, and homosexuality? Should not psy- 
choanalysts be able to hear more than commonplace sounds when 
they listen with the third ear to the voice which tells that story? 
But so many of them have ears and do not hear, and have eyes 
and do not see. 

Here is another psychological aspect, one of many: When Anne 
asked Margaret to swim in the nude, an important unconscious 
motive was the curiosity of the younger girl to see the body of 
the woman with whom her father slept, a curiosity of a hostile 
kind. The gratification of this wish to see was not of a crude 
sexual nature, and not akin to that of a peeping Tom. It was 
an aggressive tendency. This has not much to do with voyeur 
impulses which are searching for sexual excitement at the sight 
of another naked body. Seeing this body meant here to observe that 
it was so much fatter, flabbier than Anne's own youthful slimness. 
If there was exhibitionism in her suggestion, it was not of the 
kind analysts usually associate with this term: Margaret should 
not see Anne's body to get sexual pleasure out of the sight, but 
so that Margaret should be made envious or jealous by the more 
beautiful body of the young girl. Analysts speaking of exhibition- 
ism mean that the display of another naked body should sexually 
arouse the onlooker. They do not mean that it should make his 
blood vessels explode. These undercurrents were not perceived* 


the hidden was not sensed, the intangible not recognized, when 
the essential character of the incident is determined as homo- 
sexuality, exhibitionism, and voyeurism. 

Margaret's reaction to Anne's suggestion should itself give a 
hint of its concealed character. Margaret's refusal was not the re- 
jection of an improper homosexual proposition. It was not the 
expression of her chastity. It was dictated by an intuitive under- 
standing of the hidden hostile character of the offer. It was as if 
delicacy of feeling made her reject it, as if she had answered: I do 
not want to give you the satisfaction of looking contemptuously 
or condescendingly on my figure. It was as if she sensed in the 
suggestion the concealed indelicacy of a curiosity eager to see 
the naked body of a rival. She did not react to it as if it were ob- 
scene or lascivious, but as if it were offensive to taste and tact, 
which it was. Examples like this one do not prove much; how- 
ever, they show enough to lead us back to some general psycho- 
logical problem, especially to the question of how we guess what 
goes on in the unconscious of another person, and how we can 
recognize what unconsciously goes on in ourselves. 

It seems that it is easier for all of us to understand the emo- 
tions and thoughts of another than our own. There is no doubt 
that, paradoxical as it might sound, the interest in the psycho- 
logical processes of other persons is older than that in our own 
experiences, that we are originally more curious about what goes 
on in other human beings. We live distantly from our own 

Take the instance presented here. One day, as a psychologist, 
I became interested in Goethe's love experience with an Alsatian 
pastor's daughter, I had known the tale in Truth and Fiction 
since my late teens; I had then wondered why Goethe acted the 
way he had and was ready to condemn him as a faithless and 
heartless egotist. I began to see the unconscious motives which 
propelled him when I read his tale more than twenty years later. 
I recognized now in the flashlight of psychoanalysis certain clues, 
a number of seemingly unrelated things which, joined together, 
give psychological circumstantial evidence. When I wrote the 
story on Goethe I had not the slightest notion that I attempted 
to master emotionally an experience of my own which had cer- 


;ain points of contact with his. My attention was concentrated on 
:he unconscious motives of a young poet who, one hundred and 
fifty years ago, had fallen in love with a charming girl, had been 
pursued by mysterious obsessional thoughts and fears, and had 
deserted his sweetheart. Ten years after I had written it, while 
reading my own book, certain features, especially those chapter 
titles, brought me to the realization that I had written my own 
story, and I began to understand why I had done it and what it 
meant. How many years I needed to recognize what had uncon- 
sciously taken place in myself! How long a time it took until I 
came to my own track! It seems that the core of our own experi- 
ences is as distant from our own psychological understanding 
as the light of some planets which needs many thousand years to 
reach us. Some of these stars were extinguished long ago but we 
still observe their light. It is such a "pathos of distance" which 
separates us from the unconscious meaning of our experiences. 

And how long a detour we often need to come to ourselves! 
We have to become strangers to ourselves, and have to see our- 
selves as if with the eyes of other persons in order to see correctly, 
Goethe is right: nobody learns much about himself by direct self- 
observation. You have to get at a certain emotional distance from 
yourself if you want to see even the contours of yourself. 

There is a strange paradox in the character of guessing and 
understanding unconscious processes. When we want to under- 
stand ourselves we have to observe others and compare them with 
us. When we want to understand others, we have to turn our look 
inward, have to take the clues from our own psychology. Is it not 
as if we were strangers at our own home, and as if we had to 
go out and return to feel really at home? 

It is late. I feel weary and would like to put down the pen. 
Station WQXR signed off for the night long ago. The last sounds 
heard in this room were of Mozart's music. Yes, Mozart. . . . My 
thoughts begin to wander. . . . Sakburg, where he was born 
and grew up. , . . Alt-Aussee from where we went to the Salz- 
burg festivals. . . . We heard there in Schloss Leopoldskron 
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. ... It was magnificent. . . . The 
musicians were in the costumes of Mozart's time. It was in the 
wide yard of the castle, and torches on its wall illuminated the 


night . . . And next day we listened to Mahler's Fourth Sym- 
phony in the Salzburg Festspielhaus. . . . The last movement is 
akin to Mozart's music. ... I remember that Mahler in his last 
hour, already unconscious, suddenly said, "Mozart darling" 
('MozartU"), as if he heard his music. ... I think again of Alt- 
Aussee and now the image of Beer-Hofmann appears before me. 
. . . and I see myself walking at his side from his cottage along 
a brook near a forest. ... I had then visited the beloved poet 
in his cottage and we sat in his studio on the first floor, smoking, 
talking, and looking at the view of Alt-Aussee which is so Mo- 
zartian Oh, yes, I understand now what was the thought con- 
nection between Beer-Hofmann and Mozart. I must have been 
thinking of the beautiful "Gedenkrede auf Wolfgang Amadeus 
Mozart/' a few pages of wonderful prose which Beer-Hofmann 
wrote and which are as profound as they are beautiful. 

I first heard the name Beer-Hofmann when I was eighteen, and 
shortly after my father's death I had read his "Graf von Charolais." 
I was deeply moved. Here was a poet, a real poet, of incompa- 
rable power of expression and riches of the heart. My first book, a 
small pamphlet, was on the work of Beer-Hofmann. I was twenty- 
three when I wrote it and full of pride when I showed the first 
copy to Ella. On the first page stood the words "Cum ira et 
studio" because I was then full of indignation about the Vienna 
critics who did not give full appreciation to Beer-Hofmann, and 
very keen to show how wonderful the "Graf von Charolais," and 
"Schlaftied fur Miriam" were. That was 1911, the year Mahler 
died in the Loew Sanatorium in Vienna. And I remember how 
I, a few years before, once shyly followed Mahler on his way 
from the Opera, where he had conducted, to the Ringstrasse. 
... I had a crush on him like a schoolgirl's infatuation with a 
movie star. But I was really in the last year of high school then. 
, . . How I admired him, the man and the music he made, 
although I knew so little of him. . . . Three years later I stood 
in the Berggasse and talked with Freud, told him about my plans 
and looked fascinated into his eyes. ... He had inherited the 
worship I had for Mahler and he meant so much more to me. 

They are dead now, all the men who had meant so much to 
my youth in Vienna. The pictures of Freud, Schnitzler, Mahler, 


and Beer-Hofmann on the walls of my room do not greet me 
any more. . . . Why do I suddenly feel so lonely? 

My glance falls upon the framed page which Beer-Hofmann 
had given me. It now hangs at the right side of my desk. This 
handwritten poem has inserted on it in calligraphic lines: "To 
Theodor Reik in memory of past days, most cordially Beer-Hof- 
mann, Vienna 4.1.1935." I remember that I called on him; we 
talked about Schnitzler and Wassermann who were both his 
friends. He gave me that handwritten page when I left him. 

I tried to translate it into English difficult to communicate 
the music of the German lines and to translate those first stanzas. 

All the paths we tread are leading 

To the one, the lonely way. 

Never-weary hours are weeding 

All that grew once sad and gay. 

All misfortune and all pleasure 
Pale as in reflection shone. 
What we suffer, what we treasure 
Fadesleaves us with us alone. 

Was I not in dancer's round, 
And what struck, struck not ine only? 
Is no hand stretched out? No sound? 
Silence looms. The road gets lonely . . . 

Everything around me and within me is quiet. No strong urges, 
no intense emotions. . . . But there is that unpleasant sensation 
of pressure and tightness, the heavy breathing and a slight gid- 
diness. . . . No sorrows about a sweetheart any more, but worry 
about the muscle of the heart ... I should have a new electro- 
cardiogram . . . Dr. Vogl said the other day I should stop smok- 
ing. . . . While I put my cigarette out, I suddenly recall a sen- 
tence sage, old Freud once said: "As soon as the soul attains peace, 
the body begins to give trouble." 


The Gift for Psychological 

The Gift For Psychological Observation 

How does a man become interested in psychology? Psychol- 
ogiststhat is, psydh^log^ts^^liu, in our sense, jyre CUQQU&. 
about emououad^ltTOem^are be-rn,~nbt made. Psychological 
interest and the gift for psychological observation are as in- 
born as a musical sense or a mathematical talent. Where it is 
not present, nothing not even courses, lectures, and seminars- 
will produce it. The comparison with musicianship is justified in 
more than one sense. Musicians, like psychologists, are born; but, 
in order tqJasjcqpa^^ trained and they 

mustwwkjong^ndJiatd. Talent aloneisnoFenougET^utwOTE 
and^ndustry alone, without talent, are nothing. Lack of psy- 
chological endowment becomes especially conspicuous when a 
psychoanalyst is ready to turn to creative work, to present new 
psychological findings in a book or paper. Nowadays we read 
many books and articles in psychoanalytic periodicals that are 
cleverly written and present interesting material of a medical, 
sociological, psychosomatic, or physiological nature. I do not 
doubt their value, but there is not the slightest trace of psy- 
chology in them, 

Rossini went to hear the opera The Huguenots for the first 
time. "What do you think of this music, maestro?" he was asked. 
"Music I did not hear any music," the composer answered. 
Similarly, the reader of certain psychoanalytic books and maga- 
zines may have read anc} learned many things, but no psychology. 
That music is essential to an opera might be a prejudice, but 
one we would like to keep. 

The German scholar, O. Klemm, has stated that psychology 
has a long past but a short history. Psychology is, as a matter of 
fact, one of the youngest sciences. The naive man, living under 
the command of his instinctual needs, is not concerned with 
psychological matters. He turns his interest to the external world 



and the knowledge he acquires is directed toward mastering the 
world outside himself, and making it serve his wishes. He tries 
to conquer a piece of material reality and does not covet any 
other kind of mastery. The kingdom of the psychologist is not 
of this world, not material reality. When conflicts arose in the 
mind of primitive man, when his wishes remained unfulfilled, he 
tried to master them by projecting their power into the external 
world, into lightning and thunder, rain and fire. He used magic 
and spells. He became a sorcerer, and finally, renouncing his 
omnipotence in favor of his gods, he became a religious person, 
a worshiper of deities. He cast his passions, needs, conflicts, and 
frustrations into the realm of the powers of nature, as we cast 
a picture on a screen. He looked at these pictures and was un- 
aware that they only mirrored processes within himself. For many 
hundreds of thousands of years, the unconscious projection of 
his own psychical processes into the outside world remained the 
natural way of dealing with them, of understanding them. What 
forced man finally to discover them in himself? The sincere an- 
swer is that we do not know. 

** But something must have happened to bring this change about. 
Paul Moebius, the German psychologist, says: "It is, so to speak, 
natural to direct one's look to the external world; it is unnatural 
to turn it inwards. We can compare ourselves with a man who 
looks from a dark room through a small window at a world in 
sunshine; outside everything is easily discernible. When he turns 
around, he has difficulty finding himself at home in his dark 
room/'* The comparison helps. Only when there is no longer 
anything to be seen there, or when something happens in the 
room itself which forces him to turn around, will this man's at- 
tention be turned away from the world in sunshine. 

Psychology does not begin as self-observation. It ends there. 
Yes, self-observation, as possibility and fact, sets a psychological 
problem of its own. Every scientific research demands an object 
and a subject an object to be studied and a subject that tries to 
recognize its nature. The objects of the other sciences are facts 
and connections between facts in the outside world. The subject 

* Paul Moebius, Die Hoffnungslosigkeit aller Psychologie (1907), p. 12. 


is the observer, the research worker. In introspective psychology, 
the object is the investigator's own psychical processes; the sub- 
ject is himself. Here, then, is an identity of object and subject 
that is puzzling. This fact is so extraordinary that the best way 
for psychologists to deal with it was to take it for granted, with- 
out wasting any thought on it. If Aristotle's assertion that re- 
search starts with wonder is true, then it must be admitted that 
most psychologists did not bother with this superfluous emotion. 

Think of the famous inscription on the temple of Apollo at 
Delphi: "Know thyself." The statement was apparently simple 
enough. There was no mystery about one's self. What the son 
of Zeus meant seemed to be as clear as a textbook on psychology: 
Turn your attention to your own personality and know yourself. 

Today, however, we seriously doubt whether such was the real 
meaning of the admonition of the Delphic god. Oracles were full 
of obscure and double meanings. Behind those two words, 
"Know thyself," hides another idea. They impose the most diffi- 
cult task imaginable a task which something in human nature 
resists. To fulfill it a man must fight against heavy odds. The 
Delphic words do not mark the point of departure but rather the 
end of psychological research. If to know oneself were so easy, 
it need not have been put as a demand. 

William James has described the puzzling phenomenon of self- 
observation in the words, "The / observes the Me." It is obvious 
that the pre-condition for such a phenomenon observation, of 
one's own mental and emotional processesmust be a split 
within the ego. This split makes psychology possible. In fact, 
this split makes psychology necessary. If the ego were undivided, 
it could not observe itself. It would have no need to observe itself. 

Self-observation is the result of a late phase of psychology. 
Nietzsche remarked, "The Thou is older than the //' Every child 
is selfish, but it is at first not interested in itself. There is not even 
a clear-cut self. Primitive observation is directed to the person 
or the persons in the environment. There is no direct path from 
observation of others to self-observation. The Thou remains for 
a long time the only object. The / is but newly an object of 
observation so young that many psychologists had * not dis- 
covered it as an object worthy of their attention until recently. 


Your own psychical processes are inappropriate material for 
statistics, curves, graphs, tables, tests, and schedules. 
ft Where is the transition from observation of others, as we see 
it in children, to self-observation? There must be an intermediary 
phase which has been neglected. Here it is: The child realizes at 
a certain age that it is an object of observation on the part of 
its parents or nurses. Stated otherwise, the / can observe the Me 
because They She or He once observed the Me. The attention 
the persons of his environment paid to the child will be con- 
tinued by the attention that the child pays to itself. Self-observa- 
tion thus originates in the awareness of being observed. The 
intermediary stage between the observation of others and self- 
observation is thus the realization that one is observed by others. 

Where the personality is split, as in certain psychotic diseases, 
self-observation is again transformed into hallucinations of being 
permanently observed by others. In another form the phenom- 
enon of depersonalization, in which the person complains that 
he does not feel but only observes himself, reinforces this point. 
A man gives a speech and suddenly becomes aware of peculiari- 
ties in his voice, of certain gestures that he makes, of some 
personal ways of expressing himself. This awareness is not in- 
dependent of the fact that he sees or senses the impression his 
speaking or the content of his speech makes upon his audience. 
We have a good expression for this kind of recognition. The 
speaker becomes self-conscious. One does not become self-con- 
scious only in the presence of others, although that is usually 
the case. The occurrence of this reaction when one is alone is 
much more rare, and of a secondary character. 

I repeat, self-observation is not a primary phemonenon. It must 
be traced back to being observed. One part of the self observes 
another part. I assume that differences in the kind and intensity 
of this observation may be significant for the future psychological 
interests of the individual. 

A little girl I know asked her mother, "Why do you always 
smile when a lady in Central Park smiles at me?" The child 
had observed that her mother smiled at another woman who 
looked with pleasure at the pretty little girl. Such a case shows 


not so much self-observation as observation of others who react 
to one's self. 

By primitive observation the child learns early in life to in- 
terpret the reactions of his parents or nurses as expressions of 
approval or disapproval, of pleasure or annoyance. Being observed 
and later on observing oneself will never lose its connection 
with this feeling of criticism. Psychology teaches us again and 
again that self-observation leads to self-criticism, and we have 
all had opportunity to re-examine this experience. Add that self- 
observation is from its inception a result of self-criticism. This 
self-criticism continues the critical attitude of mother, father, 
or nurse. They are incorporated into the selfbecome introjected. 
Introjection, or absorption of another person into oneself, is an 
indispensable pre-condition for the possibility of self-observation. 
Without it a child cannot transform the feeling of being observed 
into self-observation. The process describes a circle: attention 
directed to external world and others; awareness of being ob- 
served, often criticized; incorporation of the observing or critical 
persons into oneself; self-observation. 

We know that many psychologists have wondered some did 
not even wonder about the possibility that the / can observe the 
Me. We see now who this observant and observing / is. It is the 
object taken into oneself, the mother, the nurse who observed the 
child. The split, which enables one to observe oneself, comes about 
through the introjection of the supervising person into oneself. We 
make one part of the self the supervisor of the other part. The ob- 
servant I is a survival of the observing mother or father. We are re- 
minded at this point of the genesis of religious belief in the 
omniscience of God, the belief that God sees everything. A little 
girl was very indignant when she heard this and said, "But that 
is very indecent of God." 

Freud once remarked that the introspective perception of one's 
own instinctual impulses finally results in inhibition of these 
tendencies. We would like to add that such self-observation of 
one's tendencies is already the result of a previous inhibition. If 
there were no memory-traces that persons in the child's environ- 
ment reacted with disapproval or annoyance, with withdrawal of 
affection, to certain instinctual expressions, no self-observation 


would develop. Let us return to our speaker. When he becomes 
self-conscious, and if this feeling reaches a certain intensity, he 
becomes embarrassed. He begins to stammer, to hesitate, to 
make slips of the tongue, to grow uncertain. That would be the 
result of the impression he gets that his speech is not being re- 
ceived with approval, but is being met with negative criticism. To 
become self-conscious means to become conscious of the negative 
attitude of others, to realize or to anticipate that the others are 
critical of one. 

Psychology makes the presence of two persons necessary even 
if it is introspection done by a researcher in a lonely study. There 
is always a second person there who observes the Me. We know 
this person was originally the father (or mother) who now con- 
tinues his existence within us. The seer of oneself has an over- 
seer; he who has received a vision of himself has taken on a 

Psychoanalysis has given a name to this invisible superintend- 
ent of the self; it calls him the superego. We thought we were 
masters in our own household until Freud discovered this in- 
specting and introspective factor, the superego the image of the 
father incorporated, taken into the self as a part of it. The 
superego is also the second person present in self-observation. 

I want to avoid the impression common among many analysts 
that the superego is a factor that only criticizes, punishes, forbids. 
If this part of ourselves, this concealed roomer in our psychical 
household, is a survival of the father and mother of our early 
childhood, he cannot have only these functions. We learn in 
psychoanalytic practice that the superego can have pity on the 
individual, and we call this experience self-pity. It is really noth- 
ing but the unconscious idea: If mother or father could see me 
in this misery, she or he would feel sorry for me. 

The superego can smile, console, and seem to say, "Take it 
easy; it isn't half as bad as you think it is." We call it humor. 
We even know situations in which the superego forgives the 
person who is aware of his misdeeds or sinfulness, and we call 
this self-forgiveness. Religion calls it grace that descends upon the 
worshiper. In many cases where we use words with "self" (like 
"self-confidence"), "self refers to the part of the person which is 


the representative of the father within him. Without knowing 
it, we mean the superego. 

The ego is primarily an organ of perception directed toward 
the outside world. It is unable to observe the self. The superego 
is the first representative of the inner world. It is the silent guide 
in the subterranean realm of our psychical life. Psychology started 
with the supervision of emotional processes by this superintend- 
ent, this proxy-parent within us. It was this factor which exam- 
ined what took place in our thought and emotional life. Its 
attention and vigilance were directed to those tendencies *and im- 
pulses that were socially disapproved. It would criticize, con- 
demn, suppress, and finally repress them. The first discoveries in 
the field of psychology were made in the service of those suppress- 
ing powers. The origin of psychology can be easily recognized in 
our psychological descriptions and judgments. Language has im- 
mortalized this origin. How do we characterize or describe a 
person? We say, for instance, that he is stubborn or avaricious or 
pedantic or kind or friendly. Does not the voice of the superego 
sound in such psychological descriptions? We want to observe 
and describe without preconceived ideas, but our miserably poor 
language forces us to put an undertone of approval or disap- 
proval into scientific statements. Psychology was for a long time 
in bondage to moralistic and religious conceptions, and the 
superego is a witness to this servitude to ideas foreign to the 
spirit of research. The superego knows more about what takes 
place in the human mind than the other parts of the ego, exactly 
as worldly-wise, clever priests often know more about people 
than people know about themselves. 

Psychology, I asserted, was at first put into the service of those 
powers that supervise the thoughts and emotions of the indi- 
vidual and of the community in order to keep away forbidden 
impulses and ideas. The psychologist was once a censor of the 
human soul; sometimes a stupid one, sometimes a wise one; 
sometimes tolerant and sometimes severe. The best way to deal 
with especially rebellious and ferocious elements is to ban 
them, to eliminate them. Thus psychology became a servant in 
the service of the repressing powers. It ignored, disavowed, and 
disowned certain tendencies within the ego. When their exist- 


ence could no longer be denied, psychology gave them other 
names, distorted their nature by classifying and describing them. 
Even when psychology apparently freed itself from the super- 
vision of the suppressing power, its attitude of liberty was an 
official one only. Proud of its independence, it continued to hold 
on to preconceived ideas. It wasand to a great extent it still is 
a situation that calls to mind the cartoon in which two men get 
into a furious argument with one shouting at the other, "You 
shut up! Don't you know that you are living in a free country?" 
That was the nature of psychology for many hundreds, perhaps 
for a couple of thousand years. 

Then there slowly came a change. It was heralded not by psy- 
chologists, or at least not by professional psychologists. It took its 
point of departure from the discovery of the hidden, disavowed, 
disowned, and forbidden tendencies. They had appeared before 
only in the plays of Shakespeare, and other poets, in novels, and 
in poems. Their voices began to be heard in the writings of 
Montaigne, of La Rochefoucauld, of Chamfort, and other, espe- 
cially French, searchers after truth. Free or freed spirits, they 
labored to unmask the hidden, to disenchant a world in bondage 
to self-deception and magic. Another part of the ego, the same that 
lent its power to the suppressed tendencies, helped now to re- 
move the chains. The great turn in modern psychology began. 
Heralded by the French moralists, it was brought to its most 
significant expression by Friedrich Nietzsche (here considered 
only as one of the great psychologists) and reached its peak in 
Sigmund Freud. 

Psychology started its research in the service of the censorship 
of the emotional life. The observing and controlling station 
within the ego called conscience (or social fear) examined the 
ideas and tendencies that should not trespass upon the land of 
conscious thoughts. Psychology in this phase of its development 
furnished a kind of alibi for these forbidden impulses. The ad- 
monition "Know thyself" was very necessary because psychology 
was then the best method by which to deceive oneself about 
oneself. Later, very late indeed, psychology realized that its task 
was the removal of repressing powers, the lifting of the ban of 
repression, the search for the forbidden forces. This was at first 


an underground movement. With Nietzsche and louder still with 
Freud, the voice of the suppressed instincts and disavowed im- 
pulses sounded from hidden recesses. The underground move- 
ment of psychology came at last into the open and made Itself 

The organ of psychological observation, and therefore of psy- 
chological research and discovery, is to be found within oneself. 
It is for this organ that I want to search in these pages, an organ 
which observes, recognizes, and discovers what happens in us. 
This organ is not yet found. It is unknown; more than that 
it is unconscious. 

It takes two to practice psychology, even psychological self- 
observation. When you want to recognize and understand what 
takes place in the minds of others, you have first to look into 
yourself. Such a searching is only possible when a division 
of yourself has preceded the observation. The premise for psycho- 
logical interest is thus a disturbance within the person. Without 
it no possibility of psychological recognition exists. Moreover the 
emotional disturbance has to be overcome to a certain degree, 
the conflict almost resolved otherwise psychological Interest 
would not arise. When a man Is very angry, he will not be in- 
clined, nor will he be able, to observe his own psychical processes. 
We would thus presuppose that Freud, who was a genius at 
psychological observation, must have been subjected to emo- 
tional conflicts of such a nature that they made psychological 
interest not only possible, but also necessary. 

We put aside here the problem of his special gifts and ask: 
What enabled Freud psychologically to make his great discover- 
ies, to solve the riddle of the dream, to penetrate into the recesses 
of human motivation; what forced him to descend into the 
netherworld of the neuroses while so many others remained on 
the surface? He himself often enough described how he came to 
the new science: "Psychoanalysis was born of medical necessity. 
It originated in the need for helping the victims of nervous 


ease to whom rest, hydropathy, or electrical treatment could 
bring no relief." These are his words.* In order to help these 
patients he had to understand their hitherto unfathomed symp- 
toms. This is the route by which Freud arrived at psychoanalysis, 
But how did psychoanalysis come to Freud? 

This question remains unanswered. Up to the present it has 
not even been asked. What were the personal motives which im- 
pelled him? What was the conflict-situation that made this psy- 
chological interest so strong, so governing, so consuming? 

The explanation Freud himself gives is, so to speak, only the 
official one. Is there another one besides? One need not preclude 
the other; they can co-exist like two rooms, in one of which a 
luster sheds its light while the other is illuminated only by a 
small candle that leaves the corners dark. 

Here we are interested only in this dark room. I once com- 
pared Freud with Rembrandt. There is no artist comparable to 
Rembrandt for exactitude of observation, but light came to him 
only as a contrast to the darkness in which great portions of his 
pictures are kept. Freud was a confessor, an autobiographer of 
admirable moral courage and frankness, but at the same time he 
kept certain personal secrets to himself. He was a self-revealer and 
a self-concealer. In a certain passage he writes of the "discretion 
which one owes also to oneself." 

This discretion was rarely breached. It was as if he felt he had 
to keep personal things to himself, even from those of us who 
were his most loyal students. In his old age he sometimes spoke 
to one or another of us almost casually of a fragment of his own 
life he had never mentioned before, as if he had suddenly tired 
of his secrecy. In his "Interpretation of Dreams," in the Psycho- 
pathology of Everyday Life and other writings, he had presented 
startling discoveries that he had made about himself, magnificent 
instances of self-analysis, forever belonging to the most precious 
self-revelations of great minds. All that psychoanalysts through- 
out the world have since written pales into insignificance beside 
those pages, distinguished by unheard-of sincerity, by an un- 
equaled moral courage, and by a cool, pitiless observation that is 

* In the Preface to my book, Ritual (New York: Farrar, Straus & Co., 1946), 
P- 7* 


always self-searching and never self-seeking. There were, however, 
limitations that he imposed on himself not because he shied 
away from certain things, but because he knew this hypocritical 
world and realized it would misunderstand or fail to understand 
his fearlessness before the shadows that fall on everybody. "The 
very best that thou dost know thou dar'st not to the striplings 
show," we often heard him quote from Goethe's Faust. 

There were self-revealing reports about suppressed and re- 
pressed emotions, conflicts, doubts, fears unearthed by the an- 
alystby Freud himself in many a book he published and in 
many a conversation with us, his students. There was always, 
however, a remarkable restraint and discretion about himself 
a distance from himself, so to speak. In a conversation with me 
he once emphasized the difference between "privata" and "priva- 
tissima," between private things you talk about when there is a 
scientific need for it, and things so private that you do not talk 
about them even when it would be valuable to discuss them. 

Is there no way that leads to this secret room now, after his 
death? Our wish to find it is not dictated by idle curiosity of a 
personal nature; no spying into Freud's secrets is intended. We 
want to discover what led him to the psychology of the neuroses. 
It is thus psychological interest of an important kind that makes 
us ask. He himself would not mind it; he often admitted that he 
felt indifferent to personal things after his death. He did not be- 
lieve in survival and immortality, and thought with Heine that 
the resurrection would be a long time in coming. 

What follows is, as far as I can see, the first attempt to discover 
what determined the intensive personal interest of Freud in the 
psychology of neuroses. The approach to the secret room is 
difficult, particularly because of his discretion. Where is it 

Most psychoanalysts have not observed that psychoanalysis 
has, so to speak, two branches. One is the research into the symp- 
tomatology and etiology of the neuroses, of hysteria, phobia, 
compulsion neuroses, and so forth. The other is the psychology 
of dreams; of the little mistakes of everyday life such as forget- 
ting, slips of the tongue, and so forth; of wit and of superstitions 
-including all that Freud called metapsychology. 


The first branch led to the contributions to the theory of sex, 
to the concept of impulses, especially of the libido. It goes in the 
direction of biology or tries to build a bridge between psychology 
and biology. It is clear that these theories are the results of ex- 
periences and observations of others. Here are the most precious 
discoveries used for the understanding of neurotic and psychotic 

The other branch concerns purely psychological phenomena, 
emotional processes no connection with biology is sought inner 
experiences of the individual, best observed by himself. Dreams, 
wit, slips of the tongue, old superstitions conflicting with our free, 
conscious thinkingall these and many other phenomena are 
analyzed by Freud mostly from instances taken from his own life. 

These two branches, it is true, are not always clearly separated. 
They sometimes appear intertwined, and deep down their two 
roots must invisibly meet; but one is bent more in the direction 
of the pathological, and the other more in the direction of gen- 
eral psychology 7 . Nevertheless, they are two clearly distinguishable 
branches. The future of psychoanalysis perhaps the future of 
psychology will depend upon the choice of the research worker 
as to which branch he considers the more important one, which 
of the two will bear better and richer fruits for future generations, 

Freud told us many times and he repeated it in his writings 
that he had no great liking for the profession of physician. The 
therapeutic ambition, the need to help sick people, was not 
strongly developed in him, and for a long time he could not 
make up his mind whether to study medicine or follow his other 
interests. He heard a lecture on an essay of Goethe's entitled 
"Nature," and this experience decided his choice. Was ever a 
profession wooed in this humor? In Freud's case it was not only 
wooed but won. He considered it, he said, a personal triumph 
that he returned on this "detour" (the study of medicine a de- 
tour!) to his first and primary wish to discover something new 
in the field of psychology. He considered himself first and last a 
psychologist, not a physician, and here is the line of demarcation 
which separates many psychoanalysts from the founder of their 
science, to whom they pay lip service and little else. 

Their concept of psychoanalysis is basically different from his. 


They consider it a branch of medicine and their memory makes 
them conveniently suppress Freud's explicit sentences. He em- 
phasized that he takes it for granted that psychoanalysis is not 
a "special branch of medicine. I cannot understand how one can 
resist recognizing that psychoanalysis is part of psychology; not 
medical psychology in the old meaning and not psychology of the 
pathological process, but pure psychology; certainly not the 
whole of psychology but its underground, perhaps its foundation. 
One should not be deceived by the possibility of its application 
to medical purposes. Electricity and X-ray are also applied to 
medicine, but the science of both remains physics. Neither can 
historical arguments change the fact that psychoanalysis belongs 
to psychology. . . , The argument has been brought forward that 
psychoanalysis was discovered by a physician in his efforts to 
help patients. But this is immaterial in its evaluation."* These 
remarks are followed by the confession that he realizes after 
forty-one years of medical practice that he has not really been a 
physician and that he became a physician professionally only by 
a deviation from his original intentions. He had, he says, passed 
all his medical examinations without having felt any interest in 
medicine; external necessity forced him to renounce a theoretical 
career. He arrived at neuropathology and finally "on account of 
new motives" at the study of the neuroses. 

Here is a purposeful rejection of the view that psychoanalysis 
is a medical science. It is, of course, possible that the majority of 
physicians in America know more and know better than the 
founder and the greatest representative of the new science what 
it is but it is rather unlikely.** 

There is a very clear warning to physicians not to consider 
Freud as one of themselves in his "Please count me out." There 
was more than the Atlantic between psychoanalysis in New 
York and psychoanalysis in Vienna. There was an ocean of dif- 
ference in the conception of it. 

What interests us at this moment is the question: What per- 

* Freud, Gesammelte Sckriften, XI, 587. 

** In one of his last letters to me dated London, July 3, 1938; Freud sharply 
criticized this concept of our New York colleagues "for whom analysis is noth- 
ing else but one of the maidservants of psychiatry." 


sonal stimulus led Freud to the research into the psychology of 
neuroses? What were the "new motives" he mentions that made 
him turn his attention in this new direction? It is clear that his 
older interest was to discover something new. He says in the 
years of his youth the wish to understand something of the mys- 
teries of the world and to contribute something to their solution 
had become especially strong. He had never played "doctor" as 
a child, and his curiosity turned in other directions. 

What follows now is my attempt to build the bridge of mo- 
tives between what we think were Freud's earlier interests and 
his later intellectual preoccupation with the problems of the 
neuroses. The bridge is narrow enough, but, it seems to me, 
capable of bearing the burden. As I have said, Freud did not 
often speak about himself and his intimate life. My impression 
is that he became more confidential after his seventieth birthday; 
at least he then told me some things about himself which I 
could never have guessed. One memory is the most important 
I accidentally met him one evening in the Kaertnerstrasse in 
Vienna and accompanied him home. We talked mostly about 
analytic cases during the walk. When we crossed a street that had 
heavy traffic, Freud hesitated as if he did not want to cross. I 
attributed the hesitancy to the caution of the old man, but to 
my astonishment he took my arm and said, "You see, there is a 
survival of my old agoraphobia, which troubled me much in 
younger years." We crossed the sti^eet and picked up our conver- 
sation after this remark, which has been casually made.* His 
confession of a lingering fear of crossing open places, his men- 
tion of this remnant of an earlier neurosis, made, of course, a 
strong impression upon me. It took me by surprise, and his 
casual way of telling it to me intensified, rather than weakened, 
my astonishment. If such a thing had been possible, the free 
admission that his neurosis had left this scar on his emotional 
life would have added to my admiration of his great personality. 

The other day Siegfried Bernfeld published a paper, "An Un- 
known Autobiographical Fragment by Freud,"** in which he 

* The scene must have taken place before 1928 because I remember that I 
saw Freud in later years only at his home. 

** The American Imago (August, 1946), IV, No. i. 


showed that an article of Freud's on screen-memories contains a 
piece of self-analysis, in this case disguised in the form of a re- 
port about a patient. This analysis concerns a man of thirty- 
eight years "who had maintained an interest in psychological 
problems in spite of his entirely different profession." Freud as- 
serts that he "had been able to relieve him of a slight phobia 
through psychoanalysis." Bernfeld proves by means of a careful 
examination of details that this unknown patient is Freud him- 
self disguised. Freud used the same method of speaking of him- 
self as of another person when he wanted to disguise his identity 
in another paper later on.* Bernfeld, when he published his 
paper, did not know of Freud's remark made in that conversation 
with me. 

What interests us here is not the biographical significance of 
Freud's phobia itself, but the fact that it reveals the hidden miss- 
ing link between his primarily psychological interests and his 
later occupation with the neuroses. Here is the personal motive 
that made necessary for him the understanding of neurotic dis- 
turbances. In addition to the wish to help nervous patients, 
there was the demand: Physician, heal yourself. In this case the 
postulate took the form: Physician, understand your own symp- 
toms and your own disease. But such an understanding was im- 
possible without self-analysis, which could not remain restricted 
to the symptoms only. From here on we can apply the explana- 
tion given by Freud of his own case as a general one. He de- 
scribed how psychoanalysis led away from the study of the 
nervous conditions "in a degree surprising to the physician/* 
how it had to concern itself with emotions and passions, how it 
learned to recognize the significance of memories and the strength 
of unconscious wishes.** "For a time it appeared to be the fate 
of psychoanalysis to be incorporated in the field of psychology 
without being able to indicate in what way the mind of the sick 
patient differed from that of the normal person." In the course 
of the development of psychoanalysis, Freud declares, it came 
upon the problem of the dream, which is "an abnormal mental 

* Freud, "Der Moses des Michelangelo," Gesammelte Schriften (1914), X, 

** In Freud's preface to my Ritual, p. 7 ff. 


product created by normal people." In solving the enigma of the 
dream, "it found in unconscious mentality the common ground 
in which the highest as well as the lowest mental impulses are 
rooted, and from which arise the most normal mental activities 
as well as the strange mechanisms of a diseased mind. The picture 
of the mental mechanisms of the individual now becomes clearer 

and more complete " 

Freud himself clearly realized the connection between the in- 
terest necessitated in the first instance by his own neurosis and 
that arising from his concern with general pathology and psychol- 
ogy. The dream and certainly also wit and the little mistakes 
belonging to the psychopathology of everyday lifesecured the 
bridge from one shore to the other. The analysis of these phe- 
nomena presented the clue to the secret room of his own mental 
life. In helping himself he brought understanding, help, and re- 
covery to thousands of others. When he learned to recognize the 
meaning, hidden to himself before, of what took place behind 
the fa$ade of his own conscious thinking, the meaning of un- 
conscious processes of all people dawned upon him. He could not 
have discovered the most valuable secrets of the human mind had 
he not found them in himself first. 

Everybody who has read Freud's most important works knows 
that these insights were reached by analysis of his own dreams, 
his own slips of the tongue, and so forth. They were arrived at by 
self-observation and self-recognition, directed by an extraordinar- 
ily fine ear for his inner voices. When, later on, observation of 
others and research into other minds were added, comparison 
with his own emotional processes helped him to understand 
others. Criticism of premature analogies, of conclusions too 
quickly reached, corrected such comparisons and led to deeper 
insights, made recognition richer and extended it beyond the 
frontiers of Freud's ego; but the first and most important source 
of psychological understanding remained this self-observing fac- 
tor in the psychoanalysis of himself. 

Here are the results to which these introductory remarks in- 
evitably lead, results that separate me from the majority of 
psychoanalysts in this country: psychoanalysis is psychology. Its 
application in the service of the therapy of neuroses and psy- 


choses means making use of a method that is purely psychological 
in origin and nature. The most important and the most valuable 
insights of psychoanalysis are found by self-analysis. Wherever 
and whenever psychoanalysis makes really important scientific 
progress, it will be accomplished by an experience in which self- 
analysis plays the greatest role. No deep insight into human 
minds is possible without unconscious comparison with our own 
experiences. The decisive factor in understanding the meaning 
and the motives of human emotions and thoughts is something in 
the person of the observer, of the psychologist himself. 

The following pages will, I hope, show to what important sci- 
entific consequences our first conclusions will lead. Before that 
I must, however, point out what will forever separate Freud's 
way from that of other psychoanalysts, setting aside now the 
differences between a great man and mediocre minds. His dis- 
coveries were made by himself. They were therefore not only a 
personal experience of unique value but also a triumph compa- 
rable to that of the greatest inventors we know. They were the 
triumph of a mind in search of itself, which, in reaching its aims, 
discovered the laws governing the emotional processes of all 
minds. We learn these discoveries with the help of books and 
lectures; we make them again, rediscover them, when we are in 
the process of analysis that is, when we are analyzed or when 
we analyze others. Our psychoanalytic institutes seem to be un- 
aware of the fact that being analyzed cannot compete in experi- 
ence value with unearthing these insights oneself. The one ex- 
perience cannot be likened to the other. It remains for us a poor 
substitute, a second or third best. It is ridiculous to consider 
one's own psychoanalysis as equivalent to the original experience. 
One's own psychoanalysis however important, indeed indis- 
pensable, for the understanding of oneself and others is, of 
course, not comparable to the process by which Freud arrived at 
his results by a heroic mental deed, by a victory over his own 
inner reluctances and resistances. When we are analyzed by others, 
it is an entirely different process, induced from outside even 
when we ask for it ourselves. It lacks the intimacy and the depth 
of experience felt in discovering one's secrets oneself. Nothing 
said to us, nothing we can learn from others, reaches so deep as 


that which we find in ourselves. The most a psychoanalyst can 
do for the patient and for the student is to act the mental mid- 
wife or obstetrician. Everybody has to bring his own child into 
the world. The psychoanalyst can help only in the delivery; he 
can mitigate the labor pains. He cannot influence the organic 
process of birth either in himself or in others. 

Many psychoanalysts who train psychiatrists think that the 
analysis of the students is sufficient. They are so sadly mistaken 
that it is not even funny. As if being analyzed were enough of an 
emotional and mental experience to become a psychoanalyst! 
As if this other, more penetrating experience to arrive oneself at 
psychological insight into oneself were superfluous! Or do they 
really think that study, attending courses and seminars, can be a 
substitute for self-acquired knowledge? It is as if listening to a 
poem were psychologically equivalent to writing the same poem. 
If being analyzed is not continued and supplemented by a man's 
own creative experience in finding himself, without the guidance 
and supervision of a psychoanalyst, it remains an isolated ex- 
perience, which has no deep roots in himself and bears no rich 
fruit. Of the psychoanalyst, too, it may be said: By their fruits ye 
shall know them. ; 

I said before that I do not share the belief of many psycho- 
analysts that the most valuable things in psychoanalysis can be 
learned. They can only be experienced. I am certainly far from 
underestimating the requirement that everybody who studies 
psychoanalysis be analyzed. This demand appears to me as im- 
perative as it does to them, my stepbrothers in Apollo. But I do 
not agree with them that one's personal experience of psycho- 
analysis is finished with this process. I would almost say it begins 
with it. If there is any possibility of coming even close to the 
neighborhood of Freud's original experience, it can only be by 
a self-analysis that follows the process of being analyzed, con- 
tinues and completes it. 

Let me explain what I mean with the help of a comparison. A 
young man decides to become an actor. Reading the classical 
authors he becomes convinced he will one day act Hamlet, 
Othello, Faust. He has to learn to act; he goes to the best dra- 
matic academy and is trained by the best teachers. He is taught 


how to pronounce words, to achieve the right intonation, to 
time sentences, to speak verses, and to give them their actor's 
due. He learns how to move on the stage. Now when he speaks 
Hamlet's great monologue, when as Faust he discusses ethical and 
religious subjects with Mephistopheles, he knows how to apply 
what he has learned, how to give emphasis and theatrical effect 
to his acting. For all that, he may remain a bad or mediocre 
actor who fails to strike a chord in us, the people sitting in the 
theater. What must be added, i he wants to reach us emotionally, 
to make us believe him? 

It seems to me that two more steps, one negative and one posi- 
tive, must be taken. The actor should, when he walks out upon 
the stage, forget what he has studied at the academy. He must 
brush it aside as if it had never been there. If he cannot neglect 
it now, in the moment of real performance if it has not gone 
deep enough so that he can afford to neglect it then his training 
wasn't good enough. If he has to consciously think and remember 
how he should speak, move, make gestures, he had better give 
up his career. 

What he has been taught has by now readied tissues so deep 
and I mean this literally: his nerve tissues in both brain and 
body that he can afford to act as if he had never seen the inside 
of a dramatic academy. 

The man in the audience takes the technical routine for 
granted and looks for something more: that the actor recover 
the essential part of the emotion that made him want to be an 
actor in the first place. On stage, in other words, he becomes 
Hamlet or Faust, feels what they feel. He must be transformed 
into Hamlet or Faust when he acts them. There is only one way 
for such a thing to happen. He has to feel again and anew what 
he felt and experienced when he met Hamlet and Faust the first 
time in a book or at the theater as the case may be. Otherwise 
he will never touch us; he will leave his audience cold. 

Psychoanalysts are like actors applying what they have learned 
in the academy. I know psychoanalysts who to continue my 
comparison have not learned enough at school. And I know a 
second group technically perfect but with no style of their own. 
They are unable to recapture the zeal of their first experiences. 


Finally, I know the rare psychoanalysts the masters who have 
studied their field thoroughly and behave in the manner of 
sovereigns, rulers of the stage whom nobody can think of as 
previous students of an academy. 

This analogy is as valid for analytic self-recognition as for the 
analysis of others. No good psychoanalyst has to think back 
consciously to what he learned from his own analysis. Nobody 
can be a good analyst for whom analysis of himself or others- 
has lost the value of a personal experience, of a search and 

Apply this test to the field of psychoanalytic writing, and what 
do you get? There are papers published in psychoanalytic maga- 
zines nowadays that are as far from personal experience as Sirius 
is from our planet. Sterility in psychoanalytic research, its dis- 
tance from men's lives, has gone so far that some of the papers 
look like mathematical operations purely formalized thinking 
in its most abstract form. Reading such papers, I sometimes 
wonder if many analysts haven't taken a common and solemn 
vow to stay awake while reading them. It would take a wilder 
fantasy than any Shakespeare dreamed to imagine that the in- 
vestigator got his results by way of experience. Science practiced 
this way remains science for science' sake; it can have no practical 
outcome. Nothing that does not originate in an experience can 
become an experience for others. 

The element of personal experience can, of course, remain 
hidden. It may not appear, but it will be felt in the quality of 
the psychoanalyst's work, whether in practice or in his research. 
I therefore repeat: By their fruits ye shall know them. 

The overvaluation of intelligence among cultured people in 
our country has reached a frightening degree. Not only our 
public schools and our colleges and universities but also our re- 
search institutes give the impression that the intelligence test is 


the only criterion of man's mental endowment. It is as if intelli- 
gence, nowadays called "smartness," were the one and only 
decisive factor in measuring or in evaluating a person's qualities. 
It is as if other gifts were not even to be considered; as if imagi- 
nation, moral courage, creative faculties were of no importance. 
I am convinced that Beethoven had a lower I.Q. than a bank 
director, but I am willing to exchange all bank directors for the 
one Beethoven. One is inclined to believe that Mozart's I.Q. was 
not equal to that of many college graduates. It was, I am sure, 
even lower than that of most psychoanalysts. 

This general, silly overvaluation of mere Intelligence has led 
to a misconception about the origin of psychoanalysis or about 
Freud's way of discovering it. The first is that this new research 
method was discovered by hard and penetrating thinking, by a 
great intellectual effort. Freud in his incomparable sincerity 
denied it energetically. He emphasized again and again that he 
was led to his most important discoveries by a prejudice, a pre- 
conceived opinion. He used the German "Vorurteil" which 
really means "pre-notion" or "pre-judgment" What he really 
meant can be better expressed by the English word "hunch." 
What is a hunch? It seems to me that it is an impression reached 
by intuition, a kind of foreknowledgesensing something rather 
than knowing it or judging it by means of reason. The birth of 
psychoanalysis out of a hunch that is perhaps not a comfortable 
idea for us scientific minds, for us psychoanalysts. But the birth- 
place of an idea is not the decisive factor. Jesus was born in a 
stable and his idea conquered the world. 

As a matter of psychological fact, many of the greatest dis- 
coveries and inventions originated as hunches, as every textbook 
on the history of science reveals. Freud stated again and again 
that he gained his best insights by trusting to hunches. He did 
not agree with the accepted opinion of the scholars that the 
dream is only a physiological process, but with the average man 
and woman on the street that it has a secret meaning and can be 
interpreted. He had another hunch: he did not accept the official 
view of the physicians who explained hysteria as a physically de- 
termined disease, but thought of it as resulting from emotional 


conflicts* He felt that the generally valid theory of psychiatry did 
not explain the genesis and the nature of the neuroses, but he 
preferred rather the concept of the uncultured masses who con- 
sidered neurosis as an emotional disturbance. He generally pre- 
ferred concepts in the field of psychology that nobody took seri- 
ously. He was not afraid to remain in the minority, and his strong 
will as well as his moral courage enabled him not to give a 
tinker's damn about what the majority of his professional col- 
leagues thought of him and his new views. For us psychoanalysts 
it is hopeless, of course, to try to emulate Freud's genius and men- 
tal endowments. We should, however, at least wish to emulate 
him with regard to his fearlessness, his moral courage, his readi- 
ness to suffer for his convictions and to remain lonely. Alas, I see 
very few signs of such a wish among psychoanalysts today. 

The technique of psychoanalysis as we know it at present was 
born as a hunch about the essential nature of the dream and the 
neuroses. The simple and leading thought, which seems to be so 
near now and was so far from the minds of Freud's contem- 
poraries, is that men reveal themselves all their emotional secrets 
when they talk freely about themselves; not just when they talk 
about their secret^ but about everything concerning themselves. 
They give away what bothers them, disturbs and torments them, 
all that occupies their thoughts and arouses their emotions even 
when they would be most unwilling to talk directly about these 

Freud has said that mortals are not made to keep a secret and 
that self-betrayal oozes from all their pores. The ego has built 
mighty defenses against the forbidden impulses that drive and 
push to gain some measure of expression. They are pressed into 
oblivion, into the dark abyss of rejected and condemned emo- 
tions and thoughts. They are disavowed, banned, and outlawed, 
and live in the netherworld, never to be mentioned. In panic 
fear of their power, man has rolled obstacles as strong as the Rock 
of Gibraltar before the door to prevent their return. They betray 
themselves, nevertheless, and give notice of their subterranean 
existence and activity in little, unsuspected signs, words, and 
gestures. They give themselves away in spite of shame and fear. 
The old Negro spiritual knows it: 


.... I went to de rock 

To hide my face, 

De rock cried out, "No faidin* place, 

Dere's no hidin' place down dere." 

Here are the roots of that basic rule of psychoanalytic tech- 
nique, the only rule which the student or patient need promise 
to follow. At first hearing it sounds simple enough. Yes, one can- 
not easily imagine that there could be anything simpler than to 
say just what occurs to you. But how difficult it is! How much 
training, what a long will-training will be necessary, not to reach, 
but merely to approach this aim! 

The basic rule is known by the name of free association. 
Modern writers like to speak of the "stream of consciousness." 
The comparison is not without merit, but it has its demerits too. 
The stream sometimes changes into a sea that threatens to drown 
the person. Sometimes it degenerates and declines into a trickle 
and it often seems to run dry. It is, it seems, a peculiar kind of 

What course this stream takes was, of course, recognized by 
psychology and formulated in the shape of laws of thought-asso- 
ciation long ago. We are following certain laws when we think of 
an apple, a garden, blossomtime, or of an apple and apple strudel 
in succession; when we look at a portrait and think of the person 
who posed for it; when we smell something and think of a cer- 
tain dish. We are as obedient to these laws of association as when 
we think of cold-hot or low-high. Freud had a hunch that this 
stream had undercurrents to be investigated that determined its 
course to an even greater extent perhaps than the factors then 
known to psychology. These undercurrents are the unconscious 
impulses and interests, the repressed emotions of men. Free asso- 
ciations are only free on the surface. They are dictated by a 
power behind the throne of reason. 

Freud followed his hunch. He asked his patients to say what- 
ever occurred to them without any exception and without using 
the censorship to which we submit our thoughts otherwise. In 
general we try to follow a certain direction in speaking. We teed 
to speak logically and to the point (the effort frequently fails, as 


the speeches of our senators show). The patient in psychoanalysis 
should say what occurs to him without such order and restriction. 
He should jump about in his thoughts. 

We might contrast the different types of mental activity thus: 
Thinking is like marching on the beaten path of custom to a cer- 
tain aim; saying what comes into one's mind is like walking 
about without any destination. But are not the two ways of men- 
tal activity mutually exclusive? Certainly not; there is room 
enough for both in our psychical life. They take place in different 
layers. It is possible that on the fourth floor of a building a 
pianist is practicing a Clementi sonata, while another artist in a 
room in the basement is playing a Beethoven sonata. They do not 
disturb each other as long as they do not hear each other. 

It is obvious that the two ways of thinking have separate realms, 
with a border between them that neither may cross without creat- 
ing disturbances of one kind or another. A corporation lawyer 
would reach no satisfactory result were he to follow every fancy 
in thinking about a difficult legal problem. A poet, on the other 
hand, would write a very poor poem if he were to examine each 
metaphor in his love poem to see whether it met the tests of strict 
logic. One way of thinking is not appropriate in the first case, 
the other would have no place in the second. The lawyer will do 
his work best when he thinks and concludes logically and uses all 
the reason at his disposal. The poet cannot write his verses after 
long reflection and mature consideration. If he should meditate 
and ponder about the expression of his feelings, they would lose 
all spontaneity. The French poet, Paul Vatery, said that thinking 
or reflecting means to lose the thread, "perdre le fil" The lawyer 
thinks he has lost the thread if he follows a capricious idea, a 
whim, while working on his brief. One man's meat is another 
man's poison. 

Is it not easy simply to tell what occurs to you? Should it not 
be very easy to speak without order and logical connection, to 
say everything that flashes through your mind without rhyme or 
reason? No, it is rather difficult; it is more like a steeplechase than 
a flat course. Every minute a new obstacle blocks your way. You 
will be surprised by the kinds of thoughts that occur to you. You 
will not only be surprised; you will be ashamed and sometimes 


even afraid of them. More than the conventions of society has to 
be thrown overboard when you want to say everything that occurs 
to you. Fear and shame, which is perhaps a special kind of fear 
itself, have to be discarded before you can succeed. Thoughts and 
impulses concerning sexual and toilet activities and needs are not 
easy to utter. Mean, aggressive, and hostile tendencies especially 
against persons near and dear to us are difficult to admit. 

It would, however, be erroneous to assume that those tenden- 
cies are the only ones that are hard to confess. An analyst often 
makes the surprising discovery that a man is more ready to talk 
about a perversion than about a tender feeling he has had. In one 
of Zola's novels a defendant is willing to speak in a matter-of-fact 
way about a lust murder he has committed, but is hindered by 
shame from admitting that he once kissed the stocking of a 
woman. Often a petty or trivial thought is much harder to tell 
than a mean deed. The psychoanalyst finds men are often more 
ashamed to speak about ideas they consider stupid or supersti- 
tious than about impulses that they condemn as criminal or anti- 

But why enumerate and evaluate all the hindrances and ob- 
stacles in the road, when a simple experiment can convince the 
reader how difficult the task is? The experiment, it is true, is not 
equivalent to the real psychoanalytic situation; but it has some 
of its elements and it has the advantage that it can be made here 
and now. The reader is invited to take paper and pencil and to 
write down whatever occurs to him during the next half hour. 
He should eliminate all censorship of his thoughts while he 
writes, take no consideration of logic, esthetics, or morals, and 
concentrate only on jotting down what occurs to him, lost to the 
social world that at other times dictates his train of thought. If 
he is sincere with himself and overcomes all tendencies seeking 
to prevent him from writing down all his thoughts, whether they 
are clever or silly, conventional or indecent, important or trivial, 
without bothering about their order, aim, and connections, with- 
out selection or censorship-just as if they had been dictated to 
him by another person he has done a good job. He should then 
put the written sheets into a drawer and leave the room. When he 
takes them out the next day and carefully reads them, he will 


meet a person there who reminds him of himself in many ways 
but is in other ways an unknown man. Was it he who thought all 
that? Here is a new 7 to whom he gets introduced. 

Today the experiment can be considerably improved, thanks 
to an instrument that modern invention has provided. This in- 
strument is called the dictaphone. When one speaks all that one 
thinks into a dictaphone for an hour under the conditions just 
mentioned and disconnects the instrument, one has the possibility 
of listening in comfort to one's thoughts the next day, as one 
might listen to a third person. The advantages compared with 
writing are clear. The road from thought to speech is shorter 
than from thinking to writing. It is really a return to the original, 
because what we think is only what we say within ourselves with- 
out pronouncing the words. Everybody has observed that many 
people make mouth movements as if they would speak when they 
read and even when they write. The spoken words have an emo- 
tional quality different from the words that have only been 
thought. The Catholic church does not recognize a confession 
which is only thought or written down. The confession must be 
vocalis, spoken; is must be articulated, vocalized. A comparison 
between written and thought words shows that the effect of artic- 
ulate speech is different not only upon the hearer but also upon 
the speaker himself. I know a girl who said, "I never know what 
I think until I hear myself saying it." The advantage of the dicta- 
phone is that one can "hear oneself think." Such experiments 
can, of course, never replace the psychoanalytic situation, but 
they can convince the skeptic that he has thoughts and impulses 
that are unknown to him. There are hidden roomers that live 
in his mental house without being registered. 

There are certain other conditions necessary; certain require- 
ments have to be fulfilled before such experiments can even ap- 
proach an elementary self-analysis, but one thing is clear: a 
person has to become at least capable of making such an experi- 
ment before he can hope to "analyze himself/' 

Anybody who tries the experiment will soon realize that one 
quality is more important than any other in psychoanalysis: 
moral courage. This quality and this alone enabled Freud, as he 


once emphatically stated,* to make his most valuable discoveries. 
Many psychoanalysts think that their intellectual endowments 
qualify them especially for their profession. The truth is that 
every psychoanalyst with a long experience has had patients who 
were intellectually his superiors by far; and every psychoanalyst 
will be ready to admit that to himself. I have had the good luck 
to treat and to help men who were famous as writers and scien- 
tists, and I have often had the opportunity to admire their genius. 
Two factors render the analyst in the situation in the consulting 
room an authority. The first his knowledge and experience in 
psychology could be acquired easily by every one of his gifted 
patients. The other factor is the moral courage that enables the 
psychoanalyst to face in others as well as in himself unpleasant 
and repressed thoughts and tendencies, which the patient in his 
present situation avoids. To help the patient stand his ground 
before these impulses and ideas is the most important part of the 
analyst's task. The analyst plays the role of the midwife in help- 
ing to bring those unborn thoughts and impulses to the daylight 
of conscious processes and to convince the patient that they have 
a right to exist and to be considered. 

The psychoanalyst himself is subject to the same dangers as 
his patient: to disavow and repress thoughts and impulses he does 
not want to realize in himself, to play hide-and-seek with himself. 
Every analyst should put himself to the test periodically to deter- 
mine how sincere he can be with himself. Such self-analysis will 
teach him a lesson he will remember whenever he is inclined to 
become impatient with the patient's resistance against recognizing 
some unpleasant truths. Such self-managed experiments will re- 
mind him that he has much to learn and recognize about himself 
long in many cases even a few decades after he was analyzed by 
another. Only superficial and shallow thinking can make an 
analyst believe that he knows himself thoroughly and that he does 
not need any added analysis to become acquainted with himself. 
He will experience some surprises whenever he faces himself. 
Meeting oneself is rarely a pleasant experience even for the psy- 

* Freud, "Josef Popper-Lynkeus und die Theorie des Traumes," Gesam- 
melte Schriften, XI, 297. 


Every experience of this kind will bring him new insights and 
added psychological knowledge brought up from the deep wells 
of his emotional life. At this point I hear a voice saying, "It is 
easy enough to give advice that one is unwilling to take oneself." 

I accept the challenge and interrupt my writing to subject my- 
self to the experiments. 

What are my thoughts at this moment? I see the pussy willows 
on my bookcase ... a prehistoric vase . . . spring, youth, old 
age ... regrets ... the books ... the Encyclopedia of Ethics 
and Religion ... the book I did not finish. ... My eyes wan- 
der to the door. ... A photograph of Arthur Schnitzler on the 
wall ... my son Arthur ... his future . . . the lamp on the 
table. . . . What a patient had said about the lamp once when 
it was without a shade ... the table ... it was not there a few 
years ago ... my wife bought it ... I did not want to spend 
the money at first . . . she bought it nevertheless. . . . 

These are my thoughts as I should tell them to a person in the 
room to whom I have to report them the moment they occur. It is 
clear that most of them are determined by the objects I see; the 
connections between them seem to be made only by the sight of 
the objects and by thoughts of the persons they remind me of. 
Some, as for instance the two sequences, Encyclopedia of Ethics 
and Religion the book I did not finish and pussy willows spring 
old age regrets, do not follow the same laws of association, it 
would seem. 

But are they really my thoughts? Aren't they rather abbrevia- 
tions, clues to my thoughts, not the thoughts themselves? As such, 
they give nothing but the most superficial information about 
what I was thinking. If I want to tell what I really thought, I 
shall have to fill the gaps between these clues, put flesh on this 
skeleton. Here is what I really thought (and not all, not by a 
long shot, but enough to make me realize what occupies me at 
this moment). 

I see the pussy willows on my bookcase . . . they are in a pre- 
historic vase that I brought with me when I came from Austria 
. . . the flowers remind me of my youth in Vienna ... I am get- 
ting old ... I regret that I have not enjoyed my youth more 
... I remember a joke I heard from Dr. S. when I last saw him: 


"When one is six years old, one thinks the penis is there for 
urinating; when one is sixty, one knows it." . . . unpleasant 
thoughts about impotence, which threatens with old age ... re- 
turn of the regrets that I have not enjoyed my younger years sex- 
ually ... a French proverb: "Si jeunesse savait si vieillesse pou- 
vait" ("If youth but knew, if old age but could") ... I try to 
console myself ... I worked, I achieved something ... I 
wrote many books . . . how many? Twenty? Thirty? . . . the 
Encyclopedia of Ethics and Religion reminds me of the second 
volume of my Psychological Problems of Religion which is not 
finished . . . without saying it 1 promised Freud to continue the 
studies . . . the door , . . leaving . . . dying . . . the photo- 
graph of Arthur Schnitzler ... I remember him and I see him 
as I took a walk with him in Vienna on the Sommerhaidenweg 
... we lived in the same street and my son was named after Mm 
... I once wished that Arthur would become a writer like Arthur 
Schnitzler, whom I loved. . . . Schnitzler was once a physician 
but he left his practice because he preferred writing ... I hoped 
my son would study medicine; that was in Holland, but he had 
to break off his studies and preferred to become a bookseller . . . 
perhaps he would not have finished his studies even if the Nazis 
had not come ... a slight disappointment, because I wanted 
him to have a brilliant career . . . will he succeed in his pro- 
fession? . . . the son of Arthur Schnitzler occurs to me ... his 
name is Heinrich. . . . Like my son he is now in this country. I 
have not heard anything about him for a long time. Perhaps he is 
in Hollywood. His father may have wished another career for his 
son, too. I am sure he did not like Hollywood. I remember his 
blue eyes, his gray beard ... the story I heard in Vienna when 
Heinrich, Arthur Schnitzler's son, was in the first grade of public 
school. The teacher had asked the boys whether they knew who 
Goethe was. No one knew, but little Heinrich said, "I am not 
certain but I believe he is a colleague of my father." . . . Clever 
saying of my son Arthur when he was a child. Once after listening 
to a concerto by Mozart, he asked his mother, "Is he not called 
Mozart because his music is so zart?" (German for "gentle, fine, 
delicate") . . . affection for Arthur ... his passionate interest 
in music. ... It used to worry me, he seemed 100 interested. 


Grillparzer (the great Austrian poet) said about his sweetheart, 
"She gets drunk on music as another on wine." ... I once hoped 
Arthur would become a composer ... he showed a great musical 
gift but like myself was too lazy to study an instrument ... I 
remember that as a small boy he sang tunes from the symphonies 
of Mahler ... he loves this composer as I do ... the lamp on 
the table ... it is a big lamp with curves . . . once the shade 
was broken and the bulb was visible ... a lady who was a pa- 
tient of mine at the time said, "The lamp looks so nude." . , . 
the table on which the lamp stands was not there ... my wife 
suggested that we buy a table for this place near the wall ... I 
thought it unnecessary and did not want to spend the money . . . 
we have so little money . . . my wife did not argue, but a few 
weeks later the table was there and the lamp stood on it ... she 
got around me ... am I henpecked or indulgent? . . . 

Here are my thoughts, and not all the thoughts at that. Many 
I have skipped because, as Freud once said, one owes discretion 
even to oneself. There are other associations that do not appeal 
here because I owe discretion to my wife, my son, and other per- 
sons who would otherwise be mentioned in this report. It also 
does not put my train of thought to good account because it con- 
siders only what takes place in the center of my mental activity. 
It does not take the marginal thoughts into account and does 
not consider the fringes of my thoughts. I would have to write 
many more pages if I wanted to report them too. When I thought 
of Arthur, for instance, a memory flashed through my mind. In a 
moment the image of his mother, whom he resembles, occurred 
to me. I remembered a conversation we had when he was a small 
boy. I had even then expressed my ambitious hopes for his future, 
but my wife said she wished only for his happiness. Here my 
thoughts turned in the direction of the contrast of fame and 
achievement with happiness. Arthur Schnitzler was not happy al- 
though he was very famous at the time my son was born and 
named after him. 

Such thoughts really belong to the essential psychical process 
and should not be excluded from this report, especially since they 
touch a problem that has occupied me in the last few years (see 
the regrets about my youth which is gone). 


How does the name Mahler occur in this train of thought? Ap- 
parently only on account of the fact that my son, when only a small 
boy, was able to remember many tunes from Mahler's symphonies. 
Between the reported associations there were at least two other con- 
nections that I have neglected to give here; one superficial and 
the other reaching into deeper layers. First the other photograph, 
beside the one of Arthur Schnitzler, that hangs on the wall is 
that of Gustav Mahler. This association seems to correspond with 
the laws of association which W. Wundt and other psychologists 
follow. Not so the second association: both men lived many years 
in the Vienna of my youth without having met, until Schnitzler 
expressed what a deep impression Mahler's Sixth Symphony had 
made upon him. My son Arthur and I attended a performance of 
this symphony together in Vienna. 

Here we meet the factor of over-determination of associations. 
This means that many threads connect one thought with the 
preceding and the following ones. As a matter of fact, no descrip- 
tion can give a full account of this over-determination because 
it is not possible to describe the simultaneous interplay of 
thoughts moving on different levels. One must change simultane- 
ousness into succession, and the dimensions of surface and depth 
in the psychical process can only be hinted at. 

It is also difficult to give an adequate impression of the rich 
life on the margins and fringes of the thoughts. I shall give only 
one instance: at a certain point in my thoughts the name Goethe 
appeared (little Heinrich Schnitzler said in public school that he 
thought Goethe was a colleague of his father). But this was not 
the first time a memory of Goethe occurred in my train of 
thought. It was there before, although only on the fringes of the 
process: When I thought of my son's not continuing his studies, 
I thought also that his engagement to a Dutch girl and his early 
marriage had a share in his decision; and mysteriously a half- 
forgotten line from Goethe's Hermann and Dorothea occurred. 
There the mother of the son wishes that he would marry "so that 
the night will become a beautiful part of thy life." Here, con- 
nected with Goethe is an allusion to the sexual motive of 
marriage. The other obvious thread to Goethe is the name of 
Sdinitzler's son. Heinrich is the name of Faust, the hero of 


Goethe's tragedy, whose verses accompanied my own youth. From 
this point thoughts branched off to my psychoanalytic study of 
Goethe, to my ambitions and hope that Farrar, Straus will pub- 
lish the book in an English translation in 1949, when the nations 
of the world celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of Goethe's 
birth . . . doubts whether I will live so long . . . my heart ail- 
ment . . . Schnitzler died of a heart disease. 

There are further precursors and lingering notes in the train of 
thought that are not considered in my report above. On the walk 
on the Sommerhaidenweg in Vienna, Schnitzler and I had talked 
about marriage. He had married a girl who was much younger 
than himself. Here thoughts went forth to my second wife, whom 
I married after my first wife, Arthur's mother, died. But this same 
road, the Sommerhaidenweg, plays a part in Schnitzler's Der Weg 
ins Freie ("The Way into the Open") a novel which discusses 
the Jewish problem. It was partly the influence of the Nazi 
danger that made my son decide to leave Europe here is the 
Jewish problem again. 

There are further thoughts connections that I have not given 
their psychological due because the explanation would take too 
long, psychologically important and informative as they are. I 
can give only two instances. I remembered Arthur's bright remark 
about Mozart; then followed my thought that my son is too 
interested in music; and then Grillparzer's words about the pas- 
sionate love of his girl friend Kathi for music. The associative 
threads seem clear enough; the links are all there. But to appre- 
ciate the inner operations of the mind, one should follow the 
connections between the names Mozart and Grillparzer. Grill- 
parzer appears here, in his characterization of Kathi Froehlich's 
enthusiasm, almost as an opponent of music, as I myself am op- 
posed to my son's overfondness for this art. But Grillparzer was 
himself a music lover. He played the piano excellently, worshiped 
the great classical masters, often talked with Beethoven, for whom 
he prepared a libretto for an opera. He wrote the speech that was 
spoken at Beethoven's grave, over which he wept with many 
another Viennese. 

It must be psychologically determined that Grillparzer appears 
here as a contrast to Mozart, whom he adored. The justified criti- 


cism of Kathi Froehlich's musical enthusiasm is not sufficient to 
make a bridge between Mozart and Grillparzer. The bridge was 
prepared in my thoughts long before this particular train of 
thought. It was not built on the spur of the moment; it has been 
there since my youth. Like all boys who attended college in 
Vienna, I read most of Grillparzer's plays and knew much about 
his life. To tell the truth, I never liked the man, although we 
were educated to see in him the great poet of our Austria. As an 
expression of this concealed dislike, I discovered in my college 
years an inclination to forget the year of his birth, and I once 
got a bad mark in an examination on account of it But an ac- 
cident helped me keep this date (1791) in memory with such 
certainty that I know it even now, many years later. My dislike 
for Grillparzer was not greater than my love for another Austrian, 
Mozart, who died in the year Grillparzer was born. By a simple 
mnemonic device that coupled the disliked date, which one is 
inclined to forget, with another that reminded me of a loved 
personality, I succeeded in retaining 1791 as Grillparzer's birth 

My second instance of a marginal association was a visual 
image. Remembering Schnitzler, I recalled suddenly a caricature 
of him that appeared in a Vienna newspaper on the occasion of 
his sixtieth birthday. The cartoon, teasing rather than malicious, 
shows the writer comfortably smoking his cigar. The rings that 
the smoke makes seem to transform themselves into seductive 
faces and bodies of beautiful women. The writer of Hands 
Around looks thoughtfully at these rings as if absorbed in en- 
joyable memories. The caption expresses his thoughts: "Oh, my, 
those were times 1" 

Clearly the memory of the cartoon, which I saw only once al- 
most twenty-five years before (Schnitzler was sixty years old in 
1922), did not occur merely because my glance had fallen on his 
photograph. If the reader will again follow my previous thoughts, 
he will meet ideas about my own age, then regrets about my 
youth and some unpleasant thoughts about the threat of sexual 
impotency. Here are the highly personal associative threads. In 
the memory of the caricature with its delicate reminder of fading 
youth and sexual power, there is an echo that resounds and re- 


echoes subterraneous thoughts about myself, which have built 
a bridge of associations to the writer because I am now myself 
near the age he was when we were friends. 

I have given here the main thoughts that crossed my mind in 
those few minutes of the experiment, which was made on the spur 
of the moment. It was, of course, impossible to give the reader 
even a vague idea of the emotions that, distinct or vague, diluted 
or concentrated, accompanied this train of thought. Words like 
"regret over my youth, which is gone," "memory of my wife, who 
died," or "tenderness for Arthur when he was a small boy" are 
hints at those emotions rather than expressions of their nature. 

If I had these thoughts during an analytic session, my psycho- 
analyst would certainly get an impression of what these emotions 
.accompanying my thoughts were. Intonation, changes of my voice, 
the rise and fall of the sentences, as well as pauses and other signs 
would betray not only what I think but also what I feel. If he 
were a psychoanalyst worthy of the name, he would guess or sense 
what emotions came alive when I remembered Schnitzler or when 
I felt sorry that I did not finish the book that I wanted to write 
because I had promised Freud I would. The most personal factor 
of these emotions, the intimacy of the inner experience is, it is 
true, not sayable, but its reflex will communicate itself like a 
song without words and express emotions that the listener in 
his turn will sense. 

Besides and beyond such impressions, this succession of thoughts, 
ostensibly so unconnected and meaningless, would give any ana- 
lyst an excellent idea of what occupies me at this time. Following 
my train of association, he could not fail to know that I have 
some thoughts about getting old, worries about sexual potency, 
and that I try to console myself for my lost youth with satisfaction 
of another kind. He would realize that I must have been a very 
ambitious person in my younger days and that I tried to displace 
this ambition onto my son and was as disappointed with him as 
with myself, and so forth. All these and many other thoughts and 
feelings emerged from dark recesses to the surface of my associa- 
tions, like moles crawling out of their hills between the lights. 
In such experiments hearing is believing. 

When we express what occurs to us, we do not always know 


what we are saying. But when we read or listen to our words later 
on, they are, oddly enough, not odd any more. We did not know 
what we were saying, but even so we did better than many people 
who do not know what they are thinking about. 

I believe that exercises in thought-association in self-analysis 
have a value beyond their immediate, practical use for under- 
standing what is one's own psychological situation at a given time. 
They renew and deepen the experience of the analytic process, 
make it a living experience again, one which is part of one's 
life. There is always a danger that the psychoanalyst, who every 
day sees nine or ten patients, will consider his work a "profes- 
sion," that he will see himself as an "expert" on the heights and 
depths of psychical life, and that psychoanalysis may become for 
him a standard operation procedure. He is not forever "analyzed" 
after he has once been analyzed. 

The psychoanalyst as well as his patient must renew the impres- 
sion that it is impossible to speak absolute nonsense when one 
sincerely expresses what has crossed his mind. What emerges from 
unconscious depths has an order, a continuity, and a reason of its 
own. The analyst has plenty of opportunity to observe how little 
sense it makes when some people say what they consciously think. 

On the street or in parks you sometimes notice people talking 
to themselves. These persons, who seem to be carrying on such 
stimulating one-sided conversations, are not necessarily drunk or 
insane. I once asked an acquaintance who had this habit about 
his motives. He answered jokingly that he occasionally liked to 
hear what an intelligent person had to say, and to feel that he 
was talking to an intelligent listener. Such a high self-evaluation 
may be correct in some cases and wrong in others. More impor- 
tant is the fact that in dialogues with oneself one is more sincere 
than in conversation with others. The speaker is less inhibited 
and less conventional and will say what he really thinks, while 
his audience is more tolerant and more willing to listen, not only 


to reason, but to unreason. Certainly many matters that are never 
or rarely mentioned in talking to others are freely discussed in 
conversations with oneself. 

Self-analysis is comparable to a conversation with oneself with 
the difference that its character is not just chattering, but dis- 
covering in oneself something which has hitherto been unknown. 
Self-analysis for its own sake is usually as barren as I' art pour 1'art 
Occasion for self-analysis arises only when we are surprised by our 
thoughts, when we find in ourselves feelings that seem strange, 
or when we are amazed over actions and inhibitions we did not 
suspect in ourselves. Such opportunities occur much more fre- 
quently than one might think. 

More than a hundred years ago a Viennese satirist wrote: "I 
believe the worst of everybody, including myself, and I have 
rarely been mistaken." The remark is certainly justified but neces- 
sarily one-sided. Self-analysis reveals that there are not only un- 
suspected vices and horrid impulses hidden within ourselves but 
also friendly and even generous feelings never dreamed of or only 
dreamed of. This kind of deep-sea diving brings to the surface not 
only strange monsters but also unlooked-for treasures. Many sur- 
prises beyond good and evil await the diver there on the bottom, 
if he glides down at the right moment. 

The following paragraphs present no more than a fragmentary 
analysis of mood, a frame of mind of my own, which I did not 
understand until some months after it had passed. 

Like many of my colleagues I had left the decaying Vienna of 
the postwar years to live in Berlin, where the new Psychoanalytic 
Institute was showing a promising development. I had built up a 
satisfactory psychoanalytic practice in Berlin when, one day, I 
received from Vienna a request for an appointment. The man 
who wrote was unknown to me but said that he had a special 
recommendation from Freud. At the appointed hour the man ap- 
peared for a consultation. He was a middle-aged and very wealthy 
American with a well-known name. He described his nervous 
symptoms, giving me a good picture of his psychological situation. 
For many years he had been suffering from a severe obsessional 
neurosis that necessitated his protecting himself against innumer- 
able imaginary and magical dangers by means of many compli- 


cated safety measures. Both because of his nervous troubles and foi 
family reasons, it was not possible for him to come to Berlin for psy 
choanalytic treatment. Freud had suggested his coming to me be 
cause I had treated many similar cases In the past. The patiem 
made me the following proposition. If I would return to Vienna 
to treat him and be at his disposal for just one hour daily, he 
would not only be responsible for my living expenses but pay me 
a fee much larger than the total earnings from my Berlin psy 
choanalytic practice. After a brief consideration I accepted hi 
offer. Having brought some of my analytic treatments to an enc 
and transferred other cases to colleagues, I returned to Vienns 
in November, 1932. In spite of the many social and cultural ad 
vantages Berlin possessed at that time, I had not been overfonc 
of the capital of the German Reich. When I arrived at the VIenns 
station, I felt like a son coming home to his mother. All during 
the journey I had been happily anticipating the prospect of the 
life ahead of me. I would be free from all financial considerations 
and would be able to devote most of my time to scientific re 
search. I would be able to see my family and friends as often ai 
I wished. This wonderful opportunity would permit me to see 
Freud and to attend the weekly meetings of the Vienna Psycho 
analytic Association, whose secretary I had been in past years 
Altogether it seemed like a fairy tale come true. 

The ensuing months brought the realization of these day 
dreams. Released from the necessity of spending ten hours a da] 
In psychoanalytic practice, I worked on the two books I tiac 
planned, saw much of my family and friends, visited with Freud 
and regularly attended the meetings of the Vienna Psychoanalytic 
Association. I enjoyed the first days of my return to the utmost 
It made me happy just to walk In the morning through the 
familiar streets of my native city on my way to the university 

The apartment my patient had taken for me was, like his own 
In the Hotel Bristol, which, In splendor and dignity, was compa 
rable to New York's Waldorf-Astoria. I still remember how : 
could scarcely believe my good luck when I awoke the first mom 
ing and looked about me at the magnificently appointed roomi 
which were now my new home. Humming a Strauss waltz, I wen; 


down to breakfast at my usual hour. Of course there was no one in 
the dining room to serve me it was not yet seven. As I passed the 
night clerk at his desk, he looked up at me with a startled expres- 
sion as if I were some ghostly apparition in the middle of the 
night. It dawned on me that guests in such a place as this would 
scarcely be expected to appear for breakfast much before eleven 
o'clock. I took breakfast and lunch in more modest establishments. 
At the door of the Bristol dining room that evening, I was met 
by a headwaiter who looked like a duke at the very least and who 
accompanied me ceremoniously to my table. The waiters at once 
appeared to hear my wishes. I looked about me and realized with 
some embarrassment that I was the only person in the great shin- 
Ing room not dressed in evening clothes. 

For some days I continued to dine at the Bristol. I was now 
appropriately attired but I dislike having to shave again every 
evening and changing into my dinner jacket. Besides, the lordly 
headwaiter, his three attentive assistants, and the elaborate ritual 
of the meal made me uncomfortable. The luxury of the place 
somehow oppressed my spirits. Every morning I left the hotel 
early to get breakfast at a little coffeehouse in a near-by side street. 
I slunk past the eight clerk and was annoyed with myself for be- 
ing embarrassed when he noticed me. It was really absurd. Why 
did I feel almost guilty about going to breakfast at seven o'clock 
in the morning? I must confess that I even began positively to dis- 
like the headwaiter and his three helpers when I thought of how 
they walked to my table with a stateliness that suggested a proces- 
sion of high dignitaries. I gave up the Bristol dining room and 
enjoyed my dinners in less sumptuous surroundings, ruefully ad- 
mitting to myself that 1 simply could not feel at home in my 
magnificent domicile. Gradually it became clear to me that I 
actually preferred less grand and formal living arrangements. A 
feeling of not belonging walked with me through the gleaming 
corridors of the Bristol 

Another factor worked unfavorably upon my spirits. My pa- 
tient, for whom I had reserved a fixed hour daily, did not show 
tip. True, he had prepared me for this during our talk in Berlin 
lie had said that perhaps he might sometimes be unable to 
at the appointed hour. As it turned out, I saw Mm in the 


next three months only a few times. Then he came just once for 
one hour. After that I did not see him or hear from him again. 
When we had made our arrangements in Berlin, he had asked me 
not to write and not to call him on the telephone because that 
would arouse his fears relating to certain magic ideas. He ex- 
pected me to stay put until he needed me. Since I had agreed to 
this, I was bound by my promise now. As the weeks went on I 
learned that it was disturbing to me to be paid so much money 
without working for it, without really earning it. 

I urged myself to be patient and told myself that I was by no 
means lazy. Did I not work hard every day? Had I not written 
one book and done preliminary work on another? Did I not study 
all the new literature in psychology and psychiatry? Evidently I 
considered these activities pleasure rather than work. Often I 
caught myself ashamed at the thought that I, in the prime of life, 
was not earning my living. This was paradoxical enough since I was 
"earning" more than I ever had before. This too easy life without 
duties and obligations was uncomfortable. I even began to feel a re- 
sentment against my patient whom, in all reason, I should have con- 
sidered my benefactor. How often in the past, tired from my ten 
hours of analytic work, had I daydreamed of an easeful life, free 
from financial burdens, which would permit me to devote myself to 
the realization of my research plans? And now when kind destiny 
had made me a gift of just this situation, I could not enjoy it. 

I tried in vain to shake off the strangely unhappy mood that 
had taken possession of me and grew worse as time went on. 
Again and again I asked myself what kind of odd discontent it 
might be that, precisely when I had every reason to be satisfied 
with my lot, prevented me from enjoying it. Measured by my own 
modest standards, I was now almost wealthy. I was getting a great 
deal of money without working for it. (A few years later, of 
course, Hitler took ail my savings.) My life had every possible 
amenity and I was home in Vienna where I wanted to be what 
the hell was the matter with me? The explanations I found were 
such obvious pretexts and pretensions that I could not consider 
them valid. A cloud darkened the most beautiful holiday. It was 
mysterious that I was so often restless or sad without reasonable 
reasons. To be sure my dark mood left me for hours at a time; 


but only to return at an unforeseen moment. I recall that it over- 
took me once after I had walked home from a delightful conver- 
sation with Freud, and again while I crossed the street coming 
home to the Bristol from the opera house, where I had enjoyed 
Der Rosenkamlier* It was with me again as I returned from hear- 
ing Mahler's Fourth Symphony. I was still under the spell of the 
last movement, which is full of gaiety and childlike happiness. 
Walking in the winter night, I sang it over and over under my 
breath, when suddenly I felt depressed. I had known moods of 
this sort before, but none so persistent as this- My unrest and dis- 
satisfaction increased, although I put up a good fight against 

Finally I could bear it no longer. I wrote to my patient ex- 
pressing my thanks and my regrets that it had not been possible 
for me to be of greater use to him. Without giving reasons for I 
had noneI asked him to excuse me and then packed my trunks. 
The next morning as the taxi took me through the streets of 
Vienna on my way to the station, I felt wonderfully lighthearted, 
as If I had thrown off a heavy burden. The air of the radiant 
spring morning was delicious, and I looked with friendliness into 
the bees of the people in the streets. My farewell to Vienna was 
not sad but full of tenderness. It was like taking leave of a sweet* 
heart whom one will never forget. 

Many weeks later I began to understand what had happened 
to me betweea arrival and departure. I became aware that I had 
been discontented, not in spite of my good fortune, but because 
of IL Much later still I recalled just when the first shadow had 
fallen across my days in Vienna. One afternoon I had by accident 
but was it accident? passed the house in which I was born and 
had spent my childhood years. My father, who was in the Civil 
Servke, had often been worried about money and had had diffi- 
culties In making ends meet on the meager salary of an Austrian 
-official. As I walked along, childhood memories crept up from 
corners and I saw again the worried faces of my 
parents. A sudden sadness had come over me by the time I 
leached the Bristol. From then on the mood only left me for 
triel boras at a time. Its full psychological significance only be- 
t dear to me much later* 


It was as if I could not permit myself to enjoy my rich sur- 
roundings, my too comfortable life, or the money come by so 
easily but not felt as deserved for work done. The childhood 
memories had brought back to me the poverty in which my parents 
had spent their lives, the sacrifices they had made to give us chil- 
dren educational advantages. Here in the same city, only a half 
hour's walk from my childhood home, I had lived in luxury. A 
slight discontent had already appeared at the Hotel Bristol prior 
to this incident, but I had explained it to myself as being due to 
the fact that I was unaccustomed to so much elegance. My mood 
had continued and had become worse, the longer my carefree 
life continued. 

It was not possible, finally, to avoid the psychological conclu- 
sion that my depression had originated in an unconscious guilt 
feeling arising from the fact that I was living in abundance and 
that my parents had lived in so much poorer circumstances. They 
had deprived themselves of all the pleasant things and had lived 
in sadly pinched circumstances in order to give their children 
advantages. It seemed that I might allow myself a certain modest 
comfort, but that a mysterious factor within, called conscience, 
forbade my enjoying extraordinary luxury or much money, unless 
it had been earned by hard work, and opulence that was un- 
deserved. It was as if I had not the right to live sumptuously 
where my parents had suffered so many hardships. My attempt 
to adjust to a comfortable, luxurious life had failed. 

Later on I admitted to myself that I had been a damned fool 
but also that I could not then have acted otherwise. When I told 
Freud the story some months later, he laughed at me cordially 
(I loved it although the joke was on me), and, if memory does 
not fail me, it was on this occasion that he expressed the wish that 
I might "acquire a sclerotic conscience." I hope that since then I 
have secured this "hardening of the conscience." Alas, I was never 
given the opportunity to find out whether, after this one ex- 
perience, I might behave differently in a similar situation, I am 
afraid that destiny does not have another chance in store for me 
it will have to hurry to reach me but I rather think that I would 
take to some comfort and luxury much more kindly today. 

Recently a playwright, a former patient of mine, wrote me a 


letter in which he told me how much he was enjoying a fabu- 
lously luxurious life in Hollywood. Engaged to write scripts for 
one of the big movie companies, he has been drawing an enor- 
mous salary for many months, without as yet having written one 
line for his employers. The young man relishes the high life and 
Ms leisure in Hollywood without unnecessary scruples and super- 
fluous moral considerations. He already has the "sclerotic con- 
science" I lacked. 

Later during a brief visit to Vienna, I saw the Hotel Bristol 
again. Something prompted me to enter the lobby of the hotel, 
the scene of my triumph and my defeat, I just looked about for a 
moment, glanced at the guests lounging in their deep chairs, and 
left* Out again on the Ringstrasse, I heard myself thinking (the 
expression will be explained immediately), "Those people have 
just too much money,"* The sentence was banal; obviously only 
very rich people could stay at the Bristol. Why had I thought 
that? It had been thought, or rather almost said, with a certain in- 
tonation and in a Viennese dialect that, though familiar to me, 
1 myself seldom use. It had been thought or said as if not I had 
been the speaker, but some other person, a long way back. It was 
like the delayed echo of something heard long ago. I do not re- 
call having heard my father say this sentence, but the pronuncia- 
tion and the intonation were his, not mine. The note of disap- 
proval in the words that came to mind so surprisingly must have 
been the determining factor in the genesis and development of my 
discontent while I stayed at the splendid hotel. It was as if I my- 
self had been one of those people who "have just too much 
money," one of those people of whom my father had spoken so 

It scans that the severity of our unconscious conscience lessens 
as we grow older or after we have paid for our thought-crimes by 
differing. The above presentation would be incomplete without 
tracing the genesis of my strange mood back in still another 
direction. It would perliaps be more flattering to one's ego if one 
could assume that an unconscious reaction of conscience emerged, 
but it would be neither honest nor correct. 

* The sentence In its original tern: "Die Leaf hafr'n halt zuwel Geld." 


Intellectual integrity demands the confesion that such a strong 
moral reaction could not have taken place without having teen 
preceded by a feeling that was unconsciously considered as guilt. 
What happened may be easily reconstructed. I must have been 
too proud of my good luck at first. There must have been some 
feelings of haughty presumption in me, as if it were because of 
my superior achievements that I could now live in the finest hotel 
in town. Painful though it may be, it must be acknowledged that 
there must have been at first some mood of triumph or conceit, 
that I prided myself on having become so much more successful 
than my poor father and brothers. The depression which followed 
was, of course, of a moral kind, as if such pride and presumption 
were a crime in thought. All the characteristic traits of my en- 
suing sadness show the opposite of the unconscious tendencies. 

Curiously enough, a few moments after leaving the hotel an- 
other memory occurred to me, a children's poem that I am al- 
most sure I had not thought of since I was a boy. The verses came 
back to me as suddenly as if they had popped up from a trap 
door on a stage. This folk poem that the public-school children 
of Vienna used to recite is called "The Little Tree That Wished 
to Have Different Leaves." It tells the story of a small fir tree 
that stands among trees of other kinds in the forest and is 
ashamed because it has only prickly needles. It wishes to have 
leaves like the other trees. It receives such leaves, but a goat comes 
along and eats them up. The little tree then wishes for leaves 
of glass, but a storm destroys them. The tree now wishes for it- 
self leaves of gold; a peddler sees them, picks them, and carries 
them off in his bag. The disillusioned little tree now only wants 
its old needles back. It was immediately clear why the forgotten 
poem had emerged from its long oblivion. I was making fun of 
myself and my insatiable wishes. Certainly it is significant that 
the two isolated memories, the sentence heard from my father, 
and the poem learned in grammar school, both occurred to me 
within a few minutes. I must have originally heard both when 
I was about seven or eight years old. They belong, so to speak, 
to the same geological stratum of my past. They not only served 
as an indirect confirmation of the psychological analysis here 
sketched but also convinced me that the moral teachings and codes 


o my childhood were deeply rooted and continued to live a sub- 
terranean life within my personality in the years of late manhood. 
Self-analysis o this kind originated in the need to obtain in- 
sight into my own moods, thoughts, and impulses as they ap- 
peared in everyday life. It brought some surprising revelations 
concerning my personal peculiarities and information about my 
character and emotional development. I learned to understand 
why an enemy or a group of enemies are among my emotional 
needs, why I cannot imagine myself as a member of a political 
party, why my ambition goes in one direction and not in another. 
1 learned, too, why I always wish I had written a book or a paper 
when I admire it. which proves that my admiration is usually 
accompanied by envy. (Strangely enough, I can read whole vol- 
umes of the Psychoanalytic Quarterly without the slightest trace 
of such envious feelings.) Self-analysis has given me these insights 
and a hundred more, many of them painful and unflattering, a 
few that are pleasant, all uninteresting to others but of consider- 
able interest to me as a psychologist and as a person. 


IT B not difficult to show how a psychologist arrives at in- 
sights from careful self-observation. But how can I give my 
readers a concrete idea of the processes that enable us to conjec- 
ture and comprehend the inner processes in others? They are by 
no means so simple as they appear to the layman, and it is the 
more difficult to describe them because they are, in part, inca- 
of expression in words. I propose to begin by dividing the 
process of conjecture and comprehension into three sections, al- 
though I know how artificial this division is, and how misplaced 
It appear in face of the living current of the psychical act 

The first section of the way, thus artificially divided, leads from 
tic conscious or potentially conscious perception of the subject 


matter to the point where It dives down into the unconscious 
mind of the psychologist. The second would then represent the 
unconscious assimilation of the observed material. The third 
stretches from the re-ernergence into consciousness of the data so 
assimilated to the point of their description or formulation. Of 
the middle of these sections we can say nothing except that we 
have no direct access to it and that it interests us most of all. The 
other two sections are more accessible. True, we cannot fix the 
moment in which a perception dives down below our conscious- 
ness, No more can we state precisely the time of its re-emergence. 
For the rest, it is not only in respect of time that we are liable to, 
error in this matter, 

The actual process is only partially accessible to introspective 
observation. The act of slipping down into the unconscious re- 
gion, the assimilation there, and the re-emergence into conscious'- 
ness, may best be compared with the passage through a tun- 
nel For each of the two sections there is a different degree of 
light Whether we can depict them depends upon the brightness, 
of that light. 

The first section begins in the clear daylight of consciousness, 
Let us call to mind the analytic situation that presents itself to 
its daily. The subject speaks or is silent, and accompanies Ms 
speech or silence with "speaking" gestures. We see the play erf 
his features, the variety of his movements. All this communicates 
to us the vital expression of what he is feeling and thinking. It 
supplies the psychical data, which the analyst then assimilates un- 
consciously during the period that we have called the second 

But is this really the whole of the psychical data that he has at 
his disposal and uses? If we recall the course of an analytic ses- 
sion, do we not feel that something is missing in this account, some- 
thing important, nay, decisive? Our feeling is right In truth, we 
are incapable of dissecting into all its components parts the process 
by which we recognize psychological fact. The data presentee! to 
the analyst must be more extensive and differentiated than ap- 
pears to him during or after the treatment. His field of observa- 
tion must be wider, Jt appears that I have committed errors evea 
in my description of jlie data at his disposal What the analyst 


Is able to perceive and comprehend consciously is probably only a 
selection that he makes retrospectively, after the event. What his 
conscious memory supplies him with is only a small portion of 
what he actually uses. In other words, the analyst knows only a 
part of the data on which his judgment is based, that such and 
such processes are going on in the unconscious mind of the per- 
son he is observing. Our apprehension of the other personality is 
not restricted to our conscious perceptions. 

The individual inner life of a person cannot be read in the fea- 
tures that psychology has hitherto grasped and been able to grasp. 
Of course I know that there is little that is new in what I am 
now saying. It is the unconscious mind of the subject that is of 
decisive importance, and the analyst meets that with his ow T n un- 
conscious mind as the instrument of perception. That is easy to 
say, but difficult to realize. Psychologists can hardly conceive the 
notion of unconscious perception. For psychoanalysis the notion 
presents no difficulty, but to understand the peculiar nature of 
unconscious perception and observation is not so easy. 

For the moment we will turn from the theoretical considera- 
tion of the problem, and proceed with the help of any casual 
example from daily practice. One is as good as another. A patient 
told me how on the previous day he had had a violent quarrel 
with his girl (he had been having a sexual affair with her for a 
considerable time). At first the conversation turned upon the 
girl's health; she had been feeling weak and poorly of late. She 
had remarked that she was afraid of tuberculosis; she weighed too 
little and must put on flesh. The young man, my patient, did 
not think that necessary. He opposed it on aesthetic grounds. 
How did the analyst suddenly perceive that the quarrel centered 
unconsciously upon the question of a child? Nothing in the 
young man's account pointed that way. Looking back, I discern 
my sudden idea must have carried me back at one bound to 
my patient had told me about a year and a half 
About two years previously the girl had become pregnant 
at his urgent entreaty, had procured an abortion. She had 
offered no great resistance to the suggestion of abortion, and had 
the operation, which proved difficult owing to special 
with real heroism. Subsequently she had seldom 


mentioned the incident, and that only In passing. And my patient 
had seldom thought of the subject for a year and a half. 

Now was it the words "putting on flesh" in his story that 
roused the memory? How else could the latent meaning of the 
lovers' quarrel have revealed itself to me? I could not tell, even 
though I were to repeat the story with the accuracy of a gramo- 
phone. It must have declared itself somehow or other, in spite 
of the fact that the girl's fears, according to the patient's account, 
sounded entirely reasonable and justifiable. In spite of her per- 
fectly well-founded plea, he must have detected some note of 
secret reproach in her words a tone must have conveyed to him 
that the girl had never got over her loss. What psychoanalysis 
cells on the subject Is that my own unconscious mind had acted as 
an instrument of perception and seized upon the secret mean- 
ing of the quarrel, a meaning hidden, moreover, from both prin- 
cipals. It is good to know that, but is it enough? My unconscious 
mind is able to conjecture a hidden meaning only through given 
signs. It requires tokens in order to detect something. Now, I 
have deliberately chosen a primitive example. This is a case of 
cryptomnesia, people will say. A memory no longer present in my 
consciousness was responsible for my recognition of the latent 
meaning. The unconscious remembrance of that long-past inci- 
dent, emerging suddenly during the story, set me on the track. 

Let us take an example that is only a little more complex and 
has to do with a like conflict, but in which no such memory of 
heuristic value can be traced. A young girl under psychoanalysis 
evinced an extraordinary fear of marriage. She repulsed any man 
who made approaches to her, and shrank from any chance of 
marriage or sexual intercourse. The reason she always gave for her 
attitude was her exceptional terror of the dangers of childbirth. 
She was convinced that she would not survive the pain, and 
would die. At the mere thought of childbirth, she was overcome 
by violent terror. She brought up the fact that many millions of 
women survive childbirth without injury and mentioned the pos- 
sibility of preventive measures, but she nullified both factors by 
stressing the uncertainty precisely in her own case. 

Now, she had spoken of this fear of hers several times without 
my understanding more of the nature or mental origin of her 


emotion than any other observant auditor. How was it that on a 
new occasion I suddenly recognized that, apart from all other 
mental determinants, a profound fear must be at work, over- 
shadowing all other feelings, that she was incapable of bearing a 
child and that any man must be unhappy with her? Of course I 
did not give expression to this idea about the suppressed nature 
of her fear, but waited till the astonishing surmise had been 
confirmed again and again. I cannot detect in myself any memory 
of a previous communication, emerging suddenly from the un- 
conscious and helping me to find the connection. Nothing in the 
girl's statements, so far as I could remember then or have been 
able to recall since, pointed to her being dominated by an un- 
conscious fear lest she be unable to bear a child. This fear I was 
subsequently able to trace to apprehensions based upon long-con- 
tinued masturbation. I had listened attentively to her lamenta- 
tions and her story without dreaming of any such thing, when 
suddenly this idea entered my mind, giving me my first and most im- 
portant means of approach to an understanding of the case. Here, 
then, there was no memory, orto put it more cautiously none 
traceable. Nevertheless, there must have been something in the 
patient's words, or something to be read between the lines, that 
pointed in that direction, something in her utterances, verbal or 
mimetic or otherwise, that suggested the connection. 

Here we are faced with a whole series of questions. The idea 
must have arisen from something. Why did it arise just at this 
juncture, since we had talked of her fear previously, since, in- 
deed, she had often told me about it? What went on within my 
mind, on what mental processes was the idea based, and what 
preceded it? But is it not erroneous and unjust to lay special 
stress on this side of the problem? Is it not better to assume that 
my idea must have been based upon some factor not hitherto 
grasped, that is to say, that it must ultimately be traced back to 
sense perception? In that case, unnamed impressions be- 
come the means of communicating psychological knowledge. 
That brings us back to our starting point, to the nature of the 
data at our disposal. It appears to me that it is here that we 
begin, if we want to discover the foundation of the psychical 
comprehension of unconscious processes. If Kant begins with 


the statement that cognition arises from experience, that true 
dictum must be supplemented by the statement that experience 
has its origin in our sense perceptions, that nothing can be in our 
intellect which was not there before in our senses. (Nihil est in 
intellectu quod non prius fuerit in sensibus.) This statement is 
also true for a psychologist who seeks to grasp the unconscious 
processes in others. 

Psychical data are not uniform. We have, of course, in the first 
place the considerable portion that we seize upon through con- 
scious hearing, sight, touch, and smell. A further portion is what 
we observe unconsciously. It is permissible to declare that this 
second portion is more extensive than the first, and that far 
greater importance must be ascribed to it in the matter of psycho- 
logical comprehension than to what we consciously hear, see, etc. 
Of course, we seize upon this, also, by means of the senses that we 
know, but, to speak descriptively, it is preconscious or uncon- 
scious. We perceive peculiarities in the features and bearing and 
movements of others that help to make the impression we re- 
ceive without our observing or attending to them. We remember 
details of another person's dress and peculiarities in his gestures, 
without recalling them; a number of minor points, an olfactory 
nuance; a sense of touch while shaking hands, too slight to be 
observed; warmth, clamminess, roughness or smoothness in the 
skin; the manner in which he glances up or looks of all this we 
are not consciously aware, and yet it influences our opinion. The 
minutest movements accompany every process of thought; mus- 
cular twitchings in face or hands and movements of the eyes 
speak to us as well as words. No small power of communication is 
contained in a glance, a person's bearing, a bodily movement, a 
special way of breathing. Signals of subterranean motions and 
impulses are being sent silently to the region of everyday speech, 
gesture, and movement 

A series of neurodynamic stimuli come to us from other people 
and play a part in producing our impressions, though we are not 
conscious of noticing them. There are certain expressive move- 
ments that we understand, without our conscious perception 
really being at work in that understanding. We need only think 
of the wide field of language. Everybody has, in addition to the 


characteristics we know, certain vocal modulations that do not 
strike us; the particular pitch and timbre of his voice, his partic- 
ular speech rhythm, which we do not consciously observe. There 
are variations of tone, pauses, and shifted accentuation, so slight 
that they never reach the limits of conscious observation, indi- 
vidual nuances of pronunciation that we do not notice, but note. 
These little traits, which have no place in the field of conscious 
observation, nevertheless betray a great deal to us about a person. 
A voice that we hear, though we do not see the speaker, may 
sometimes tell us more about him than if we were observing him. 
It is not the words spoken by the voice that are of importance, 
but what it tells us of the speaker. Its tone comes to be more im- 
portant than what it says. "Speak, in order that I may see you," 
said Socrates. 

Language and here I do not mean only the language of words 
but also the inarticulate sounds, the language of the eyes and 
gestureswas originally an instinctive utterance. It was not until 
a later stage that language developed from an undifferentiated 
whole to a means of communication. But throughout this and 
other changes it has remained true to its original function, which 
finds expression in the inflection of the voice, in the intonation, 
and in other characteristics. It is probable that the language of 
words was a late formation, taking the place of gesture language, 
and it is not irrational to suppose, as that somewhat self-willed 
linguist, Sir Richard Paget, maintains, that the movements of 
the tongue originally imitated our various actions. Even where 
language only serves the purpose of practical communication, 
we hear the accompanying sounds expressive of emotion, though 
we may not be aware of them. 

There are, besides, nuances of smell and peculiarities of touch 
that escape our conscious observation and yet enter into the sum 
total of our impressions. They accompany the coarser or stronger 
eoascloiis sense perceptions as overtones accompany a melody. 
In a state of hyperesthesia we may even consciously observe these 
ariations of tone, glance, or gesture, the minutest facial move- 
moils, and muscular twitchings; but that is exceptional. In a 
general way It is only the grossest of these accompanying move- 
ments, tones* and smelk, that reach, our consciousness, and are 


consciously used as psychological data. The others appear as part 
of the total impression. They do not emerge separately in our 
perception. There can be nothing wrong in likening these un- 
conscious perceptions with the minute sense stimuli that psy- 
chology teaches us need only be added together or multiplied in 
order to become accessible to conscious perception. Each of these 
minute stimuli, then, must have contributed something to the 
sensation. We know that technical science has devised apparatus 
to bring within our grasp these natural processes, which we 
should otherwise be unable to perceive. And here I call attention 
to the important fact of repression, which greatly restricts our 
capacity for perceiving tiny signals of this kind. 

Perhaps we shall do well to draw a distinction between this 
part of our psychical data and another, even though the distinc- 
tion may prove at a later stage to be purely descriptive. It is 
true that the facts with which we have just been dealing are un- 
conscious, but they do undoubtedly fall within the group of 
sense perceptions of which we have knowledge. I should like to 
draw a distinction between these data and certain other data, 
also unconscious, helping like the former to shape our impres- 
sions, but such that their precise nature can only be surmised. 
That is to say, we receive impressions through our senses that 
are in themselves beyond the reach of our consciousness. The 
assumption that these sense perceptions have no place in human 
consciousness, or have lost their place in it, is supported by certain 
facts and rendered exceedingly probable by others. I mean 
especially the fact of sense communications, having their origin 
in the animal past of the human race and now lost to our con- 
sciousness. The sense of direction in bees, the capacity of birds 
of passage to find their way, the sense of light in insects* skin, the 
instinctive realization of approaching danger in various animals, 
all bear witness to sense functions with which we have almost no 
human conceptions to compare. Of other sense functions that re- 
semble those of the animals, it may be said that our perceptions 
are much vaguer, weaker, and less certain. It is easy to detect in 
them the rudiments of originally keen and well-developed senses. 
We need only compare the large part played by the sense of 
smell among dogs with its small significance in our own lives. 


Freed has established the probability that the importance of 
the sense of smell has been greatly diminished in man through 
the development of his upright gait. The fact that the sense of 
smell tells dogs of things no longer accessible to us may serve as 
an example of the diminished importance of a number of sense 
functions in the life of the human race. Certain senses are re- 
duced to rudimentary remnants because they have been less and 
less used. Do we not say, "I smell a rat" when we are suspicious 
of evil and concealed motives behind X's behavior? Is it acciden- 
tal that we can use such a figure of speech as if we were still 
olfactory creatures? I am of the opinion that there are more of 
these rudimentary senses, tracing their origin to the evolution of 
prehistoric man, which, though not, indeed, totally lost, have lost 
their significance. 

In addition there are other senses of which we have completely 
lost consciousness and which yet retain their efficacy, that is to 
say, are able to communicate unconscious impressions to us. A 
comparison with the sense perceptions of animals for instance, 
the way certain insects can receive and communicate perceptions 
points to the supposition that like senses may survive uncon- 
sciously in ourselves. I have in mind such a thing as the means of 
communication among ants, described by K. Frisch, and the signals 
ants give with their antennae, which the research of Forel, Wis- 
mann, and others has explained. Assuredly, there is a significant 
language in the animal kingdom and means of communication 
not ours, or no longer ours. The biologist Degener, in his study 
of simple animal societies, has assumed a kind of telepathic com- 
munication. A minute stimulus given by a particular species of 
caterpillar to a single individual within a large group caused a 
simultaneous palpitation throughout the whole group. Degener 
speaks of a hyperindividual group soul in these animal societies. 
Freud, too, has pointed to the possibility of such direct psychical 
communication. With reference to the common will in the large 
insect communities, he thinks that this original, archaic means of 
communication has been replaced in the course of racial evolu- 
by the superior method of communication by signs. But the 
older method may survive, he thinks, in the background and hu- 
man beings revert to it under certain conditions. 


It will be observed that, in assuming a direct psychical com- 
munication through these archaic, rudimentary surviving senses, 
we approach the complex of problems known as telepathy. I be- 
lieve that in the special case of communication between two un- 
conscious minds called by that name, these neglected senses, 
favored by the weakened action of the others, do really come into 
action. Such telepathic communication is not supersensory. It 
makes actual those senses that have become alien to our con- 
sciousness. By using as signals the expression of stimuli that do 
not cross the threshold of our consciousness, and calling them in 
to supplement or correct our normal sense perceptions, it gives 
rise to special psychical apprehensions. The conversation between 
the unconscious of the one and the other mind does not proceed 
in a vacuum. It is served by certain means of communication 
comparable with those which we have assumed in the lower 
animal societies. They are not so much supersensory as subsensu- 
ous phenomena, that is, information conveyed by means of an- 
cient, ordinarily discarded senses. The return to these unknown 
senses, which must formerly have played a far greater part in the 
activities of living organisms, may sometimes give rise to the im- 
pression that telepathy involves no sense perception at all. 

We have here, not mysterious powers of divination, but rather 
an interruption of the customary working of our psychical 
machinery to make way for older methods, not otherwise 
applied. Thus the unconscious perception passes the bounds 
of communication received through our known sense organs. We 
have ears, and hear not with them alone; we have eyes, and see 
not with them alone. Possibly these unknown semes work faster 
than those we know, can communicate their perceptions to the 
unconscious faster than the senses developed later, and so seem 
to act through the air. And it is further worth observing that this 
action upon secret feelers of which we are unconscious belongs 
mainly to the realm of instinct, so that we may speak rather of 
instinct-reading than of thought-reading. The suspension of cus- 
tomary functions thus renders our less keen senses hyperesdietic 
by way of comparison we may recall the greater intensity and 
subtlety of the sense of touch in people who have lost their sight 
and long-forgotten senses recover the power of fuBcdoning. The 


enhanced effectiveness is, therefore, caused by the neglect of the 
mind's ordinary methods of working. 

We have long been aware that the acknowledgment of telep- 
athy as a psychical phenomenon does not imply that higher 
powers are substituted for the dynamics of mental action. It is 
not necessary to assume supernatural happenings because some 
small fragments of what goes on in the world are still unex- 
plained. We need not give ourselves up to magic because the 
cause and effect of some process is unknown to us. We must con- 
fess that our knowledge is not adequate to explain the phenom- 
enon. It does not become more explicable if we refer it back to 
some greater unknown factor. When we want to drink a glass 
of milk, we have no need to buy a cow. The psychological valua- 
tion of the efficacy of unknown or little known senses has brought 
us here to the limits of our subject. 

While we have thus been reminded of the prehistoric past of 
sense perceptions, we may now cast a hasty glance in the opposite 
direction. The advance of civilization has caused certain senses 
to perish, and others to become more specialized and differenti- 
ated. In general we may say that the development of civilization 
has reduced the importance of sense perceptions, has challenged 
the exclusive dominion they originally held over the life of the 
individual. The aim is to manage with a minimum of sense per- 
ception and to leave the subsequent process of cognition to the 
Intellect. With the advance of civilization sense perceptions are 
more and more markedly degraded to despised acts preparatory 
the intellectual mastery of phenomena. We may cite as a sig^i 
of this weakening our mistrust of the data with which they supply 
as. The development of civilization brings a weakening and stunt- 
ing of 'sense impressions that may be compared with the loss of 
keenness in our sense impressions in old age, deafness and far- 
sightedness* which, however, are due to biological causes. 

Tliere are reasons to support the hypothesis that refers this 

sigaificance of the senses- to the advance of the age- 

proem of repression. The concepts "sense" and "sensuality*' 

aye not merely loosely associated in speech, but there is an inner 

connection that gives us an insight into certain psychical proc- 

The pleasure of the senses really is a pleasure arising from 


the tension and relaxation of the sense organs. Sense perception, 
the significance of which is more and more restricted with ad- 
vancing civilization by the Intellectual processes, particularly 
memory, is closely associated with the satisfaction of organic and 
elementary instincts. As memory develops, it comes to represent 
a substitute for the fading strength of sense perceptions. It might 
be argued that the loss of intensity and significance in the senses 
Is a mark of diminishing vitality In the human race since it is 
associated with a weakening of sexual Instinct. 

Perhaps the retort might be made that it Is precisely civilization 
that has greatly increased the keenness of our sense perceptions 
through the instruments it has created. It enables us to see things 
through the microscope and telescope that were not formerly 
visible; enables us, by means of appropriate Instruments, to hear 
sounds formerly Inaudible; and communicates sensations of touch 
and vibration otherwise beyond the reach of our consciousness. 
That is true, but it Is not In contradiction with the previous 
statement. In part, these instruments serve to correct the very 
evil caused by civilization for instance, eyeglasses for the rest, 
their efficacy has certainly nothing to do with processes that are 
of vital interest to the human organism. Undoubtedly, they are 
of great Importance, but It cannot be denied that they are artifi- 
cial expedients, offering a poor substitute for the direct data com- 
municated by organic sense perception. Perhaps we may venture 
to regard memory itself, which with advancing civilization chal- 
lenges the importance of sense perception, as a disposition to feel 
the strength and Immediacy of sense perceptions over again. 

Let us return from this digression to our main argument. We 
have sought the special significance of sense perception in psychol- 
ogy in a different direction from that pointed out by modern sense 
physiology and psychology. We have grasped how varied and differ- 
entiated psychical data are when we set about to investigate them 
from the point of view of sense perception, but also how hard to 
differentiate. Besides the main path, they can use a number of 
side paths, subterranean passages, secret ways. In addition to oar 
conscious sense perceptions, we receive communications through 
other organs of perception which we cannot consciously call our 
own, although they are within us. We can treat these signals 


like any others. We can attend to them or neglect them, listen 
to them or miss them, see them or overlook them. There is a very 
natural temptation not to attend to them or observe them. (A 
frequent part of our capacity for unconscious and pre-conscious 
perception is the observation that something is lacking, the sub- 
terranean awareness that something is not there.) It is certainly 
right and useful to sharpen our powers of conscious observation 
of things perceived, but we should not overlook the value of un- 
conscious perception. We must not reject what makes itself felt 
by other means, even if it fails to make itself felt in consciousness 
at once. 

A psychoanalyst must aim at bringing into the field of con- 
sciO'iisness those impressions which would otherwise remain un- 
conscious. Undoubtedly individual differences will excercise an 
influence upon his efforts. The practice and sensitiveness of the 
individual will vary; the readiness to trust to tiny stimuli and the 
capacity to register these tiny impressions are not possessed by 
everybody to an equal extent. And so we should pay attention 
to the first, hardly noticeable impressions that we receive of a 
person, however much they may soon be drowned by other, more 
insistent impressions. Without doubt, first impressions are of 
importance. First impressions may not be right, but they often 
contain true apprehensions in a distorted form. 

These signals do not convey clear information. They are no- 
wise comparable with modern signposts, upon which destination 
distance are precisely indicated, but rather with old mile- 
stones whose lettering is weather-beaten and half legible. Many 
of the gaps and errors in our psychological comprehension must 
be attributed to our inattention to these unconscious signals. 
They may be blurred and their import difficult to determine, 
they nevertheless supplement conscious perception. In certain 
they alone enable us to discern its significance or correct 
the significance we mistakenly ascribe to it. It is true that psycho- 
logical Investigation meets here with much that is imponderable 
difficult to grasp. Research must not ignore these factors, The 
that we owe to the psychology of the unconscious is the re- 
sult of prolonged observation, without premises. But it would be 
a mistake to assume that this observation is purely conscious. Not 


until we have learned to appreciate the significance of uncon- 
scious observation, reacting to the faintest impressions with the 
sensitiveness of a sheet of tin foil, shall we recognize the difficulty 
of the task of transforming imponderabilia into ponderabilia. 

In fact, our psychological impressions are the result of the joint 
assimilation of conscious and unconscious perceptions. And here 
the conscious perceptions act, in a sense, like the last fragments 
of day, to which something different is attached, behind which 
something different lies concealed, something deeper than day- 
time thoughts. If we thrust aside the doubtful communications 
from the unconscious, as being unreliable, indefinite, and con- 
trary to our conscious judgments and prejudices, we shall, it Is 
true, seldom be deceived, but then we shall seldom attain surpris- 
ing knowledge. Indeed a special kind of keen scent is no less 
essential than acumen for a psychologist who wants to grasp 
the unconscious processes. 

If we survey our psychological data once more in all their vari- 
ety and over the whole field, from the strongest expression of emo- 
tion to the imponderabilia, we become aware that we are treating 
them as if they served no other purpose but to tell us something 
about the inner life of another person. That is certainly not ex- 
clusively the case, and yet it is the case. I mean to say that they 
aim, among other things, at communicating to us something 
about the hidden processes in the other mind. We understand 
this primary endeavor; it does serve the purpose of communica- 
tion, of psychical disburdenment. It has, therefore, a sound func- 
tion in the economy of the inner life. We are reminded of Freud's 
view that mortals are not so made as to retain a secret. "Self- 
betrayal oozes from all our pores/' I believe, moreover, that these 
words indicate the organ that was the sole medium of self-betrayal 
in the early stages of evolution. Originally most likely it really 
was first and foremost man's bodily surface, the skin, that showed 
what was going on within. It was the earliest organ to reflect 
mental processes. Blushing and turning pale still betray our feel- 
ings, and perspiration still breaks out when we are afraid. All 
self-betrayal makes its way through the pores of the skin. That 
statement clamors for a sequel. What sequel may easily be guessed 
when we reflect that we react to the unconscious with all our 


organs, with our various instruments of reception and compre- 
hension. The self-betrayal of another is sucked in through all 

our pores. 

The last chapter spoke of communications for which conscious 
perceptions have only the function that relays have in telegraphy. 
It would, of course, be nonsense to assert that this language of 
the unconscious is understood only by psychoanalysts. (Sometimes 
it would seem that it is least understood by analysts.) As a matter 
of fact, these interchanges of impulses goes on between all human 
beings, and analysis only evaluates them as psychological indi- 
cations. Psychoanalysis is in this sense not so much a heart-to- 
heart talk as a drive-to-drive talk, an inaudible but highly ex- 
pressive dialogue. The psychoanalyst has to learn how one mind 
speaks to another beyond words and in silence. He must learn to 
listen "with the third ear/** It is not true that you have to shout 
to make yourself understood. When you wish to be heard, you 

What can an analyst teach his younger colleagues in this direc- 
tion? Very little. He can speak of his own experiences. He can 
report instances, which have the value of illustrations only. And 
lie canabove all else encourage the younger generation of ana- 
lysts to unlearn all routine. We speak of routine only in the 
gathering of unconscious material through observation, not of the 
use which the analytic technique makes of it. We have to insist 
that in the area of observation he keep fancy-free and follow his 
instincts. The "instincts," which indicate, point out, hint at and 
allude, warn and convey, are sometimes more intelligent than our 
conscious "intelligence." We know so many things that "aren't 
so" but, we must admit, we guess many things that seem to be 
Impossible but "are so." Young analysts should be encouraged to 
rely on a series of most delicate communications when they col- 
lect their impressions; to extend their feelers, to seize the secret 
messages that go from one unconscious to another. 

* This phrase is borrowed from Nietzsetie, Beyond Good mid Evil, Part 

p. 246. 


To trust these messages, to be ready to participate in all flights 
and flings of one's Imagination, not to be afraid of one's own 
sensitivities, is necessary not only In the beginnings of analysis; It 
remains necessary and Important throughout. The task of the 
analyst Is to observe and to record In his memory thousands of 
little signs and to remain aware of their delicate effects upon him. 
At the present stage of our science it Is not so necessary, it seems 
to me, to caution the student against overvaluation of the little 
signs or to warn him not to take them as evidence. These uncon- 
scious feelers are not there to master a problem, but to search for 
it. They are not there to grasp, but to touch. We need not fear 
that this approach will lead to hasty judgments. The greater 
danger (and the one favored by our present way of training stu- 
dents) is that these seemingly Insignificant signs will be missed, 
neglected, brushed aside. The student Is often taught to observe 
sharply and accurately what is presented to his conscious per- 
ception, but conscious perception is much too restricted and nar- 
row. The student often analyzes the material without considering 
that It is so much richer, subtler, finer than what can be caught 
In the net of conscious observation. The small fish that escapes 
through the mesh is often the most precious. 

Receiving, recording, and decoding these "asides/' which are 
whispered between sentences and without sentences, Is, In reality, 
not teachable. It is, however, to a certain degree demonstrable. 
It can be demonstrated that the analyst, like his patient, knows 
things without knowing that he knows them. The voice that 
speaks in him speaks low, but he who listens with a third ear 
hears also what is expressed almost noiselessly, what is said pianis- 
simo. There are instances in which things a person has said in 
psychoanalysis are consciously not even heard by the analyst, but 
none the less understood or interpreted. There are others about 
which one can say: in one ear, out the other, and In the 
third. The psychoanalyst who must look at all things immedi- 
ately, scrutinize them, and subject them to logical examination 
has often lost the psychological moment for seizing the Meeting, 
elusive material. Hereand only here you must leap before you 
look; otherwise you will be looking at a void where a second be- 
fore a valuable impression flew past. 


In psychoanalysis we leam to collect this material, which is not 
conscious but which has to become conscious if we want to use 
It in our search and research. That the psychoanalyst immediately 
recognizes the importance and significance of the data brought to 
his attention is a stale superstition. He can be content with him- 
self when he is able to receive and record them immediately. He 
can be content if he becomes aware of them. I know from conver- 
sations with many psychoanalysts that they approach this uncon- 
scious material with the tools of reason, clinical observation, med- 
itation, and reiection. They approach it, but that does not mean 
that they even come close to it. The attempt to confine uncon- 
scious processes to a formula like chemical or mathematical proc- 
esses remains a waste of intellectual energy. One doubts if there is 
any use in discussing the difference between the two types of 
processes with such superior minds. The Austrian poet, Grill- 
parzer, and the German playwright, Hebbel, lived at the same 
time (about one hundred years ago) in Vienna, without meeting 
each other. Grillparzer was reluctant to speak with Hebbel, who 
was inclined to reflection and brooded over many metaphysical 
problems. Grillparzer admitted he was too shy to converse with 
the prominent, meditative playwright. "You know," he said, "Mr, 
Hebbel knows exactly what God thinks and what He looks like, 
and I just don't know." 

It seems to me that the best way to guess something about the 
significance of "insignificant" data, the way to catch the fleeting 
Impressions, is not to meditate, but to be intensely aware of than. 
They reveal their secrets like doors that open themselves, but 
cannot be forced. One can with conviction say: You will under- 
stand them after you have ceased to reflect about them. 

No doubt, the third ear of which we often speak will appear 
to many not only as an anatomical, but also as. a psychological, 
abnormality even to psychologists. But do we not speak: of hear- 
ing with the "inner ear"? What Nietzsche meant is not identical 
this igure of speech, but it is akin to it. The third ear to 
which the great psychologist referred is the same that Freud 
when fee said the capacity of the unconscious for fine hear- 
ing was one of the requisites for the psychoanalyst. 

One of the peculiarities of this third ear is that it works two 


ways. It can catch what other people do not say but only feel and 
think; and it can also be turned Inward. It can hear voices from 
within the self that are otherwise not audible because they are 
drowned out by the noise of our conscious thought-processes. The 
student of psychoanalysis Is advised to listen to those inner voices 
with more attention than to what "reason' 1 tells about the uncon- 
scious; to be very aware of what is said inside himself, ecouter aux 
voix interieures, and to shut his ear to the noises of adult wisdom, 
well-considered opinion, conscious judgment. The night reveals to 
the wanderer things that are hidden by day. 

In other words, the psychoanalyst who hopes to recognize the 
secret meaning of this almost imperceptible, Imponderable lan- 
guage has to sharpen his sensitiveness to It, to increase his read- 
iness to receive it. When he wants to decode it, he can do so only 
by listening sharply inside himself, by becoming aware of the 
subtle impressions it makes upon him and the fleeting thoughts 
and emotions it arouses in him. It is most important that he ob- 
serve with great attention what this language means to him, what 
its psychological effects upon him are. From these he can arrive 
at its unconscious motives and meanings, and this conclusion 
again will not be a conscious thought-process or a logical oper- 
ation, but an unconscious I might almost say, Instinctivere- 
action that takes place within him. The meaning is conveyed to 
htm by a message that might surprise him much like a physical 
sensation for which he Is unprepared and which presents Itself 
suddenly from within his organism. Again, the only way of pene- 
trating into the secret of this language is by looking into oneself, 
understanding one's own reactions to it. 

The reader is asked to think this over. A little known and con- 
cealed organ in the analyst receives and transmits the secret 
messages of others before he consciously understands them him- 
self. And yet the literature of psychoanalysis neglects It. There 
is one word that may make claim to being a rarity In psycho- 
analytic literature (with the exception of Freud): the word "L" 
With what fear and avoidance does the analyst write about his 
own method of coming to conclusions, about his own thoughts 
and Impressions! The devil himself could not frighten many an- 
alysts more than tfoe use of the word "I" does in repotting cases. 


It is this fear of the little pronoun of the first person singular, 
nominative case, that accounts for the fact that reports of self- 
analysis are such a rarity in our literature. The worship of the 
bitch-goddess objectivity, of pseudo precision, of facts and figures, 
explains why this is the only book that deals with this subject 
matter, or which insists that the subject matters. In our science 
only the psychical reality has validity. It is remarkable that the 
unconscious station which does almost all the work is left out 
of analytic discussions. Imagine discussing the science of sound, 
acoustics, without mentioning the ear, or optics without speaking 
of the eye. 

Nothing can, of course, be said about the nature of those un- 
conscious impressions we receive as long as they remain uncon- 
scious. Here are a few representative instances of some that be- 
came conscious. They concern the manner, not the manners, of 
persons who were in the process of psychoanalysis, little peculiari- 
ties, scarcely noticed movements, intonations, and glances that 
might otherwise have escaped conscious observation because they 
were inconspicuous parts of the person's behavior. People gen- 
erally tend to brush aside observations of this sort as immaterial 
and inconsequential, little things not worthy of our attention. 

In the hall that leads from my office to the apartment door is 
a big mirror beside a clothes tree. Why did I not observe that a 
young, pretty woman patient of mine never looked into the 
mirror when she put on her coat? I must have seen it before, but 
it came -to my attention only after the fifth psychoanalytic session. 
I was aware that she spoke without any emotions about her mar- 
riage or her family, and I became suspicious that her remoteness 
and coolness were expressions of a schizophrenic disease. Walk- 
ing behind her to the door, I observed that she did not even 
glance at herself in the mirror, but I did not recall perceiving this 
trait before. I must have perceived it before without noticing it 
asd, when I paid attention to it now, I did so because I saw it 
as an additional symptom. I had seen the patient walk to the 
door in front of me five times, and I knew now that, unlike other 
women, sfee never looked into the mirror. Now I also became 
aware of how carelessly she treated her -hat, that she threw it OB 
ntther than put. it ,oa* It gained sigHfficance now why not before? 


Why did I recall only then what I had often said before, namely, 
that men who treat their hats with great care are usually not 
very masculine and women who do not pay attention to their 
hats are, in general, not very feminine? 

I am choosing this instance as representative of many others In 
which we become aware of a slight divergence because we raiss 
a certain detail of behavior. Experience In psychoanalysis teaches 
us that we are inclined to overlook the absence of a usual bit of 
behavior, although It is often a valuable clue and can become a 
part of the psychological circumstantial evidence we need. That 
something is not present where we expect It, or that something 
is not in Its usual place or order, Is less conspicuous than the pres- 
ence of something unusual. Only when the trait appears Im- 
portant or when It Is missed immediately will It become conspicu- 
ous by Its absence. Otherwise, w r e generally ignore what is not 
there. Sometimes, just the observation of the absence of such little 
features leads to understanding. The other day I read a mystery 
story in which a murder Is committed during a theater perform- 
ance. The audience -is searched and the fact that one man has no 
tie yields a precious clue. 

In contrast to the case mentioned above, I observed very soon 
after the beginning of an analysis that a patient, a middle-aged 
man, spent a long time before the mirror in the hall, smoothing 
his hair before he put on his hat, and so forth. This trait came 
to mind when the patient reported that almost every night 
through the window of his darkened bathroom he spied on 
women undressing and that the sight often made him masturbate. 
My peeping patient was also potentially an exhibitionist. Later 
on It became obvious that he identified himself in his uncon- 
scious fantasies with the women he watched. 

Perceptions of such a vague character, impressions that almost 
elude us, support: us in reaching certain stations on our road to 
Insight. We appreciate their value when we have learned to con- 
trol our impatience and when we do not expect Immediate, but 
rather intermediary, results from these trifles of observations. The 
smell of a perfume, 'a gesture of a hand,, a peculiarity of breath- 
Ing, as well as articulate confessions and long reports, give away 
secrets* Sometimes an observation erf this. kind scarcely deserves 


the name of observation but proves Important none the less. 
Sometimes a transient Impression remains unnoted until it occurs 
often. Only its repetition makes us realize its presence. Pecu- 
liarities of voice, of glancing, often reveal something that was 
hidden behind the words and the sentences we hear. They convey 
a meaning we would never have guessed, if we had not absorbed 
the little asides on the fringes of the stage that accompany the 
main action. Men speak to us and we speak to them not only 
with words but also with the little signs and expressions we un- 
consciously send and receive. Observation of these signs begins 
with our isolating them from the total pattern of the behavior. 
When we succeed in doing this, we can make the Impression 
clearer and stronger by repetition. Their psychological evaluation 
and Interpretation occur sometimes to the psychoanalyst Immedi- 
ately, sometimes later on as we follow the trail. In the process of 
"catching" these elusive signs we must trust to our senses and not 
follow the voice of "reason" which will try to brush them aside. 
The psychologist who approaches this valuable field as sober as 
a judge will not capture many data because he will also be as 
unimaginative as a judge. Only he who is fancy-free and opens 
all his senses to these Impressions will be sensitive to the wealth 
he will encounter. 

The trail uncovered by first impressions sometimes leads to 
Insights that could otherwise be obtained only after a long time 
and by dint of hard psychological dicing. A young graduate stu- 
dent at Harvard started his analysis in a very low voice. His man- 
ner of speech appeared "deliberate and considered, I asked him 
to speak louder. He made an effort to do so, but after two minutes 
dropped back to a low tone that became almost inaudible. At 
first I had the impression that he was shy or timid and that it 
was difficult for him to speak of the serious conflicts that had dis- 
turbed his childhood. This impression could not explain his 
manner of speaking because his voice was not only low but also 
exceptionally deep, and it was as If he chose his words very de- 
liberately. Whatever his reasons, whether shyness, disturbance, or 
emotions that had to be controlled, you cannot analyze someone 
without hearing what he has to say. 

After trying my best to catch what he mumbled, 1 decided to 


interrupt what seemed to be a monologue that excluded an au- 
dience. My first impression had given way to another. His man- 
ner of speaking was much more significant for his personality 
than what he had to say to me in this first session. Neglecting 
everything else, I entered into a discussion of his low-voiced and 
controlled way of speaking and insisted that he tell me all that 
he knew about it, at the same time asking him again to make 
himself heard- We soon arrived at the insight that his low voice 
and dignified manner were a late acquisition that had developed 
as an expression of his opposition to the shrieking, high, excited 
voices of his parents, especially of his mother. There was a story 
in that, a story we meet frequently in American-born children of 
East European immigrants. In this case it was further complicated 
by the neurotic conflicts of the young man. His parents had re- 
tained the behavior and manners of the old country when they 
came to the United States. They spoke loudly and with vivid 
gestures. They were highly temperamental and made no effort 
to control the expression of their emotions. Entirely American- 
ized, the boy began to feel ashamed of his parents and developed 
this characteristic manner of low speaking and overcontrolled 
dignity as a counter-action to the temptation to speak and act 
like the members of his family. He acquired, so to speak, a sec- 
ond personality superimposed on his originally passionate and 
excitable nature. Early conflicts, especially with his mother, inten- 
sified and deepened this reaction-formation whose external signs 
were his way of speaking and similar traits. Analyzing these fea- 
tures, we soon arrived at the core of his neurotic conflicts. 

In this case a practical necessity of the analytic situation forced 
the analyst to turn Ms attention to a special trait of personal be- 
havior, which, if it had been less dearly developed, might have 
remained unobserved. The first analytic session thus started with 
the discussion of this special characteristic, an exception that 
proved justified as well as useful. 

The analyst can achieve some psychological insight into a pa- 
tient even before the beginning of treatment if he will only trust 
his impressions as soon as he becomes aware of them. A young 
woman made an appointment to consult about the possibility, of 
continuing her psychoanalysis with me. She told me sfae had 


broken off her analysis with Dr. A. some months ago. I listened to 
the story of the coniict that was making it impossible for her to 
return to her first psychoanalyst. She rapidly sketched the diffi- 
culties in her marriage, her social relations, and her pofessional 
life. There was nothing, it seemed to me, unusual in what she 
told me; nothing an analyst does not meet with in many patients. 
She seemed to be intelligent enough, sincere, and friendly. Why 
did I feel a slight annoyance with the patient after she left? There 
was nothing in our conversation that could explain such a feel- 
ing. As my attention turned to other patients, I brushed aside the 
vague impression. 

When the patient telephoned two days later, I did not recog- 
nize her name and did not remember that she had promised to 
call me. Now I was forced to follow the rule: Analyst, analyze 

1 remembered feeling slightly annoyed, but I had not become 
aware of any reason for this feeling. It was certain that I had not 
disliked the patient, and certainly she had not done or said any- 
thing during the consultation that could have annoyed me. Well, 
there was the conflict with Dr. A. I had the impression that the 
analyst had lost patience with his patient at the end perhaps 
after she had provoked him many times and that she could not 
take what he had told her about herself. She had definitely re- 
jected my suggestion that she return to Dr. A. and try to continue 
the analysis with him. But that could not possibly have annoyed 
me. She was entitled to decide that herself, and I scarcely knew 
Dr. A. 

What was it then that made me displeased with her? Now it 
slowly came back to me. There were two things she had said the 
unconscious significance of which I had not realized but had 
nevertheless sensed. At the end of our conversation she had asked 
me if 1 would continue her analysis. Before I had time to answer 
she had wondered whether I would advise her to go to Dr. N., 
another psychoanalyst, whom she did not know. The question 
asfced rather casually, but it had left some trace in me of 
which 1 now became aware. It seemed strange. The young lady 
'Consulted me about tier neurotic troubles, had asked me 
whether I would bring her analysis to its end, and then whether 


she had not better go to Dr. N. instead. I had advised her, of 
course, to go to Dr. N. Now over the telephone she said that Dr. 
N. had no time for her and that she wanted to continue her 
analysis with me. Her question concerning Dr. N. during the con- 
sultation appeared at first quite natural and not In the least con- 
spicuous, a question just like any other. Looking back at It, how- 
ever, It took on another character. I remembered that she had 
looked at me with a leer, and I understood now, much later, what 
her sidelong glance and her question meant. It was a provocation 
of a teasing or malicious kind. 

I want to make this element clear. Compare this situation with 
similar ones. What would we think of a patient who asks to be 
treated by one physician and then during the consultation asks 
whether he ought not to go to another physician? It did not make 
sense, and yet I had to assume that there was some concealed sense 
in it. When you go to a shoemaker to have your shoes repaired, 
you do not ask him whether you should take the same shoes to an- 
other shoemaker. You do not ask a girl to dance and then wonder 
aloud whether you should not rather dance with another girl. 

When I suggested that she go to Dr. N., I must have been re- 
acting unconsciously to the unconscious meaning of her question. 
I was not surprised or annoyed, as might be expected. On the 
contrary, 1 reacted as if her question were the most normal thing. 
Only later did I realize that It was extraordinary. I reacted not 
only to the question but also to the look with which she asked it, as 
if to say: "If you doubt whether to come to me or to Dr. N., 
please go to Dr. N. I do not want you as a patient." I reacted as 
if I had understood the meaning of the glance while I did not 
even notice it consciously. I had been aware of a slight annoyance 
after her visit, but not of what had annoyed me. My unconscious 
reaction then (in my answer) and later (not remembering her 
name and our agreement) showed that I had somewhere, hidden 
even from myself, understood well enough that her question was 
really a provocation. 

After that I remembered that the sidelong glance had appeared 
again at the end of the consultation. The patient had casually 
mentioned reading a rather unfavorable review of one of my 
books in the Psychoanalytic Quarterly. As far as my coiascious 


thoughts went the review did not affect me. But that is not the 
point here. Why did she mention it? Where was the need to say 
it? It seems that I felt annoyed, not at being reminded of the 
criticism, but by her intention in reminding me of it, which I 
sensed. Well bred and well educated, she would certainly not say 
to a stranger she had just met at a dinner or cocktail party, "Oh, 
I read an unfavorable review of your last book just two days 
ago." Why did she do it just before leaving my room and why 
this sidelong, expectant glance? Considering her otherwise excel- 
lent manners, there must have been an unconscious hostile or 
aggressive tendency in her remark. 

What was gained by my insight, what was the advantage in 
catching these imponderable expressions that had appeared in- 
cognito? There was more than one advantage besides the satis- 
faction of the psychological interest. That side glance was reveal- 
ing. It not only observed; it was observed; and for a fleeting mo- 
meet I caught the real face behind the mask. The situation was 
like that of a masquerade at which a person has the advantage of 
seeing a lady who believes herself unobserved, without her mask. 
Later, when he meets her again in disguise, he will know her 
identity. This early insight proved very useful later on. It was a 
promising beginning and it helped me in the difficult situations 
that merged in the later phases of analysis. It was much easier to 
understand the masochistic provocation to which the patient 
resorted again and again. And it was easier to convince her finally 
that some unconscious tendency in her forced her to make herself 
disliked. I had, of course, overcome my initial annoyance quickly 
after I understood its reasons and, forewarned and forearmed by 
my early insight, I could tolerate the provocations much better 
than my colleague, who had yielded to the temptation to become 
angry with her- 

The discussion of this case and the many others that follow 
to present a good opportunity to inject a few remarks about 
the psychoanalyst himself. What kind of psychoanalyst, some 
readers will ask, can feel annoyed or impatient? Is this the much- 
praised calm and the correct scientiSc attitude of the therapist? 
Is this the pure mirror that reflects the image of the patient who 
to psychoanalysis with his troubles, symptoms, and com- 


plaints? Is this the proper conch-side manner? The question is 
easily answered. The^jDsychoanalyst Js .a buman.,.l^iiig,.ifeJJiy 
There is nothing jji^^^ 

In fact, he has to be human. How el^couldjiejjixcte 

human^beings? if he were like a block of wood or a marble statue, 
lie "could never hope to grasp the strange passions and thoughts 
he will meet with in his patients. If he were cold and unfeeling, a 
"stuffed shirt," as some plays portray him, he would be an ana- 
lytic robot or a pompous, dignified ass who could not gain entry 
to the secrets of the human soul It seems to me that the demand 
that the analyst should be sensitive and human does not contra- 
dict the expectation that he should maintain an objective view 
of his cases and perform his difficult task with as much thera- 
peutic and scientific skill as is given him. Objectivity and in- 
humanness are two things that are frequently confused, even by 
many psychoanalysts. The sensitiveness and the subjectivity of the 
analyst concern his impressionability to the slightest stimuli, to 
the minute, almost imperceptible indices of unconscious proc- 
esses. It is desirable that he be as susceptible, as responsive and 
alive, to those signs as a mimosa is to the touch. He should, of 
course, possess the same sensitiveness to, and the same faculty for 
fine hearing of, the voices within himself. His objectivity, his cool 
and calm judgment, his power of logical and psychological pene- 
tration as well as his emotional control, should be reserved for 
the analytic treatment. He will not feel the temptation to express 
his own emotions when his psychological interest outweighs 
his temperament. He will be able to check and control impulses 
that he has in common with his patients when he remembers that 
his task is to understand and to help them. It is ridiculous to 
demand that an analyst, to whom nothing human should be 
alien, should not be human himself. Goethe has expressed it 
beautifully: If the eye were not something sunlike itself, it could 
never see the sun, 

The instances reported above contrast with others alas, so 
many others in which I remained unaware of those trifles, of 
those little revealing signs, or in which I observed them much 
later, sometimes even too late. It does not matter how much or 
how little too late. It makes no difference whether you missed 


your plane by only a few minutes or by a few hours. In every one 
of those cases my lack of sensitiveness was punished by additional 
work, an increased intellectual and emotional effort that would 
have been unnecessary if J had been more impressionable or ob- 
servant. In almost all of them there was also a hindrance in my- 
self that blocked me or dulled the sharpness of my observation. 
Here is such a case, one of many: 

A young man had come for psychoanalysis because he wanted 
10 rid himself of many nervous symptoms and some serious diffi- 
culties he was encountering in his private and professional life. I 
succeeded in a relatively short time in freeing him of his most 
oppressive symptoms, but the other difficulties remained. They 
seemed to be stationary and did not improve. I often told myself 
that something in me hindered my deeper penetration into that 
secret. But I could not find the road that led to it. The young 
man had obliging, open manners and showed brilliant intelli- 
gence, wit, and humor. What a pity that all these gifts remained 
sterile and displayed themselves only when he talked! His intel- 
lectual endowment and his emotional alertness made everything 
he said interesting whether he talked about his own symptoms, 
about his complicated relations with relatives and friends, his 
past emotions and experiences, or of the present, of a sexual ad- 
venture, or money matters. He knew how to tell a tale about 
himself or others. He was stimulating as well as stimulated. Noth- 
ing changed, however, in his inner situation after he had lost his 
most serious symptoms. 

One day he told me that his sweetheart, who had listened to 
Ms stories for a long time, had smilingly asked, "But, John, why 
do you make such an effort? I am not a girl whom you met yester- 
day." My eyes were suddenly opened wide by this remark of a 
third person. I had really overlooked the fact that the young man 
tad not talked to me, but had entertained me in the last weeks. 
The girl was right, so absolutely right. He dazzled people. He 
bribed them with Ms reports, which were always very alive and 
vivid, vibrant and interesting. In speaking of himself, however, 
he did not give of himself. He spent himself, but he did not sur- 
render. He igured in his reports like the storyteller in a modern 
novel narrated in the fizst person-a story by Somerset Maugham. 


In talking about himself, ostensibly quite freely, he was hiding 
himself. Listening to him with sharper ears, I now received a new 
impression of his inadequacy feelings, which made it necessary for 
him to conquer all people anew whenever he met them, to use his 
endowments to win them over and thus overcome his deep sense 
of insecurity. I had let myself be bribed like so many others by 
these great, ever-recurrent efforts. Then along came a young girl 
whose psychological knowledge did not surpass that of other 
students of Vassar or Smith and gave me a lesson I would not 
forget. She hit the target easily and casually, reminding the 
young man that he need not exert himself. She had said, "I am 
not a girl whom you met yesterday/' and with these nine words 
she had shown the path for which I had searched in vain. I took 
my hat off to this unknown Vassar girl and felt thoroughly 
ashamed of myself. Who had taught her the fine art of psycho- 
logical observation and discernment? You do not learn such 
things in the psychology department at Smith or Vassar. I was 
ready to believe that the girl was smart enough, but it was not 
her intelligence that had spoken like that. It was her heart that 
had told her. 

Experiences of this kind (I could tell many more) make us psy- 
choanalysts modest about our psychological endowment or 
should make us more modest. There was I, who thought myself a 
trained observer,? and I did not recognize what was so obvious. 
"What is a trained observer?" I asked rnyseli He is a man who 
is trained to pay attention to certain things and to neglect others. 
He is a man who overpays attention to features he expects to see 
and remains in debt to others that escape his notice. 

Nobody can get a good hold on the essential discoveries of psy- 
choanalysis without a certain measure of suffering. The truth 
lives among us unspoken, and someone should come out with it, 
whatever effect it will have on our student analysts. It sounds 
simple enough, and yet it is calculated to stir up debateeven 


among analysts. In every society there are some things that are 
taken as a matter of course. Yet we need only utter them in order 
to make them the subject of serious differences of opinion. 

I chose the word "suffering" intentionally, I might very well 
have said "pain" instead. But my object was to denote the most 
vital and significant element of that pain, the very element that 
Is associated with the acquisition of the most important analytic 
experience, and for that I know of no other name than suffering. 
It may be prudent not to call things by their frequently alarming 
names; but it is not equally truthful. 

What? Can the knowledge of objectively valid truths, of defi- 
nite laws demonstrable by everyone and to everyone, of typical 
conditions, be dependent upon the observer or learner suffering 
under them? It will be said and often has been said that a con- 
dition of so subjective a nature is unheard of in scientific investi- 
gation. People will say it recalls the way religious doctrines of 
salvation are learned, that it is calculated to endanger verification 
of the objective facts, that no such condition has ever been at- 
tached to the acquisition of psychological knowledge, and so on. 
Unable to meet such a shower of arguments and unschooled in 
dialectics, I shall not attempt to put together what can be said in 
reply to these objections. I will only remind the reader that the 
conditions upon which we can acquire certain knowledge do not 
depend upon the teacher's will, but first and foremost upon the 
nature of the knowledge to be acquired. 

It is the peculiar nature of the knowledge that justifies my 
statement, and not only of the knowledge but also of the experi- 
ence that must be acquired. The most important analytic knowl- 
edge cannot be acquired in its full significance without the removal 
of repressions. And here we strike upon a central conception. 
The motive and purpose of the repression was nothing but the 
avoidance of pain. The removal of the repression must cause 
pain taken here in its broadest significance. But the removal of 
the repression, the conquest of the resistance against certain ideas 
and emotions becoming conscious, is the inescapable condition of 
acquiring tfie mast important analytic knowledge. Assuredly it is 
not only the individual's sensibilities, his pride and his vanity, 
chat are touched by analysis, but other things besides. Our dear- 


est Illusions are brought Into question; dear because their main- 
tenance has been bought with particularly great sacrifices. The 
views and convictions that we love most fervently analysis under- 
mines; it weans us from our old habits of thought. This new 
knowledge confronts us with dangers that we seemed to have 
mastered long ago, raises thoughts that we had not dared to 
think, stirs feelings from which we had anxiously guarded our- 
selves. Analysis means an invasion of the realm of Intellectual and 
emotional taboo, and so rouses all the defensive reactions that 
protect that realm. Every inch of the ground Is obstinately de- 
fended, the more ardently the more trouble its conquest once 
cost us. But where analysis penetrates to the deepest and most 
sensitive plane of our personality, it can only force an entrance 
with pain. 

There Is nothing misleading In saying that the man who really 
wants to understand analysis must experience It and its effects on 
his own person; but It is a vague assertion that paraphrases the 
position rather than describes it. It Is correct to say that the 
analyst's most significant knowledge must be experienced by him- 
self. But It Is even more correct and approaches nearer to what is 
essential to declare openly that these psychological experiences 
are of such a nature that they must be suffered. 

What we have to do is to throw light on the problem in Its ob- 
scurest corners; perhaps the subjective capacity to suffer or, 
better, the capacity to accept and assimilate painful knowledge, 
Is one of the most important prognostic marks of analytic study. 
It seems to me that we have no right to withhold from learners 
the fact that the deepest knowledge is not to be had if they shrink 
from purchasing it with personal suffering. And this capacity is 
assuredly not one that can be learned. Suffering, too, is a gift; it Is 
a grace. Let me make my meaning dear. Among my patients at 
the moment is a talented playwright. His craftsmanship, Ms dra- 
matic sense, his stylistic endowment are beyond dispute; he is 
smart, witty, observes sharply, and knows the world. What makes 
him fail? Goethe gives the answer: he says the pott Is a person to 
whom God gave the gift to say what he has suffered, what we all 
have suffered. My young playwright would have the ability to 
say what he feels. The trouble is that he does not feel suffering. 


He always chooses the easy way out of conflicts; he will not stand 
his ground In the face of unavoidable grief, sorrow, despair. We 
analysts often cannot spare our patients pain. In order to make 
an omelette, you have to break eggs. 

But how can an analyst understand others If he has not suffered 
himself? We return here again to the statement that qualities 
of character are more Important than intellectual ones for the 
making of an analyst. 

Now does not a good deal of psychological knowledge get 
through to the patient painlessly? Certainly, I was speaking here 
of the most significant part of analysis, the most Important both 
in theory and practice, which starts from the problem of repres- 
sion and remains dependent upon It. But a deeper comprehen- 
sion of these questions presupposes a clarification of the analyst's 
owe conflicts, an Insight Into the weakest and most endangered 
parts of his own ego, the rousing and stirring of everything that 
slept deepest In him if It slept. That knowledge can only be 
purchased at the price of staking his own person, of conscious 
suffering. Before sitting down on the chair behind the couch, the 
analyst should have stood up to life. 

In this sense the reading of analytic literature and attendance 
at lectures on analysis only mean preparation for the acquisition 
of analytic comprehension. They certainly do not give the pene- 
tration that alone deserves the name of comprehension; they re- 
main on the surface of intellectual comprehension, and show 
little power of resistance. But why do I lay stress upon just the 
suffering? Doesn't anyone who wants to understand the depths 
of human experience also have to feel pleasure, joy, happiness? 
Certainly; but a person who has once experienced deep suffering 
need not be anxious about his power to comprehend other emo- 
tions- That Intellectual freedom, that profounder psychological 
insight, that clear vision that come from the conquest of suffering, 
on be attained by no other means, 

To spare ourselves pain sometimes involves sparing ourselves 
fKycboIogical Insight The unconscious knowledge that I have so 
often spoken of springs not least from the reservoir of our own 
suffering, through which we learn to understand that of others. 
Not unhappiness, not 'Calamity, not mnlheur or unfortunate ex- 


periences produce It. It is true that misfortune teaches us pru- 
dence. But suffering, consciously experienced and mastered, 
teaches us wisdom. 

Before 1 conclude this contribution to the discussion, I will 
return once more to the theme of Inner truthfulness, which ap- 
pears to me as one of the essential psychological conditions for 
the Investigation of the unconscious. It is a quality that will not 
only prove of value in the conquest of unexplored regions of the 
mind; it is also needed in order to stand out against a pseudo 
rationality that declares It superfluous to range the distant realm 
of the unconscious when the good territory of the conscious lies 
so near at hand. In our analytic work we soon feel the temptation 
of yielding to that admonition, for the forces of our own con- 
scious habits of thought will Influence us to reject at once an idea 
about the psychological data that seems absurd or scurrilous. And 
we must consider that the data, emerging rapidly, often vanish 
and are lost just when they are received. But if we recall one of 
these ideas later, it often seems not only senseless and In bad 
taste, but without tangible connection, farfetched. Although the 
idea as such has not then been drawn back Into the unconscious, 
its matrix in the conditions of the psychical situation has. 

The voices of those around him, to whom he tells the strange 
Idea or Impression, will then sound to the analyst like an echo of 
what resists the surprising perception within himself, and will 
sometimes drown other voices. Everyday considerations will 
mount up, Ironical reflections will block the way, sophisms will 
appear to check the action of reason, and the jugglery of con- 
sciousness will prevent penetration into the region of repression. 
In the external world ancient wisdom will unite with modern 
cocksureness to lure the analyst away from the blurred trail And 
it needs moral courage to hold aloof from obvious "explanations/* 
For if the budding analyst, deaf to the seductions of exalted rea- 
son, cleaves obstinately to the track once found, like a hound set 
on the trail that is not to be turned from it by strangers calling 
him, he will get no encouragement from society, even if the trail 
brings him nearer to what he is seeking. He will feel the desola- 
tion, chill, and gloom of the man who dedicates himself to Intel- 
lectual solitude and is soon alone. The comfort remains to Mm 


of the knowledge expressed in the proverb: "Se tu sarai solo, tu 
mrai tutto tuo." And this is the blessing of such loneliness: he 
who is always listening to the voices of others remains Ignorant of 
his own. He who Is always going to others will never come to 

Rejection by our neighbors and the absence of outward success, 
joined to our own doubts, is harder to bear than we like to ad- 
mit. But if we have the hope of illuminating obscure mental 
relations, these reactions of society may make us lose our temper, 
but they cannot make us lose courage. That danger is nearer 
wfaen the way we are seeking seems to lose Itself In the darkness 
ahead or in the far distance, while other people seem to have 
reached the same goal long ago along the broad highway. 

The line of least resistance in psychological cognition does not 
simply mark off the general opinion from the analytic point of 
view. We shall find it in our own camp, nay, in each one of us. 
We, like other people, are exposed to the temptation to try to 
comprehend obscure psychological relations rapidly and accord- 
ing to formula. Indeed, there is one factor that occasionally brings 
the temptation nearer: analytic theories are no less susceptible 
to hasty and false application than other scientific assumptions. 
We must warn young people not to make short work of the in- 
tellectual processes that precede the spoken word, and train them 
to postpone judgment and put up with doubt. Knowledge too 
hastily acquired assuredly does not imply power, but a presump- 
tuous pretense of power. 

I take it as a good omen of the scientific quality of an analytic 
worker who has only been practicing for a few years, if the ex- 
planation of unconscious processes does not come easily to him 
when he finds himself confronted with the confusing wealth of 
psychological data. Thus a young psychoanalyst lamented to me 
not long ago that he had failed to comprehend a relation in, or 
to grasp the peculiar psychological character of, a case he was 
observing. I advised him to wait and not yield to impatience. If 
a tiling is very easily comprehended* it may be that there is not 
much to comprehend In It He said hesitantly that from his school 
days right on into the years when he discussed problems of his 
science with academic friends, he had envied people who rapidly 


and easily discerned intricate relations and could solve a problem 
with ease. His case may permit of a few remarks on something 
beyond the special circumstances. 

Very many of us know these moods well. At congresses or meet- 
ings of analytic societies when somebody has boasted how easily 
he had found the solution of a psychological problem, how deep 
he had penetrated into the structure of a case of neurosis, and 
how soon he had discerned all its psychical conditions, I have 
felt nothing of calm assurance, but sometimes a strong sense of 
my own inadequacy. While I had not yet really grasped where 
the problem lay, the other man had solved it long ago. I looked 
enviously upon a facility, a rapidity of comprehension that I 
could not hope to attain. My intellectual Inferiority seemed to be 
confirmed by the harshand still more by the mild verdict that 
contrasted my own dullness and slowness of grasp, my "long-dis- 
tance transmission/" with the other person's ease and rapidity of 
comprehension. I thought then that the intellectual rating of an in- 
dividual was essentially determined by these qualities. Scientific 
psychology had worked out, in Its tests, methods of making these 
conditions appear the only Important and unchangeable ones. 

And then as my youth slipped away and I subjected this much- 
lauded ease of comprehension to closer examination, my respect 
for it was considerably diminished. Was It, perhaps, experience 
that taught me to be suspicious? I do not think so; experience as 
such teaches us hardly anything, unless we want to learn from it. 
But that requires a coincidence of certain psychological condi- 
tions. The truth is that I learned to mistrust all that is intellectu- 
ally glib and slick, smooth and smart. I often recognized It as a 
mark of shining and worthless superficiality, a "phony/* to use 
the slang expression. I began also to mistrust the rapid power of 
"understanding" and I remembered what they used to say In 
Vienna about an Austrian statesman: his grasp of things and per- 
sons was always quick, but always false. I acquired the ability to 
resist the great defensive power of other people's experience, for 
the experience of others often enough prevents us from gaining 
any of our own. On occasion it Is the downright protector of tra- 
dition and the purveyor of false assumptions handed down to us. 

I do not speak here of those cases in which such comprehension 


amounts to the acceptance of the opinions of predecessors or 
authorities that have come superficially to our knowledge. Such 
cases are, indeed, of the utmost importance to the rising academic 
generation. I am discussing the comprehension that comes after 
we have examined the facts and found a reasonable and sufficient 
explanation. The temptation that is perhaps the most difficult 
to recognize as such, and to which we therefore so readily yield, 
is that of accepting an explanation because it is plausible, ra- 
tional, and comprehensible. This easy comprehension is often 
the sign of intellectual haste, let us say, the expression of an intel- 
lectual avidity that is content with the first intelligence that offers, 
instead of thinking the best obtainable just good enough. 

In analytic psychology we have daily illustrations of how liable 
we are to this temptation. There is, for instance, a wholly logical 
connection between two elements in the manifest content of a 
dream; but it Is only a shadow bridge across a hidden gulf. We 
hear a very reasonable inference, a logically unassailable reason 
for certain personal peculiarities, and yet it forms only a well- 
camouflaged super-structure in the system of a serious compulsion 
neurosis. All that and much more besides is only external, a log- 
ical facade, intellectual mimicry, and camouflage, set up in order 
to lure research away from more important things and keep it 
away from its real objects. Anyone who interprets a slip of the 
tongue as the absent-minded substitution of one letter for another 
or the dropping of a sound need not go on with research. Any- 
one who regards the compulsion of a nervous patient to wash 
simply as- an expression of intensified cleanliness has allowed him- 
self to be led astray by the logical tricks of a compulsion neu- 
rotic. If we once abandon ourselves to deceptive logic and yield 
to the obscure urge to comprehend rapidly, then we cannot stop. 
We are soon convinced; it must be so, and nowise else. With 
less and less intellectual resistance, we shall then comprehend 
everything OB the basis of false assumptionsstrictly logically. 
Everything proceeds swimmingly; single contradictions and omis- 
sions are passed over, rifts unconsciously bridged. Any detail 
does not fit is pushed and pulled into place, and conflicting 
are guilelessly forced into a new artificial system. The 
advice that we must give to young psychological investigators 


must be: Resist the temptation of understanding too quickly, 
("Principiis intelligendi obsta") 

We hear the boast made on behalf of psychoanalysis that, be- 
hind the mental phenomena that have hitherto been regarded as 
absurd and senseless, it has discovered a secret meaning, a hidden 
significance, and brought it to light. Confronted with this mighty 
achievement, which has opened the road to the comprehension 
of the unconscious mind, I fear that we have too little appreciated 
the other achievement that preceded it, without which, indeed, It 
would not have been possible. Psychoanalysis has resisted the 
acceptance of mental associations simply because they were rea- 
sonable, or, Indeed, because they were "the only reasonable ex- 
planation/' It has refused to recognize a chain of cause and effect 
In the Inner life as the only one solely because It seemed plausible 
and there was no other in sight. The theory of physical stimuli 
seemed capable of explaining the phenomena of dreams; puberty 
was thoroughly accepted as the beginning of sexuality. In these 
matters nature herself offered the obvious explanation. Several 
physiological phenomena clearly Indicated the etiology of hys- 
teria, of phobias, and compulsion neuroses everything was 
plain, there were no further problems to be solved. To hold these 
reasonable and sufficient explanations inadequate, to renounce 
easy and convenient comprehension of psychical facts that could 
hardly be called eccentricity it was obviously either want of 
sense or else scientific conceit, hubris. 

It must be stated more than once it must be said three times- 
that not to understand psychological relations represents an ad- 
vance over superficial comprehension. Whereas such comprehen- 
sion amounts to arriving in a blind alley, all sorts of possibilities 
remain open to one who does not understand. To be puzzled 
where everything is clear to others, where they merely ask: "What 
is there to understand?" to see a riddle there still need not be a 
mark of stupidity; it may be the mark of a free mind. Obstinately 
not to understand where other people find no difficulties and 
obscurities may be the initial stage of new knowledge. In this 
sense the much-lauded rapid apprehension, including that by 
means of psychoanalytic theories, may be sterile since it touches 
only the most superficial levels. Regarded thus, a mediobre*' in- 


telilgence, an intellectual mobility, and capacity to be on the 
spot, which places, classifies, and establishes every phenomenon 
as quickly as possible, may have less cultural value than apparent 
intellectual failure or the temporary miss, which is sometimes 
the forerunner of deeper comprehension. 

In the inner world, too, there are situations in which the 
cosmos, the ordered, articulated universe, seems, so to speak, to 
be turned back to chaos, yet from which a new creation emerges. 
We think, perhaps, that we fully understand such and such a 
psychical event, and then it suddenly becomes incomprehensible. 
We had worked our way to the opinion in question and made it 
our own. And then all of a sudden it is lost, without our know- 
ing how. We had tested and examined everything and decided 
that it was aU right; and then everything became uncertain 
again. In the midst of light we saw obscurity. Problems solved 
long ago become problematical again. 

Questions answered long ago show that there was something 
questionable in the answer. Surely everybody has had the experi- 
ence of a carpet pattern seeming to change under his very eyes. 
Gradually or suddenly we see it seem to lose the familiar form; 
the lines, combined so significantly and pleasantly in figures or 
arabesques, suddenly part, tangle, and try to follow their own 
strange ways, darker than those of the Lord, As long as we have 
known the carpet, we have seen that arrangement of lines in it, 
one figure. Our eye is used to tracing the threads that make the 
memorable form. We never expected to see anything else. And 
then one day the accustomed order of the lines is dissolved, the 
old pattern is blurred and hazy. The lines refuse to combine in 
the old way. They arrange themselves in new, hitherto concealed 
figures, in new, hitherto unnoticed groupings. A like surprise, in 
ceasing to recognize something to be transformed later into the 
of new knowledge, may be the lot of many investigators. 
What has long been classified, arranged, judged, and clearly 
known may suddenly become incomprehensible to an individual 
pioneer. That means that the conception hitherto current, accord- 
ing to which everything was dear, no longer seems to him worthy 
o the name of comprehension. The investigator in question 
thai say, "I am beginning no longer to comprehend/* 


It would seem that one of the most important conditions of 
this non-comprehension is an uncommon measure of intellectual 
courage. I do not mean here the courage to confess we have not 
understood something that is as clear as daylight to everybody 
else. That kind of courage would denote something more ex- 
ternal, something of a secondary character. What I mean is rather 
the courage in the world of thought that is able to draw back 
from what is universally comprehensible and reasonable, and not 
to join the march into the region of the plausible. It takes cour- 
age to mistrust the temptation to understand everything and not 
to be content with a perception because it is evident. It takes 
courage to resist the wave of general comprehension (in the sense 
of superficiality or common sense). It requires inner truthfulness 
to stand out against our own intellectual impatience, our desire 
to master intellectually and to take associations by storm. This, 
too, is a form of belief in the omnipotence of thought, and it 
requires courage to reject it not to take the path of least intel- 
lectual resistance, of speedy and effortless comprehension. 

Assuredly it is not true, as a group of scientific nihilists tell us, 
that man will have nothing to do with truth. On the contrary, I 
believe that mankind has a great thirst for truth. The greatest 
hindrance to the advance of knowledge is rather of a different 
nature; it is that people think they have long been in possession 
of the truth, the whole truth. The realms in which the human 
spirit will make new and surprising discoveries are by no means 
only those hitherto unexplored, but also those of which we have 
very accurate and reliable maps. It is the problems already 
"solved" that present the most numerous and difficult problems 
to the inquirer. If we want to attain new knowledge, we must look 
around among the old, familiar questions, just as Diogenes 
sought men in the crowded market place of Athens. But we need 
a measure of intellectual courage to raise and solve these prob- 
lems. It is this courage that will, sooner or later, overcome the 
resistance of the dull world. 


Psychoanalytic Experiences in 
Life, Literature, and Music 

Psychoanalytic Experiences in Life., 
Literature, and Music 

AFTER more than forty years of theoretical and practical oc- 
cupation with psychoanalysis I still consider those insights 
most valuable that come as a surprise to me. An insight into 
human beings that is only figured out, a psychological under- 
standing that is obtained only by reason, can have but intellectual 
fruits. Here are some inner experiences leading to a few new 
concepts and insights into unconscious emotions. Observations 
and impressions obtained in everyday life and in analytic sessions 
often echo the inner experiences shaped by a great writer. Those 
echoes are memories of character or situations read in a book or 
seen on the stage. Yet such fleeting and half-forgotten impressions 
are often the hidden sources from which the "intuitions'* of the 
psychoanalyst flow. His unconscious knowledge and understand- 
ingwhat else is "intuition?" are acquired not only from the 
experiences of life, but also from their reflections in literature 
that mirrors life. We do not often relate the psychological in- 
sights of great writers to our analytic work in our daily wrestling 
with the demons of the consultation room. But these insights 
pervade the atmosphere nevertheless. The invisible can some- 
times be strongly present. Under favorable internal circum- 
stances we are sometimes able to grasp these insights and to put 
their content and character into words. I should like to present 
an example of such an exceptional experience, of the re-emer- 
gence of impressions otherwise subterranean, to show what an 
important part they play in our work. It is a strange experience 
to meet in everyday life the very counterpart of characters or 
situations which once were conceived in the imagination of a 
perceptive writer. 

Here is a dream of my patient, Tom, who is thirty-one years 


old: "Bill and I sit together and he tells me that his father died 
a few days before. He laughs while he tells me this and I am 
surprised.' 9 

Bill is an acquaintance of Tom's who often spends the evening 
with him. The two young men had dined together the night be- 
fore Tom's dream occurred, and at this time Bill had, in reality, 
spoken warmly of his "old man/' whose character he praised and 
whom he described as being still vigorous and hard-working. 
Tom got the impression that Bill and his father are on excellent 
terms. In his analytic session the following day, Tom reported 
first this conversation and then his dream. We do not hesitate to 
guess that the conversation with Bill functioned as a day remnant 
for the dream, and that thoughts or emotions awakened during 
the evening were its source. 

There were no associations helpful in penetrating the secret 
meaning of the dream. Its interpretation, at least in its essential 
content, emerged in a sudden flash, facilitated by my knowledge 
of the dreamer's life story, and by the insight gained into his char- 
acter during several months of psychoanalysis. When Bill had 
talked so affectionately of his father, there must have been in 
Tom some feeling of envy and some longing for his own father, 
who had died twenty-one years before. Tom felt an impulse to 
speak of this father whom he had lost when he was ten years old. 
The dream originated in the thought: "If Bill should ask me 
about my father, I would say . . /' The reversal of roles in the 
dream appears more plausible when we understand that Tom 
would, in actual life, speak very much as Bill did in his dream. 
Toip likes to hide his strong emotions behind a casual and some- 
what cynical front. He makes fun of himself and others, and in 
many analytic sessions spoke in a flippant and sarcastic manner 
of things that were, painful to him. 

The concealed meaning of the dream becomes clear when one 
reverses the roles and transforms a thought possibility into a 
real situation: "If I now talked about my father, I would say 
that he had died a few days ago and then I would laugh and Bill 
would be surprised." Such behavior would be quite in character 
for Tom, as he had frequently demonstrated in the past few 
months. Besides Ms need to hide his .emotions and to make fun 


of himself, his temptation to startle and impress people, to act a 
part, is very powerful. 

Tom did not react to my tentative interpretation of his dream, 
He neither confirmed nor denied it. He remained silent for a 
moment, and then spoke of a slip of the tongue he had experi- 
enced a few days before. Jt was as if he wanted to turn to another 
subject and avoid discussion of the dream. But the character of 
the mistake he now related confirmed, in art indirect manner, 
my interpretation of the dream. "I made a funny slip of the 
tongue the other day. Paul [another acquaintance] and I were 
in a bar and we were pretty high He asked me about my father, 
and I said, 'I died when I was ten years old/ " In saying, "I died/* 
instead of, "He died," Tom gave his genuine feelings away. The 
loss of his father marked the turning point of his boyhood. It 
was as if he had died himself when his father was killed in a 
car accident. 

We have learned that there is a secret communication between 
the unconscious minds of two persons engaged in a conversation 
such as this. When Tom spoke of his slip of the tongue, he con- 
tinued the theme of the death of his father, and what he said 
amounted to an unconscious confirmation of my dream interpre- 
tation. However, his thoughts had a further unconscious mean- 
ing. The story of his slip was, so to speak, his own contribution 
to the interpretation of his dream. This contribution was not 
consciously intended and was not perceived by him as such. 

My attention was turned to an important feature of the dream 
that had been neglected In my interpretation: his father had died 
a few days before instead of twenty-one years ago. This detail 
of the manifest dream content had not been considered in my 
interpretation, which therefore left out one of the most essential 
meanings of the dream. In his slip of the tongue ("I died when 
I was ten years old**), he had made a mistake concerning the 
personal pronoun. But does this slip not say, "I still feel the 
terrible loss today as I did when I was a boy of ten years . . /'? 

The dream element that his father "died a few days ago" must 
have a similar concealed meaning. We sometimes say, "I remem- 
ber as if it had happened yesterday," when we speai of an event 
that occurred a long time ago but has made a lasting and vivid izn- 


pression upon us. Such a meaning is not manifest In the wordiag 
of the dream feature, but it can easily be guessed. 

The following paragraphs not only reveal this missing inter- 
pretation but go beyond this to demonstrate again that a most 
important part of analytic understanding emerges from uncon- 
scious processes of the psychoanalyst. 

The fact that the patient told me about his slip of the tongue 
had turned my attention to the one still neglected element of the 
dream. But if this was the effect of his report, was it not also its 
unconscious purpose? When his reaction to my original interpre- 
tation was neither to agree nor disagree, but, instead, to tell me of 
his slip of the tongue, there must have been an unconscious con- 
nection in his mind between the dream and his mistake, The very 
succession proves that there were threads running from the first 
to the second subject. The content of his slip points in the direc- 
tion of that concealed connection. It says, in effect, "I was only 
ten years old, but it is as if it happened yesterday and as if I had 
died myself," 

Shifting now from the patient's thought processes to my own, I 
shall try to describe as precisely as possible on which interesting 
detour the understanding of that neglected dream element was 
reached. It was as if the report about the slip of the tongue had 
acted as an unconscious stimulus and was used for the interpre- 
tation of the still unconsidered detail. The hint was unconsciously 
grasped by me as if it contained a further due until then missing. 

At this point the name "Hamlet" emerged suddenly into my 
thoughts. Tom's slip of the tongue had become connected in my 
mind both with the dream element ("my father died a few days 
ago") and with some memory-trace of Shakespeare's play as if 
the dream wording awakened a familiar echo. I became aware 
that the purposeful absurdity of "a few days ago" reminded me 
of some similar, grimly distorted and bitter lines spoken by the 
Danish prince. 

Suddenly the scene of the play within the play came vividly be- 
fore my mind's eye: the King, the Queen and the Lords in the 
royal castle at Elsinore; the wide hall illuminated by torches; 
Ophelia sits beside the Queen, and Hamlet asks the girl whether 
lie may lie with Ms head upon her lap. I did not then remember 


the exact words, but felt there must follow some sentences that 
Hamlet's father had died the other day. No, not a few days ago 
as in Tom's dream; a few hours ago . . . 

.Alter Tom had left, I looked the scene up (Act III, scene 2). 
Here Is the passage: 

Ophelia: You are merry, my lord. 

Hamlet: Who, I? 

Ophelia: Aye, my lord. 

Hamlet: O God, your only jig-maker. What should a man 

do but be merryfor look you, how cheerfully my mother 

looks and my father died within's two hours! 

Ophelia: Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord. 

Hamlet: So long? Nay, then, let the devil wear black for 

Til have a suit of sables. O Heavens! Died two months 

ago and not forgotten yet? Then there's hope a great 

man's memory may outlive his life half a year, but, by'r 

Lady, he must build churches then . . . 

The bitter mockery expressed in Hamlet's joking Is not unlike 
that in Tom's dream. This parallel awakened my preconscious 
memory of the play. The dream and the scene from Hamlet 
were linked in my thoughts not only by the similarity of the emo- 
tions but by the resemblance of their expression as in the pre- 
tended shortening of time passed since the father's death. This 
echo made me understand how much method and madness were 
in Tom's dream, as In the behavior of Hamlet. 

For a moment the shadow of the Bard had passed through the 
consultation room of an analyst and had helped him to penetrate 
the concealed emotions of a disturbed mind. 

"If Hamlet's father hadn't been murdered" When that odd 
thought occurred to me it was in the middle of aa< analytic 
session three years ago I brushed it aside, of course. First because 

it was utterly silly, second it had nothing to do with the patient, 


and third one Is a rational human being who should not think 
such foolish stuff. Thoughts must not run around wildly as dogs 
do in the traffic of the city but should be kept on a leash. What 
would the world come to if there were no rules and regulations 
concerning trains of thought? Chaos would come again as at the 
dawn of creation before God said, "Let there be light!" 

The first time the idea emerged, it had the innocence and 
naivete of all silly thoughts. It just crawled into my brain like an 
insect into one's sleeve. One becomes aware of an unpleasant sen- 
sation that something is creeping on one's arm before discovering 
it is an ant. I was at first astonished, then I became indignant 
at the intruder, and finally I felt ashamed of myself. What would 
people, for instance my colleagues, say if they knew what kind 
of ideas occurred to mel "The thought-company he keeps!** they'd 
say. I ordered that interloper to shut up. But it didn't and I 
slowly yielded to it. Why shouldn't a man have silly ideas occa- 
sionally? Is there no such thing as intellectual recreation, as a 
playground for thoughts? I am a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen, 
a psychoanalyst, which means I have a more or less honest pro- 
fession. I am as entitled to have foolish ideas as the next man. 
This is a free country. Remember (I said to myself, said I) the 
many stupid, even moronic thoughts expressed at the sessions 
of Congress, at the conventions of the Republican party, at the 
meetings of psychiatric associations! No one there is ashamed 
of having stupid thoughts. They all get a hearing, they are even 
advertised and publicized. People are proud of them, all kinds of 
people, congressmen, lawyers, doctors. They fill the official publi- 
cations of the government, the law journals, the scientific books, 
die newspapers and magazines of the nation. 

Then of all thingsthe basic rale of psychoanalysis occurred 
to me. Don't we ask our patients to say all that comes to mind, 
however stupid, silly, insignificant or immaterial it may appear 
to them? And don't we believe that just those thoughts to which 
the patient refuses entrance bring most valuable material to light? 
We assume that these intruders from the dark underground are 
the offspring of ideas, intimately connected with the vital prob- 
lems of the patient. A "silly" obsessional idea, interpreted and 
analyzed, leads into the core of neurotic difficulties. A thought 


gone astray makes sense when we can reconstruct Its origin and 
evolution. Following those silly thoughts might lead us to a new 
insights, might even result In an original concept. "Give me your 
tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free!" 
These displaced, suppressed thoughts should enter. 

Why should we analysts not follow the same rule when silly 
thoughts occur to us? What intolerably pompous and conceited 
fools would we be, if we believed that our thought processes are 
different from those of our patients, who are often superior to 
us in intelligence, imagination and in many other qualities! 

That half-formulated idea occurred to me again during an 
analytic session a few days later. It then came to mind in the mid- 
dle of Rank-Olivier 's production of Hamlet. It came quite im- 
pudently into the open during the movie and behaved as if it 
were a reasonable and respectable thought, not self-conscious at 
all among some quite sensible ideas about Hamlet. It was here 
at least appropriate to the occasion. However queer, at least it 
was not a displaced idea any more, not a refugee thought. It was 
still intellectual flotsam and jetsam. 

The odd thought appeared here in the middle of critical voices 
that drowned my admiration for the Hamlet picture. Am I al- 
lowed to report those negative impressions and put aside the 
many things I enjoyed? The first impression that astonished me 
was the sight of the castle of Elsinore. It deserves to be included 
in the list of miracle buildings of the world beside the Pyramids, 
the Indian temples, and the Empire State Building. One can 
boldly assert that so many stairs do not exist anywhere else. They 
are perhaps meant to be symbolic, but no other single building 
can boast of so many stairs. There must have been master-build- 
ers in Denmark at the time, architects who worked 00 the dif- 
ficult problem: Is there no other place in the castle where stairs 
could be installed? 

I was, of course, impressed by Olivier's acting, by the scope of 
the emotional expressions of his face, his voice and Ms gestures. 
The trouble with his performance was that this Hamlet had read 
Freud's and Ernest Jones's explanation of his coniict and person- 
ality. Had read it? More than this, had accepted and absorbed 
itnot wisely but too well. I consider the analytic interpretation 


of Hamlet as correct^ but I do not believe an actor should act 
the part according to this or any Interpretation. 

Take the scene between mother and son in the third act. Ham- 
let, who fiercely denounces and accuses the Queen, passionately 
embraces her. He is her lover, not her son; or better, her son- 
lover.* "Come, come, and sit you down here. You shall not 
budge," sounds, accompanied by those gestures, as if it were an 
invitation to a petting party. The Prince again clasps his mother 
in Ms arms. Less would be more. He says to the woman, "would 
you were not my mother!" In this performance she isn't, or only 
in a biological sense. But for the incestuous barrier which 
threatens to disappear before our eyes, she is his sweetheart. Does 
not the Prince admonish the actors they should not "tell all"? 
Olivier's Hamlet does. He leaves no doubt in his audience's mind 
that he has studied Freud. 

The adverse impression was strengthened by the fact that 
Olivier's Hamlet appears to be too old, compared with Ms 
mother, acted by Eileen Herlie. Not by the stretch of a Shake- 
spearean fantasy can you imagine this very pretty young woman 
to be mother of this son. Hot even when you concede that make- 
up can rejuvenate the appearance of middle-aged ladies. We, too, 
have heard of your painting. "God hath given you one face and 
you make yourselves another" but the actress did not succeed 
in making her own that other face of a middle-aged woman. 

How old Is Hamlet? I asked myself. Well, Yorick's skull has 
lain in the earth three and twenty years and "he has borne me 
on his back a thousand times" and has been kissed by the boy 
"I know not how oft." The child was old enough not only to 
understand but also to appreciate Yorick's jokes. The Prince is at 
least twenty-seven years old, if he is not thirty or more. How old 
is the Queen, his mother? At least in her late forties. In this per- 
formance the ages of mother and son appear almost reversed. While 
1 looked at the couple in the Queen's chamber, a song occurred 
to meis it not by George M. Cohan?~and parodistically ac- 
companied the scene: "An old guy like me and a young girl 
like you." 

* As early as 1922 the "Freudian implications" (reviewer's expression) of the 
do$et scene were rendered obvious la Jotra Barrymore's performance. 


A few moments later exactly when the ghost appearsthat 
foolish idea re-emerged, this time in the form of an incomplete 
conditional sentence. The silly thought was not vague or dis- 
guised any more. It appeared among serious reflections on Ham- 
let's conflict, like the fool at the Court in one of Shakespeare's 
plays. Here is the text of the odd idea, the line the fool in my 
thoughts speaks: If Hamlet's father hadn't been murdered, but 
had died a natural death, and if the Queen hadn't remarried 

Here the thought broke off in mid-air as the sentence of a 
drunkard or of a fool. That same evening I tried to follow the 
idea wherever it would lead me. Don't the fools in Shakespeare's 
plays often say wise things, putting them in an odd way? 1 did 
not get very far in the pursuit of that elusive thought. It was late 
in the night and I was very tired. I repeated the absurd sentence 
in my thoughts and tried to find a continuation. Mysteriously the 
phrase began now with the added word "Even/* It now ran: 
"Even if Hamlet's father hadn't," and so on. What followed were 
a few words, a kind of fragmentary continuation in the form of 
a question or a doubt like "wouldn't Hamlet . . . ?" What he 
wouldn't or would, 1 did not find out because I fell asleep. The 
last words I thought before I dozed off were a greeting to Ms 
figure: "Good night, sweet Prince!" 

When I awoke, the funny thought had vanished as had the 
King's ghost when "the morning cock crew loud." The "demands 
of the day" had driven it underground. I did not think of it again 
until late that afternoon during the analytic session with Tom, 
the same patient in whose analysis the thought had first occurred 
to me. Tom spoke of his childhood and of a letter he had received 
from his mother. When now that odd thought came to mind 
again, I understood that, however silly, it had its roots in a sane 
mental soil. I still didn't know what Hanilet wouldn't or would 
have felt or done, if ... but I had an inkling of what had made 
me think of such an unimaginable possibility, that would remove 
all the premises of Shakespeare's plot. 

Tom is the patient whose dream I interpreted in the preceding 
paragraphs. A similarity of Tom's emotional attitude with that of 
the Prince, manifested in the wording of the dream, must have 
awakened the memory of some bitter lines Hamlet speaks while he 


listens to the players acting in the play within the play. I had not 
consciously thought then of another concealed factor facilitating 
the thought-connection between the Prince and Tom. It was the 
idea of murder. As 1 reported before, Tom's father had died in 
a car accident when the boy was ten years old. The accident oc- 
curred on a business trip when the chauffeur drove the car into 
a ditch, Tom's father was immediately killed, the driver suffered 
only a few light wounds and bruises. So far there are no similari- 
ties between the older Hamlet's death and the fate of Tom's 
father, but some can be found in the boy's thoughts afterward. 
When the tragic news was brought to the house, Tom, who 
loved his father, began to suspect foul play. There was not the 
slightest reason for such suspicions in the external facts, but 
many in Tom's mind. His father had been a very successful 
banker who had acquired a fortune in a relatively short time. 
Many people in his home town and in the country had envied 
him, and he had made several enemies. When the accident oc- 
curred, the boy, who had learned much from conversations he 
had listened to and who suspected more, must have thought that 
one or the other of those enemies might have had a hand in the 
accident for instance, a competitor with whom the father had a 
quarrel not long before. The investigation of the accident brought 
no reason for such suspicions, but Tom nourished them because 
he felt hostile toward some relatives and business competitors 
of his father. The boy did not utter any of those doubts, which 
slowly lost their power over him, but they reappeared during his 
analysis when he returned in his memories to the years of his 
childhood and to the death of his father. There were again the 
serious suspicions that his father could have been murdered and 
did not die in an accident for which no one was responsible. 

Here is the emotional similarity: Tom's father was not mur- 
dered, but the boy suspected that he was. He must have been in 
the same mood as the Prince who suspected foul play before he 
had any evidence from the lips of the ghost. "O my prophetic 
soul!" cries Hamlet, 

It clawned upon me during this analytic session that the puz- 
zling sentence mustJhave had its origin in a preconscious compari- 
son of Haink& amLTom's attitude to the father's death. In the 


one case the father was really murdered, in the other the son 
thought that there had been murder. In Hamlet's case material 
reality, in Tom's only psychological reality. Tom's suspicions 
were well "in character" with his personality. He often projected 
his own unconscious impulses onto other people and suspected 
them in a paranolc mechanism of hostile and aggressive intentions 
he himself unconsciously felt. 

There was another factor that facilitated the comparison be- 
tween Hamlet's and Tom's stories. Many suitors had wished to* 
marry Tom's mother who was still young, pretty, and rich, but 
she remained unmarried. Soon after his father's death Tom felt 
increasingly hostile toward his mother, who adored him, and his. 
resentment against her continued to work in him until his anal- 
ysis slowly mitigated it. During his analysis he did not tire of 
attacking her behavior, and for a long time it seemed as if an 
inner reconciliation with his mother would not be possible. There 
was no doubt that his hostility against her was later on displaced, 
and generalized to all women. He was homosexual. 

The material here reported shows which elements made the 
thought-bridge between Hainlet and Tom possible, and which 
threads ran in my unconscious associations from the life story of 
my patient to the destiny of the Prince. Tom's father was not, 
murdered, but could have been killed. His mother did not marry 
again, but the boy thought she would soon. Here were potential 
destinies living a shadow life beside the realities. My thoughts. 
went beyond them in that formulation: Even if Hamlet's father 
had died a natural death, and so on. Here is the other end of 
the possibilities founded on the analogy Hamlet's father Tom's. 

The if-sentence had, however, not been finished. The idea did 
not deserve that name because it was broken off before it reached 
the shape and dignity of a complete thought. It had been nipped 
in the bud by the white frost of reason that forbids the growth 
of fanciful productions of the mind. 

That missing condition of the sentence was found: when I tried 
to analyze the emotional reactions of another patient whose 
father died during his son's analysis. The old man had been very 
sick in the hospital for some weeks, and the family knew the end. 


was near. It came when the son was alone with the heavily 
breathing father, whose wife was at the time in the corridor of 
the hospital. When she was called, she cried and sobbed, and my 
patient felt that her mourning was exaggerated and hypocriti- 
cal. This impression repeated itself at the funeral and in the fol- 
lowing weeks, especially when relatives and other visitors came 
to the house. The son felt a wave of hostility against his mother 
whom he accused in his thoughts of not having treated the old 
man well and of not having taken enough care of him. In all 
external aspects, he behaved toward her as an affectionate and 
attentive son would in the time of mourning and tried to console 
and support her, but he had to make an effort to conceal his in- 
creasing hostility. He was haunted by the memory of the scene of 
his father's death and suffered for some months from insomnia, 
restlessness, and stomach symptoms. 

I shall add only a few representative instances from many years 
of analytic practice of similar attitudes of sons toward their 
mother after their father's death. In another case the father had 
died when the son was eighteen years old. His mother fell into 
pathological mourning which was akin to melancholia and which 
lasted a few years. She did not leave the house, neglected her 
household duties, and showed no interest in her children. The 
son's resentment against the mother increased to such an extent 
that he had violent outbreaks of anger against the poor woman 
whom he accused of selfishness and self-indulgence. He felt that 
she had no right to neglect everything and was jealous of the 
intensity of her mourning for his father. At the same time he 
often longed for the deceased and repented many occasions when 
lie had caused grief and worry to him. 

Another case provides us with an interesting variation: the 
father did not die, but left the family. The son was six years- old, 
when his parents divorced. He saw his father only rarely in the 
following years. On these occasions the boy felt an overwhelming 
pity for his father who was shabbily dressed and gave the impres- 
sion of a begjar, while the mother lived very comfortably. The 
boy*s critical and hostile attitude against her increased when she 
went out with different men in the years following the divorce. 
Most of these men were friendly to the boy, showed interest in 


his play, his attempts to build a radio, and so on, but he very 
rarely returned their cordial feelings. On various occasions when 
the mother talked to one of her suitors on the telephone, the son 
was told not to speak because Mother did not want the man to 
know that she had a child. The boy resented this bitterly* He 
had already stammered before the divorce, but he traced his 
speech defect to those times when he was cautioned not to betray 
his existence when Mother spoke with a man on the telephone. 
His stammering was especially bad when he was asked by other 
boys where his father was. He felt ashamed that his parents were 
divorced. The estrangement with his mother continued until the 
middle of his twenties. His relationship with her improved only 
in analysis. The case is interesting because here the father did not 
die, but left the home, and yet after a short time the same reac- 
tions can be observed as in the other cases in which the son lost 
his father through death. 

The complete sentence then is: Even if Hamlet's father hadn't 
been murdered, but had died a natural death, and if the Queen 
hadn't remarried, wouldn't Hamlet have felt hostility against hi$ 
mother? This sentence is neither grammatical nor elegant, but 
English grammar will never be one of my strong points (English 
is not my mother tongue and I am often wrestling with the genius 
of this language as Jacob with the angel of the Lord without 
being blessed). The sentence is, at least, intelligible. It expresses 
a valid, if not a valuable, possibility. It asserts that the Prince 
would perhaps have felt resentment against his mother even if 
the premises of the situation were much nearer to everyday ex- 

It was not accidental that the odd thought first emerged during 
the analytic session with Tom. The comparison of the emotional 
situation of his childhood with Hamlet's destiny built a slight 
and rocking bridge in my thoughts. What had happened at the 
castle of Elsinore remained in the area of thought possibilities at 
the cottage in Knoxville, Tom's home. From here is only one 
small step to the idea: What if the events in Denmark were also 
only a grandiose production of Hamlet's imagination, like the 
apparition of the King? The thought following this tentatie as- 
sumption then led back to the psychological problem that had 


occupied me in Tom's case: that of resentment against his mother 
after his father's death. 

Considering this underlying problem which must have lingered 
in my mind some time during Tom's analysis (and before it), the 
question emerging from the unconscious loses much of its fan- 
tastic and fanciful character. It amounts then to a kind of psy- 
chological reflection which brings the Shakespeare plot near to 
the emotional reality of everyday life. 

I do not apologize for the quality of my idea, because thoughts 
need no apology. You are as responsible for their intellectual 
quality as for the timbre of your voice. I am, of course, aware 
that my thought went astray here and oscillated for a moment 
between reality and fantasy. I am also ready to admit that the 
question in my mind had the characteristics of a flirtation with 
an idea. The mental situation has a resemblance to that in which 
the farmer-father asks a boy whether he has honest or dishonest 
intentions toward his daughter and the boy says, "Have I got a 
choice?" But then it seemed that I had no choice, the flirtation 
was replaced by a serious interest. 

Looking back at the emergence of that question, I can add a 
few facts which facilitated the comparison. The boy Tom com- 
pared his mother's suitors very unfavorably with his dead father 
whom he idealized. In the scene in the Queen's chamber Hamlet 
speaks in glowing words of his father and puts a caricature of 
Claudius before his mother's eyes: "O king of shreds and 
patches/' Tom resented it that his mother saw men visitors so 
soon after his father's death and contrasted in his thoughts the 
violent outbursts of her grief with her occasional cheerfulness 
shortly afterward. Hamlet's: 

A little month or ere those shoes were old, 
With which she followed my poor father's body 

Like Niobe, all tears 

In his analysis Tom remembered that he once looked with mis- 
givings at his mother who sat on a chair talking with a lawyer 
visiting her. She had her legs crossed and her skirt was raised so 
that the man must have seen her knee. In this little antagonistic 
observation Is a trace of the same emotions that led to the violent 


outbursts of Hamlet against Gertrude's sensuality. In the case of 
the other patient whose mother went out with men soon after her 
divorce, the son bitterly resented her infidelity to his father. Tom 
who was of a rather gentle nature (Gertrude calls her son "sweet 
Hamlet") had in his late teens and early twenties bitter scenes 
with his mother who led a blameless life. He transferred his criti- 
cal attitude from Mother to other women, as Hamlet does to 
Ophelia, but in contrast to the Prince he confessed that man de- 
lighted him. 

It was, of course, far from my thoughts, however whimsical 
they must have appeared to the reader, to compare Tom who 
was an average neurotic young man to the personality of the 
Danish Prince. Hamlet is, as far as I know, the only character in 
any play whose genius is immediately recognizable to everyone in 
the audience. Any man or woman who has listened to him will 
agree with Ophelia's opinion of what a noble mind is here 
overthrown. Imagine a playwright who wanted to make Bee- 
thoven or Rembrandt or Einstein the leading character in a 
tragedy. He would have to make the audience listen to a sym- 
phony, or look at the "Nightwatch," or follow the logic of the 
theory of relativity in order to show the genius of the character. 
Hamlet works upon us by his personality only. But we do not 
deal here with the witty and wily, passionate and melancholic 
personality of the Prince, but with certain typical emotional re- 
actions of a man after his father's death. 

I shall sketch the emotional situation that became analytically 
transparent in the case of Tom and other patients, so unlike that 
of Hamlet in many directions and so resembling Ms in others. 
Besides thie mourning for the beloved or admired father In all 
these persons antagonistic and sometimes even aggressive tenden- 
cies against the mother emerged, whether they were unconscious 
or, as in the cases here reported, readied the state of conscious 
awareness. The usual attitude of the son in this situation is, of 
course, that of increased consideration and affection for Ms 
mother. He will try to console her, to give her as much moral 
support as possible, and to replace the head of the family as far 
as responsibilities are concerned. In a certain type of man intense 
mourning for the father will be coupled with an emotional with- 


drawal from the mother, even with a certain antagonism and 
antipathy against her. If this psychologic observation is correct, 
we can for a moment really put aside such dramatic and unusual 
events as murder of the father and hasty marriage of the mother 
with his killer. Traces of the emotional reaction here reported 
must be observable also in cases in which the father died a 
natural death and the mother did not remarry just the situation 
emerging in my surprising question. 

But what would be the psychologic motives of such a puzzling 
reaction? How could it be brought in accordance with what we 
know from other analytic experiences about the emotions of the 
son after the father's death? 

A careful observation of the symptomatic manifestations of 
that reaction, to which the discovery of a gap and its filling has 
to be added, leads to the analytic explanation of the puzzling 
phenomenon. To put the development of the process in simple 
terms: Father's death has realized one half of the unconscious 
wishes the child once had. It has removed the superior rival for 
Mother's love. By the death itself, those repressed infantile 
wishes become for a moment actualized again. They threaten to 
emerge from the submersion into which they had once been 
banned. Here is the occasion to take the place of Father, not only 
as head of the family, but also as the lover of Mother. Old wishes, 
long caved in, push to the light of the day. 

According to all psychologic laws known to us, there must be a 
moment of unconscious triumph. We have to assume that 
Father's death brings about the emergence of victorious or trium- 
phant feelings of promise and fulfillment, of freedom and of the 
lifting of an unconscious barrier. This upsurge can last only a 
second and is in most cases unconscious. Here is trie gap that 
analytic reconstruction has to fill, because, even in the cases in 
which those emotions touch the threshold of conscious percep- 
tion, they are immediately and most energetically repressed and 
will be forgotten and disavowed later on. 

What follows and becomes recognizable to our observation is 
the expression of an intense reaction-formation to these fleeting 
unconscious emotions. This reaction is the stronger, the more 
urgently the rejected tendencies demand entrance into the realm 


of conscious impulses. By the power of this reaction the grief 
about the loss will be most vividly felt, the igure of the father 
will be elevated and even glorified, and the longing for him in- 
tensified. The other side of that reaction-formation concerns the 
mother. She who could now become the object of old desires, will 
in the reactive reversal awaken antagonism and resentment as if 
the son unconsciously protects himself from the temptation of a 
break-through. In this defense the re-emerging positive trends 
change their sign into the negative. The ttnconstiously renewed 
attraction is turned into antipathy and criticism. 

It is easy to guess that the factor responsible for this emotional 
reversal is the unconscious guilt feeling of the son. It is as if those 
old disavowed wishes had brought about the death of the father, 
as if he had died a victim of omnipotent thoughts the boy had 
once experienced. It is as if something has now become reality 
which one could once only dare to think and often not even dare 
to think. The violent reaction to this reality brings about not 
only renunciation of the old love object but also the reversal of 
unconscious desires into hostility. It is as if she were responsible 
for Father's death which she is, as far as the unconscious 
thoughts of the son are concerned, because the attraction to her 
was the main psychological reason for the emergence of the in- 
fantile wish to remove the successful rival 

The hostility against Mother increases the more it becomes 
necessary to defend oneself against the unconscious temptation 
to take Father's place with her. In Tom's case, the reaction went 
so far that he was frightened by murderous thoughts against his 
mother. But also Gertrude becomes afraid of "gentle Hamlet" 
when he violently accuses, and threatens her. Unconsciously aware 
of the intensity of his wrath, she thinks for a moment he really 
wants to kill her. 

What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me? 
Help, help, ho! 

As the last consequence of this psychologic insight, one arrives 
at the assumption that in certain cases the unconscious tempta- 
tion becomes very strong, and the Inner tension between tri- 
umphant, desirous impulses and unconscious guilt feelings in the 


son becomes intolerable. In these cases the reaction, here 
sketched, Is not sufficiently effective and the ego wards off the 
forbidden tendencies with the help of another more primitive, 
dynamic mechanism. It tries to project them into the external 
world, to persons outside, and thus finds a certain emotional 
relaxation, a relief from the unbearable tension. The psychologic 
formula for such an unconscious process could perhaps best be 
put this way: not / wanted to murder Father, but he (another 
man, thought of as Father's rival) not / desire Mother (but an- 
other man). Arrived at this point, the distance of the emotional 
situation of any son to the one Shakespeare envisions in the trag- 
edy of Hamlet can be measured. This distance does not appear 
as great any more. My original question was senseless only in the 
most rationalistic, which means, here, in the most superficial 

Still another mechanism of disavowal and defense can be ob- 
served in the case of Hamlet and of Tom. It can be brought into 
the psychological formula: I did not want to murder rny father- 
on the contrary, I want to revenge his death and I do not desire 
my mother on the contrary, I dislike her and I attack her. The 
extension of this reactive feeling leads the Prince to scorn for all 
women and to the fierce onslaught on them in the scene with 

At this point my thoughts join the analytic interpretations of 
Freud, Jones, Rank, and others. In the last years many contribu- 
tions in which analytic insights were used to deepen the under- 
standing of Shakespeare's play were added to earlier ones. The 
literature on the Hamlet problem has been enriched and en- 
larged to such an extent that no single person can with certainty 
assert that he has read all about the subject. As far as my knowl- 
edge goes, no book or article has dealt with the aspect of the 
problem here presented, and with its universal psychological 

From the beginning emphasis was put on the question of Ham- 
let's relationship with his mother, but even this is not the point 
of departure for my train of thoughts. It emerged at the Hamlet 
problem in a whimsical and questionable form. It landed there 
only by accident, if we allow accident to play a role in the field 


of intellectual problems. The train of thought was originally 
stimulated by psychological reiection on the case of Tom, and 
did not deal with the plot and conflict of the Danish Prince. 
When it touched this problem, so to speak, in an excursion on 
the spur of a fanciful moment, it still did not follow in the tracks 
of so many literary critics or psychoanalytic scholars. On the 
contrary, it removed all essential premises of the actual situation 
in Shakespeare's play as a thought-possibility ("Even if Hamlet's 
father hadn't been murdered" and so on). 

The figure of Hamlet had thus come to mind in a roundabout 
way, as a thought aside. It was, so to speak, a tentative fantasy, 
an exciting experiment in thought in order to test a possibility 
that had remained unconscious. The comparison of Tom's ex- 
perience with Hamlet's tended to an area beyond both cases, into 
the field of general psychological insights. 

It is not without significance that the line my capricious thought 
followed was not from literature to life, but the other way around, 
from living experience to a work of art. I must have unconsciously 
wrestled with the psychological problem of whether there is not 
something typical or even general in the emotional turn against 
Mother after Father's death. Otherwise put: I was unconsciously 
searching for the solution of a psychological problem which had 
not yet been discovered and which eluded me. Hamlet's destiny 
olered itself to my thoughts as the extreme manifestation of 
this problem. Tentatively following the psychological conse- 
quences of his case, I brought it in my thoughts to the level at 
which all human inner experience is the same. 

If this discussion can be considered at all as an original, ana- 
lytic contribution to the Hamlet problem, it may deserve that 
title only as a by-product of the curiosity of a psychologist who 
sometimes goes astray in his thoughts when he explores the yet 
undiscovered recesses of the human mind. 

As I consider, in retrospect, the various ways aed byways^ the 

many detours and turns through which my thoughts wandered 


to their destination on that particular evening, it seems to me 
that we all of us marvel too little at our own mental processes. 
We are not astonished enough at the wide circle of our own 
thoughts. We speak most casually of unconscious emotions and 
impulses and are not ready to admit that the area of the repressed 
is a state within a state, an underground in which movement 
and power can be felt and in which continual life and produc- 
tivity can be observed. Without such an astonishment, psycho- 
analysis is reduced to a science without human interest, with 
technology as its medical application. 

As I look back at the meanderings of my thoughts, I am in- 
dined to agree with the sentiment expressed by a patient the 
other day. This clever man, who had gained insight into his own 
bizarre obsessional ideas, said, "The mind is an insult to the in- 
telligence." Yet, in my own case, there were no such obsessional 
thoughts or any other extraordinary mental phenomena. Nothing 
of this kind; no conspicuous pathological speculations or ideas. 
Just an everyday train of thought and a fairly average slice of 
human experience. 

It is* of course, necessary to sketch the external situation from 
which my train of thought emerged. Tired after a long day of 
psychoanalytic sessions, I relaxed on the couch after dinner. My 
daughter, Theodora, whom we call "Thody," came into the 
room and said, "Good night, Daddy." "Where are you going?" 
I asked. "I have a date." "Don't come home too late. Good night." 
I knew better than to ask her with whom she had a date. 
It seems she does not like such questions. Well, she is seventeen 
years old. ... In my time children were not so independent 
What does it matter with which boy she has a date? She is no 
longer a child. . . . She will be in college very soon. . . . 

I turn my attention in another direction ... to the analytic 
sessions of today. My patient Bill comes to my mind. 

Bill is a young man from a southern state. He came to analysis 
because he had tried in vain to overcome his inclination to ex- 
cessive drinking, and because of his inability to make any sus- 
tained effort. He is homosexual, snobbish, and in other respects 
a typical playboy. His amiability and a concealed shyness seem 
10 enable Mm to win friends. 


While I thought of this patient, I saw, so to speak, in a mental 
image, his face which shows little expression. , . . His voice has 
no rise and fall when he speaks well-considered sentences. . . . 
He is rather rigid and shows that remoteness and flatness of emo- 
tions characteristic of schizoid personalities. ... He has not 
done a stroke of honest work for years, and, It seems, he lives on 
a strict diet of dry martinis. . . . His therapeutic chance is not 
too good, but I shall, of course, do my best. 

In his analytic session this afternoon he had spoken of Paris 
where he spent some months a few years ago. He had spoken 
of his wish to get the leading role in a play soon to be performed 
on Broadway, and of his friends, one of whom Is an actor. 1 no 
longer remember how he came from there to the subject of race 
discrimination, but I believe he mentioned that another of his 
homosexual friends was a Jew. He had then said that, In contrast 
to most citizens of that southern state in which he was bora and 
bred, he did not feel any race discrimination. But a few minutes 
later he had spoken contemptuously of "niggers" and Jews. He 
had said that an art dealer whom he knew had tried to take 
him in the day before. The man had tried to sell him an antique 
piece of furniture for which he asked a preposterous price. The 
patient, expressing his indignation and his dissatisfaction with 
his acquaintance, had added, "Once a Jew, always a Jew." 

The recollection of these remarks became the point of depar- 
ture for my free associations which on a strange detour led me 
to a new Interpretation of a Shakespearean play, and In a surpris- 
ing digression back to a personal problem. While I rested on the 
couch, smoking cigarettes, I followed this train of thought with, 
so to speak, impersonal Interest. 1 swam comfortably with the 
"stream of consciousness" until a certain point was readied at 
which my thoughts became objects of self-observation. To con- 
tinue the comparison, it was as If the swimmer had become 
aware of the kind of waves and of the direction In which they 
were carrying him. After this point was reached, I came across 
some odd associations whose sequence and meaning I did not 
understand. I decided to follow them," to investigate them, to find 
out what they meant and why they emerged from unknown 
depths. I had become aware of undercurrents In the stream. 


I then got up from the couch, took a pencil and paper from 
the desk, and jotted the train of thoughts down together with 
what occurred to me while I wrote. I regret I did not look at 
the clock nor did I pay attention to the time that this process 
took, but my impression was that not more than a few minutes 
had elapsed since my daughter had left the room. In a psycho- 
logical experiment, precise data concerning time and other ex- 
ternal factors are, of course, indispensable in the interest of 
scientific precision. However, my self-observation and self-anal- 
ysis was not in the nature of an experiment. It had rather the 
character of an inner experience. 

While I remembered what Bill had said that afternoon and 
while I thought of his emotional disturbance, I was wide awake. 
The following associations emerged when I felt increasingly sleepy, 
without, however, yielding to the temptation to fall asleep. The 
fact that these associations occurred while I was only half awake 
may have had a bearing upon their character and the rapidity 
of their succession. I became aware that one thought or word 
quickly followed the other, as if they crowded the threshold of 
consciousness. There was, so to speak, a traffic jam at the door. 

The words that emerged and astonished me, because I did not 
understand what they meant and why they occurred to me, were: 
Jones . . . Jericho . . . Jephthah . . . Jessica . . . Jehovah 
. . . Jems. 

Janes ... I do not know anyone by this name. . . . Oh yes, 
of course, Ernest Jones. ... I have known him for more than 
thirty years. I remember him when he was in Vienna. Did I 
not also meet him in Holland? I had talked to him at several 
psychoanalytic congresses, and, of course, we had been invited 
to lunch at his home when we were in London ... I have not 
heard from him for twelve years. ... I read his essay on Hamlet 
a short time ago. ... I looked something up In his paper 
oa a religious problem. . . . I do not remember what it was. . . . 
He was already at the time of our visit in England (was this 1929 
or 1928?) the most prominent psychoanalyst in the English-speak- 
ing countries. ... I teased- him. I said he was the King of the 
Eagish analysts. . . . Emperor Jones. ... Of course, the play 
by O'Neill. . , . What a strange connection! I started from 


Ernest Jones and arrived at Emperor Jones. . . . Are there any 
trends besides the name? Perhaps primitive religions with which 
Jones deals in his Collected Papers? ... I now remember the 
play* I recall the scene in which the Negro becomes terriied in 
the forest and how he finally succumbs to the demoniac power 
of the old tribal gods in which he did not believe and which he 
had repudiated. The thread leading from the analyst to Emperor 
Jones was the thought of Negroes. . . . But my patient Bill had 
spoken of Negroes and Jews. 

When I turned my attention away from him, the subterranean 
continuation of his remarks must have led to Emperor Jones, 
Even the detour over Ernest Jones must have been significant. 
But how? Perhaps the study on Hamlet, a play such as 
Janes, and then I had called Jones the King or the Emperor of 
the English analysts. ... I liked Ernest Jones, but this compari- 
son itself shows some latent hostility . . . why? Jealousy of the 
older and superior man? The green-eyed monster? . . That Is 
from Othello . . . The Moor of Venice. . . . Again the Negroes. 

1 am turning to the following associations. They are, of course, 
all namesnames from the Bible. I must have thought first of 
Negroes, then of Jews as the patient associated them together in 
his remark. But each of those names must have its unconscious 
determination and must have meant something definite in my 
thoughts. . . . Even their sequence must have a meaning and 
some psychological significance. ... I must find why each, of 
them occurred to me. ... Is there something they have In com- 
mon besides their being biblical names? . . . The initial sound* 
the first syllable. . . . Are they only "sound associations," that 
means thoughts determined by Klang, as the German would say, 
joined together by the same sound at the beginning of the words? 
This first syllable ... I remember that the common first syllable 
Je is perhaps the abbreviated Hebrew word for God. Je means 
His ineffable name, otherwise known as Jahweh or Jehovah. . . . 
Does not Jesus mean "God helps" or "Salvation by God"? . . . 
Bet 1 am suspicious of myself, for this first syllable could not 
have the same significance in Jericho and Jessica. . . . And is it 
true that Je is always the abbreviated name of the 'God o the 
Israelites? I become aware how much I do not know about 


things. . . . Over there is the Encyclopedia of Religion on my 
bookcase. I could look up Jehovah and Jericho, but I am too 
lazy to get up from the couch. Even If I did find what that syl- 
lable and each name means, of what importance would that be 
for the psychological significance of my thoughts? The objective 
meaning of the names Is of no Interest, only the meaning I con- 
nect with those words is now of consequence. Jericho . , . that 
is, of course, the biblical city. . . . Was I in Jericho when I 
visited Palestine In 1937? . . . That is nonsense. . . .The ancient 
city of Jericho does not exist any more. 

Suddenly I remember a movie I had seen a few years ago in 
which a man has the nickname of Jericho. . . . The story of the 
French film Les Enfants du Paradis comes vaguely back to mind. 
The play takes place in Paris about a hundred years ago. Its 
milieu is that of the demimonde, theater people, actors, audience, 
and hangers-on. The leading character is a young man whose 
misfortunes are presented from the time he acts as a down to 
the period when he becomes the celebrated tragedian of the 
Parisian stage. It is a play of passion and destiny with a tragic 
ending. There is a girl whom he met in his boyhood and with 
whom he fell in love. When he meets her later in life, she always 
eludes him. It is as if a malicious destiny or that incognito travel- 
ing fate, called accident, blocks his way whenever he approaches 
her. Like Romeo, he is a fool of fortune. 

Now the face of the actor who has the part of the leading 
character appears in my memory. A thin, strangely masklike face, 
unexpressive and unemotional, but with large luminous eyes. 
The contrast of this lack of facial expression with his emotional 
experiences lends the personality of the actor a puzzling kind of 
interest. . . . What was his name? ... I now remember: Jean- 
Louis Barrault. It is not incidental that the movie shows him 
fast in a pantomime in which only automaton-like movements 
and gestures indicate his feelings, while his face does not change 
at all. The actor's body has the utmost elasticity, while his per- 
sonality seems rigid, almost frozen. There is a dullness erf effect, 
even In his love of the beautiful girl. No free flow of emotions. 
A withdrawal from reality and something like a paralysis of will 
which explains better than external factors why his love object 


always eludes him or prefers other men, although she is attracted 
to him. When I saw the film, I got the impression that here was 
a schizoid t v pe or even a schizophrenic. 

At this point I recognized that there were concealed connec- 
tions between the first subject of my thoughts and their present 
theme. Did I not think that Bill, my patient, was perhaps schiz- 
oid? He spoke of Paris and of plays he had seen there. Les En- 
fants du Paradis takes place in Paris. Bill wants the leading part 
in a play. His face must have reminded me of Jean-Louis 

Jericho is the name of an episodic figure in Les En f ants du 
Paradis. He is an old Jew, doing shady business among theater 
people, a thief or receiver of stolen goods. I see his crooked nose, 
his unkempt hair, and his pointed gray beard. This old fence is 
an acquaintance of the actor during his early Bohemian times. 
He, surprisingly, appears whenever there is a decisive turn in the 
destiny of the leading character. He seems to know beforehand 
what will happen, seems to anticipate the future. Yes, he appears 
to be omniscient. He warns the hero, yet he sometimes seems to 
bring about the bad fate of this actor. Is he perhaps omnipotent 
too? This fence, who cheats, whose business shuns the light, has 
neither wife nor child, but he likes children. He has another nick- 
name: "couche seul"he sleeps alone. 

I do not know how and why I thought that this old Jewish 
criminal presents the disguised God of the Jews, Jehovah, in a 
degraded form as he would be seen through anti-Semitic eyes. Is 
it possible that the script-writer unconsciously shaped in the 
episodic figure the reduced Jewish god, a malicious demon a god 
who is vengeful and deceiving, associated with crooks and thieves? 

The anti-Semitic remark of my patient comes back to mind. 
Negroes and Jews. ... In the film there is also a Negro. . . . 
Oh yes, the actor plays the pan of a Negro. ... Of course, he is 
presented as Othello, the Moor of Venice. . * . There is a scene 
in which the actor comes into conflict with a high aristocrat, the 
same man who is his more fortunate rival in the love for the girl. 
* . . This snobbish character speaks of Shakespeare as an inferior, 
barbarian playwright who cannot hold a candle to Comeille 
and Racine. There again appear the threads between mj patient's 


remark and the film. . . . The Negroes and the Jews. . 
Jericho and Othello. 

But how does Jephthah come into my train of thoughts? . . 
For the life of me, I do not know how the figure of this judge 
from the Old Testament wandered into my associations. . . 
How did just he drift into them? A penny for my thoughts? But 
even this seems overpaid, because nothing occurs to me ... 
Jephthah. . . . Jephthah and his daughter. . . . Did not Jeph- 
thah make a vow when he went out to fight the enemies of the 
Israelites that he would sacrifice the first person he encountered 
after his victorious return from the battle? And did he not meet 
his daughter, whom he then had to sacrifice to the cruel god of 
the Hebrews? 

I am trying to reconstruct what I had thought before that. . . . 
The Negroes and the Jews. . . . The aristocrat who speaks de- 
rogatoriiy of Shakespeare and Othello. ... Is Jephthah or his 
daughter perhaps mentioned In Othello? . . . For a moment I 
thought It must be there, but, no, it can't be. ... There is some 
memory stirring within me that Jephthah's daughter is men- 
tioned In one of Shakespeare's tragedies. . . . No, not in Othello. 
. . . Perhaps In The Merchant of Venice? . . . 

1 overcome my laziness, I get up from the couch and get the 
concordance of Shakespeare's work in order to look it up. . . 
There it is. ... Neither In Othello nor in The Merchant of 
Venice. . . . (The Moor of Venice and the Merchant of Venice- 
Is this the common element between the plays? Oh no, It must be 
again the race discrimination. Negroes and Jews, Othello and 
Sfaylock.) The passage is In Hamlet, says the concordance, Act 
II, scene 2. ... Ah, herel Hamlet runs Into Poionius and says: 

**Oh Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!" 

The old courtier asks: 

**What a treasure had he, my lord?" and the Prince answers: 

"One fair daughter, and no more, 
The which he loved passing well." 

Polonius* who Is convinced that Hamlet's love for Ophelia has 

driven Mm crazy, thoughtfully remarks, "Still on my daughter 
, . /* And Hamlet asks, "Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah?" 


thus identifying the pompous old courtier with the biblical Judge. 

Jephthah Jephthah's daughter . . , Jessica, . . . Jessica is the 
daughter of the Jew ShylocL Here then is the connecting link 
with Jephthah's daughter . . . Jephthah loved his child and had 
to kill her. Shylock loves his daughter and yet he curses her when 
she elopes with a good-for-nothing fellow. . . . More than this 
he wishes to see her dead at his feet when he learns that she 
squanders the money for which he has toiled and slaved so long. 

I remember having read in the book of some Shakespeare com- 
mentator or critic that this trait adds to the repulsive picture of 
Shylock's character. How could a father wish to see his daughter 
dead merely because she throws money away? Yet, these good 
people do not understand that it is the Oriental temper, which 
still lives in the Jews of late times, which bursts forth in Shylock's 
rage. . . . Such wishes, as well as Jephthah's vow, are expressions 
of that excitable temper that flares suddenly up and is often 
enough followed by intense remorse and severe self-punishment. 
There are hateful outbreaks against objects very much loved, 
loved not wisely but too well. . . . Yes, those ancient Jews were 
afraid of themselves and of the intensity of their passions. They 
had to protect themselves in their love objects. . . . They were 
so afraid that they had a solemn religious formula in which they 
asked God to consider oaths spoken in moments of rage as in- 
valid. They anticipated such outbreaks in themselves, and asked 
God not to oblige them to keep those vows and to forgive them. 
That formula or prayer is called Kol Nidre and is recited on the 
High Holiday, Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. In it all 
such oaths and vows taken in the year just beginning are declared 
invalid. I published a paper on this subject in my book the 

How did I become interested in the Kol Nidre? I am an infidel 
Jew. ... Do I have the same inclination to swear away the life 
of dear persons when I am very angry? Have I some of that hot 
temper; do I know such sudden flareups and outbreaks as Shy- 
lock's? I suddenly feel the urgent wish to read those scenes in The 
Merchant of Venice where Shylock curses his daughter and wishes 
to see her dead at his feet 

I had. tried first to search below the surface for the meaning of 


those associations and names. I did not get very far, because as 
sewn as I caught a glimpse of the significance of the names of 
Jericho, Jephthah, and Jessica, my interest became deflected and 
turned in a new direction. Investigating those first associations 
took only a few minutes, and now it was late at night. I wanted 
to look up some passages in The Merchant of Venice. I did that, 
but then read the whole play again and spent a few hours in 
thinking about it, daydreaming and pondering about it, following 
ideas that took me far off. While I read the familiar scenes of 
Shakespeare's play, I went astray in my thoughts, pursuing fleet- 
ing images and impressions. Embryos of ideas, snatches of new- 
thoughts emerged. They were brushed aside, but they recurred 
and would not let themselves be rejected. These new thoughts all 
concerned the contrast and conflict of Shylock and Antonio. 
There was something in the opposition of these two antagonists 
which I sensed but could not grasp. 

This mysterious something transgressed the narrow limitations 
of the plot about a loan and about a legal argument and counter- 
argument. Something there is unsaid but conveyed. Some con- 
cealed meaning is allluded to, but eludes the search of logical and 
conscious thinking. Shylock and Antonio are, of course, not only 
this money-lending Jew and that Venetian Merchant, in spite of all 
individual traits and typical features. They are even more than 
types, more than the kind and noble Gentile and the malicious 
son of the old tribe. That intangible and elusive element seems 
to overlap into an area beyond the individual and the typical. It 
shatters the frame of the two characters and reaches to the sky. 10 
reading the play, Antonio and Shylock grew in my thoughts to 
gigantic figures standing against each other silently. I did not 
know what this transformation meant and I first tried to solve 
the problem by means of conscious analytic interpretation. It was 
as if a fisherman casts out a net into the deep sea. He brings some- 
thing up from the depth, but it is certainly not what he wanted 
and hoped to get. What he tried to bring up to the surface 
slipped through the meshes of his net. 

i am certainly, not the first analyst who interpreted Shy loci's 
tenms y namely, the condition that he can cut a pound of flesh 
"in what part of your body pleaseth me" as a substitute expres- 


slon of castration. When later on in the play it is decided the 
cut should be made from the breast, analytic interpretation will 
easily understand the mechanism of distortion that operates here 
and displaces the performance from a part of the body below 
to above. Only one step is needed to reach the concept that to the 
Gentile of medieval times the Jew unconsciously typified the 
castrator because he circumcised male children. Circumcision is, 
as psychoanalytic experiences teach us, conceived as a milder 
form of castration. The Jew thus appeared to the Gentiles as a 
dangerous figure with whom the threat of castration originated. 
Consciously, to Shakespeare and his contemporaries (as to many 
of our own time), the Jew appears as a money-taking and -grasp- 
ing figure who takes financial advantage of the Gentiles. Uncon- 
sciously, he is the man who threatens to damage them by cutting 
off the penis. Because his tribe performs the archaic operation of 
circumcision, the Jew represents an unconscious danger to the 
masculinity of the Gentiles. The unconscious factor has to be 
added to the strange features of his different religious rituals, to 
the unfamiliar dietary customs and the divergent habits of the 
foreign minority. If Shylock insists upon cutting out a pound of 
flesh from Antonio's breast, it is as if he demanded that the Gen- 
tile be made a Jew if he cannot pay back the three thousand 
ducats at the fixed time. Otherwise put: Antonio should submit 
to the religious ritual of circumcision. 

The application of the analytic method is really not needed to 
arrive at this conclusion. It could be easily reached on another 
route. At the end of the "comedy" Antonio demands that Shylock 
should "presently become a Christian." If this is the justified 
amends the Jew has to make for his earlier condition, it would 
be according to poetic justice that the Jew be forced to become 
a Christian after he had insisted that his opponent should be- 
come a Jew. Such a retaliation corresponds to the oldest law of 
the world, to the ius talionis that demands tooth for tooth, eye 
for eye. 

That bit of insight into the concealed meaning of Sfaylock's 
demand remained an isolated and trifling scrap of analytic inter- 
pretation until it was blended with other impressions. The first 
impression concerned the character of Shylock. I remember that 


I once talked with Freud about what constitutes that quality we 
call character. He said that in his opinion character is signified 
. by the predominance of one or a few drives over others. While 
all the drives are, of course, present and operating, one of them is 
distinguished and superior in intensity. We say, then, that this 
person has character, a quality we do not attribute to others in 
whom all drives seem equally developed. While I read the play, 
Shylock's thirst for revenge impressed me more than any other 
feature of the man. At the same time half-forgotten lines from the 
Holy Scriptures began to sound in my mind, fragmentary sen- 
tences, snatches of lines. . . . "The Lord will take vengeance on 
His adversaries" . . . "They shall see My vengeance . . ." "I 
will not spare them on the day of vengeance," and others. Yes, 
the God of the Old Testament is a vindictive God. He has per- 
haps not only the virtues, but also the vices of the worshipers in 
whose image He is made. 

At a certain moment I was, it seemed, carried away by a fancy 
or an impression that had gained power over me. It seemed to me 
that the figure of the God of the Old Testament, Jahweh Him- 
self, looms gigantically behind "the Jew that Shakespeare drew." 
The mythological figure of the old God reduced to the size of a 
human creature, diminished and dressed up as a Jewish money- 
lender? Jahweh, the Lord, who came to earth on the Rialto? But 
the impression quickly evaporated. It was as if I had, for a mo- 
ment, seen an apparition in the delusive light of that evening. It 
reappeared, however, later on. 

I then became more interested in another impression that sur- 
prised me because it had not been there when I had previously 
read and seen the play: the lack of characterization of Antonio. 
If there is a leading character in any Shakespeare play who is less 
of a personality, is less colorful and less equipped with distin- 
guishing individual traits, I would like to know of it. There is no 
doubt that Antonio is the leading character. His is the title role 
of The Merchant of Venice, although his opponent steals the 

What do we know of Antonio? Only that he is kind, loves his 
friends* is generous to the extent of self-sacrifice and that he is 
sad. ... He is kindliness itself, personified. ... He loves his. 


friends, he wants to give his life for his friends. ... He is eager 
to make the supreme self-sacrifice. Greater love hath BO man, 
... He not only suffers, he is suffering, grief, sorrow themselves. 

He is sad. Why? Nobody knows, least of all himself. Is this a 
shortcoming on the part of the greatest playwright of the world 
or is there something hidden here, unknown even to the Bard? 

The play opens with Antonio's entrance and these are his first 

In sooth, I know not why I am so sad: 
It wearies me; you say it wearies you; 
But how I caught it, found it, came by it, 
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born, 
I am to learn; 

And such a want-wit sadness makes of me, 
That I have much ado to know myself. 

His friends try in vain to explain his sadness, but he denies 
that he thinks of his merchandise at sea and answers with a sad 
"Fie, Fie** when Salarino suspects that he could be in love. He is, 
to all appearances, sad without reason. I now remember that I 
have read in the book of a Shakespeare commentator that An- 
tonio has "the spleen." It seems to me that this concept is too 
British. . . . While I still ponder over Antonio's mysterious 
sadness, a line runs through my mind. "He was despised and re- 
jected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." And 
then: "He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." . . . 
But those are passages from the Holy Scripture! . . . How do 
they now emerge? It occurs to me where and when I heard them 
last. A friend let me have the records of Handel's Messiah a few 
days ago. 

In Act IV, Antonio says: 

I am a tainted wether of the flock, 
Meetest for death. 

Actually, he does not awaken interest and sympathy by the 
person he is, but by what happens to him; not by his personality, 
but by his destiny. He is, he says, a tainted wether of the fleck, 
destined to die. He is, rather, a lamb. . . . From somewhere the 


phrase "Agnus Dei qui tollit peccata mundi" comes to mind. Is 
this not from the Vulgate, the translation of the New Testament? 
Immediately a passage from the Messiah emerges, the passage of 
"the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world." 

Antonio's sadness ... the man of sorrow . . . the Lamb of 
God . . . destined to die. ... He was wounded for our trans- 
gressions. ... He was bruised for our Iniquities. . . . The scene 
before the court at Venice. . . . The readiness to die for others. 
. . . Did He not state, "Greater love has no man than this that a 
man lay down his life for his friend"? . . . No, I am not the 
victim of a delusion. Behind the figure of Antonio is the greater 
one of Jesus Christ. Again the motif "He was despised and re- 
jected" emerges as If the tune wants to confirm my thought, as if 
the line from the Messiah announced that my concept is correct. 

Again there Is the image of Antonio and Shylock standing op- 
posite each other, the one all charity and the other no charity 
at all. ... I know now clearly what was in the background of 
my mind while I read the play, what were the vague Impressions 
that crowded upon me until they became condensed into one 
leading thought. I am turning the leaves of the volume, and my 
glance chances upon the lines of Shylock in Act I, where he 
speaks directly to the noble Venetian merchant: 

Signior Antonio, many a time and oft 

In the Rialto you have rated me 

About my money and my usances. 

Still I have borne it with a patient shrug, 

For sufferance Is the badge of our tribe. 

You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, 

ABC! spat upon my Jewish gaberdine, 

And all for use of that which is mine own . . . 

Here is one of the few occasions in which Antonio shows tem- 
perament and hate In contrast to his otherwise gentle and weak 
attitude. . . . Not a trace of charity and loving-kindness here. 
Not very Christian, as a matter of fact. This seems to contradict 
my concept that behind the 'Gentile merchant the figure of his 
God is concealed. 

But then it occurs to me that this feature does not contradict 


my thesis. It rather confirms it. Did He not go up to Jerusalem 
when Passover was at hand and abuse and whip the money- 
changers and drive them all out of the temple? Did He not pour 
out their money and overthrow their tables? Behind the treat- 
ment Shylock gets from Antonio the features of the primal pat- 
tern of the Holy Scripture become apparent. 

I do not doubt any more that behind Antonio and Shylock are 
hidden the great figures of their gods. Here are two small people 
in Venice, but the shadows they cast are gigantic and their con- 
flict shakes the world. There is the vengeful and zealous God of 
the Old Testament and the milder Son-God of the Gospels who 
rebelled against His father, suffered death for His revolt, and 
became God Himself, afterwards. The two Gods are presented and 
represented in this play by two of their typical worshipers of the 
playwright's time. 

Shakespeare wanted to present a Jewish figure as he and his 
contemporaries saw it, but the character grew beyond human 
measure into the realm of the mythical, as if the God of the Jews 
stood behind the stage. Shakespeare wanted to shape the destiny 
of a Gentile merchant who almost became the victim of a venge- 
ful, evil Jew, but the unconscious imagination of this writer 
shattered the thin frame of his plot. The myth-forming fantasy of 
this man William Shakespeare, his imagination complete, m 
Taine says, reached so much farther than his conscious mind. It 
reached beyond the thoughts and designs known to him, into the 
region where the great myths and religious legends of the people 
are bom and bred. He wanted only to write a comedy with a plot 
about the curious case of a Jew who was outjewed. Unconscious 
memory-traces made him shape the conflict of the two Gods, the 
holy story as he had absorbed it as a boy. Invisible threads con- 
nect The Merchant of Venice with the medieval passion plays. 

He took the two plots from many sources, the story of the three 
caskets and the tale of the merchant who got a rough deal from 
a malicious Jew, and alloyed them into a play. Thus William saw 
the Jews as the Toms, Dicks, and Harrys of his time saw them, 
despised them, and mocked them, and hated them. But something 
greater than his conscious thought gave that Jew a voice of his 
own, a rancorous voice that speaks in icy sarcasm, biting ami ac- 


cusing, a voice full of sound and fury, rising In passionate protest 
and ebbing In utter despair. The creative and re-creative Imagina- 
tion of this man Shakespeare poured Into the trivial plot of the 
three thousand ducats something of the stuff the great myths of 
people, the dreams of mankind, are made on. He added the figure 
of Antonio, who was to be cut and mutilated, to the mythical 
figures of Attis, Adonis, and Jesus Christ, who were torn to pieces. 
Only small Inconspicuous traits, little features overlooked and 
neglected, Invisible or only visible under the microscope of psy- 
choanalytic scrutiny, reveal that behind the trivial figures of the 
comedy are hidden Jehovah and Jesus, that the real personae 
dramatis are overdimensionaL 

In the battles between the Danal and the Trojans, as Homer 
describes them, the gods of Olympus fought In the skies above 
the heads of the combatants. In the fight between the Gentiles of 
Venice and the Jew Shylock, the greatest conflict of the world is 
presented in a courtroom scene. I am toying with the plan to 
publish this new concept. Perhaps in a literary magazine. . . . 
And why not in a psychoanalytic journal since it is the result of 
psychological evaluation of small Inconspicuous traits In the clas- 
sical manner of analytic observation of trifles? . . . Perhaps I 
should entitle the paper with the sentence "Et hie dei sunt" Also 
here are gods. 

When I arrived at this concept or should I say rather when 
this concept arrived at me? I felt that glow of thought known to 
all explorers who first recognize a secret connection, that burning 
felicity of discovery. It was, to be sure, only a small thing, a tri- 
fling contribution to the Interpretation of a Shakespearean play, 
only a little bit of a new construction, yet ... The Inscription I 
had often seen on old Austrian cottages, when I was a boy, 
occurred to me: "Klein, aber mein" (Small, but my own.) 

It Is, I thought, only a trifle of an idea, but it is original. And 
then came the doubt as to Its originality. I had the feeling that I 
had had this very thought before, a long time ago. . . . Yet, I 
knew it had occurred now, when I reread The Merchant of 
Fmice. ... Is there a phenomenon analogous to the sensation 
of deja vu in the area of thinking, a feeling of deja pensef . . . 
Perhaps I read it once and have forgotten It, and now I think of 


it as an original idea of my own. ... I am trying to remember 
what various critics and historians of literature wrote on The 
Merchant of Venice. . . . No, there is nothing comparable to 
my concept. . . . Yet, I know this thought from somewhere. . . . 
When it occurred to me, I nodded, so to speak, to it as you do to 
ail old acquaintances whom you run into on the street and whom 
you have not seen for many years. 

When did 1 first see The Merchant of Venice? It was when I 
was sixteen or seventeen years old, in Vienna. . . . Wait! I ad- 
monished myself. Let me think. ... I have forgotten who acted 
a thin man with an iron-gray wisp of beard, a dark gaberdine, 
and the little black cap of the orthodox Jew. His too vivid ges- 
tures and his expressive voice that ran the gamut from cold logic 
to embittered passion and spoke the verse of Shakespeare with a 
Yiddish modulation which was not at all ridiculous. . . . That 
was in 1904 or 1905. 

The play occupied my thoughts for a long time. . . . I was a boy, 
and another still younger boy lived in Vienna then whose name 
was Adolf Hitler. ... At this time, when I was sixteen, I did not 
love Shakespeare, but Heinrich Heine. ... By God, Heine. . . . 
That is it. ... I read then the splendid prose of Heine, and 
among his writings the paper Gods in Exile. In this essay the 
writer imagines that the ancient gods of the Greeks did not perish 
when Christ triumphed and conquered the world. They became 
refugees and left their country. They immigrated, went under- 
ground. They disguised themselves and lived anonymously in 
exile a pitiful or comfortable life. They tried to get jobs, in- 
cognito, of course. They drank beer instead of nectar. Apollo, 
who had once led the cows of Admetos to pasture, became a shep- 
herd in Lower Austria; Mars became a soldier, and Mercury a 
Butch merchant who was quite prosperous. Bacchus became 
Father Superior of a monastery. ... I must have read that very 
picturesque fantasy of the vicissitudes of the ancient Greek gods be- 
fore or at the time when I first saw The Merchant of Venice in the 
Burgtheater. . , . Sometime and somewhere the memory of those 
pages of Heine's Gods in Exile must have merged with vague 
ideas and impressions about the figures of Antonio and ShylocL 
. . . The two thoughts met and coalesced. The result of their 


mixture was the concept, then only dimly perceived, that Shylock 
and Antonio, too, are disguised figures of gods, reduced to very 
human size, reappearing in the earthly shape of a noble Venetian 
merchant and of an old vengeful Jew. . . . This paper by Heine, 
therefore, is the birthplace or the source of my "original" concept 
or, at least, it stimulated its genesis. Yes, Heinrich Heine. ... I 
suddenly remember that the same great German writer wrote 
another short essay on Shakespeare's "Maiden and Women/' . . . 
I had, of course, read this paper too, perhaps about the same time 
I read "Gods in Exile." The coincidence facilitated perhaps the 
meeting of the two thoughts in my mind after the performance of 
The Merchant of Venice. 

I walk over to my bookcase and I take the volume of Heine's 
collected works. Here is the essay on Shakespeare's women . . . 
and here are the passages on Jessica. I begin to read and again 
I am under the spell of Heine's magnificent diction as I once was 
when I was a boy. 

Heine writes about a performance of The Merchant of Venice: 
"When I saw this play at Drury Lane, there stood behind in the 
box a pale, fair Briton who at the end of the Fourth Act fell 
a-weeping passionately, several times exclaiming, 'The poor man 
is wronged!' " The poet thinks of this lady when he visits Venice 
later on: "Wondering dream-hunter that I am, I looked around 
everywhere on the Rialto to see if I could find Shylock . . . But 
1 found him nowhere on the Rialto, and I determined to seek my 
old acquaintance in the Synagogue. The Jews were then celebrat- 
ing their Day of Atonement. . . . Although I looked all around 
the Synagogue, I nowhere discovered the face of Shylock. I saw 
Mm not. But toward evening, when, according to Jewish belief, 
the gates of heaven are shut and no prayer can then obtain ad- 
mission, I heard a voice, with a ripple of tears that never were 
wept by eyes. It was a sob that could come only from a breast that 
held in It all martyrdom which for eighteen centuries had been 
borne by a whole tortured people. It was the death rattle of a 
soul sinking down dead-tired at heaven's gate, and I seemed to 
know the voke and I felt that I had heard it long ago; in utter 
despair, it moaned out, then as now, 'Jessica, my child! ' " 

In these lines* written more than one hundred years ago, Heine 


has touched the most vulnerable spot of Shakespeare's Shylock* 
The picture of the old man who has broken down and means* 
"Jessica, my child" has the gloomy grandeur of the biblical paint- 
ings of Rembrandt. 

It is strange that Heine has so little to say about Jessica with 
whose personality this piece should deal She is for him just a 
pleasure-seeking, egocentric female. But he had quite a few things 
to say about those Venetian young men who are friends of the 
noble Antonio. He sees them with a critical eye and he is right 
in looking down on them. Bassanio is a fortunehunter who adds 
debts to debts to make a luxurious trip, and who does not hesitate 
to risk the life of his best friend in order to impress Portia by his 
elegance. How low can you get? There is Lorenzo who elopes 
with Jessica and lives on the money and jewels she has taken from 
her father, lives sumptuously, throwing Shylock's naoney around. 
There are those other playboys, irresponsible, flippant, crude 
conceited, shallow and out for fun only such charming people! 

Is Shylock not right when he looks down upon those noble 
Venetian young gentlemen and speaks aside: 

These be the Christian husbands. I have a daughter- 
Would any of the stock of Barrabas 
Had been her husband rather than a Christian! 

1 have two daughters and, considering these young noblemen, 
I feel as he does. . . . 

And Jessica falls in love with one of those guys who talks big 
and is an empty shell. He will be fed up with her very soon, will 
soon throw her over, and will look down on her because she is 
Jewish. And the girl herself? She is ashamed of her father, calls 
herself daughter of his blood, not of his heart. She robs him and 
leaves him alone and in despair. Farewell, she says: 

And if my fortune be not crcst, 

I have a father, you a daughter, lost. 

I begin to wonder how 1 came to all these thoughts and I am 
curious. How did I arrive from thinking of an alcoholic patient 
to an analytic contribution to Shakespeare's play? I fail to recog- 


nlze any connections In my associations. ... It is really puzzling, 
and I would like to find out on which ways my train of thought 
wandered. I want to discover the truth about them, and about 
myself, the truth, fair or foul. . . . 

I first remembered the remark of my patient Bill, who is a 
playboy and drunkard, about Negroes and Jews. Then only words 
came when I was half asleep. Only names: Jones, Jericho, Jeph- 
thah, Jessica, Jehovah, Jesus. . . . Oh yes, there were thought- 
connections: Emperor Jones, Jericho, that Jewish peddler in the 
film, who appeared to me as a kind of degraded Jehovah, Jeph- 
thah, who had to sacrifice his own daughter, Jessica, the daughter 
of Shylock. And then Shylock himself as a human representative 
of the God of the Jews, reduced and despised in his earthly 
shape, and Antonio, a small-sized edition of the Nazarene. . . . The 
trial as a miniature of the great conflict of the old and the new 
God . . . "Gods in Exile" . . . Heine . . . and Heine's words 
about Shylock and Jessica. 

Bet what was there before I thought of that patient and of his 
anti-Semitic remark? . . . Nothing occurs to me. . . . There is 
a blank, I think only that I am -very tired and that I should go to 
bed. ... It is long after midnight. Thody is not home yet ... 
Thody . . . 

All of a sudden I recognize with full clarity where the whole 
train of thought started and why it took this direction and what 
it means. I am amazed, and it is at this point that I repeat whole- 
heartedly that sentence of my patient, "Our mind is an insult to 
our intelligence." 

When Thody came into the room to say good night and went 
out for a date, I must have thought some uncomfortable thoughts. 
I brushed them aside and tried to run away from them. I turned 
my attention to the analytic sessions of the day and thus arrived 
at the thought of my patient and his remark about Negroes and 
Jews. ... It started there and now all comes back to me, also 
the thoughts I tried to escape from. . . . Thody's date must have 
awakened a dormant fear that she could get infatuated or even 
fall in love with one of those worthless New York playboys, one 
o the ilk to which my patient Bill or Lorenzo in The Merchant 
oj Venice belongs* It occurred to me that she will be eighteen 


years old next year and that she could take the funds I saved for 
her education and for which I toiled and worked so hard so many 
years. She could elope with just such an immature young fellow 
and give him her money. . . . She could elope as Jessica did . . . 
and the young ne'er-do-well would use her and the money and 
would shortly afterwards throw her over and abuse her. 

I know, of course, that none of those fears is justified. Tfaody 
is not Infatuated with any boy and, even if she were, she Is quite 
Intelligent and, although she Is temperamental and Impulsive, she 
has a lot of common sense. How do I come to have such vain 
fears and nonsensical thoughts? They mest have originated in 
fleeting Impressions I have received lately. The other day Thody 
expressed her discontent with our very modest apartment. She 
seems to be ashamed of It and hesitates to invite her girl friends 
to her house. She is sometimes Impatient with my old-fashioned 
views, and who knows? perhaps she is somewhat ashamed of me. 
She is also dissatisfied with me, It seems, because I am always 
working and 1 do not explain things to her that she wants to 
know. The other day, when I had no time to explain some psy- 
chological terms, she said angrily, "I could just as well be a shoe- 
maker's daughter." She Is dissatisfied with her home, Its atmos- 
phere, and also In other directions. . . . And girls In such moods 
are sometimes tempted to elope with the first boy with whom they 
get infatuated. 

But this is nonsense, idle fancy, and vain fears! ... I am not 
Shylock and my daughter Is not Jessica. . . . Even if she should 
want someday to elope with such a playboy and give him the 
money I saved for her college education, 1 mused, what could I, 
an old codger, do? . . . Have I the right to do anything? . . . 
You cannot teach anO'ther human being how to live . . . not 
even your own child. . . . Perhaps especially not your own child. 

It is strange how the Idea, or the fear, I ran away from followed 
me. I tried to escape from It and it pursued me. In my associations 
I went off on a tangent and was led to the center of the problem 
that unconsciously preoccupied me. My alcoholic patient took in 
my thoughts the place of the imaginary playboy who is the future 
suitor of Thody. From there I drifted Into speculations on Shy- 
lock, Jessica, and Antonio and then went into a psychological 


analysis of the secret background of The Merchant of Venice, of 
the second concealed compartment of the play. 

How did I come to the new idea? Certainly not by conscious 
logical conclusions. If there were any, they followed the concept 
I had already reached. It was an intuitive insight that suddenly 
emerged. . . . Out of the nowhere into the here. . . . But such 
intuition is only the sudden perception of an earlier intellectual 
experience which had remained unconscious and surprisingly 
reached the threshold of conscious thinking with the help of new 
impressions. Could I not later on remember some parts of those 
old thoughts, recognize in retrospect the raw material out of 
which the new concept was made? 

Looking back at the process, I still wonder how the thought 
about my patient suddenly turned to those names: Jones, Jericho, 
Jephthah, Jehovah, Jesus. Chaotic and yet following their hid- 
den laws, my associations arrived by a detour at their destination. 
There is a psychological resemblance between this disjointed way 
of thinking and the "flight of ideas/' to be found in manic states 
and in the "word salad" of the schizophrenics. The pathological 
flight of ideas is perhaps also not a flight toward certain things, 
but a flight away from a pursuing idea. The old German expres- 
sion Ideen-Jagd is more appropriate. From casually progressing 
associations, my thoughts increased their tempo, began to chase 
each other. It was as if they first were comfortably pacing and 
suddenly went into a gallop, like a horse that shies away from its 
own shadow. Then they changed their pace again when I drifted 
into those thoughts on Shakespeare's characters. I really reached 
the phase of objective study, and the origin of my thoughts, their 
personal sources, were forgotten or submerged. Here is an alloy of 
aim-directed logical and rational thinking and hidden irrational 
and emotional thoughts directed by unconscious drives. As far as 
I know, psychiatry has no name for such composite processes, 
which are logically progressing but governed by invisible emotions 
and forces. 

While I thus reviewed my own mental process, I felt no emotion 
except the curiosity of the psychological observer. I asked myself: 
Did I feel any emotion during the whole process? Oh yes, there 
was this moment of glow when I discovered traces of the old myth 


in the plot of The Merchant of Venice, but nothing else. Even 
when I reread the play, there was no strong emotion. Nothing of 
the cathartic effect Aristotle recognized, no purification of emo- 
tions through fear and pity. 

But that impression must have been self-deceiving. I grinned 
to myself ironically: this is certainly not a deep observation. Noth- 
ing penetrating about it. ... Of course, there must have been 
emotions that directed the course of my thoughts. There was, 
no doubt, jealousy of my daughter, also possessiveness, fury 
against the unknown young man who will take her away from me. 
I sense how intense the rage and revengefulness against that imag- 
inary young man must have been, because it emerged in the sub- 
stitution displacement of the trial scene between Shylock and 
Antonio, in the Jew's insistence on cutting a pound of flesh from 
his opponent. Also an intense anger against my daughter can 
easily be conjectured, because the thought of Jephthah appeared. 
The scene in which Shylock wishes to see his disloyal daughter 
dead at his feet was vividly recalled. There were, I am sure, also 
love for my daughter and the awareness of my helplessness, if and 
when a certain situation might endanger her safety, and quite a 
few other emotions. 

But all of them are only suggested by pychological reasoning. 
All this is only theoretical insight. I don't feel any of those emo- 
tions. They are only guessed and not experienced. 

But then, all of a sudden, I know that they are there because I 
hear my own voice moaning, "Thody, my child!" 

On the little table beside my bed are a few books (I have kept 
since my childhood the bad habit of reading in bed), amongst 
them Anatole France en Pantoufies and Itineram de Paris m 
Buenos Aires by Jean Jacques Brousson and Conversations eatec 
Anatole France by Nicolas Segur. I had read them when they were 
first published, shortly after France's death, but 1 return to them, 
from lime to time, because of my love for the old Sage of the Villa 


Said, for his melancholic wisdom and his critical intelligence, Ms 
lucidity and his subtle wit. He really lived without illusions, and 
yet knew that living without them is impossible. He was at a cer- 
tain time the most celebrated writer of the world, surrounded by 
admirers, loved by beautiful women, honored by the intellectual 
elite of his era. Yet he confided to J. J. Brousson that he had not 
been happy a single hour of his life. He asserted that only the poor 
in mind are happy; that he himself lacked the wonderful gift of 
self-deception and that he had always felt "les melancholies de 
I' intelligence!' 

Why is it that reading books by Anatole France makes me 
serene, quiets and consoles me? It cannot be only his magnificent 
style, his wisdom or his wit which affect the reader in this manner. 
Something of his personality, of his voice that comes through the 
lines, gives relief and relaxation, removes the Erdenschwere, as 
Goethe would put it, alleviates the oppression of living on this 
planet. To show that every human relation and institution is 
transitory and founded on illusions is in itself a triumph of a 
melancholic mind over the shabby and unsatisfactory matter. 

Turning over the pages of the three books out of which the 
voice of old, wise, and witty Anatole France speaks, reading some 
paragraphs here and there, I chanced upon two anecdotes that 
brought my thoughts back to analytic sessions of the same day. 
The two anecdotes which the old master recounts appeared sud- 
denly like analogies or counterparts of certain situations whose 
detailed report I had heard only a few hours before in analytic 
sessions with a woman and with a man patient. 

Jane is a young widow with two children. As a very young girl 
she had fallen in love with a man more than ten years older than 
herself. The gentle, scholarly man began to pay attention to her 
and wanted to marry her. Overcoming the resistance of his family 
to Ms marriage with a girl who was so much younger and compar- 
atively poor, the couple got married and lived happily ever after. 
It was for the girl as if a fairy tale had become real. Living in 
coiafortabie, later on even in wealthy circumstances, the two peo- 
ple who shared many interests found satisfaction in each other's 
company and realization of their hopes in their life together. They 
enjoyed their social as well as their sexual life for ten years. This 


happy .time came to its end when the husband became ill. The di- 
agnosis of the physicians was brain tumor. The husband died 
afterwards, and the young widow whose happiness 
broken off so suddenly was inconsolable. A few weeks after his 
death she found among his papers, which she had to examine for 
some legal purpose, a concealed bundle of notes, diaries, and pho- 
tographs dating from the last years. These papers left no doubt 
that her adored husband had lived a double life, many 

affairs, including a long one with her best friead, and had also 
indulged in certain perversions during those years of their mar- 
riage which had been sexually very satisfactory. The young widow 
\i r as deeply shocked. She tried to master her indignation and con- 
fusion, but she suffered from depression and Insomnia and became 
emotionally ill. She tried in vain to find diversion in journeys, 
theaters, and so on. Her thoughts invariably returned to the 
shocking discovery she had made. 

In the analytic session of that afternoon she had told me of an 
incident that had taken place shortly after her husband's death a 
few years before. A terrible forest fire had broken out near the city 
in which she lived. It destroyed whole villages and left hundreds 
of families homeless and destitute. The young widow drove 
around in her car with food, clothes, and money and did all she 
could to help these people. In touring the devastated places while 
the fire was still raging nearby, she was stopped at one point by a 
young State Trooper who warned her that bands of loiterers made 
the villages and roads unsafe. The officer offered to accompany the 
young lady on her tour in the neighborhood to protect her. She 
accepted, and they drove together along the forests. After a few 
hours the young State Trooper made a timid pass at her. She 
quickly yielded to him and they had sexual intercourse the same 
evening on the border of the blazing forest. The sudden surrender 
of the well-bred woman to the unknown officer only a few weeks 
after her husband's death was certainly determined in part by her 
emotional reaction to the deeply disappointing discovery of her 
husband's infidelity. She told me that the sight of the tumult and 
riot of nature, of the forest in flames, had sexually excited her. It 
was as if the elementary forces around her reflected the emotions 
she herself 'experienced. 


Nicolas S^gur In his book of memories gives a lively report of 
one of the evenings at the salon of Madame de Cavaillet at the 
Avenue Hoche. There were many guests, among them Anatole 
France, who was always in the center. The topic of conversation 
was China and the Yellow Peril, and the old master commented 
on the subject in his usual Ironic and brilliant manner. The gra- 
cious mistress of the house asked him to tell a certain Chinese 
story. He protested, asserted that everybody knew it, but finally 
obeyed the soft command of Madame. 

The place of the story is a cemetery in China. In the middle of 
this locality a charming young woman is seen as she is bending 
over a grave, ceaselessly waving her paper fan over the freshly 
turned mold. A student of philosophy, coming by chance upon 
the strange sight, stops and addresses the lady in the most polite 
and respectful manner, asking her what she is doing there. He ex- 
plains that it is not idle curiosity that makes him ask this question, 
but that he Is a philosopher, eager to inquire into the causes and 
effects of things, and he would like to make an entry concerning 
her activity in the little scroll of paper he always carries in his 
girdle. The lady just glances at him and stammers a few unintel- 
ligible words while she continues to fan the grave. The woman 
servant standing beside her bows to the philosopher and speaks 
to him. She explains that the young lady at the grave is the widow 
of a great mandarin who had died a few days before. Her love for 
her husband had been equaled only by his for her. He had been 
Inconsolable when he realized that he had to die. His wife called 
heaven and earth to witness that she could not survive him. She 
vowed that she would die, too, when his soul left his body, that she 
would shot herself up in a convent of Buddhist nuns, that she 
would never marry again or even look at another man for the rest 
of tier days. 

The dying husband assured her that he did not wish her to bind 
herself by any such vows. He merely asked her not to forget him 
till the earth on his grave was dry. She, of course, took this oath. 
Her grief after his death was so great that it almost killed her. 
She shut herself up In her house, wept aod wept and could not be 
consoled in her mourning. Slie would, no doubt, have still been 
weeping, had not the dead man's youngest popil come the next 


day to express his condolence and sympathy. He had talked at 
length about her husband's excellent qualities, but then he had 
talked about herself and himself. He told her that he loved her 
and that he could not live without her. He informed her that lie 
would come again soon to see her. He was very handsome, well 
proportioned, and well spoken, and the young widow was greatly 
impressed by his appearance and his ine manners. It is for this 
reason, the servant explains, that her mistress spends her time fan- 
ning the earth on her husband's grave with her fan. "It behooves 
her/* she adds, "to lose no time in drying it, else there might be 
some risk that she might break her vows/' 

The threads running from this anecdote to the report of my 
patient of the same day are obvious: the great love of the woman 
for her husband, the deep grief after his death, the turning to an- 
other man after a short time. The accompanying melancholic 
tune was composed by Verdi: "La donna c mobile" 

My thoughts, however, were not directed to this eternal and 
always actual theme. They went ofi on an analytic tangent, to the 
significance and the contrast of fire and water in the two stories. 
The two elements have, of course, only a marginal part in the re- 
port of my patient and in the Chinese anecdote. The forest ire in 
its grandiose power represents, as it were, only a mirror or a mi- 
rage in which the concealed desires of the young widow are re- 
flected. In the mixture of the still painful disappointment with 
her husband and of the sexual desires suppressed since his death* 
the sight of the flames around her play only a subsidiary role. 
Their uproar corresponds to the power of this desire breaking 
through all barriers. The sexual wishes of the young State 
Trooper, soon perceived by her, iash across to her and set her own 
lingering desires ablaze. The uproar of nature puts a model to 
her. The sensual excitement of the officer beside her adds fuel to 
her own fire smoldering under the ashes. 

One can scarcely speak of ao unconscious symbolic significance 
of the forest fire in this case. The poets use expressions like iames 
of passion, burning desire, and so on, but in tier report of the In- 
cident it appears rather as if this metaphor has returned to the 
place of its origin. 

But how about the other case? There is certainly a symbolical 


significance in the condition of the dying husband that his widow 
should think of him till the earth on his grave is dry. The earth as 
a symbol of the female body was not discovered by psychoanalysis; 
man had been aware of it many thousand years before Freud, who 
found it only again in the dream. ("Mother Earth/' the Earth god- 
desses in Chinese, Babylonian, and other mythologies.) 

If the earth is unconsciously a symbol for the female body, the 
new vow the dying Mandarin demands from his wife can have 
only the significance: I expect that you will be faithful to me at 
least till the lubrication from sexual intercourse with me has dried 
up. The grave in which he rests is thus compared with the living 
body of the woman, and the humidity of the earth upon it with 
the lubricated quality of her vagina. The other possible interpre- 
tation would be that the humidity is put equal to that caused 
by the man's semen. The concealed significance of the vow the 
dying man demands would thus be: I want you to be faithful to 
me till my semen in your body has dried up. 

It is interesting that the opposite elements of fire and water 
have a sexual significance in the report of my patient and in the 
Chinese story. Fire represents the passionate, as it were the mas- 
culine quality of sexual desire, here in a woman. In the anecdote 
of the cemetery in China the feminine side is emphasized. The 
lady should wait until the living traces of her husband's sexual 
desire have vanished from her body. 

In both cases the sexual wishes of a younger man awakened the 
dormant desires of the widow soon after the beloved husband's 
death. It is, however, not accidental that the shock and indigna- 
tion about the deceased's infidelity facilitated the sexual break- 
through of my patient, while the Chinese lady had only to deal 
with what she considered the demands of respect and decency to 
the ghost of her spouse. The thought of the sexual trends of the 
husband to which those papers bore such shocking witness helped 
to kindle the fire in the young widow. The masculine note is here 
apparent in the urgency, immediateness, and suddenness of the 
emergent sexual desire. The Chinese woman is not less eager to 
Icaget her dead husband, but her more feminine nature endeavors 
to obliterate the memory of his love before she yields to the wishes 
of her new suitors. The contrast of fine and water represents the 


difference of a more masculine and feminine quality in the sexu- 
ality of the two women. It Is the same differentiation which seven 
centuries ago St. Francis of Asslsi expressed In that hymn: "Praised 
be my Lord for onr brother Fire" and "Praised be my Lord for 
our sister Water/* 

The comparison between the two stories was, of course, stimu- 
lated by the similarity of the situation of the two young widows, 
but the Interest of the psychoanalyst was more concerned with 
the contrast of fire and water on the margin of the stories* so to 
speak, with the stage set of the show. 

The other case to which my thoughts returned, stimulated by 
another passage in a book of memories of Aratole France, had 
quite a different character, and, accordingly, my attention fol- 
lowed another direction. The young lawyer I had seen at noon of 
that day had had what Is popularly called a nervous breakdown a 
few years before and had spent a long time In a psychiatric hospi- 
tal. He had been treated with electric shocks^ and his doubts aad 
fears had disappeared for a short time under the Influence of this 
"therapy." He had adjusted himself to the routine life at the hos- 
pital, in which he felt safe. Until his doubts reappeared, he had 
been able to do some work In the office of the hospital's manager. 
Such temporary adaptation to the isolated area of the hospital, 
and a relative feeling of security as long as the retreat from society 
lasts, is not rare with patients of this kind. Robinson Crusoe was 
neither shy nor afraid of people as long as he was on his island. 

The chief psychiatrist recommended psychotherapy to the pa- 
tient. His long and careful psychoanalysis with me led to a full 
success. His main neurotic symptoms disappeared. He regained 
his self-confidence, mastered certain character difficulties, and be- 
gan to work. During analysis he had fallen in love with a girl 
whom he married at its end and who proved to be a good mate. 
The patient decided not to return to Ms law practice. He bought 
a farm not far away from New York and raised poultry, doing 
some real-estate business on the side. 

From time to time, perhaps once a month, he came to New York 
and saw me for an hour to discuss some actual emotional difficul- 
ties. They were, however, never very serious and could be con- 
quered without great efforts: Also, in the session of this noon,, lie 


had given me an almost hunioristic report of some obsessional 
doubts he had experienced in the past weeks, faint echoes of the 
serious obsessions that had been all-pervasive and had governed 
his life before psychoanalysis. 

Most of those doubts originated in everyday situations in which 
he felt uncertainty. He had, for instance, an appointment with a 
lawyer about some real-estate business. While he waited until the 
lawyer had finished a conference with another client, he had felt 
an urgent need to move his bowels. Should he go to the toilet and 
let the lawyer, who would perhaps be free in a few minutes, wait? 
What would the lawyer think of him when he was absent? The 
very busy man would perhaps call in one of the other clients wait- 
ing for him. After that he might have another appointment or 
even leave the office. In this case my patient's business affair could 
not be taken care of on this day, and he would have to drive from 
his farm to the village another day, and by the delay lose precious 
time much needed for his work with the poultry. After he had 
tentatively decided to visit the toilet (in these rural surroundings, 
an outhouse), he remembered from previous occasions that there 
was never toilet paper around. Unfortunately, he had thrown 
away the local newspaper which had come in handy on previous 
occasions. Should he now ask one of the clients waiting at the of- 
fice to let him have a section of the newspaper he was reading? 
But there was no possibility of returning it after it had been used 
the way he intended to. (He laughingly added that it was the only 
way it deserved to be used.) Asking the lawyer's secretary for some 
paper was excluded for several reasons. Modesty forbade that he 
tell the young girl the purpose for which he needed the paper. 
What would the young woman think if he whispered his delicate 
request into her blushing ear? No doubt, she would be severely 
shocked. But could he use a pretext and ask her for some paper to 
write a letter during the time of his waiting? Here he was uncom- 
fortably reminded by unpleasant sensations within himself that 
he had hardly time to wait any more. There was, furthermore, the 
possibility that the girl would give him a single sheet, and this 
would not do. He could not ask for several sheets, yet, he needed 
perhaps as many as her boss might use for the first draft oi a legal 
brief. (At this point, the patient's low opinion of the lawyer be- 


comes very obvious In the displacement) Wouldn't the secretary 
mind letting him have several sheets of the expensive office sta- 
tionery? And would it not be conspicuous if, after receiving the 
saving sheets, he should get up from his chair and disappear with- 
out explanation, instead of writing a letter as lie was expected 
to do? 

The patient and I laughed together when he gave me this vivid 
report of the emergency situation. I could not help smiling when 
he told me of a minor dilemma in which he had found himself a 
few days before: It was early in the evening and he had fed only 
part of the chickens, of which he had several thousands on his 
farm. Just when he turned to the other, large group of birds, his 
young wife called to him that dinner was ready. What should he 
do now? Mary did not like to wait for him for dinner. If he con- 
tinued to feed the chickens, she would be annoyed, she would re- 
sent his letting the steak get cold. If he asked her to wait until he 
had finished Ms work perhaps more than half an hour she 
would be hurt. But if he interrupted the feeding and foiowed her 
call and had dinner then, wouldn't he hurt the feelings of the sev- 
eral hundred chickens that had not yet been fed while the other 
members of their community had had their meals? He saw himself 
in a difficult situation, caught in a dilemma and unable to decide 
what was the right thing to do. 

Reporting these instances of the problems which occupied the 
patient's thoughts and which he recounted that day, I wished to 
show the kind of minor obsessional thoughts that remained as 
remnants of the severe neurosis that had kept him in the hospital 
for two years. In these doubts and dilemmas are, of course, re- 
flected the great problems of his life. They represent displaced 
details and trifles, his vital interests as in a diminishing glass. In 
the state of tapering off, those symptoms cannot be compared 
with regard to their scope and importance to those before analysis. 
Hit by his intense drives from one side and by his social and inner 
demands from the other, his ego had been helpless at that time, 
clinging to the ropes like a pundidrunk boxer, while he now put 
up an energetic and brave defense against the Meeting and ob- 
sessional thoughts that occasionally bothered him. 

The patient had broken down or, as he put it, had a "blackout/* 


when he could not solve his sexual problem. Brought up In an 
extremely Puritan family of a southern state, he had a furious and 
desperate fight against the temptation of masturbation in his pu- 
berty years. He had then been convinced that masturbation was not 
only sinful but also extremely dangerous and that one could be- 
come "crazy" by indulging in it. When, in his early and late twen- 
ties, sexual desires appeared in their full power, he renewed his 
fight with all the energy at his disposal. Too shy and too moralis- 
tic to approach women with sexual Intentions, he fought with the 
sensual wishes that attacked him as desperately as any of the Chris- 
tian saints of the fourth century in the Thebais of Alexandria. In 
the time before his mental breakdown, he sometimes yielded to 
the terrible temptation to- masturbate. He found an ingenious 
way to rationalize and justify these occasional Indulgences. He 
had read many books on sexuality, also on the danger or inno- 
cence of sexual gratification. While his intelligence told him that 
there is a biological necessity of sexual expression, his emotions 
were "agin It." When the desire overwhelmed him, he used the 
following rationalization: He would experiment with Ms sexual 
drive and find out whether masturbation was permitted if he per- 
formed it only to relieve his nervous tension without allowing 
himself to get any pleasure from it. Being a lawyer, he applied a 
legal term in his thoughts to the procedure. He thought: I have to 
yield to the temptation, but I shall withhold my consent. He re- 
ferred, thus, to certain legal cases in which a person is not respon- 
sible for a criminal deed if there is no "Intent" of it. 

He masturbated but withheld his consent, and this experiment 
in thoughts worked for a short time. As was unavoidable, serious 
doubts about the legitimacy of his experimentation caught up 
with the procedure, and his rationalization threatened to break 
down. He often had to Interrupt his sexual activity and to Investi- 
gate whether he was now merely experimenting or felt pleasure, 
whether he really only wanted to get rid of the physical tension or 
whether he also enjoyed the process. In the long ran, it became Im- 
possible to maintain the conviction that he withheld his consent. 
Even when he succeeded in overcoming the interfering thoughts 
and In reaching a sexual orgasm, he was terrified later on at the 
thought that he had enjoyed masturbation. He frequently brooded 


about whether he had withheld his consent during the whole act 
or only at Its beginning, whether he had been still experimenting 
at this or that point of his excitement or had already felt pleasure, 
yes, even whether he really handled the problem from a strictly 
legal point of view or not, and so on. From here he arrived at re- 
flections about certain cases he had studied in his law practice and 
at doubts as to how far a person is legally responsible if he with- 
holds his consent, etc. Most of his obsessional doubts at the time 
circled around the problem of how much of a single masturbatory 
act could be attributed to the purpose of experimentation and 
how much to the aim to get pleasure from it. In pursuing these se- 
rious questions, he often found himself in a mental blind alley. At 
a certain point of his obsessional thinking, the world appeared to 
him like an alien place. He did not know any more where he was 
and lost the feeling of his identity. This was the "blackout" that 
landed him in the psychiatric hospital. 

While I read the books reporting conversations with the late 
Anatole France, my thoughts returned twice to the patient I had 
seen this noon. Nicolas S^gur reports in a passage of his memories 
that the "bon mattre" once made the statement that Christianity 
does not oppose the sexual act in itself, but only the pleasure con- 
nected with it or in it. Christian morals are, he asserts, not against 
sexual activity as such, but they condemn its enjoyments. He 
quotes many instances from theology and from the history of the 
Church and her saints in which the performance of the sexual act 
is even considered as meritorious. One example is St. Mary of 
Egypt who unhesitatingly offered her virginal body to the ferry- 
man so that she could continue her pilgrimage to the sacred places 
where our Saviour had preached and suffered. France points out 
that the Church does not condemn prostitutes. They don't have 
sexual intercourse to get pleasure from it but to keep themselves 
alive. But life has to be preserved to fulfill the demands of the 
Church and to praise the Lord. While I enjoyed the inimitable 
wording of France's remarks, my thoughts returned to my patient 
and his ine discrimination between experiment and pleasure in 
his sexual activity. Here was a religious analogy to his dif eren- 

Turning to the other book on the table beside my bed, I chanced 


upon a passage that secured a much more impressive analogy of 
the individual with a collective phenomenon. It is an especially 
beautiful instance, which demonstrates the psychological paral- 
lelism between theological and obsessional thought-processes, as 
had been shown so often by Freud and myself. In this book Ana- 
tole France is portrayed on his lecture tour to South America. The 
old man liked to chat with his young, trim, and correct secretary, 
J. J. Brousson, who accompanied him. In casual conversations he 
often told the young writer of some material he perhaps intended 
to use in stories to be written. The anecdote he once recounted be- 
longed, no doubt, to this kind of material, told in the informal 
manner of a rehearsal. At the time of the wars of succession, the 
Portuguese had taken the part of the Archduke and had turned 
against King Philip. They besieged Madrid in 1701, and the city 
was in great danger. The courtesans of the capital decided to save 
their beloved city. Those who were most certain they were in- 
fected dressed up and perfumed themselves. In the dusk they went 
to the outskirts of the enemies' camp. The ardent women did their 
work with such great zeal that within three weeks more than sixty 
thousand Portuguese were in the hospital, where the greater part 
of them perished of the pox. 

Later on the problem was raised as to whether these women 
had committed the sin of fornication. Many of the most enlight- 
ened theologians examined the case of the Madrid courtesans. 
Some pronounced their action as sin, others declared them inno- 
cent because their intentions had been honorable: they wanted to 
save their country. The learned doctors remarked that in time of 
war it is not only permitted but even commanded to massacre ene- 
mies and to employ the most atrocious means to destroy them. 
Why should one neglect the pox? It is God who gives the victory, 
but He uses primary and secondary means, and the pox belongs to 
the latter category. One has furthermore to consider the feelings 
of the Madrid women. Did they share the enthusiastic sensations 
they inspired in the enemy? Obviously they could not behave like 
marble statues if they wanted to succeed in their patriotic task. 
There is, however, a professional limit to their behavior. The 
question was whether they were propelled only by love of the 
fatherland or by lechery in every individual case. The problem 


was carefully Investigated, but only God who plumbs the depths 
of heart and of loin can decide whether the Madrid courtesans fol- 
lowed only the call of their patriotism or whether they also experi- 
enced some pleasure in the fulfillment of their heroic task. 

Thus spoke Anatole France. If he had written the story, he 
would, no doubt, have introduced the learned theologians and 
their sagacious arguments and discussions of the difficult case of 
the Madrid women. The historic anecdote would in his elaboration 
be comparable to some chapters of his Vile des Pingouins. His 
necklace was so rich that he coulcl easily afford to throw some of 
its pearls away in conversation. 

A few supplementary remarks on the comparisons between the 
cases of my patients and the figures of Anatole France's anecdotes 
are here appropriate. What led my thoughts from France's story 
about the Chinese widow to my patient Jane? There is the re- 
semblance of the external situations of two women who were re- 
cent widows, but this external connection is hardly sufficient to 
explain the comparison of the symbolic role of fire and water. 

Here is the missing link in my thoughts: Some weeks before 
Jane told me of her experience with the State Trooper during the 
forest fire, the analytic situation had changed its character. Jane 
had shown distinct signs of a positive transference to me before 
that, which means she had an attitude proving that she had trans- 
ferred feelings and reactions, originally tied to the figure of her 
father, to the analyst. She now spoke freely of her love for me and 
told me about sexual fantasies with me. When she expressed her 
disappointment because I did not respond to her feelings, I had to 
explain to her the significance of the transference love. I told her 
that her emotions were only new editions of old forgotten feelings 
that had once been directed to her father. They had been reac- 
tivated by the process of analysis and had nothing to do with me 
personally. I was only a reincarnation of her father in the de- 
velopment of her affectionate and sensual desires, and the figure 
of the analyst in the process is comparable to that of a frame for a 
finished picture. Jane insisted, however, that her love for me was 
genuine. Later on I tried to explain to her that the emotional 
mastering of her transference love would help her to overcome 
certain old conflicts and would prepare a more mature attitude 


toward her future love object. Mr. Reik, I said, serves only as a 
herald of Mr. Right. In an attempt at explanation, I used a com- 
parison I had once heard in a play. In Vienna before the first 
World War modern drying processes were unknown. The land- 
lords of new buildings rented the still damp apartments to poor 
people, who paid little and spent the winter in them heating the 
rooms. When this aim was reached, the provisional tenants had to 
leave and other families, the permanent tenants, moved in, paying 
the regular rent, A figure in a comedy by Raoul Auerheimer I had 
seen more than twenty years before in Vienna compares the place 
of a certain group of young men in the life of w r omen with those 
provisional drying tenants. Those young men take girls out and 
provide pleasant company and harmless flirtation for them, but 
the young women do not think of marrying one of that group. 
They function, so to speak, as drying tenants who, in due time, 
will be replaced by the permanent possessors of the apartment. In 
my explanation of the transference situation, I compared the pre- 
paratory and provisional role of the analyst with the function of 
those drying tenants. 

This comparison came to mind when I read France's anecdote 
of the Chinese widow who fans the damp earth on the grave and 
brought this woman in associative connection with Jane. The 
character of the connection is obvious: the drying tenants inhabit 
the apartment only as long as the walls are still damp and have to 
leave when they become dry. The Chinese widow has to wait un- 
til the grave of her husband dries out before she can grant her 
favors to the new suitor. The symbolic significance of the apart- 
ment (or the grave) as substitute of the woman's body and of the 
moisture as the state after emission is clear. 

It is psychologically interesting that the role of fire, neglected in 
this interpretation, lingered in my thoughts. It followed me even 
after making the comparison of my other patient's doubts with the 
theological reflections of the priests concerning the Madrid pros* 
titutes. My thoughts turned to the Holy Inquisition, which in 
Spain longer than in other countries found and punished heretics 
and condemned many thousands of people to be burned alive. 
The fate of those unknown men was shared by Savonarola, Hus, 
and other well-known historic figures who died as witnesses of 


their religious convictions. The moral courage of martyrs 

and their modern successors who sacrificed in the serv- 

ice of political ideas is certainly admirable. One wonder 

aboot the absolute faith they had in the correctness of their opin- 
ion, wonder why they thought that they aione were in 
of the truth. There is a lack of modesty in the exclusion of any 
doubt, and a fanaticism that insists that oneself is infallible, a 
fanaticism which almost equals that of their persecutors. 

At the end my thoughts returned to old, wise Anatole France, 
who once wrote the wonderful sentence: "There is some impu- 
dence in letting oneself be burned at the stake for a cause." f 71 y 
a qudque impudence a se laisser bruler pour une cause") 


THE HISTORIANS of music tell us that the original form of the 
overture was a fanfare whose purpose was to command silence 
and to make an end to the noisy conversation of the audience. It 
was originally not a transcribed, but an improvised piece. Later 
on it became an introductory composition that attempted to pre- 
pare listeners for the character of the opera. In later phases of its 
evolution, it contained some musical themes that would appear 
in the work itself. 

Like the old type of overture, this introductory material starts 
from a fanfare-like question which, so far as I know, has not yet 
been raised: Why does music play no role in the work of Freud, 
which was to the greatest extent basal on impressions received by 
hearing? In the fifteen volumes of his collected writings musk is 
only mentioned three or four times. In his psychoanalytic prac- 
tice, his own musical associations or those of his patients were 
scarcely noticed. This question has a considerable bearing on 


the problems we shall deal with, because the musical aspect in 
analytic work has been neglected by almost all analysts. 

Personal characteristics of Freud were responsible for the lack 
of Interest and attention paid to musical Impressions. It Is certain 
that he heard very little music In the first four years he spent In 
the little town of Freiburg In Moravia. We know how important 
the Impressions of those early years are for the development of 
musical sensitivity and interest. Then, besides this factor, there 
were in Freud's case psychological reasons that prevented the 
development of a love of music. He himself gives significant In- 
formation about those reasons in a passage whose psychological 
and biographical importance has been overlooked. He declared 
that works of art, especially those of literature and sculpture, had 
a strong and lasting effect on him.* He tried to comprehend them 
In his way, that is, to understand why they worked upon him: 
"Where I cannot do that," he says, "for Instance, in music, I am 
almost Incapable of enjoying them. A rationalistic or perhaps an 
analytic trait In me struggles against my being affected and not 
knowing why I am so and what it Is that affects me." The word 
"almost" in this Interesting statement should be well considered. 
The very wording of that statement about his restricted capability 
for enjoying music proves that there was an emotional reluctance 
against this art operating In Freud. He fought against the effects 
of music because a rationalistic, or perhaps an analytic, trait in 
him could not tolerate not knowing why he was affected. The 
most important part of this statement is the admission that he is 
or was affected by music. One assumes that he turned away from 
the emotional Impressions of music and that the explanation of 
Ms attitude, the pointing to a rationalistic or analytic trait, is a 
secondary onewe would say, itself a kind of rationalization. It Is 
likely that this turning away, this diversion was the result of an 
act of will In the interest of self-defense, and that It was the more 
energetic and violent, the more the emotional effects of music ap- 
peared undesirable to him. He became more and more convinced 
that lie had to keep his reason unclouded and his emotions in 
abeyance. He developed an Increasing reluctance to surrender- 
ing to the dark power of music. 

* "Ber Moses des Michelangelo," Gemmmdte Schriften, Vol. IX. 


Such an avoidance of the emotioeal effects of melodies can 
sometimes be seen in people who feel endangered by the intensity 
of their feelings. I know a man who, at least on the surface, be- 
came almost insensitive to music after a phase in which he was 
too much subjected to its effects. He told me that he began to 
avoid listening to music because it induced daydreams and awak- 
ened fantasies of grandeur and victory, evoking vague but intense 
longings and desires in him. When the music ended, he always 
felt disappointed. He began to build a wall of protection against 
that very unpleasant reaction of disillusionment, to erect barriers 
of defense against the effects of musical impressions because he 
hated to be duped by the influence of melodies. In this avoidance 
of the state of emotional unbalance into which music could 
bring him, he avoided listening to symphonies and finally became 
almost insensitive to their power. It seems to me that Freed built 
up similar defenses and later on hardened himself against the 
emotional appeal of music. There are other intensified reactions 
of a similar kind. 

In the first years of my psychoanalytic studies, I wrote, besides 
analytic papers and book reviews, a great number of literary and 
general articles for Viennese newspapers and magazines. Influ- 
enced by French and Austrian writers, I perhaps immodestly felt 
that I had acquired a considerable facility of presentation. In % 
a conversation it was perhaps in 1913 or 1914 Freud spoke 
pleasantly of my literary talent but surprised me by asking 
whether or not I could suppress the stimuli for literary produc- 
tion of this kind. He felt I could perhaps develop as a writer to 
the rank of A. P. (he mentioned a well-known Viennese novelist), 
but that the renunciation of cheap literary laurels would greatly 
benefit my psychoanalytic research work, which he considered 
more important. I followed his advice and have never regretted 
it, but did not understand the mental economy and dynamics of 
his advice until later, when I recognized that he himself had made 
a similar renunciation. Wilhelm Stekel reports in Ms autobiog- 
raphy that Freud told him that he had once wanted to use the 
material his patients provided in the writing of novels of Ms own. 
He sacrificed literary ambition of this kind in the service of scien- 
tific research, but an echo of it is sometimes noticeable, especially 


in the case histories he wrote. He says occasionally, "I have been 
brought up with strict science and I cannot help it If my case 
histories sometimes sound like novels." Traces of the emotional 
reaction against that earlier tendency can still be found later In 
the form of rejection, as In that exclamation, "Don't put me into 
literature!" In his discussion of lay analysis.* 

There are other instances that show Freud, sometimes force- 
fully and purposely, resisting tendencies in himself which he 
recognized as opposed to the goals he wished. Such reactions 
seemed to take the form of an energetic and sometimes even over- 
emphasized turnabout. He himself mentioned several changes of 
this kind In his writings. He reported, for instance, that he had 
developed an inclination for the exclusive concentration of his 
work on one topic or problem, much In contrast with the diffuse 
nature of his studies in the first years at the university. This 
"turn" came after 1882, and he remained true to it. He renounced 
also his original speculative tendencies because he did not wish 
them to interfere with his objective observations. He relinquished 
earlier Interests In favor of psychoanalytic research, etc. 

The psychological expectation In his advice to me was that to 
sacrifice my facility in writing would benefit my research interest 
and enrich and enlarge my analytic studies. 

Is It unlikely that Freud turned determinedly away from music 
because he felt too deeply affected by its power at a certain phase 
of his life? Do not his own words show such an emotional reaction 
when he says that something in him struggles against his being 
affected by music? It is furthermore very probable that his reac- 
tion was Intensified by the impression of the rnusicomania of the 
Viennese, which in the years between 1890 and 1910 reached its 

The denied and rejected tendencies against whose influence 
Freud built up such strong defenses did not disappear, but left 
traces in him and found different and distant expressions. Some 
of them, for instance, speculative inclinations and interests in 
early history, worked their way, in his old age, from the depth 
into which they were banished to the surface, 

Freud's confession that he did not often respond to music doe$ 

* The Problem of Lay Analysis (New York, 


not mean that he was insensitive to its message, but that he fought 
against his own sensitiveness. He had unconsciously foregone 
subjected to its lure and language, and this voluntary sacriSce 
benefited his ine ability to hear the unconscious processes, helped 
him to develop the sense for the rhythm of subterranean move- 
ments of the mind. 

In a passage of his writing* he discussed the teaching of G. 
Jung and of his school, and stated that here a new religious- 
ethical system was created that had to reinterpret, distort, or remove 
the actual results of psychoanalysis. He develops this idea: "In 
reality one had heard a few cultural overtones of the symphony 
of the world and had again missed its all-powerful melody 
of the drives." A man that hath no music in himself could not 
have thought of this magniScent comparison. Freud had heard 
that forceful melody of the world symphony and he wrote its 
score in his analytic books. 

Do we not all sometimes feel, as Freud did, a certain reluctance 
to the compulsion of music that affects us and does not let us 
what affects us and why? We surrender to an adagio a 

Beethoven symphony, yet we cannot say what it was that trans- 
ported us with emotion. Here is a message which everybody un- 
derstands, but nobody can translate. It is easy enough to explain 
what a musician playing upon his instrument does, but very diffi- 
cult to find why the do Ice of the strings in the adagio sways us, to 
define its special expressive value or even the precise nature of our 
emotional response. Yet we hear in the language of music "the 
secret history of our will," as Schopenhauer said; of our drives, 
as we would say today. The affinity of music to the other expres- 
sions of the unconscious, the kinship of this art with the dream- 
like and intangible element, with the night aspect of our emo- 
tional life is of a special, not easily definable kind, because music 
itself cannot be defined except in the superficial terms of a dic- 
tionary. Bruno Walter tells of a young New York enthusiast who 
asked many well-known musicians, "What is music?"'** The 

* "Zur GesdBchte der psydioanalytiscfaen Bewcgpng," Oemmmelte $chriften s 
Vol. V. 

** "Von dm moralisdim Kraften der Muslk" (Wfen, 1955), p. . (Thfe kc- 
ture given in the Kelturbund in Vienna was not translated into 


answers he received appeared to Bruno Walter either false or un- 
satisfactory, but he confessed that he felt incapable of answering 
the question himself. He admitted that he could not say to this 
day what music is, in spite of a long search after appropriate 
definitions. One is unable to grasp its nature with the clarity of 
reason and cannot give it an abstract verbal expression, "Music/' 
says Bruno Walter, using a beautiful comparison, "is like a seraph 
in the temple of the Lord and covers its eye with two of its wings." 

The intimacy of musical experience in which the pulse beat of 
a composition becomes our own cannot be caught in the paltry 
net of the words we utter. Bernard Shaw once said, "I could make 
musical criticism readable even to the deaf/' This is believable; 
it is a question of style. But can Shaw or anyone else convey the 
meaning music has for the individual? Can he communicate the 
experience he had when he heard a Mozart sonata? 

Language develops more and more in the direction of objective 
communication, denotes things and acts. It becomes simultane- 
ously impoverished as an expression of emotions. Music is the 
language of psychic reality. Music does not name objects and 
events. It can, at very best, conjure them up. There is much con- 
troversy about the meaning of words; a discussion of the meaning 
of music is condemned to fail before it starts. The rigid "tyranny 
of words*' is contrasted with the sweet compulsion John Milton 
Attributed to melody. Words have strings, but songs have wings. 

Music is the universal language of human emotion, the expres- 
sion of the inexpressible. The composers articulate "subtle com- 
plexes of feeling that language cannot even name, let alone set 
forth/** This book does not deal with problems of music, but 
*vith a problem of psychology, namely, with the question of the 
significance of musical recollections within the flow of our 
thoughts. We do not speak here of music as an actual emotional 
experience. What can be said of it that could come close to its 
immediacy and intimacy? We speak here rather of musical recol- 
lections in the middle of other associations. No attempt is made 
to describe or transcribe the emotional response. Wherever reac- 
tions to musical experiences are mentioned, words are function- 

* Stisanne R. Langer "On Significance in Music" in Philosophy in a New Key 
(Harvard University Press, 1.942), p. 222. 


ing only as guideposts leading to the threshold of the domain 
where melodies live. In our musical associations the Impressions 
tunes once made upon us are renewed In their effect. They re- 
semble the bush Moses saw, the bush that burned with fire and 
was not consumed. 

Among the physicians who practice psychoanalysis, there are 
-quite a few who are excellent neurologists, of high Intelligence, 
men and women well trained In psychiatry, well meaning, hard- 
working, and entirely out of touch with the unconscious process. 
Caught In the tangle of theoretical sophistication, filled with 
terminological labels and thought cliches, their minds move in 
the psychoanalytic groove without a trace of Insight that they are 
In the wrong profession. What could you tell those who have 
spent so much energy, time, and money on a study for which they 
have all the external, but none of the Inner qualifications? Bee- 
thoven said, in a similar situation, to a young man who played 
to him, "My dear fellow, you will have to practice a long time 
before you recognize that you have no talent/** 

Fortunately, the majority of the young people who are trained 
In psychoanalytic Institutes have that native gift that Is the 
important psychological premise for understanding of uncon- 
scious processes. There Is nothing wrong, but there is something 
lacking In their training. Also, the native talent, In various de- 
grees present In them, has to be developed. Psychoanalysis can be 
taught as far as it is a craft and cannot be taught as far as It Is an 
art. Its methods, its means and Instruments can be demonstrated 
to the student In the same manner as- a carpenter can show his ap- 
prentice how to put boards together to make a table. All other 
aspects of analysis can be acquired by a gifted student, but they 
cannot be taught. He has to learn them in studying the examples 
that the masters show In their work. To teach a student the tech- 
nique of psychoanalysis is possible only to the same extent It is 
possible to teach a musician the technique of composition. Arnold 
Schdaberg once said that If there were ateliers of composition, 
as there are studios of painters In which the students watch the 
masters at work, the theoreticians of music would be superflu- 

* Reported by Wilhelm Rust in a letter to his ster Henri-cite 0tily ^ , 
1808). Published in Monatshejte fur Mustitgeschichtc (1869), p. 6ft. 


ous.* "The training that would educate an artist could in the best 
case consist in helping him to hear himself. ... He who hears 
himself acquires that technique." (Also, Freud's comparison of 
the analytic technique with the "fine art of the game of chess** 
emphasizes that the endless variety for the moves defies descrip- 
tion. The gap In the Instructions "can only be filled in by the 
zealous study of games thought out by masters.") ** 

The basic, most Important rule of the psychoanalytic investiga- 
tion of others and ourselves, the procedure of free association, is 
best expressed in the words of Rudyard Kipling: "If you can 
think and not make thoughts your aim . . /* 

Self-observation can teach each of us that such "aimless" con- 
scious thinking Is much rarer than we would assume. We demand 
a license from our thoughts and are afraid to let them run loose. 
Not only our patients, but also we analysts hold our thought on 
short reins. The main psychological premise of the success of free 
associations Is moral courage alongside the conscious decision to 
follow one's thoughts without distortions and censured misrepre- 
sentations. Lies and pretenses to ourselves are more dangerous 
and harmful to self-confidence than lies and pretenses toward 

Besides those emotional and intellectual hindrances which 
psychoanalysis calls resistance, there are others not based on inner 
objections, but determined by the inadequacy of human com- 
munication. The words we think and the words we say, the sen- 
tences we have in our minds and those we utter would not be the 
same even If they were phonetically identical. Our language 
emerges from a subsoil in which sounds, fleeting images, organic 
sensations, and emotional currents are not yet differentiated. 
Something gets lost on the way from the brain, which senses, feels, 
and thinks, to the lips which speak words and sentences. The 
most essential part of that loss and lack is, of course, emotional, 
or rather the specific and differentiated quality of our emotions; 
one could say the personal and intimate note or the emotional 

* H&rmonielehre (yd edition, Vienna)* p. 2. 

** "Further Recommendations in the Technique of Psychoanalysis/* Col- 
lected PapeB, Vol. II. 


significance of what we want to express. Language is at its 
when it wishes to grasp and communicate of 

feelings in that very area in which music is 
expressive. Even in the language of poetry not much of the 
life of emotions comes across. Music, so poor in definite de- 
finable objective and rational contents, can convey the infinite 
variety of primitive and subtle emotions. 

In the flow of free associations, snatches of tunes are inter- 
spersed at certain significant points. Their perception ana- 
lytic evaluation are part of the analytic technique of Ending con- 
cealed and unconscious processes. To be aware of their emergence, 
not to exclude them from observation, is imperative "if you can 
think and not make thoughts your aim." It have psychologi- 

cal significance that not words, but a musical theme occurs to you. 
Why is it that your thought process is not expressed in imagining 
and planning, but in "inward singing," to borrow a term of 
Eduard Hanslick?* It must make a difference whether a sentence 
from a speech, a line from a poem, or a tune emerges in your 
train of thoughts. If a melody from a Mozart concerto occurs in 
the midst of clear, aim-directed ideas, the psychoanalytic investi- 
gation could perhaps discover not only what is on your mind 
without your being aware of it, but also what f s in your heart. A 
musical passage flowing through your brain perhaps indicates 
your mood, expresses some feelings unknown to you, besides 
thoughts. Its emotional significance cannot be translated in words, 
but can be communicated to yourself or to the listener who 
knows the composition. It is certainly meaningful when a sen- 
tence, heard or thought, pursues you, and a psychoanalyst could 
perhaps have discovered the unconscious significance of those 
words that haunted Mark Twain; "A blue trip slip for a three- 
cent fare." Yet not only lines, but also melodies that run through 
your mind, phrases from a Schubert symphony or from a Diver- 
timento by Mozart may give the analyst a due the secret life 
of emotions that every one of us lives. In fleeting tunes 
wings have fluttered away into the unknown as in a melody that 
has a hold on you and will not release you for hoars, that life, c0- 

* Vom Musikalhch Schonen (Vienna, 1876), p. 75, 


cealed from yourself has sent messages to the mental surface. In 
this Inward singing, the voice of an unknown self conveys not 
only passing moods and impulses, but sometimes a disavowed or 
denied wish, a longing and a drive we do not like to admit to 
ourselves. The theme that is stirring deep inside you imposes 
itself on you, interferes with rational thoughts, and obscures the 
swift, straight line of logic But the recurring tune may announce 
In its compelling and compulsive pressure the working of an un- 
known power in you. Whatever secret message it carries, the in- 
cidental music accompanying our conscious thinking is never ac- 

Sensitivity to the almost imperceptible is present in most psy- 
choanalysts. Not many turn a deaf ear to the emotional under- 
tones. What is neglected in the study program of psychoanalysts 
is, to use the musical term, ear training: the development of a 
higher sensitivity to musical phenomena of all kinds for in- 
stance, to minute distinctions in tones. Some psychoanalysts are 
too eager to recognize and to define those undertones, or are un- 
willing to pursue them in their variations and combinations after 
they have acknowledged them. The comparison with musical 
phenomena can here be followed up even to the terms. In the 
development of a composition, the latent possibilities of a theme 
are unfolded by means of melodic, harmonic, or contrapuntal 
variations. Development is also called working out, which is 
Identical with the Freudian term (Durcharbeiten) used for a cer- 
tain phase of the analytic process. To continue the comparison of 
the analytic procedure with artistic creation: Schonberg, listening 
to the composition of one of his pupils, sometimes said, "Das ist 
nickt ausgehort" meaning that the musical idea was not heard 
to Its end by the composer inside, was not thought and experi- 
enced to its last and decisive consequences. It remained In its first 
phases, In Its early form. 

It Is not enough to Introduce a new instrument or to improve 
an did, forgotten one. You have to demonstrate how it can be 
used. This Is best done by examples. There is an abundance of 
such examples In the mental lives of the patients we treat as well 
as 10 our own, but this material has remained almost unnoticed 
and unused, its psychological significance unrecognized. The 


other day a patient reported that a trivial tune had occurred to 
him together with the line: 

Did you ever see a lassie 
Do this way and that? 

He did not know what this banal tune wanted to convey, but 
when it recurred, he became aware that it was accompanied by 
memories of a recent sexual experience and of visual images of 
the responsive movements of the woman during sexual inter- 
course. Is it without significance that another patient cannot get 
rid of the second part of a children's ditty in his thoughts? 

Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians, 
Seven little, six little, five little Indians, 
Four little, three little, two little Indians, 
One little Indian boy. 

A few minutes before the patient had spoken of his brothers 
and sisters. It was easy to guess that the unconscious desire to re- 
move his siblings and to have the position of an only child had 
found its expression in that ditty. 

Music expresses what all men feel much more than what they 
think. Its language is an esperanto of emotions rather than of 
ideas. It does not emerge from the iow of conscious thought, but 
from the stream of preconsciousness* The following are 
where tunes appeared either as still unformulated thought 
or as heralds of thoughts that were still on the preverbal level 

Let me begin this potpourri with the story of an intelligent 
patient of mine. In her rather stormy married life with a 
cian, she observed a recurrent trait of bar husband's behavior. 
After an argument or quarrel with her, he often sits at the 
and improvises some music, mostly popular tunes. After a few 


bars he regularly begins to play a tune the patient knows: "Glad 
to be unhappy." She remembered a line of that inane lyric: "I'd 
rather be blue thinking of you." The patient interpreted this 
habit of beginning his improvisation with this tune as "musical 
confession/' and told me that her husband often provoked marital 
scenes by nagging about some trifling thing in the apartment 
and that he seemed to get some masochistic satisfaction from feel- 
ing unhappy later on. The other day when he again played that 
tune a few hours after a sharp argument, he turned to her and 
said, "I don't know why I always play that trash." She was too 
clever to enlighten him, but she felt some satisfaction when he 
immediately began to play the title-song of I Married an Angel. 
The husband does not have the slightest notion why he plays that 
song on such occasions, but it is obvious to the patient that he 
expresses his regrets or remorse in this musical form. 

Here are a few of my own experiences that cast light on the 
determining factors that decide about the preconscious selection 
of emerging musical ideas and their function as announcing con- 
scious thought. I was present at an amateur performance of 
Strauss's opera Salome. A young lady of my acquaintance sa,ng the 
part of the Princess. I didn't like the way she sang it, but I was, of 
course, not competent to have an opinion about her artistic qual- 
ities. A few days later she asked me about my impressions. Put 
on the spot, I felt embarrassed because I could not praise either 
her singing or her acting. At this moment a fleeting impression of 
the opening bars of the opera occurred to me, and I answered, "I 
entirely agreed with the first sentence of the score." The first 
words axe sung by a young Syrian soldier on the walls of Jerusa- 
lem: "How beautiful is the Princess Salome tonight!" In avoiding 
giving my acquaintance insincere praise, I had said something 
complimentary that was also true: she had indeed looked beauti- 
ful that evening. The first bars of the opera came, so to speak, 
"handy" to my mind 

In a conversation I was trying to give some American friends 
an idea of the character of old Vienna and, since the last war 
was mentioned, of the Austrian army in co-operation with Ger- 
man divisions in Russia. It was difficult to present the mixture of 
the resolute, military, and disciplined conduct of Viennese sol- 


diers on the parade ground their avoidance of every real 

effort during the last war. How can one describe the contrast of 
showy militarism with the easygoing and deeply unmartial nature 
of the soldiers of my native city? While I speak of the good- 
natured and jovial manner of the Viennese, a few bars of a Schu- 
bert Landler (slow waltz) are dimly in my memory, to be immedi- 
ately replaced by the Deutschmeisterrnarsch, the forceful military 
march of the Austrian Infantry regiment No. 4, whose soldiers 
were all Viennese. As If the intertwining of the two tunes had 
opened a door, an anecdote that well characterized the attitude 
of the Austrian infantry came 10 mind During the war a cannon 
got stuck In the Galician mud* and ten soldiers of that regiment 
were ordered to free It and to put It into motion again. The 
soldiers put their shoulders on the gun, counted, "One, two, 
three/' many times, and shouted "Ho!" and "Go!" but the gun 
did not move. A lieutenant in command of a Prussian company 
chanced to march along. The officer scolded the Viennese for 
their sloppiness and ordered some Prussian soldiers to put the 
gun Into motion while the Au&trians had to stand by. He com- 
manded in sharp and determined tones, "One, two, three!" and 
the cannon was moving. The Deutschmeister were not Impressed 
and said, "Naturally, If you use force!" The emergence of the 
march of the regiment together with the easygoing Schubert tune 
In my mind paved the way for the memory of that well-known 

Other musical echoes from the war intruded into different 
trains of thought. A young, beautiful woman confided to me that 
she now had a lover. A few minutes afterward, while I was still 
talking with her, a tune came to mind which I could not identify. 
I had heard it a long time ago. Only after I heard it In my mind 
again, I remembered what it was: a song I'd heard our soldiers 
sing when we returned from exercise marches: 

Was nutzet mir ein Rosengarten, 
Wenn and' re drin spazicren gehenf 

What use is a rose garden to me, 
When others are walking In it? 


The regret expressed In such symbolical language was, at the mo- 
ment when the tune occurred, not consciously felt, but following 
its emergence in the very next moment. 

On another occasion belated regret that I had not enjoyed my 
youth more came to surprising expression. In this case, also, the 
emotion was consciously felt only after a melody had heralded 
it. A memory from the years of my military service was present, 
and I had no doubt as to the origin of the melody, but its emo- 
tional significance became conscious after it was put into the con- 
text from which it was taken. In a conversation I had spoken of 
a relatively free and gay phase in 1916, during which our troops 
were garrisoned in a city near the field of battle. I was a young 
officer then and I enjoyed going out on horseback every morning, 
It felt good to pass from a trot to an easy canter after one had 
gone beyond the suburbs and had reached the open country. 
Thinking of those carefree months, I imagined the sounds of the 
hoofbeats and that rhythmical tone went over into a well-known 
melody: the hard C Major marching rhythms from the Song of 
Beauty in Mahler's Song of the Earth. These sounds imitate 
onomatopoetically the noise of tramping horses. 

It was not astonishing that these rhythms came to mind. It is a 
musical portrait of riding, but there are many other expressive 
motives of this kind: Schubert's Erlkonig, Liszt's Mazeppa and 
some ballads .by Karl Lowe, the names of which elude me at the 
moment. (Rereading this page, I remembered another song in 
which the trotting of horses changes into a waltz melody. It is the 
Fiacre Song by Gustav Pick, a popular tune in the Vienna of my 
youth.) Why just the C Major tune from Mahler's work? The 
sounds of the horses galloping from Schubert's lied are there for 
a moment, but they immediately give way to the C Major march. 
And then it comes to an abrupt end. The tender Andante that 
follows appears in rny memory together with the image that is 
called up by the Chinese poem for which the tune was written. 
Young beautiful girls plucking flowers near a stream in which 
their figures are reflected; a group of young horsemen storming 
by. And then the stormy scales of the strings are replaced by that 
melody of the contralto voice, accompanied by harp and violins: 


And the loveliest of the maidens 

Sends the rider glances of yearning, 

Her haughty bearing Is no more than feigned. 

In the sparkle of her wide eyes, 

In the darkening of the eager glance, 

Ascends the plaint of the passion in her heart. 

While the flageolets of the harp and the flutes die away, a visual 
memory comes to mind. On those morning rides 1 often saw a 
young, beautiful girl in a meadow and sometimes felt her glance 
following me when I galloped by, but I was too shy even to speak 
to her. How young and stupid I was! 

The other day an old tune occurred to me in the middle of a 
conversation. A lady with whom I am on "teasing" terms ap- 
peared at a party in a dark dress and a necklace of black pearls 
with a cross. The lady is Irish Catholic, her husband Jewish, but 
he wishes her to go to church and bring up their children as 
Roman Catholics. It was perhaps this thought that made the tune 
Silent Night y Holy Night appear in my memory. The solemn 
melody was immediately followed by the memory of an anecdote 
they told in old Vienna. A little Jewish girl once asked, "Mum, 
have Gentiles Christmas trees, too?" The emergence of thai 
Christmas hymn (by the Austrian composer Franz Gruber) pre- 
ceded and announced the thought expressed in that anecdote. 

This example has some psychological interest because the 
thought implied in the anecdote led to a remark that indulgent 
listeners might call witty. Glancing at the big cruciix hanging 
from her necklace, I said teasingly to the lady, "You have to be 
careful at this party. Some people might think you were Jewish-." 
In contrast to the preconscious thought, heralded by that melody, 
the thought was for a moment submerged and left to elaboration 
in the unconscious the dynamic process that results in the pro- 
duction of wit. 

The following are instances of melodies occurring in the mid- 
dle of work. I am choosing as a representatiYe example a musical 
phrase that came to my Eiind while I was writing a psychoana- 
lytic paper that is connected with my "witty" remark mentioned 
before. Almost twenty years ago I wrote an analytic article, "The 


Intimacy of Jewish Wit," that attempted to study certain charac- 
teristics of Jewish humor.* I pointed out that its warmth and 
intimacy are expressions of an unconscious affectionate attitude 
on the part of Jews toward their fellow people, of a love of 
mankind, as it were. One of the cases I wanted to mention in this 
context was an anecdote heard before the outbreak of the First 
World War. A Jew mistakenly came into territory near the Rus- 
sian frontier where a soldier stood guard. At his approach the 
sentry raised his gun and shouted, "Halt or I shoot!" The Jew 
replied indignantly, "Are you meschugge [crazy]? Put your gun 
away! Don't you see that here is a Mensch?" While I smilingly 
jotted down that anecdote, expressing a sublime and utter lack of 
belief in the possibility that one human being could really want 
to kill another, the solemn melody of the final movement of Bee- 
thoven's choral symphony occurred to me. The Ode to Joy pro- 
claims the same theme as the Jew's words in that anecdote: the 
conviction that all men should become brothers. 

The tunes occurring to the analyst during sessions with patients 
are preconscious messages of thoughts that are not only meaning- 
ful, but also important for the understanding of the emotional 
situation of the patient. It would be an analytic mistake to brush 
them aside or to take them on face value, and to dismiss them as 
chance musical reminiscences. They not only convey contents un- 
known to the analyst's conscious thinking, but also communicate to 
him something of the hidden emotions that he has not yet been 
able to catch while he listens to his patient. The tunes stand in 
the service of the agents responsible for the communications be- 
tween the unconscious of two persons. These melodies present 
themselves clearly or dimly to the mind, but what they have to 
convey becomes comprehensible only when the analyst listens 
"with the third ear/' There is a considerable psychological dif- 
ference between those "chance" tunes and quotations from poems 
or sentences from novels or plays that sometimes emerge in the 
thoughts of the analyst during a therapeutic session. A quotation 
from a poem can be fraught with meaning and can allude to 
something that had remained dark or unknown to the analyst; it 

* Published In a book Nackdenkliche Heiterkeit (Wien, 1933). (Not trans- 
lated Into English.) 


can carry an emotional quality of which his conscious 
had not been aware. The melody that occurs to him while he 
listens to his patient is perhaps not as meaningful as lines 
a poem in the intellectual understanding of the case, but it in- 
duces a recognition of its emotional qualities. The poetic or 
the sentence from a play is perhaps more "telling." The musical 
phrase can say more in its sound allusion. 

An example may be helpful in comparing the two elects. At 
the Highland Hospital in Asheville, where I spent vacation 

months as consulting psychoanalyst, I had to interview a 
man. While talking with him, I had the impression that he 
withdrawn from reality, involved in fantasies or daydreams. He 
was there physically, but his mind was wrapped in thoughts far 
away, from which my questions could scarcely call him back. He 
was polite, but certainly not interested in finding out anything 
about himself. His lack of co-operation did not have the charac- 
teristics of negativism, but rather that quality of absent-minded* 
ness which is a form of concentration on something else. While I 
tried with little success to pierce the glass curtain that 
him from the external world, a melody sounded in me which I 
quickly recognized as the first bars of "Ich bin der Welt 
gekommen" by Gustav Mahler. The slow melody of tender resig- 
nation, akin to the Adagietto of Mahler's Fifth Symphony, ex- 
pressed better than the words the emotional character of the song: 

I am lost to the world 

With which I have watted so much time before . . . 

People will perhaps think that the artist is dead: 

I cannot object to that 

Because I really died to the world. 

He rests in a quiet area and lives only in his thoughts and songs. 
The emergence of the Mahler song heralded the diagnosis of 
schizophrenia that was consciously made a few minutes later on, 
If the rather pallid, intellectualized verses by Friedricfa Riickeit, 
whose poem Mahler used as text for his song, had come to mind 


without the fine melody, they would have certainly announced 
the same diagnosis at which I would have arrived, at all events, 
without verses and music. But the moving melody conveyed some- 
thing more of the emotional atmosphere In which this patient 

Let me describe another Instance of this kind. At the same 
psychiatric hospital I treated a young woman who had Intense 
anxiety attacks with many psychosomatic symptoms. Her anxie- 
ties occurred mostly when she was alone in her house, on a farm 
In Kentucky. The first approach to the analytic understanding of 
the case was secured by her complaints about her sexual life. Her 
husband, a salesman, was, It seemed, of weak or capricious sexual 
potency and could not satisfy her. It was guessed that she had un- 
conscious fantasies that a tramp could enter the house while she 
was alone and rape her, and that she reacted with extreme anxiety 
to the unconscious wish In these fantasies. Later on this guess had 
to be replaced, or rather modified, by the insight that her anxiety 
attacks were reactions against the temptation to masturbate when 
she was alone. When she again complained about the sexual in- 
adequacy of her husband, a simple ditty I had heard another pa- 
tient In the hospital sing on the evening before, resounded in me. 
The words followed immediately: 

Three blind mice, 

Three blind mice, 

See how they run. 

They all ran after the farmer's wife, 

Who cut off their tails 

With a carving knife. 

Three blind mice. . . . 

The thought was, of course, the precursor of the recognition 
that my patient was unconsciously partly responsible for the sex- 
ual failure of her husband, that she frustrated him by her attitude 
and castrated him in her fantasy. (The three mice as representing 
the male genitals in its three parts, the farmer's wife cutting off the 
tails.) If the words of the ditty alone had occurred to me, they 
could, of course, have contained the same unconscious idea. What 


did the simple tune contribute to it? Nothing to the content but 
something signlScant to the characterization of the patient. It was 
not "just music/' but the just kind of musk. The young woman, 
when she did not have her anxiety attacks, behaved very cheerfully 
and was easygoing, speaking of her husband's sexual Inadequacy 
as If it were a negligible weakness. There was not the slightest con- 
scious notion of her own hostile and castrating tendencies toward 
him. The contrast between the cheerful tune of that ditty and Its 
pathetic content reflects the other contrast between the gay and 
gleeful behavior of the patient and her sinister and hostile atti- 
tude against her husband, whom unconsciously she would Hie to 
have emasculated while she complained about his lack of virility. 

The modulation or the cadence of a ditty of such a kind often 
remains astonishingly long In one's memory, sometimes much 
longer than its lines. That alone proves that It has a psychological 
significance beyond the text that Is never a literarv achievement. 
Drawing analytical conclusions from the material a patient had 
presented during the therapeutic session, I expressed the conjec- 
ture that she, the patient, might have experienced a scene in child- 
hood in which she had felt very ashamed and was made fun of by 
other children because she had soiled herself. The patient could 
not remember anything of this kind and considered such a scene 
very unlikely. On her way out, waiting for the elevator, a ditty 
from early childhood occurred to her and she remembered other 
children singing It to her: "Shame, shame, I know your name." 

Psychology asserts that tone Images are grasped earlier than 
word Images, and that the memory for the first is more tenacious 
than for the latter. It Is likely that this is one of the factors respon- 
sible for the fact that our memory frequently retains a melody 
after we have forgotten the text of the song. The emotional value 
might be responsible for the partiality we show for the melody 
compared with the text. Even where the text Is maintained in our 
memory, we use It to call up the forgotten melody. It Is much rarer 
that we make use of the melody of a song or of an aria to remem- 
ber Its lines. The libretto of an opera lives in our memory by the 
grace of the score. With most of us, also, the visual impression of a 
performance of an opera is less vivid than Its melodies. 

Here are a few instances from psychoanalytic practice as cvi- 


deoce for the priority of the tune. A patient has a dream: She is in 
the and is worried because she has forgotten to take off her 

watch which could be mined if it gets wet. There were no helpful 
thought-associations to the dream. In the pause between her re- 
port of the dream and the following sentences she spoke, a long- 
forgotten tune came to my mind. I recognized it later as the open- 
ing bars of a song by Karl Lowe I had not heard since childhood. 
The title Is The Watch, and the first lines, remembered only after 
the analytic session, are: 

Ich trage wo ich gehe 
Stet$ cine Uhr bei mir. 

Where'er I go, I carry 

A watch with me always, 

And only need look 

Whenever I'd know the time of day. 

The watch meant in Lowe's song is the heart. Only after I had 
remembered those lines did other associations help to interpret 
the dream. The Viennese girls used to say, "With me it is punctual 
as a watch/' referring to the regularity of their monthly period. I 
remembered a proverb I heard the Serbian peasants quote during 
World War I: "With a watch and a woman there is always some- 
thing to repair/' alluding to troubles of the genital region. 

At her next analytic session, the patient returned to her dream 
and said she had forgotten to put the diaphragm in when she had 
taken a bath before going to bed, and she was worried because she 
might have become pregnant the last time she had sexual inter- 

As In this case where the mentioning of a watch awakened musi- 
cal memories followed by associations to the dream interpretation, 
in another case a melody was suggested by the idea connection- 
hair, hairdresser. Marion, a young woman, began her analytic .ses- 
sion with reproaches because I had kept the patient preceding her 
a minute overtime and her own time was shortened by my prefer- 
ring the other girl. What had that blond hussy got that she, 
Marion, hadn't got? There followed a critical comment on the 


physical shortcomings and possible intellectual of the 

other patient. An attack on me my partiality easily to 

suspicions and doubts concerning my capabilities as an analyst. 
The rest of the analytic session was to a great extent with a 

discussion of Marion's troubles with her lover, who pays 
to other girls when he goes with Marion to a party, often at 

other women when he is with her at dinner in a restaurant, so 
on. Near the end of her session Marion reported that yesterday 
she had been very annoyed with Henry, the at Ca- 

ruso's. He had done her hair badly and she the atten- 

tion and care he shows toward other customers with work he 
for her. What have those dolls got that she hasn't? There followed 
an extensive description of the appearance and manner of the 
blond young woman in the neighboring booth at Caruso's. The 
pattern is, of course, clear. 

What does it mean that, after Marion left, an old tune occurred 
to me of which I had not thought for several decades? 1 recognized 
it as the "Lorelei," the poem by Heinrich Heine, competed by 
Friedrich Silcher. What has Marion to do with that beautiful 
minx on the rock on the Rhine? I tried to remember the lines. Oh, 
of course, the fairy sits on the rock and combs her golden hair with 
a golden comb and sings a sweet song, bewitching boatmen on the 
Rhine. The comparison was suggested by the thought-association 
hair, hairdresser. I did not remember the final stanza of Heine's 
poem. Only the slow sentimental melody returned to my mind as 
if It wanted to be heard. Only then the content of those lines was 
recalled: that at the end the waves engulf boatmen and ship, and 
that the Lorelei has cast an evil spell over the men who, en- 
chanted, look up at her, sitting on that rock and singing. Not the 
lines, but the music with its sad finale told roe the story and 
brought the concealed message to me of the meaning of Marian's 
behavior. Her unconscious hostility against men, concealed be- 
hind her passionate pleading for more attention and considera- 
tion, and her hidden destructive trends became clearer to me with 
the help of that old tune. 

This is perhaps the place to report another instance that shows 
image and tune in competition, where the musical memory 
proved, though more fleeting than the picture in my mind, more 


helpful to analytic understanding. My patient Charles, a lawyer 
in his late thirties, showed unusually intense resistance during a 
certain phase of his analytic treatment. He fell into long silences 
and declared that nothing occurred to him. Pressed to say what- 
ever he thought, he uttered some trifling sentences and relapsed 
into silence and sighing. During an analytic session that was char- 
acterized by that negative pattern, he interrupted his silence for 
some minutes to mention a thought that had just occurred to him. 
It was a memory from the war, in which he had served as a com- 
mander in the Navy. He recalled the exhaust of the engines of the 
ship and that in some weather it escaped in a certain direction. 
I guessed then that he must have fought with flatulence and that 
he thought I would smell the "exhaust." That did not explain the 
nature of his resistances, but it alluded to it. When I had recog- 
nized the concealed meaning and hint in his thought-associations, 
I remembered a picture I had once seen in a book on Felicien 
Rops, the Belgian painter. The reproduction of the etching 
showed a nude young woman, crouching in the grass, her beauti- 
ful behind raised in the air. In the distance a windmill is merrily 
revolving. The artist has entitled his picture with a sentence from 
the Gospel of John: "Spiritus flat ubi vult" ("The mind waves 
where it wishes"). 

In the pause provided by the continued silence of my patient, I 
could give myself freely to my thoughts: for a fleeting moment a 
phrase from the Bacchanale of the Boklin Suite by Max Reger oc- 
curred to me. I had heard the piece only once, and that theme now 
occurring was in the next moment gone with the wind or rather 
with the wind instruments that had played it in the performance. 
In the next moment a little story I had heard about it popped into 
my mind. The princess of a Middle German state attended the 
first performance of this suite and was very impressed by the polyph- 
ony of the orchestra. She had paid special attention to the 
themes of the fagots in the bacchanale movement and asked the 
composer later on whether the musicians had produced those 
strange tone figures with the mouth. With great seriousness Max 
Reger replied, "I would very much hope so." 

The memory of that passage from the Boklin Suite paved the 


way for the return of the story, but the meaning of the story was 
already implied in the mental reproduction of the musical phrase. 
When the psychological moment came, 1 could tell my patient not 
only that his resistance during the session was determined by his 
effort to control the impulse to expel gas (the of the 

"exhaust" of the ship was a hint in this direction), but what 
the unconscious expression of this impulse meant. In contrast to 
his respectful and even sometimes admiring attitude toward 
the impulse to pass wind expressed feelings of unconscious con- 
tempt and disdain. His silence was his defense the 
lion, against the wish to let go. He was afraid I would hear the 
noisy demonstration of these tendencies. I could meet his cloubt 
by pointing out that in our society an indulgence of this kind is 
considered indecent, and the company reacts to it with indigna- 
tion and rejection, as if it conceived of it as an expression of con- 
tempt for those present. 

The affinities of certain melodies to some unconscious or pre- 
conscious emotions, as in those cases mentioned, were observed 
and well described by Marcel Proust in his Remembrance of 
Things Past "The little phrase" from the andante movement of 
Viuteuil's sonata for the piano and violin* had become merged 
with Swann's ideas in an inextricable whole: the sorrow and 
charm of la petite phrase speak to him and remind him of Odette. 
The memory of it haunts him, evokes the image of his lost sweet- 
heart and brings about her magic presence. Those Boating chords 
become a kind of national anthem of their passion ("unc sorte d'mif 
national de leur amour"). Hearing the fugitive phrase, emerging 
for a few moments from the waves of sounds, has for him the sig- 
nificance of an actual idea. Musical phrases occurring to us in this 
manner may not be as significant as other associations, but they 
are as worthy of special psychological attention as immediate emo- 
tional expressions. And, for the psychoanalyst, heard melodies are 
sweet, but "those unheard" are not only sweeter, but also more 

* French musicians thought that the phrase can be found in Samt-Saeas's 
Sonata in D Minor lor violin and piano. 


My memory, otherwise reliable in such things, sometimes 
threatens to fail me when I want to remember who composed the 
two Liebeslieder Walzer. I have heard those graceful melodies 
often enough, and I know, of course, that Johannes Brahms wrote 
them, but it needs a little effort to remember his familiar name as 
their composer. There is a kind of small mental pause before the 
name is called to mind. Yet the character of that uncertainty is 
not the same as in other cases when I try to remember: "Who 
wrote this?'* It is rather the conquest of a doubt or the expression 
of some disbelief. When this weakness of my memory occurred, I 
decided to find out what caused this special failing. Such a deci- 
sion can be compared to making up one's mind to clean a neg- 
lected drawer. The analytic method lends itself rather well to the 
service of a mental vacuum cleaner in cases where emotional dust 
prevents our memory from smooth functioning. 

The first attempt at free thought association revealed that my 
doubt or disbelief hung somewhere on the word Liebe, as if I 
were doubting that those waltzes really express genuine feelings 
of love, as if it is hard to believe that Johannes Brahms could 
have been deeply in love with a woman. My subjective concept of 
the composer is that of a shy, remote, and inwardly cool personal- 
ity, unable to express his emotions freely except in music. This 
impression is, of course, not based on knowledge of his life his- 
tory, of which I know but little, and I wonder about it. I argue 
with myself: What about that deep and lasting affection for the 
widow of Robert Schumann? If this intimate and tender emotion 
for Clara Schumann for so many years was not love, what else 
was it? But the counter-voice makes itself heard: In spite of all in- 
timacy, of all protestations of love and of passion, he never ap- 
proached her sexually. He loved and desired her in his mind only. 
. . . What in Heaven's name kept him back? . . . She was four- 
teen years older and had, if I am not mistaken, seven children. 
. . . They were both free, loved each other why did he not 
possess her in those many years? . . . There were, I am sure, 


caresses, something of what Is called "heavy petting" today, but 
nothing else. . . . "Tout excepte fa/ 9 say the Parisians: "all but 
that/* She was perhaps a mother-representative to 

as such sexually untouchable, while he Ms 

by relations with degraded objects, streetwalkers. As a of 

fact, the latter point is detailed by the biographers of the com- 
poser,* but I know it from more direct sources. 

The image of my Aunt Resi (Viennese abbreviation of Therfcse) 
appeared in my memory. 1 remember Taete Resi as an old 
woman, but she was perhaps middle-aged when she and I 

was eight or nine years old. She lived in the Wieden, a 
of Vienna that appeared suburban to us children at the in 

a small apartment on a narrow side street. She had a 
for many years, living on a small pension. She kept her 
immaculately clean and neat, and I still remember how carefully 
we children had to wipe our shoes before we were allowed to en- 
ter her apartment. There we had to sit quietly on the couch and 
were forbidden to touch any of the numerous pictures, knick- 
knacks, and whatnots which stood on little tables. We did not like 
to visit Aunt Resi because we had to be on our best behavior 
with her, but our mother took us there every Saturday. In my 
family they frequently told the story of how Aunt Resi promised 
my little sister to leave her a golden bracelet in her will, anci that 
my sister asked her immediately after arriving for the weekly 
visit, "Wenn sterbst du schont" ("When are you going to die?"}. 

Xante Resi spent many hours of her day sitting at her window 
and observing all her neighbors. She knew a lot about each of 
them and she liked to tell what she knew. Otherwise put, she was 
a gossip and, if one could trust family hearsay, of a malicious 
kind. My sister Mai^aret and I listened, of course, to what our 
aunt had to say to my mother about her neighbors. 

In my thoughts, Aunt Resi is connected with my early recogni- 
tion of some facts of life and with Johannes Brahms. It 
that my aunt's pet hate was a pretty young woman whose win- 
dows faced hers in the apartment across the street. Aunt Resi 

* Dr. Edward Hitsdunann described this characteristic division of Brahms's 

love life in a paper "Johannes Brahms und die Fxauen/' Die Psychmn&iytixhe 
(1953), No. 2, Vol. V. 


knew quite a few things about this neighbor whom she could see 
when she leaned out her window. If one believed our aunt, 
"that woman" was no good, she slept till noon, was lazy and 
sloppy to a scandalous degree, and she saw "men" in her apart- 
ment. . . . Aunt Resi mentioned that a Herr von Brahms used 
to visit this lady regularly and then added something in a lower 
voice. This Mr. Brahms appeared to me as someone a little lower 
than a criminal as he kept company with that woman, whom our 
aunt sometimes called a Hur (whore). This was the first time I 
had ever heard this expression It was certainly before the age of 
kindergarten and I asked my mother on the way home what the 
word meant. My mother was shocked and forbade me ever to 
utter that bad word. She gave me no information about its mean- 
Ing, but even at the time I must have sensed what it signified. 
Some of that foreknowledge about sex, so regularly met with in 
children, must have told me why the unknown Herr von Brahms 
used to visit that woman. 

The second time I heard the name of Brahms was not long 
after Aunt Resi's circumstantial gossip. On a walk with my father 
we met a stocky old man with a long gray beard. My father took 
his hat off to him, and the man did likewise to my father. "That 
was Herr Brahms," said my father. "You know he is the man who 
wrote many of the lieder Mother sings. He has written beautiful 
music" I turned around and looked after the man, who walked 
in a very dignified manner, I remembered that Aunt Resi had 
spoken of this man, and also in what connection, but I did not tell 
Father. In spite of her report, it was difficult to imagine Mr. 
Brahms as a lover he was old and dignifiedbut I had to believe 
Aunt ResFs words. 

His name had come up in the meantime because Mother had 
sung some of his songs, accompanying herself on the piano. I did 
not like all of them, but some, like the vivid and tuneful Verge- 
bliches Standchen, I could soon hum. When Mother once men- 
tioned the composer's name to a lady visitor, I had asked 
whether that was the same man who used to visit the lady across 
from Aunt Resl*s house. Mother answered, "Yes." 

I understood the text of Vergebliches Sidndchen in a vague and 
childish manner. I realized that the song is a dialogue between a 


lover who pleads with a girl to let him come to her In the evening 
and that she refuses him and finally sends him away. I knew 
that the title of the song Vergebliches meant, in effect, 

a disappointed or futile serenade. In a naive manner I brought 
the text in intimate thought-connection with the life of 

the composer about whom I knew only what Aunt Resi 
my mother. I imagined that "that woman" once to 

let Mr. Brahms come to her room and that he complained 
this misfortune in his song. It seems I did not give 
to the fact that such behavior on the part of the lady would be in 
contradiction to her attitude on otber occasions when Mr. 
Brahms spent the night in her apartment, according to Aunt 
Resi's report. I assumed that the lady once rejected him for 
reasons of her own. 

My mother sang the Vergebliches Standchen occasionally In 
later years. As a matter of fact, I heard her sing it after I was In 
my adolescence. The title and the content of the song had, in the 
meantime, taken on a new and secret meaning for me. 

I had then acquired not only an adequate knowledge of what 
adults do in sex, but also a rich, if vulgar, vocabulary for sexual 
activities. The boys in school and on the playgrounds were 
teachers, and the gutter was an excellent school for a toy curious 
about the facts of life. The vulgar word for the erection,, the up- 
right position of the penis, in Vienna is St&nder, a derivative of 
the word "stand/* comparable to the American vulgar expression 
"hard-on." Standchen could be interpreted as a diminutive of 
"stand/' and would then mean a small or modest erection. The 
title of the Brahms lied Vergebliches Standchen would, thus 
understood, mean futile small erection, that is, a state of sexual 
excitement of the male without release. In that phase of boy- 
hood the fantasy was filled with sexual images and the interpre- 
tation of the song and of its title is not as astonishing as it now 
sounds. The lascivious fantasy of the "naughty" boy transformed 
the disappointed serenade into the picture of an erection not 
brought to its organic end, a sexual excitement that was frus- 
trated by the cruelty of a girl. 

In later years, also, when I read about the relationship of the 
composer and Clara Schumann, the thought of that lady of easy 


virtue, Aunt Resi's neighbor, sometimes appeared. It was so 
persistent that It emerged when I heard the Vergebliches Stand- 
chen again. In spite of what mental and emotional maturity I 
could muster In the meantime, the suspicion remained that the 
Standchen was futile or the sexual performance of poor Brahms. 
So stubborn was this impression from boyhood that this thought 
sometimes emerged disturbingly when I passed the impressive 
monument to the great composer that stands before the Techni- 
cal College at VIenna-not far from the street where Aunt Resi 
and her blond young neighbor lived. 

Remnants of that old doubt of Brahms's capabilities as a lover 
were, it seems, displaced to his authorship of the Liebesliedcr 
Walter as If I were not certain that the master was able to love a 
woman. Later on there was the puzzling problem of how it was pos- 
sible that Brahms was so much In love with Clara and yet could 
regularly visit that slut in a back street of Vienna. I still remember 
that, during junior high-school years, I read the shocking sen- 
tence Gustave Flaubert once wrote to the effect that a young man 
can worship a certain woman and in spite of it run every evening 
to prostitutes ("Un jeune homme pent adorer une femme et aller 
chaque soir chez les filles"). But many years had to pass before I 
found, In Freud's psychoanalytic writing, an explanation of that 
division in the love life of many men. 

Returning In thought to the Liebeslieder Walzer, one remem- 
bers that the North German Brahms spent most of his life In 
Vienna, and Johann Strauss was his contemporary. The two com- 
posers knew each other well and often met in Vienna and in 
IschI, the lovely summer resort near Salzburg. Brahms admired 
the melodic Invention of the Waltz King. Asked to autograph 
the fan of Alice Strauss, he wrote the first bars of the Bine 
Danube waltz and beneath it: "Alas, not by Johannes Brahms." 

This enchanting waltz came to my mind the other day in an- 
other connection and with It another memory of young years. It 
deals with a different aspect of the sexual problems. 

The other night before falling asleep I skimmed through the 
pages of two books I had read before: Anatole France en pan- 
toufles and Itineraire de Paris au Buenos Aires by Jean Jacques 
Brotissoe, the master's secretary. The wit and the wisdom, the 


mordant skepticism and the penetrating of Aeatole France 

delighted me again. In a certain the old of the 

Villa Said alludes, in conversation with his young, secretary, 

to Remy de Gourmont's de 

snails as masterpieces of creation because they are fe- 

male simultaneously and can try now one sex the other. 

Their sexual union lasts five or six Anatole France re- 

marked, "That would be worth while indeed," 
for us poor humans the pleasure but the of a 

He reminded Brousson of the Capuchin friar 9 Barbette, 
thundered to his audience from the pulpit a few 
ago: "You give yourself up to frivolous living to fornication, 
you poor people, you are nothing but fools. The is not 

worth the candle! In your ecstasy you touch the seventh heaven, 
but how long do you remain there? If It lasted seven years, seven 
months, seven days, seven hours only! But it lasts only a moment 
and In a trice you are already IE hell I"" The old master certainly 
Imitated the pious indignation of the Capuchin father who tried 
to convince the faithful that the short duration of sexual 
pleasure, followed by hell-fire, Is, so to speak, a bad investment. 
Anatole France regretted with Father Barbette the transitoriness 
of sexual pleasure and pointed out that the snails who are ugly 
and repugnant animals have some advantages over human be- 
ings: they are hermaphrodites, their loves last six weeks and they 
have an exitatory genital instrument with a long point. "Yes, 
my friend," Anatole France added, "just this is worth an Im- 
mortal soul." 

The secretary gave a detailed and intimate report of France's 
lecture tour In Latin America. On board ship, the writer, now al- 
most sixty-five years old, began an affair with a French actress. He 
admitted to Brousson that she was no youngster as a matter of 
fact, she was fifty years old and that her face had 
marked wrinkles, but the rest of her: "Ah! youth itself!" In the 
meantime, Madame de Cavaillet, his mistress of so man? years, 
sat alone In Paris in despair because the news reaching her left no 
doubt that Anatole France had made a fool of himself, 
reported in his books many witty sayings of his genial master who 


still did not believe in "pure love." France amused his serious 
Provencal secretary in elaborating on and embroidering the story 
Seigneur de Bran tome told in his Mf moires in 1650: that he met 
an old man whom he had once known as a young, gallant, and 
handsome fellow and as a favorite of the ladies. He had become 
a druggist and now manufactured all kinds of excellent drinks. 
Brantome visited him, surrounded by his vials, and congratulated 
him. But the old man confessed to the young one that all his 
liquors, however excellent, were not as valuable as the wonderful 
liquid which he had once used and enjoyed so much and of which 
old age had deprived him. 

Did not Schopenhauer praise old age because the sexual de- 
sire ceases with it? But it is not true, only the sexual power ceases. 
A clever German woman, Alice Berend, once wrote that the bad 
thing in getting old is not that one becomes older, but that one 
remains young. The French writers are not only more worldly- 
wise but also more sincere and courageous in sexual matters than 
the writers of other nations. They candidly state that it is not the de- 
sire that is wanting in old age, but the performance. They do 
not play hide-and-seek with themselves, and they assert that the 
sexual pleasure is one of the greatest that human life has to offer. 
What other satisfaction can be compared with it? Achievement, 
fame, social recognition? Zola's Pascal Rougon, sixty years old, 
looks back on his life and often feels like cursing his science which 
he accuses of having stolen from him "le meilleur de sa virilite" 
In Maupassant's Bel Ami, an old writer speaks to a younger one 
in the same vein as Anatole France spoke to young, alert Jean 
Jacques Brousson, who flattered and envied the famous master: 
"What use is the goal, fame, if I can't enjoy it any more in the 
form of love?" And he adds the wonderful sentence: "Encore 
quelques baisers et vous serez impuissant" France himself calls 
the impotence of old age "la premiere mart." 

Yes, the French writers have the courage and the candor to ex- 
press a high evaluation of sexual satisfaction, and they do not 
shrink from presenting the sexual misery of old age whose desire 
is mostly in the mind. There is a lot of talk, serious and flippant* 
about sexuality in American literature, but what writer speaks 


as clearly and definitely and in such matter-of-fact of 

certain aspects of sex as the French? 

They are neglected or brushed even IE psychoanalytic 

literature. Only Freud courageously turned against the 
hypocrisy of our society that looks at sexual pleasures condescend- 
ingly at best, In some passages of his writings, he of the 
high evaluation of sexual satisfaction in contrast to a conven- 
tional and hypocritical attitude that treats it as if it were 
and really dispensable. He reports, for instance, that the Turks in 
the Herzegowina evaluate sexual pleasure above all others 
that sexual disturbances make them fall into despair that strangely 
contrasts with their fatalistic resignation when facing death.* A 
Turkish patient told his doctor, "You know, sir, if that not 
function any more, life has no value/* 

While I was pondering on such a high evaluation of sexuality 
as is expressed by Zola, Maupassant, France, and that Turkish 
patient, I felt increasingly sleepy and I was gliding into that state 
between being awake and falling asleep which is favorable to a 
looser way of thinking. On the threshold of sleep the first bars 
of the Strauss waltz On the Beautiful Blue were 

heard by the inner ear. I wondered from where these bubbling 
rhythms emerged. The face of Johann Strauss appeared in my 
mind, as I have seen it in photographs and on the monument in 
the Stadtpark in Vienna: a grand seigneur of music, surrounded 
by beautiful women. Some memory connected with that monu- 
ment was stirred up, but I could not grasp it. I was too tired to 
think. The tune of the Blue Danube waltz accompanied me into 

A few weeks later I invited a lady to have dinner with me at 
Fassler's Viennese Room on Fifty-first Street On the walk of that 
restaurant are pictures of different places and houses in Vienna, 
and on the tables are wind-protected candles as at the Heungem, 
those little restaurants in the suburbs of Vienna, and there is 
music, too: a piano player and a violinist as well as a singer* Be- 
hind the piano is a life-sized bronze bust of Johann Strauss, illumi- 
nated by light from above. For a moment you cam have the illu- 
sion that you sit again at a Heurigen, listening to the old 

* In On the Psychopethotogy of Everyday Life (New Y*, 


familiar melodies. Now the piano player begins to play, the 
violinist joins him, and there It is: the Blue Danube waltz. 

That tune In my ears and the bust of Strauss, shining in the 
candlelight in the corner, brought back in a flash the memory for 
which 1 had searched In vain the other day. It had not been really 
forgotten; It was only that I had not thought of it for many, per- 
haps for forty years. There was the distinct image of the alleys 
and meadows of the Stadtpark and of that monument of the Waltz 
King on the right side. 

Quite clearly I see the figure in my mind's eye, his face, the full 
head of hair, the mustache (he dyed both when he became old). 
The violin under his chin, the bow In an elegant pose. At the 
right, at the left, and on the high arch above the composer's figure 
are beautiful dancing women whose dresses seem to flow into 
waves at their feet, the waves of the beautiful blue Danube. 

And now that scene comes distinctly back to mind, as if It had 
been yesterday and not forty-five years. . . . Ah, I was twenty-two 
years old and it was early In the summer, the time before the last 
examinations. . . . When we did not have to attend lectures, we 
took our books to a public garden to study there. Once I sat IE 
the Stadtpark on a bench facing the monument of Johann Strauss. 
I had the psychology books by Wundt and Ziehen with me and 
made a determined effort to cram as much knowledge of physio- 
logical and psychological facts as possible. There was an old mam 
sitting beside me, comfortably smoking his cigar and sometimes 
looking into his newspaper. I rarely glanced up from my book. 
When I once looked after a pretty young girl who had just passed 
the bench, I felt that the man smiled at me. He said in a broad 
Viennese dialect, "Quite good-looking, isn't she? ... I bet you 
would not say no, if she would ask you to, would you? . . . Yes, 
It is nice to be young. . . . You will understand that much better 
when you become old." 

I must have made some inane remarks to the effect that to be 
old had some advantages also, because the man replied in a vivid 
manner, "Oh, don't say that, my young friend! Look over there, 
yeas, to that monument." He pointed to the statue of Strauss.* 

* Here is 3 mistake of memory: Strauss's monument was erected a few years 



"They called him King the his 

who was a conductor was also called Johann. You know, 1 am a 
violinist and I played In his orchestra many years. ... I quit 
only after he died. Back in 1894 you were a child they cele- 
brated his fiftieth jubilee as an artist. There was a week of 
in his honor, a brilliant torch parade, all the streets full of 

banners and decorations. The Emperor and the Court congratu- 
lated him, and thousands of cables arrived all the 
world to pay homage to him, Verdi and all the com- 
posers wrote and praised him. I shall never forget he con- 
ducted our orchestra on that day in the Theater an der Wien. 
We played, of course, the Blue waltz and all 
beautiful tunes. Each of us came over to him and his re- 
spects. He pressed my hand and he took me aside. And you know 
what he said? "Look, my dear fellow, what's the use of and 
all that? ... I can't any more, don't you understand, I can't 
any more/* The old musician wanted to tell me more about his 
beloved master, but I had to hurry to a lecture at the university, 
"What were you thinking of?" asked the lady who was my 
dinner guest "You smiled the way you do when you think of a 
delightful anecdote." I told her that I had returned in my 
thoughts to old Vienna and to the time when I was twenty years 
old. I spoke also of Johann Strauss whose bust glimmered in the 
candlelight over there and whose sparkling Blue waltz 
the musicians had just finished playing. 1 told her about his anni- 
versary at which he was celebrated by the Viennese like a god. But 
I did not tell her of the conversation with the musician in the 
Stadtpark nor of what Johann Strauss had said at Ms Jubilee. 

It has often been said that "music and mathematics go to- 
gether/* that composition and mathematical creation have a 
sturdy stem in common from which they branch in opposite 
directions. The most fundamental of the arts and the most fun- 
damental of the sciences show in their best creations the necessary 
conditions of inevitability, importance, and economy, the 


logical progression from one stage to another,* The Interest In 
music that appeals to emotion and in mathematics that appeals 
to Intellect often coexist. Many mathematicians and mathematical 
physicists from Pythagoras to Einstein feel very attracted to that 
art, and quite a few composers have occupied themselves with 
mathematical problems. It seems to both groups possible to 
turn with relief from one interest to the other. We are not 
astonished when we learn that musical associations sometimes 
stimulate mathematical research work. 

Nothing of such an affinity Is known between music and scien- 
tific psychology, although the one speaks the language of emotions 
and the other explores them. The urge of imaginative expression 
on one side and the special curiosity that leads to scientific in- 
quisitiveness do not often meet. The preceding chapters presented 
many examples in which tunes appeared In the mind of the psy- 
choanalyst or the patient during analytic sessions or in connection 
with them. It was pointed out that they fulfill a certain psycho- 
logical function and that the analyst has to listen to the whisper of 
their meaning while until now he did not give them a second 
thought, If he gave them any. In this chapter, an example will be 
presented in detail which, I hope, will prove that musical associa- 
tions also have an unconscious purpose in abstract psychological 

My restricted reading does not allow me to state that there are 
no statements or reports on whether and how musical associations 
have influenced scientific work, interfered with or advanced the 
mental task of research. It would be very interesting to know what 
influence musical impressions had on the thought processes of 
Theodor Billroth, to whom modern surgery owes so many new 
methods, and who was a friend of Johannes Brahms and very in- 
terested in music.** Were the profound reflections on physics of 
Albert Einstein, who was an excellent violinist, sometimes inter- 
rupted by melodies? 

Cautious questioning concerning the emergence and influence 
of musical associations was neither encouraging nor conclusive. 

* Guy Warrage, "Music and Mathematics;' Music and Letters (Jan., 1945), 
Vol. XXVI, No. i. 

** 0r. Biilroth published a book Wer ist mutikalishf (Vienna, 1896.) 


Some scientists could not remember that their research work was 
ever influenced by musical ideas. Others stated that 
had occasionally occurred to them during their research work, but 
they treated such emergence as a pleasant diversion which had 
nothing to do with the intellectual task that occupied them. A 
few attributed a vague stimulating effect to tunes that had come 
to mind, or considered them as expressions of or sad moods. 

Two physicians told me that they liked to listen to music while 
they pondered on possible diagnosis of cases. A chemist said that 
he had caught himself humming a phrase from Beethoven's Sixth 
Symphony while he considered a certain succession of biochemi- 
cal experiments, but that he was irritated when he heard piano 
playing while he worked in his laboratory on experiments that 
demanded precision and undivided attention. 

Even when inquiries are restricted to the group of researchers 
who love music, the danger of glib generalizations has to be con- 
sidered. The emotional situation of the investigator while he is 
working has to be taken into account as well as the nature of his 
specific work. It is less likely that the solution of an equation, 
some logarithmic calculation, or the search for a chemical for- 
mula is accompanied by a musical association than an abstract 
speculation about some mathematical or chemical process. It 
, might seem that a purely mechanical occupation, let us say a 
laboratory experiment in the pursuit of a research project, favors 
the emergence of some tune, but we ran here into the psychological 
problem of attention. It is very possible that the mind of the 
chemist who is performing the experiment, just because his work 
is at the moment of a mechanical nature, is occupied with some 
complex problem. 

Our mental activity is a mixture of goal-directed, logical, and 
rational thinking and of loose, imaginative, fantastic, and irra- 
tional thought-processes. The ratio of mixture in each individual 
thought-act is different, and in our thinking as a whole variable. 
We say "sober as a judge/* and mean that the opinion of the 
judge is as much as possible unbiased, devoid of emotional inter- 
ferences, and governed only by logical and rational conclusions 
and considerations. But we cannot know to what extent tiratioaal, 
prejudiced 'emotional factors enter even into what we Mie to call 


"our considered judgment/' It seems that melodies express that 
emotional and loose, fantastic component of our thinking and 
manifest that part of our thought-productivity which results more 
from our imagination than from logical operations. The informa- 
tion I was able to get from quite a few researchers and scientists 
seems to confirm this conjecture, at least in the majority of cases. 

As a kind of psychological circumstantial evidence, the follow- 
ing observation, reported by different scientists, can be con- 
sidered: The hearing of a symphony or of some chamber music, 
far from interfering with the intellectual work, had an indefinite, 
but distinct stimulating effect upon the research as long as the 
scientist did not pay more than casual attention to the music and 
was concentrated on his research problem. Whenever he became 
more attentive to the melodic texture or the harmonic structure of 
the composition, he felt that his interest in the research problem 
was receding. It did not vanish, but it moved into the background 
and reappeared only after that other musical interest flagged. A 
psychiatrist, occupied with a theory on schizophrenia, reported 
that, while considering the physiological and psychological factors 
of that psychosis, he could listen to the Fourth Symphony of 
Brahms in the described aloof manner. He enjoyed the theoretical 
speculations about the nature of that psychotic disease at the same 
time as the melodies of the symphony. His trains of thought, di- 
rected to the relation of somatic and psychogenic factors in 
schizophrenia, were interrupted by the memory that he had once 
read that this Brahms symphony had teen called the Oedipus Sym- 
phony. The name, meaningful to the psychiatrist, interfered with 
the pleasure of scientific daydreaming as well as with the enjoy- 
ment of music. 

In another case the thought-process of a chemist, directed to the 
possibility of finding a new antitoxin* was interrupted because he 
followed a certain musical motive through a Mozart quartet. Be- 
fore this moment he was well able to pursue his ideas while listen- 
ing to the composition. When he began to pay attention to that 
motive, when he, so to speak, waited for its reappearance within the 
movement, his attention was deflected from the chemical problem. 
I can add a self-observed experience to these examples: While 
ihlnklng of a psychological theory on the differences of the sexes, 


1 listened to the Siegfried by Richard Wagner. When it 

occurred to me that the composition celebrated the birth of Wag- 
ner's son, my thoughts moved from the psychological subject to 
my own son Arthur and to memories of his birth, to my wife, to 
Vienna where he was born, and so on. While listening to a sym- 
phony or to chamber music in many cases not interfere with 
and sometimes even favorably influences theoretical abstract 
thinking, it is difficult, if not impossible, to follow or re- 

flections of this kind, if, for instance, the attention is directed 
to the words of a song or to the text of an opera aria. The indefi- 
nite and wide-spaced character of the melodic, rhythmical, and 
harmonic development of a symphonic movement does not inter- 
fere with the thought-process, while the words of a lied or of an 
aria compel the turning of the listener's attention in a certain 

The bits of information gathered in the preceding paragraphs 
are in no way appropriate to fill the gap in our knowledge about 
the influence of musk, especially of musical associations, on ab- 
stract and scientific thinking. They cannot satisfy our hunger for 
understanding because they are too unsubstantial and light. They 
do not provide enough food for thought, but rather whet our 
appetite. They are more comparable to hors d'oeuwes served 
before a meal than to its regular courses. 

Since there is such a lack of information and a complete ab- 
sence of appropriate instances, any contribution, however trifling, 
should be welcome. The following presents an instance that at- 
tempts, for the first time, as far as I know, to demonstrate the 
way in which a musical association can enter the area of theoreti- 
cal scientific thinking. In giving a precise description of the origin 
and the evolution of the intellectual process up to the point where 
the melody emerged, I hope to make obvious the psychological 
meaning and function of its appearance and how it differs from 
other associations. Needless to say that the theoretical part of the 
research here considered is of secondary importance. It has, never- 
theless, to be accurately described and minutely presented in or- 
der to define at which point the musical association intruded the 
area of scientific hypothesis. The patient reader will thus bear 
with a detailed presentation of the psychological problem of re- 


search which is followed by a shorter discussion of the signifi- 
cance of the tune that surprisingly emerged in the middle of at- 
tempts to come to conclusions. The subject matter of the research 
was as remote from the area of music as possible. It concerned 
the psychology and psychopathology of obesity, especially its emo- 
tional factors. I shall try to show what the emerging melody 
meant, but, more than this, that its occurrence within a certain 
train of thought gave me a new angle on the problem and marked 
progress on the way to its solution. 

The evolution of psychological theory does not take place in a 
vacuum remote from the experiences of everyday life. It is a re- 
sult of many impressions and insights that have to be verified and 
checked many times before they reach the first and still vague 
shape of a tentative theory. From where I, as psychoanalyst, sit, 
namely, on a chair behind the patient, human emotions, thoughts, 
and impulses look one way, while they have a different appear- 
ance when you look at them from your desk, alone late at 
night, trying to abstract their general character from the individ- 
ual cases and formulate their essential qualities apart from the 
particular and personal traits. The different phases in the evolu- 
tion of a theory require different talents of the researcher. For 
the first phase originality of observation is, it seems to me, the 
most important requirement, while for the following the 
capability of seeing phenomena in a general, abstract way is 

The following concept is taken from the transition phase be- 
tween observation and the first shaping of a new theory. During 
the analysis of several cases, I had received certain impressions, 
condensed by accumulation, about the emotional dynamics of 
aggressive drives in obese and overweight persons. Certain be- 
havior traits of patients seemed to point to a common pattern, 
however different their personalities were. The representative 
instances considered in this period of the formation of a theory 
germ were two men and two women. 

Jack, a man in his late thirties, had some emotional difficulties 
with his boss in the office. He often felt insulted and humiliated 
by the criticism of the older man, who was a father-representative 
person for him. Jack had many revenge fantasies and often day- 


dreamed that he would give his "a piece of my mind." The 
samples he presented in analytic sessions were filled with 
and curses of the vilest kind. Jack's vivid imagination went be- 
yond scenes In which he cursed his superior to In which 
he added cruel Injuries to unprintable Insults. Jack's aggressive- 
ness exhausted Itself In those fantasies. He realized that in real ilfe 
fie was unable to inflict any harm on his antagonist. He com- 
plained that he could not be a heel and a villain as he would like 
to be, and daydreamed that he might Just once become a ruthless 
and reckless character, able to walk over the corpses of his 
enemies. He was sometimes desperate because he behaved in a 
quite friendly way toward a man whom he hated and whom he 
wished to destroy. He sometimes had short-lived iare-ups of tem- 
per, but was soon reconciled by a few friendly words. The com- 
plaint he expressed several times during an analytic 
sounded almost pathetic: "If I only could be a son of a bitch 
just once, I need not be a son of a bitch any more." It Is conspicu- 
ous that in moods of indignation or rage he sometimes ate much 
more than usual. On some occasions he indulged himself In a 
moderate kind of eating orgy for instance, taking dinner twice 
within an hour. Jack was stout and will perhaps become fat in 
progressed middle age. 

The case of Alice was distinctly different in all essential traits. 
She had been a very fat child and continued to be plump until 
her late twenties when she reduced under an energetic regime of 
diet, drugs, and exercises. When, ten years later, she became my 
patient, she had a perfect figure according to the present fashion. 
She wanted to keep it because she wished to remain attractive, but 
she had an Intense craving for food to which she occasionally 
yielded with subsequent regrets and remorse. Her attitude to food 
was also Influenced by various neurotic fears; for Instance, by hypo- 
chondriacal alarms. She suffered periodically from the fear that 
she had tuberculosis, cancer, and various Infectious diseases, and 
attacks of these fears sometimes reached the degree of panic. Many 
of them could be traced back In analysis to reactions on ajgresslve 
impulses against persons of her family. She wa% for instance, 
afraid that she might take a knife and cut the throat of her daugh- 
ter or in a moment of absent-mindedness poison bar husband. 


The connection between this kind of obsessive thinking and her 
hypochondriacal symptoms "became obvious on many occasions. 
One instance will serve as representative. She had cocktails before 
dinner with her husband vith whom she chatted amiably. When 
she went to the kitchen to get something, she suddenly had the 
suspicion that her husband would use her absence to put some 
poison into her cocktail glass. Shortly after dinner she felt very 
ill and "unswallowed," the refined expression she used for vomit- 
ing. The operating of a paranoid projection mechanism became 
obvious on many occasions of this kind. 

The patient's attitude to ker appearance was dependent on her 
emotional situation in more ways than one. On the whole, she 
felt satisfied with her youthful figure when she looked at herself 
in the mirror. But sometimes her slimness became the very reason 
for hypochondriacal fears, and she anxiously asked herself: "Is 
anything the matter with me? I am perhaps ill without feeling 
pain." She remembered having seen some cases of cancer in which 
the patients rapidly lost weight, and she became terrified at the 
thought that she could have various forms of the dreaded disease. 
She then detected several symptoms of carcinoma in herself and 
became the victim of intense anxieties anticipating the agonies and 
the inevitable end. To assuage her fears, she began to eat compul- 
sively until she looked too fa t and started a strict diet again. Dur- 
ing the analytic treatment, this cycle could be observed several 
times. It was interesting that Alice's temperament seemed also 
to be affected by it. When she ate too much, she appeared 
amiable, well meaning, and affable, good-tempered and inclined 
to do favors far people. When she kept a strict diet and became 
slim, she was often sharply critical and sarcastic, suspicious, re- 
mote, and cautious in. social intercourse. 

The third case is that of "Victor, a writer, forty-one years old. 
The center of his emotional difficulties was formed by his attitude 
to his father, stepmother, and his brothers. He had considerable 
swings of mood, reaching fropa depressions in which he was almost 
apathetic, to hypomanic states in which he made himself the butt 
of many, sometimes exceileu t, jokes. He described his emotional 
situation as a battlefield of opposite forces, and felt best when 
those antagonists in him had arrived at an armistice. The well- 


read patient described those peaceful in theological terms; 

for instance, In those of the German mystics as Eckhart, 
Tauler, and others. He spoke of periods as of "states of 

grace" in which he was neither under the compulsive of 

Intense drives of hatred and sexual desires nor subjected to over- 
powering feelings of guilt and shame. He oscillated In his emo- 
tions from those of a sinner in despair atonement to of 
a saint who feels superior to others, and but rarely in 
reaching the state of a person ready to be- 
tween his own impulses and the demands of society. 

The change from depression to an almost humorous self-mock- 
ery was sometimes immediate. During a of his 
analysis, when he had been lying on the couch in a kind of apatiiy 
for a longer time than usual, he interrupted his silence with the 
following sentence: "I don't know why I am punishing so 
cruelly, -All this because I have killed a few people in my 
thoughts? When you think of the millions murdered during the 
war, the number of persons I killed does not even need con- 
sideration." This kind of sorry humor ie which he looked at Ms 
troubles and emotional difficulties from a bird's-eye view also 
appeared in his writings. He was able to deprive himself of food 
when he felt in the mood of atonement and to go on a "'binge" of 
eating when the severity of his self-accusations diminished. The 
following action appeared to me very significant: He once ap- 
peared on a Sunday morning at the apartment of his family, 
ready to make peace with his father and stepmother. When, un- 
announced, he entered the living room, he saw among the 
laid out on the breakfast table a big coffeecake. His relatives 
who were unaware of his arrival were in the next room, he 
overheard some unfavorable comments they made about him. 
Seized by a sudden rage, he took the coieecake destined for the 
whole family from the plate, and tiptoed to the door without 
revealing Ms presence. While he hurried home through the streets, 
he ate the whole cake in an attack of voracious fury. 

The last case to be considered in this context is not as colorful 
as the previous one. Margaret, a woman in her late thirties, had 
divorced her first husband and had married a man much younger 
than herself. She discovered some years later that her husband 


had resumed an earlier affair and recognized that she could not 
hope to win back his love. After a time of stormy scenes in which 
she expressed her rage and despair, she glided into depression 
bordering on a melancholic state. She neglected her appearance 
and started to eat excessively. In a relatively short time she was 
transformed into an overweight matron of stout figure, double 
chin, and excessive bust and hips. She neglected her household 
duties and dedicated most of her time to playing rummy and 
gossiping. Margaret appeared phlegmatic and egocentric, al- 
though friendly and good-natured. While her mood was in gen- 
eral depressive, she had moments in which a kind of resigned and 
even lovable humor broke through the clouded atmosphere of her 

The first impression these representative cases of obese per- 
sonalities make is that the patients have reacted to an emotional 
frustration, or rather to several frustrations, by oral regression 
that is, by returning to an early phase of development in which 
the gratification of food is most prevalent. The excessive intake 
of food has the function of consolation and compensation for those 
emotional frustrations among which unfulfilled desire for love 
and social recognition has the first rank. The consolation in these 
cases would be basically the same as in the case of a child to 
whom a wish is denied and who forgets his unhappiness when he 
gets a lollipop. This impression or psychological hypothesis is 
accepted by the majority of psychoanalysts who have investigated 
many cases of obesity and consider it as the result of a personality 
disturbance in which excessive bodily size becomes the expression 
of an emotional conflict.* 

That general impression becomes qualified by the study of 
compulsive eaters, a type that contributes most cases to the group 
of overweight persons. These patients admit that they are not 
hungry, but that they cannot resist the craving for food. Almost 
all analysts can report cases of men and women who after a rich 
dinner sneak to the refrigerator and eat all within their reach. 
The psychological concept of this, as of all compulsions, is that 

* The analytical literature on the problem has recently been enlarged by 
oontributioos by Hilde Brnch, Gustav Bychowsky, Alfred ScMck, Eduardo 

Weiss, and many other investigators. 


it generally appears as a defense against a danger or a threat 
from within original!} from without, but later internalized and 
transformed in o a part of the ego. The earliest and primi- 

tive form of such a danger in the cases here considered would be 
that of starving. Compulsive eating would, thus considered, 
amount to an exaggerated defense to ward off the anxiety of 
starving. Compulsive intake of food and the resulting obesity are 
determined by the dread of famishing which is met by the tend- 
ency to stuff oneself. That elementary fear can be put into the 
formula: Eat or you will starve. Nothing or nothing of 

such a primitive menace reaches the conscious level It is mute, 
yet able to express itself in the language of neurotic symptoms. 

Thus far, this presentation has followed the line of psy- 

choanalytic theories on obesity. At this point it branches of in a 
new direction: at the roots of that primitive fear there must be 
something still more elementary and more intimately connected 
with the struggle for existence than expresses itself in the return 
to oral satisfaction. It is to be assumed that this unknown impulse 
does not belong to the early history of the individual, but to Ms 
prehistory or even to the prehistory of the race. Speaking in com- 
parison, the elementary drives and the collateral fears are not to 
be traced back to the era of the earliest Egyptian dynasties, but 
to the ancestors of Neanderthal Man. The most primitive forms 
in which those impulses are expressed live only in remnants with 
the cannibalistic tribes of Australia. Other traces are to be found 
in distorted forms of neurotic symptoms and in ancient myths 
and fairy tales. The alternative in the tale of "Hansel and 
Gretel" appears in the shape: to eat or to starve. But when the 
children arrive at the house of the witch, the situation is changed. 
Through all tranfonnations and distortions you will find below 
the superstructure of those old myths and fairy tale the canni- 
balistic drives and cannibalistic dreads. Hansel and Gretel are 
afraid of being eaten up by the witch. But at the end they are 
pushing her into the oven, we have to add, to be cooked and 
eaten. Even before that they are eating from the witch's ginger- 
bread house, which is a symbolic substitute of her body. Behind 
that fairy tale is the alternative to eat or to be eaten. That was 
then the question. 


At this point the clinical pictures before described and others 
not here recorded led to the budding of a little analytic contri- 
bution. Its original form attempts an answer to the question: Why 
are obese and overweight people supposed to be harmless, realis- 
tic, and not malicious or, otherwise put, what happens to the 
cruel and aggressive drives of those persons? 

The germination of that tiny theory was favored by the re- 
reading of the famous book Korperbau und Character by Ernst 

Otto Fennichel considers Kretzschmer's attempt to co-ordinate 
certain types of character with body structures "not very attrac- 
tive to the analyst."** That, of course, is a question of taste. The 
fact that Kretzschmer's work is not analytic in its point of view 
does not exclude that It is of great importance. It is very attractive 
to this analyst, especially because its thesis was Intuitively antici- 
pated by great writers and because its basic view of characterologi- 
cal types coincides with my own observations and experiences. In 
spite of its obvious shortcomings, Kretzschmer's differentiation 
of schizoid and cycloid personalities and the characterological 
distinction between them Is a valuable and valid contribution to 
the recognition of human temperaments. Kretzschmer attributes 
to the schizoid type a slim body build and a cold, remote person- 
ality, and to the cycloid type a rather stocky or stout physique and 
a warm, conciliatory, and realistic personality. 

The German psychiatrist considers those types as extreme ones 
and differentiates many mixed forms, alloys, and so on. In the 
description of the cycloid type, mostly found in well-nourished 
or obese persons, Kretzschmer points out different basic groups 
of temperaments: sociable, good-natured, and genial people; an- 
other, he characterizes as cheerful, humorous, and jolly and soft- 
hearted. In general, obese people are friendly and sociable, toler- 
ant and affable, compared with the thin, sharp-featured schizoid 
type which is often fanatic, idealistic, introverted, philosophically 
inclined, systematic, often sarcastic and scheming, of a cold and 
remote personality. 

The aggressiveness of fat people is not of a cruel and sadistic 

* English translation (and ed.; London, 1925). 

** The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (New York, 1948). 


type, but rather characterized by primitive orality. It is 
directed to incorporate their object to tear it to pieces. Fat 

people are more inclined to eat their object to it The 

clinical papers of Karl Abraham divide the oral of 

the child into two stages, an early suckling a bit- 

ing one.* According to this differentiation, or 

persons either remained in their development on 
phase or returned to it under the influence of frustrations. In 
contrast to the lean and hungry type, they are less inclined to 
be aggressive, biting, tyrannical, and argumentative. 

Kretzschmer remarked that the Devil usually in the 

fantasy of the people as lean, with a thin beard growing on a nar- 
row chin. He should have added that God, in contrast to the Evil 
One, is mostly imagined as an old, stout man with a bushy white 

The analytic continuation of Kretzschmer's theory would 
to the assumption that the cycloid type is characterized by a re- 
gression to the irst phase of orality. In this return, the aggressive 
and cruel, sadistic drives are to a great extent replaced by oral 
tendencies. A finer distinction would perhaps differentiate an- 
other group within the cycloid one which has built a kind of 
oral defense against the danger of retribution for his 
and cruel drives. Otherwise put: this type is afraid of the intensity 
of his own aggressive and hostile drives and therefore 
to an earlier phase in which there were no serious and dangerous 
conflicts with the external world. The energy, otherwise used in 
the pursuit of aggressive, hostile, and sadistic strivings, becomes 
redirected to protect the self that is afraid of the consequences of 
its repressed aggressiveness. The mechanism is thus a 
against the threatening retribution and at the same time a re- 
gression to the phase of an infantile pleasure-ego, an early organi- 
zation of the individual in which the world is "tasted," orally 
tested as to whether it tastes good or bad. That defense would 
manifest itself not only in a lack of aggressiveness and cruelty 
that could endanger the self in the form of retribution, but also 
generally in avoidance of dangers, risks* and bold adventures, and 
in the last consequences in physical caution and even cowardice. 

* In Selected Papers on Psychoanalysis (London* 1942). 


The four clinical pictures presented before show, in various 
forms and variations, those emotional dynamics or their results. 
Jack is full of rage against his boss, but his vengefulness is ex- 
pressed only in curses and abuses, and his conscience or his cau- 
tion does not allow him to transform his fantasies into deeds; he 
cannot even give his boss a piece of his mind. In his reflections he 
oscillates between expressions of his impulses and those invisible 
counter-tendencies and his imagined enterprises lose in this way 
"the name of action." His sentence "If I could be a son of a bitch 
just once, I need not be a son of a bitch any more" is, so to speak, 
a Hamlet reflection in Brooklynese. The case of the patient who 
vacillates between her craving for food and her hypochondriacal 
fears shows the suggested process in flux. She protects herself 
against the dreaded retribution for her murderous impulses in 
the form of eating. The nature of her fear points in the direction 
of the menace of being eaten up from within (cancer). Her anx- 
iety when she sees herself becoming thin reflects the elementary 
dread of starving. Margaret's obesity is the result of excessive 
intake of food after her frustration and disappointment in her 
marriage. At the same time it marks her resignation and renun- 
ciation of her aggression and rage against her husband and her 
rival. Her regression to oral gratification replaces her violent out- 
bursts and is her defense against their repetition. Her depression 
seems to show that she still has to fight against guilt feelings. Victor's 
symptomatic action, the eating of the breakfast coffeecake, is al- 
most a manifestation of a certain phase of that process, in which 
aggressiveness expresses itself in a purely oral form. As such, it 
marks a transition from a progressed stage of aggressive action to 
an infantile level. 

This theory better, this onset of a theory went a few steps 
farther beyond the area here sketched in the investigation of the 
vicissitudes of aggressive drives of obese personalities. It at- 
tempted to conceive of the swings of moods, so conspicuous in the 
cycloid types, in terms of their oral attitudes. It is daring, but not 
nonsensical, to compare the hypomanic mood or phase with the 
emotional attitude of enjoyment of a meal and with the mood of 
saturated appetite, and the depressive phase with the time of un- 
satisfactory or unpleasing digestion. Putting aside all intellectual 


cautions for a moment, one could venture to that the 

elation or the manic phases manifest the enjoyment of (lick- 
ing one's lips!), while the depression would the 
meal did not agree with the person.* To evaluate this psycho- 
logical alternative, one has to regress In one's to the 
elementary level. The elation, thus considered, would that 
an incorporated object was well digested, the 
would signify that the incorporation was not very successful. The 
proof of the incorporated object is in the eating, or rather at 
some time after it. At the highest level such disagreeing of 
would find its emotional correlation in depression or guilt feel- 
ings. Following the two possibilities of elation or mania of 
depressions, the investigator who has picked up a trail has 
the limit of a working hypothesis, from the earliest of 
primitive incorporation to the last in which all is in the mind, 

The preceding theory was no more than an attempt to 
understandable to myself the lack of aggressiveness, cruelty, mal- 
ice, and grudge in obese or overweight persons. It was freely ad- 
mitted that the hypothesis at which I arrived had not matured 
enough to be validated or voided. It had scarcely progressed be- 
yond the phase of conjectures and suggestions and had not jelled 
enough to deserve the name of an analytic theory, merely that of 
an outset of theoretical reflections. 

I do not share with my fellow-psychoanalysts the worship of 
science, and I do not kneel down before science which has been 
enthroned in the place left by God in the modern world. A re- 
spectful bow to scientific research is, to my way of thinking, enough. 
This lack of awe might explain, but perhaps not excuse, why I 
did not pursue the theoretical possibilities sketched before nor 
test and reexamine them by verification. I left the idea in suspense. 
It was at this point not a conscious decision, but a kind of indiffer- 
ence that left the future of the budding thought to destiny. I 
could have tossed a coin: heads I stick, tails I quit. Instead of 
trying that popular modern oracle, I let my thoughts wander into 
some sort of scientific daydreaming. 

* These tentative psychoanalytic assumptions were jotted down long before 
Bertram Lewin's book The Psychoanalysis of Elaticm was published (New YoA, 
1950). Dr. Lewin's interesting contribution does not mention Kxetzschmer. 


The continuation of Kretzschmer's thesis took its point of de- 
parture from observations of clinical cases. It moved from there 
to psychological assumptions and logical conclusions near the 
point where it should be formed and formulated into a scientific 
theory. Before it was crystallized, my attention was deflected and 
turned in a new direction. The process may well be compared to 
walking to a certain goal. On his way the wanderer becomes inter- 
ested in something on a bypath and turns his attention to this 
new impression, forgetting for the moment his original goal. One 
is not always master of one's interests. Sometimes one does well 
in following one's inner voice rather than one's considered in- 
tentions. The destination that we had in mind can be quite re- 
mote from the place to which destiny sends us. 

In the second part of his scientific work, Kretzschmer occasion- 
ally refers to proverbs and sayings of the people who seem to have 
anticipated some of his typological findings and who bring body 
build and character into intimate connection. He could have 
quoted many more and have added the sentences of writers who 
some centuries before his book confirm his opinions. There is, 
however, one greater authority he quotes. Shakespeare, speaking 
with the voice of Julius Caesar: 

Let me have men about me that are fat; 
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o'nights; 
Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look; 

In spite of what Antony has to say in praise of that Roman noble, 
Caesar remains unconvinced: 

Would he were fatter! 
... He loves no plays 
As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music; 
Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort 
As if he mock'd himself and scom'd his spirit, 
That could be moved by smile at anything 
Such men as he be never at heart's ease, 
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves, 
And therefore are they very dangerous. 


While following Kretzschmer's typological considerations 
great attention, I had been thinking coherently and rationally, 
but at this point my mind slipped away to all of 

thoughts. I can only guess that It the memory of my 
Jack whom I had seen the day before that led my to the 

subject of vengeance In connection with 
Jack had again uttered wild curses against his 
bloody revenge, which, I knew, he would never take. In 
to him, the figure of Shylock and his terrible revengefulness 
to mind. I Imagined the Jew of Venice, a thin, 
older man, full of nervous energy aggressiveness, a 
schizoid-paranoid type. There is no superfluous on his 
and his mind does not know a moment of leisure. The 
terms he uses with regard to that bond are not accidentally 
from the area of food: "I will feed fat the ancient 1 

him." The question of what good a pound of flesh would do 
is answered In the same vein: "To bait fish withal If It 
nothing else, It will feed my revenge." Shylock Is starving In this 
voracious hunger of vengeance and he does not allow 
much food. The sentence Helerich Heine once wrote an 

antagonist could be applied to Shylock: "He would not be so bit- 
Ing If he had more to bite." His sarcasm Is bloody aod Its 
correspond to the sense of the Greek word which tearing 

the lesh to pieces. His insistence on that pound of from 

Antonio's body Is a substitute for a cannibal craving. He to 

be a personification of that second sadistic, cannibal of 

orality as it is sketched In Karl Abraham's psychoanalytic theory. 

Still under the Impression of that clinical picture of my patient 
Jack, my random associations now glide to the figure of the Dan- 
ish Prince with whom he shares the incapability of taking re- 
venge. Like Jack, he has the "motive and the cue for passion" and 
he, too, 

must, like a trull, unpack my heart with words 
And fall a-cursing, like a very drab, 
A scullion! 

Hamlet's aggressiveness exhausts Itself in curses, abuses* and self- 
complaints. In the sense of Kretzschiner's theory he presents a 


mixed type of schizoid and cycloid temperament. His body build 
is described by the Queen: "He's fat and scant of breath." There 
are, however, many characterological features that point in the di- 
rection of a schizoid personality. 

While my thoughts wander to other Shakespearean characters, 
to Othello, lago, Richard, and Macbeth, a figure emerges in my 
associations, so voluminous and bulky that there is no place for 
others beside him: Sir John FalstafL As in those sacred halls of 
the Magic Flute, vengeance is unknown in the Boar's Head Tav- 
ern of Eastcheap. Sir John is not revengeful and he does not 
understand how others could be. Poins warns the irritated Prince 
that Falstaff had spoken vilely of him before Doll: "My lord, he 
will drive you out of your revenge and turn all to merriment." 

In omitting his figure, Kretzschmer has renounced the most 
representative example of the cycloid type as far as body build 
and temperament are concerned. Sir John is not just obese. He is 
obesity personified. He is sociable and jolly, full of zest of life 
and good humor. He has distinct features of oscillating between 
manic and depressive moods. There are sudden changes from an 
uninhibited joie de vivre to gloominess, from elation to a melan- 
cholic attitude. The greatest comical figure of world literature 
has conspicuous moments of sadness and expectancy of doom. He 
sighs, " 'Sblood, I am as melancholy as a gib cat or a lugged bear," 
and confesses that he is now "little better than one of the wicked." 
He is ready to repent and reform, but in the next moment he is 
very willing to rob some travelers. The Prince sees "a good 
amendment" in him "from praying to purse-taking." The knight 
himself brings his fatness in causal connection with his sadness: 
"A plague of sighing and grief. It blows a man up like a bladder." 
Is it not strange that Shakespeare, four hundred and fifty years 
before the analytic investigation of obesity, gives here an etiologi- 
cal explanation for the emotional genesis of overweight? Kretz- 
schmer, who mentions the German expression Kummer speck 
( = grief-belly) in the context of his typology, has deprived him- 
self of that classical explanation. There is even, comparable to the 
second clinical case described, a hypochondriacal fear in Falstaff 
that he might fall off in flesh, and, as in that case, the fear is 
clearly connected with guilt feelings and expectancy of impend- 


Ing personal calamity: "Bardolph, am I not away vilely 

since this last action? do I not bate? do I not dwindle? Why, my 
skin hangs about me like an old lady's gown; I am 

like an old apple-john. Well, 111 repent, and that suddenly, 
I am in some liking; 1 shall be out of heart shortly and I 

shall have no strength to repent," 

No doubt, that incomparable creation of a writer's 
anticipated the scientiSc description of the cycloid character. 
More than this, we psychologists will have trouble catching up 
with it. Kretzschmer emphasizes, it is true, that the cycloid per- 
sonality is generally earth-bound, realistic in contrast to the ideal- 
istic and sometimes fanatic and fantastic, eccentric, lofty fea- 
tures of the schizoid type. Is there a better example of traits 
than that pet mountain of a man? This full-grown full-blown 
old man has kept the gaiety of a little boy, but also his of 
realism. He is not in awe of conventions, and the so-called sacred 
Ideas do not impress him. He walks over them and laughs 
off. He steals the show as he does any purse within his reach. He 
Is amoral, a Mar, a coward, a glutton, and a buffoon, a cheater, a 
reprobate, and Invincible and Irresistible in his charm free- 
dom, gained in humor. He sees through all make-believe 
considers discretion the better part of valor. The self-protection 
and the absolutely realistic outlook, characteristic of the extreme 
cycloid temperaments, make him "a coward on instinct" while 
he Is "as valiant as Hercules." His creed on honor will survive all 
the codes of nature. "Give me life!" cries Falstaff on the battle- 
field of Shrewsbury. The fear of death, so remote to the schizoid 
type, drives him to stuff himself with food. 

He enjoys everything, but before all himself. This huge 
of flesh, this ton of a man will never "leave gormandizing/' as the 
new King admonishes him. When we first meet Falstaff, tie asls 
what time it is, and Prince Hal says: "Thou art so fat-witted, with 
drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, aaci 
sleeping upon benches after noon that thou hast forgotten to de- 
mand that truly which thou wouldst truly know. What a devil 
hast thou to do with the time of the day? unless hours were cups 
of sack, and minutes capons/* Sir John Is not only fun-loving, but 
funny, not only witty, but also the cause for other people's wit. 


He does not think too much, he is fat and sleeps well, loves play 
and music. Caesar would not have considered him dangerous but 
would have wished to have him around. 

The old rogue shouts a lot, but he barks rather than bites. He 
can abuse and curse as well as the next man. As well? No, much 
better. He is a genius at abusive comparisons and vile language, 
and has no par in the invention of invectives. But he is not sar- 
castic in his aggressiveness. He prefers biting into meat and fowl 
to making biting remarks on people. He lives on a minimum of 
activity if it is possible, and he is hurrying only to the set table, is 
not eager to arrive anywhere except to come and get it. He loves 
company and company loves him. He knows that he is loved and 
expresses the general liking people have for obese persons: "If to 
be fat be to be hated, then Pharaoh's lean kine are to be loved." 
He is the life of the party because he is the party of life. 

We speak of fleeting thoughts, of the flash of an idea, but we 
have really no appropriate expression for the rapid speed with 
which thoughts cross time and space. In a split second I searched 
the little I know of world literature for obese and distinct cycloid 
personalities to be compared in some way or other to plump Jack, 
to the immortal figure of Sir John FalstafL The express train of 
associations rushed from the stocky figure of the squire Sancho 
Pariza, representing common sense, earthiness, and flexibility in 
contrast to the rigid insanity of his master, to the corpulent Nero 
Wolfe, the almost immobile gourmand and gourmet of Man- 

I heard my thoughts, so to speak, racing through the centuries 
of writing, but then I suddenly heard something very different 
The Rosenkaualier waltz danced through my mind. The % 
measures moved in casually and with sovereign indifference for 
the serious nature of the preceding associations, just as if they felt 
entirely at home in this intellectual environment. I had left the 
domain of purely theoretical reflections, it is true, but I was still 
searching for cycloid figures in world literature. 

What business had that waltz in that sphere? To use a compari- 
son, it was as if the secretary of a trust company were called to 
the conference of the board of directors, and in her place at the 
door of the conference room appeared a ballerina in short skirts. 


I certainly had not called that abounding waltz. At this 
It was completely uncalled for, but I did not It immedi- 

ately. It is psychologically interesting that we treat 

musical associations occurring to us in the of 

work differently than others. They are not violently ejected, 
rather politely dismissed. We bow to we 

them to the door of conscious thoughts, almost with 
they appear at an inappropriate moment. And we wel- 

come them although they come unannounced. Many have 

stopped thinking of the brief they were working on 
for a few moments to a barrel organ that played Tea for Two 
on the street. This by way of apology I let the Rosen- 

kamlier waltz dance through my serious thinking. 

But then I began to ponder why it reappeared. What have 
those tuneful 54 measures to do with Sir John of I 

thought before? I had been in the England of virginal Elizabeth 
in my ideas and not in Vienna at the time of that other great 
queen, Maria Theresa. If the association had at the 

picture of the fat rogue as Edward Elgar paioied it in the gar- 
gantuan boastfulness of his symphonic poem, the overture to the 
Merry Wives of Windsor by Nicolai, a composition I heard so