Masson, J.M. (1985) (Ed.) The complete letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. excerpts.

The first letter (November 24, 1887, when Freud was 31) begins "Esteemed friend and colleague: My letter of today admittedly is occasioned by business; but I must introduce it by confessing that I entertain hopes of continuing the relationship with you and that you have left a deep impression on me which could easily lead me to tell you in what class of men I place you." (Masson, 1985, p. 15)

This first letter discusses the case of a Mrs "A.," whose difficulty walking etc. Freud argues is not a neurosis but rather the result of the effects of a "slowly declining nutritional state" on a nervous system ("spinal cord") weakened by diphtheria 17 years before.

The familiar address "Du" in addressing Fliess does not appear for almost five years (June 28, 1892).

May 28, 1888

Mrs. A., who since her unmasking as a case of chronic cerebral neurasthenia (if you too want to call it that) and since her miscarriage and the rest has made a splendid recovery with a minimum of treatment and is now very well, sees the summer approaching. Her old preferences attract her to Franzensbad; I recommend a hydropathic cure in the mountains. So she has asked me to refer the matter to you for a decision, which I am herewith doing. ... (p. 21)
I have a this moment a lady in hypnosis lying in front of me and therefore can go on writing in peace. We are living rather happily in steadily growing modesty. When our little Matilde laughs, we imagine that hearing her laugh is the most beautiful thing that could happen to us, and in other respects we are not ambitious and not very industrious. My practice increased somewhat during the winter and spring, is now decreasing again, and barely keeps us alive. (pp. 21-22)

Draft B (Feburary 8, 1893)

I. It may be taken as a recognized fact that neurasthenia is a frequent consequence of an abnormal sexual life. The assertion, however, which I wish to make and to test by observations is that neurasthenia actually can only be a sexual neurosis (Masson, 1985, p. 39; emphasis in original). Neurasthenia in males is acquired at an early age and becomes manifest when the man is in his twenties. Its source is masturbation, the frequency of which runs completely parallel with the frequency of male neurasthenia. One can observe in the circle of one's acquaintances that (at least in urban populations) those individuals who have been seduced by women at an early age have escaped neurasthenia. ...

The second noxa, which affects men at a later age, makes its impact on a nervous system which is either intact or which has been predisposed to neurasthenia by masturbation. ... This second noxa is onanismus conjugalis -- incomplete intercourse in order to prevent conception. In the case of men all the methods of achieving this seem to fall in line: they operate with varying intensity according to the earlier disposition, but do not actually differ qualitatively. Those with a strong predisposition or persistent neurasthenics cannot tolerate even normal coitus; then intolerance of the condom, of extravaginal coitus, and of coitus interruptus take their toll (Masson, 1985, pp. 40-41). ...

Neurasthenia in females. Normally, girls are sound and healthy and not neurasthenic; and this is true as well of young married women, in spite of all the traumas of this time [of life]. In rarer cases neurasthenia appears in married women and in older unmarried ones in its pure form; is is then to be regarded as having arisen spontaneously and in the same manner. Far more often neurasthenia in a married woman is derived from neurasthenia in a man or isproduced simultaneously. In that case there is almost always an admixture of hysteria and we have the common mixed neurosis of women (Masson, 1985, pp. 41-42).

The mixed neurosis of women is derived from neurasthenia in men in all those not-infrequent cases in which the man, being a sexual neurasthenic, suffers from impaired potency. The admixture of hysteria results directly from the holding back of the excitation of the act. The poorer the potency, the more the woman's hysteria predominates, so that essentially a sexually neurasthenic man makes his wife not so much neurasthenic as hysterical (Masson, 1985, p. 42).

II. Anxiety neurosis. ...

Rarer case of anxiety neurosis outside marriage are encountered especially in men. They turn out to be cases of congressus interruptus in which the man is strongly involved psychically with women whose well-being is a matter of concern to him. In such cases this procedure is a greater noxa than for a man than coitus interruptus in marriage, for this is often corrected, as it were, by normal coitus outside marriage (p. 43).

Draft C (May 8, 1893)

(Spring, 1893) Freud is advising Fliess about a draft of the latter's paper on "The Nasal Reflex Neuroses." Criticizing W.T. Preyer, Freud notes that "He derives the reflex neuroses from minor anatomical changes of the genitals instead of from changes in the nervous system. Nevertheless, the urethra postica may still be a reflex organ similar to the nose." F then admonished Fl to include a reference to the crucial role of sexual etiology in the neuroses and apparently suggested reference to the work of 'a colleague and friend', and inserted a suggested passage in the draft Fliess had sent him. F's nasal enthusiasm at this early date has been omitted from the Kris volume:

I am beginning to sense your obligation to present me with some guidance in examing and assessing the nose óon a later occasion, because one can expect this organ to have a role that is similar to, though more modest than, that of the retina. Here, as there, one can observe multiple organic changes, but in addition gain a glimpse of the circulatory conditions inside the head!

There is then a puzzling reference to a naval cadet, perhaps a case Fl referred to in his draft: "He confessed to masturbating already in the morning; did you establish that the attack followed directly on a masturbatory excess? Certain fantasies about the possibility of suppressing the impulse to masturbate via the nose, to explain such impulses, to undo anesthesia and the like should remain only fantasies?" (Masson, 1985, p. 46)

April 19, 1894

Since everyone needs the suggestive influence of someone else in order to obtain a respite from his own criticisms, I have in fact not had anything warm between my lips since then (today it has been three weeks); and today I can already watch others smoke without envying them and even again imagine life and work without this support. It has not been long since I reached this point; moreover, the misery of abstinence has been far greater than I ever imaginedóbut that, of course, is obvious. (Masson, 1985, p. 67)
It is too distressing for a medical man who spends every hour of the day struggling to gain an understanding if the neuroses not to know whether he is suffering from a logical or a hypochondriacal mild depression. (Masson, 1985, p. 67)

May 21, 1894

Dearest friend,

Dearest in truth, because I find it touching that you should so thoroughly go into my condition at a time when you are either very busy or not well or possibly both. There was a gap in your letter which had begun to look uncanny to me, and which almost induced me to write for information to a certain young lady in Berlin with whom I am acquainted and who, I hope, is on friendly terms with me as well.

I promise you a detailed report on my illness next time; I feel better, but far from well ; at least I am working again. Today I shall allow myself a good hour and chat only about science with you. It is obviously no special favor of fate that I have approximately five hours a year to exchange ideas with you, when I can barely do without the other -- and you are the only other, the alter.

Tomorrow I am sending the hen and the five little chicks to Reichenau, and during the sad loneliness that follows -- my sister-in-law Minna, otherwise my closest confidante, will depart two weeks later -- I shall more often carry out my resolution at least to write to you. I put part of the neurosis story on paper for you when I was still in my worst period, but now I am stuck. I have a lot to do; in addition, the next installment of the Le¡ons du mardi,; the last case history for Breuer; continuing my neurosis collection; thus, I am making no progress.

Was not Marion Delorme a jewel? She will not be included in the collection with Breuer because the second level, that of the sexual factor, is not supposed to be disclosed there. The case history I am writing now -- a cure -- is among my most difficult pieces of work. You may have it before Breuer if you return it promptly. Among the gloomy thoughts of the past few months was one, in second place right after wife and children -- that I shall no longer be able to prove the sexual thesis. After all, one does not want to die either immediately or completely [ .

I am pretty much alone here in the elucidation of the neuroses. They look upon me pretty much as a monomaniac, while I have the distinct feeling that I have touched upon one of the great secrets of nature. there is something odd about the incongruity between oneÃs own and other peopleÃs estimation of oneÃs intellectual work. ... [summarizes favorable reactions to his oebook” on the diplegias, expectation of oenothing better than a respectable failure” of his Aphasia, OEObsessional Ideasà and forthcoming OEEtiology and Theory of the NeurosesÃ] ... There are still a hundred gaps, large and small, in the matter of the neuroses, but I am getting closer to an outline and some general perspectives. I know three mechanisms: that of affect transformation (conversion hysteria), that of affect displacement (obsessional ideas), and that of exchange of affect (anxiety neurosis and melancholia). In every case it should be sexual excitation that undergoes these transpositions, but the impetus to them is not in every case something sexual; that is to say, in every case in which neuroses are acquired, it happens as a result of sexual disturbances, but there are people in whom heredity causes a disturbance of their sexual affects and who develop the corresponding forms of hereditary neurosis. The most general viewpoints under which I can classify the neuroses are the four following:

(1) Degeneration
(2) Senility
(3) Conflict
(4) Conflagration

Conflagration is a new point of view; it means conditions of what might be called acute degeneration (for example, in severe intoxications, ...

(Masson, 1985, pp. 73-74)

Draft D (undated)

Draft E (undated, perhaps June 6, 1894)

March 4, 1895 (Case History)

On the last day you were here, I suddenly discharged several scabs from the right side, the one not operated on. As early as the next day there appeared thick, old pus in large clots, at first on the right side only and soon thereafter also on the left. Since then the nose has again been flooded; only today has the purulent secretion become somewhat less dense. Light but regular symptoms: in the morning a stuffed nose, vile head not better until large amounts have been discharged; in the interval occasionally migraine; everything, by the way, not very severe. During the first of these days I noticed with pride that I could climb stairs without dyspnea; for the last three days pain in the heart region, atactic pulse, and beautiful insufficiency. Today, for example, I arrived someplace, found the carriage of the (other) consultant already at the door, ran up the stairs and, once upstairs, was unable to talk for five minutes and had to admit that I was ill and so forth. Three days ago, after having been massaged, the whole business repeated itself, as in the old days; this morning I once again wanted to die (relatively) young. (pp. 115-116)

March 8, 1895

Dearest Wilhelm,

Just received your letter and am able to answer it immediately. Fortunately I am finally seeing my way clear and am reassured about Miss Eckstein and can give you a report which will probably upset you as much as it did me, but I hope you will get over it as quickly as I did.

I wrote you that the swelling and the hemorrhages would not stop, and that suddenly a fetid odor set in, and that there was an obstacle upon irrigation. (Or is the latter new [to you]?) I arranged for Gersuny to be called in; he inserted a drainage tube, hoping that things would work out once discharge was reestablished; but otherwise he was rather reserved. Two days later I was awakened in the morning -- profuse bleeding had started again, pain, and so on. Gersuny replied on the phone that he was unavailable till evening; so I asked Rosanes to meet me. He did so at noon. There still was moderate bleeding from the nose and mouth; the fetid odor was very bad. Rosanes cleaned the area surrounding the opening, removed some sticky blood clots, and suddenly pulled at something like a thread, kept on pulling. Before either of us had time to think, at least half a meter of gauze had been removed from the cavity. The next moment came a flood of blood. The patient turned white, her eyes bulged, and she had no pulse. Immediately thereafter, however, he again packed the cavity with fresh iodoform gauze and the hemorrhage stopped. It lasted about half a minute, but this was enough to make the poor creature, whom by then we had lying flat, unrecognizable. In the meantime -- that is, afterward -- something else happened. At the moment the foreign body came out and everything became clear to me -- and I immediately afterward was confronted by the sight of the patient -- I felt sick. After she had been packed, I fled to the next room, drank a bottle of water, and felt miserable. The brave Frau Doctor then brought me a small glass of cognac and I became myself again.

Rosanes stayed with the patient until arranged, via Streitenfels, to have both of them taken to Sanatorium Loew. Nothing further happened that evening. The following day, that is, yesterday, Thursday, the operation was repeated with the assistance of Gersuny; [the bone was] broken wide open, the packing removed, and [the wound] curetted. There was scarcely any bleeding. Since then she has been out of danger, naturally very pale, and miserable with fresh pain and swelling. She had not lost consciousness during the massive hemorrhage; when I returned to the room somewhat shaky, she greeted me with the condescending remark, "So this is the strong sex."

I do not believe it was the blood that overwhelmed me -- at that moment strong emotions were welling up in me. So we had done her an injustice; she was not at all abnormal, rather, a piece of iodoform gauze had gotten torn off as you were removing it and stayed in for fourteen days, preventing healing; at the end it tore off and provoked the bleeding. That this mishap should have happened to you; how you will react to it when you hear about it; what others could make of it; how wrong I was to urge you to operate in a foreign city where you could not follow through on the case; how my intention to do my best for this poor girl was insidiously thwarted and resulted in endangering her life -- all this came over me simultaneously. I have worked it through by now. I was not sufficiently clear at that time to think of immediately reproaching Rosanes. It only occurred to me ten minutes later that he should immediately have thought, There is something inside; I shall not pull it out lest there be a hemorrhage; rather, I'll stuff it some more, take her to Loew, and there clean and widen it at the same time. But he was just as surprised as I was.

Now that I have thought it through, nothing remains but heartfelt compassion for my child of sorrows. I really should not have tormented you here, but I had every reason to entrust you with such a matter and more. You did it as well as one can do it. The tearing off of the iodoform gauze remains one of those accidents that happen to the most fortunate and circumspect of surgeons, as you know from the business with your little sister-in-law's broken adenotome and the anesthesia. Gersuny said that he had had a similar experience and therefore he is using iodoform wicks instead of gauze (you will remember your own case). Of course, no one is blaming you, nor would I know why they should. And I only hope that you will arrive as quickly as I did at feeling sympathy and rest assured that it was not necessary for me to reaffirm my trust in you once again. I only want to add that for a day I shied away from letting you know about it; then I began to feel ashamed, and here is the letter.

Beside this, other news really pales. As far as my condition is concerned, you are certainly quite right; strangely enough it is far easier for me to be productive when I have mild troubles of this kind. So now I am writing page after page of "The Therapy of Hysteria."

An odd idea of a different sort I shall entrust to you only after we have Eckstein off our minds. Here influenze is quite widespread, but not very intense. Your mama is not yet quite well either.

I shall soon write to you again and, above all, report in detail on Emma E. Scientifically, otherwise quite desolate. Influenza has been eating up the practice of specialists. That it really took its toll of you I know. Just allow yourself a proper rest afterward. I am determined to do the same if it should strike me.

With cordial greetings,

Vienna, April 11, 1895

Dearest Wilhelm,

Gloomy times, unbelievably gloomy. Above all, this Eckstein affair, which is rapidly moving toward a bad ending. Last time I reported to you that Gussenbauer inspected the cavity under anesthesia, palpated it, and declared it to be satisfactory. We had high hopes, and the patient was gradually recovering. Eight days later she began to bleed, with the packing in place, something that had not been the case previously. She was immediately packed again; the bleeding was minimal. Two days later renewed bleeding, again with the packing in place, and by then overabundantly. New packing, renewed perplexity. Yesterday Rosanes wanted to examine the cavity again; by chance, a new hypothesis about the source of the bleeding during the first operation (yours) was suggested by Weil. As soon as the packing was partly removed, there was a new, life-threatening hemorrhage which I witnessed. It did not spurt, it surged. Something like a fluid level rising extraordinarily rapidly, and then overflowing everything. It must have been a large vessel, but which one and from where? Of course, nothing could be seen and it was a relief to have the packing back in again. Add to this the pain, the morphine, the demoralization caused by the obvious medical helplessness, and the tinge of danger, and you will be able to picture the state the poor girl is in. We do not know what to do. Rosanes is opposed to the ligation of the carotid that was recommended. The danger that she will run a fever also is not far off. I am really very shaken to think that such a mishap could have arisen from an operation that was purported to be harmless.

I do not know whether I should hold this depressing business exclusively responsible for the fact that the condition of my heart remains so much below par for this year of illness. After an interruption of several months, I started to take strophantus again so as to have a less disgraceful pulse, something that so far has failed to materialize. Mood and strength are very a bas. I plan to spend Easter with Rie on the Semmering; there I shall perhaps pick up the pieces again.

My scientific work is proceeding, more or less; that is, nothing new, no ideas and no observations. As far as my psychological research is concerned, I have worked myself to the bone and shall now let it rest. Only the book I am writing with Breuer is progressing; it will be ready in about three weeks. The only new thing, the analysis of Mr. F. who perspires in the theater, is quite incomprehensible if I do not elucidate it. I hope I still have a chance to read it to you myself.

Thus far nothing at all has been said about you. I gather you have just begun to feel well again. Just keep it up for a long time now! Your head is well, after all. That has been accomplished; may I now really believe it?

With the most cordial greetings to you and your dear wife,



April 20, 1895

Dearest Wilhelm,

. . . I did of course immediately inform Rosanes of your recommendations concerning E. . . .

. . . For me you remain the physician, the type of man into whose hands one confidently puts one's life and that of one's family. . . .

With regard to my own ailment, I would like you to continue to be right. -- that the nose may have a large share in it and the heart a small one. (p. 125)

May 25, 1895

I felt like shouting when I got your news. If you have really solved the problem of conception, just make up your mind immediately which kind of marble is most likely to meet with your approval. For me you are few months too late, but perhaps it can be used next year. ...

Breuer, in contrast, is not recognizable. One cannot help but like him again without any reservations. He has accepted the whole of your nose (theory) and is promoting an enormous reputation for you in Vienna, just as he has become fully converted to my theory of sexuality. He is indeed an entirely different fellow from the one we were accustomed to.

Now, to my ideas about the nose. I discharged exceedingly ample amounts of pus and all the while felt splendid; now the secretion has dried up and I am still feeling very well. I propose the following to you: it is neither the congestion nor the flow of pus that determines the distant symptoms. ...

Emma E. is finally doing very well and I have succeded in once more alleviating her weakness in walking, which also set in again.
(Masson, 1985, pp. 129-130)

June 12, 1895

reporting Mrs. R.'s nasal case, Midas ref:

My dear Wilhem,

Your kind-heartedness is one of the reasons I love you. initially, it seemed to me that you had broken off contact because of my remarks about the mechanism of the symptoms distant from the nose, and I did not deem this improbable. Now you surprise me with a discussion that takes those ideas seriously!


You are right that I am overflowing with new ideas, theoretical ones as well. My theories on defense have made an important advance of which I shall give you an account next time. Even the psychological construction behaves as if it would come together, which gives me immense pleasure. Reporting on it now would be like sending a six-month fetus of a girl to a ball. ...
I am feeling I to IIa. I need a lot of cocaine. Also, I have started smoking again, moderately, in the last two to three weeks, since the nasal conviction [that his cardiac symptoms were of nasal origin, Masson suggests] has become evident to me. I have not observed any ensuing disadvantage. If you again prohibit it, I must give it up again. But do consider whether you can do this if it is only intolerance and not etiology [!?].
I began it again because I constantly missed it (after fourteen months of abstinence) and because I must treat this psychic fellow [ ] well or he won't work for me. I demand a great deal of him. The torment, most of the time, is superhuman. (Masson, 1985, pp. 131-132).

June 17, 1895

My dear,
I grumble, will again be sorely deprived, but cannot do other than obey you. But I have the hope that after careful reconsideration you will again permit it to me. ...
My family is doing splendidly in Bellevue and all very well. (p. 132)

June 22, 1895

F congratulates Fliess on news of Ida's pregnancy (with Robert).

Hail, cherished Wilhelm!

May your dear, good, and strong wife, in whom hope and fulfillment thus far have always met, become the darling of fate as a mother as well. Martha was joyous as I have rarely seen her. I humbly ask to have my name entered as a poor uncle. ...

July 13, 1895

Objectively, I feel very well headwise; nose- and heartwise, only moderately well. I shall certainly come in August/September, as soon as you give the signal. Avid for all your novis; I myself shall come laden with rudiments and germinating embryos. My wife and children are quote well. (p. 133)

July 24, 1895

The morning after "Irma"

Daimonie [demon], why don't you write? How are you? Don't you care at all any more about what I am doing? What is happening to the nose, menstruation, labor pains, neuroses, wour dear wife, and the budding little one? True, this year I am ill and must come to you; what will happen if by chance both of us remain healthy for a whole year? are we friends only in misfortune? Or do we also want to share the experiences of calm with each other. Where will you spend the month of August? We are living very contentedly in Himmel.

October 20, 1895

Now listen to this. During an industrious night last week, when I was suffering from that degree of pain which brings about the optimal degree of pain for my mental activities, the barriers suddenly lifted, the veils dropped, and everything became transparent--from the details of the neuroses to the determinants of consciousness. Everything seemed to fall into place, the cogs meshed, I had the impression that the thing now really was a machine that shortly would function on its own (Masson, 1985, p. 146). ...
You will not have any objection to my calling my next son Wilhelm! If he turns out to be a girl, she will be called Anna (p. 147).

November 8, 1895

Recently at the College of Physicians Breuer gave a big speech in my honor and introduced himself as a converted adherent to the sexual etiology. When I thanked him for this in private, he spoiled my pleasure by saying, "But all the same, I don't believe it." Do you understand this? I don't. (p. 151)

January 1, 1896

Freud congratulates Fliess in a moving first paragraph on the birth of Robert.

The thought that both of us are occupied with the same work is the most enjoyable one I can concieve at present. I see how, via the detour of medical practice, you are reaching your first ideal of understanding human beings as a physiologist, just as I most secretly nourish the hope of arriving, via these same paths, at my initial goal of philosophy. For that is what I wanted originally, when it was not yet at all clear to me to what end I was in the world. (p. 159)

March 1, 1896

... it occurs to me that the limits of repression in my theory of neurosesóthat is to say, the time after which sexual experiences no longer have a posthumous but an actual effectócoincide with the second dentition. It is only now that I dare to understand my anxiety neurosis: the menstrual period as its physiological model; the anxiety neurosis itself as an intoxication, for which an organic process must furnish the physiological foundation. The unknown organ (the thyroid or whatever it may be) probably will not, I hope, remain unknown to you for long. I was greatly delighted with the male menopause as well; in my "Anxiety Neurosis" I boldly anticipated it as the last condition [giving rise to anxiety neurosis] in men. (Masson, 1985, p. 174)

May 4, 1896

I am working on psychology, vigorously and in solitude; I cannot yet send you anything that is halfway finished, no matter how much I reduce my standards concerning what is finished. I believe more and more firmly in the chemical neurone theory; I started with assumptions similar to those you described, but now I am stuck after I ruined my head with it yesterday.
I feel more certain about consciousness and must now make an attempt to deal with this most difficult of all things in my lectures on hysteria. On Saturday I lectured on dream interpretation to the youths of the Jewish academic reading circle; someday you will hear about what it contained; right now I am in no mood for presentations.
I am as isolated as you would wish me to be. Word was given out to abandon me, for a void is forming all around me. So far I bear it with equanimity. I find it more troublesome that this year for the first time my consulting room is empty, that for weeks on end I see no new faces, cannot begin any new treatments, and that none of the old ones are completed. Things are so difficult and trying that it requires, on the whole, a strong constitution to deal with them.
As for Eckstein -- I am taking notes on her history so that I can send it to you -- so far I know only that she bled out of longing. (pp. 185-186).

Vienna, May 30, 1896

Dear Wilhelm

As the fruit of some tormenting reflections, I send you the following solution to the etiology of the psychoneuroses, which still awaits confirmation from individual analyses.

Four periods of life are to be distinguished:








Up to 4 years

Up to 8


Up to 14


Up to x

A and B from about 8 to 10 and 13 to 17) are the transitional periods, during which repression for the most part occurs.

The arousal in a later epoch of a sexual memory from an earlier one produces a surplus of sexuality in the psyche, which operates as an inhibitor of thought and gives the memory and its consequences an obsessive character -- inhibitability.

The period Ia has the characteristic of being untranslated, so that the arousal of a Ia sexual scene leads, not to psychic consequences, but to realizations.

(Masson, 1985, pp. 187-188)

September 29, 1896

. . .
Today I learned that a colleague at the university declined to have me as a consultant, with the explanation that I could not be taken seriously; but I have been so fortified by my vacation that I felt nothing at all. Two months ago it would have made me miserable for two days. I have taken the wife of my friend Q. into treatment and it is a sheer joy to see once again how everything fits and tallies in hysteria.
. . .
My father seems to be on his deathbed; he is at times confused and is steadily shriveling up, moving toward pneumonia and a fateful date.

October 9, 1896

You know that I do not laugh at fantasies such as those about historical periods, and I do not because I see no reason for it. There is something to these ideas; it is the symbolic presentation of unknown realities with which they have something in common.
I am now very satisfied with my two cases; another year or two and I can express the matter in formulas that can be told to everyone.

October 26, 1896

announcing Jacob's death:

Yesterday we buried the old man, who died during the night of October 23. He bore himself bravely to the end, just like the altogether unusual man he had been. At the end he must have had meningeal hemorrhages, soporous attacks with unexplained fever, hyperesthesia, and spasms from which he would then awake free of fever. The last attack was followed by pulmonary edema and quite an easy death. All of it happened during my critical period, and I am really quite down because of it.

Next time I shall write more and in greater detail; incidentally, the cocaine brush has been completely put aside.

I learned only yesterday that your birthday is October 24.

I hope Martha is allowing herself to spend several nice days with you.

Sigm. (Masson, 1985, p. 201)

November 2, 1896

This letter acknowledges Fliess' of condolence on Jacob Freudís death.

By one of those dark pathways behind the official consciousness the old man's death has affected me deeply. I valued him highly, understood him very well, and with his peculiar mixture of deep wisdom and fantastic lightheartedness he had a significant effect on my life [ ]. By the time he died, his life had long been over, but in [my] inner self the whole past has been awakened by this event.

I now feel quite uprooted.

Otherwise, I am writing about infantile paralyses (Pegasus yoked ) and am enjoying my four cases and especially look forward to the prospect of talking to you for several hours. Lonely, that is understood. Perhaps I shall tell you a few small wild things in return for your marvellous ideas and findings. Less enjoyable is the state of my practice, on which my mood always remains dependent. With heart and nose I am satisfied again.

Recently I heard the first reaction to my incursion into psychoatry. From it I quote: "Gruesome, horrible, old wives' psychiatry.” That was Rieger in Wurzburg. And, of all things, about paranoia, which has become so transparent!

Your book is still keeping us waiting. Wernicke recently referred a patient to me, a lieutenant who is in the officers' hospital.

I must tell you about a nice dream I had the night after the funeral. I was in a place where I read a sign:

You are requested
to close the eyes.

I immediately recognized the location as the barbershop I visit every day. On the day of the funeral I was kept waiting and therefore arrived a little late at trhe house of mourning. At that time my family was displeased with me because I had arranged for the funeral to be quiet and simple, which they later agreed was quite justified. They were also somewhat offended by my lateness. The sentence on the sign has a double meaning: one should do oneÃs duty to the dead (an apology as though I had not done it and were in need of leniency), and the actual duty itself. The dream thus stems from the inclination to self-reproach that regularly sets in among the survivors (p. 202).

December 4, 1896

Dear Wilhelm,
My bad time has run its course in typical fashion; I am fully occupied, with every half-hour taken, and am not in the least interested in life after death [!?]. I am dealing with something that cements your work to mine, places my structure on your base, but I have the feeling that I should not yet write about it. A bit of it will be ready in a few days -- naturally, only for you. I am curious what you will say. I am also curious to hear about your lecture and how it was received. I am so isolated here that I hear nothing about your book.

Shamefully, I must renege on one promise. Deuticke and colleagues could not get hold of the Napoleon, and I did not know a more precise title. I do not want to delay you, and ask your permission to substitute something else for it.
Your cousin, Miss G. de B., arrived and seems to have been well prepared because she is very willing. Could you perhaps unobtrusively find out from Ida who else in the family has had a speech defect such as stuttering? The abstinance does me good; I oscillate between one and four [cigars] a day. Essentially I am well, because plenty of work and newly arising possibilities of resolving hysteria satisfy my inner unrest.
Our life has been very comfortable since the new living arrangements [?]. Ida's tables are of great service to me. [I wonder] whether you will approve of my deriving "Ida" from "idea"?

Otherwise the world is full of wild things; stupid ones as well. The latter, however, usually are people. The first things about my work that I can disclose to you are the mottoes.

  • The psychology of hysteria will be preceded by the proud words, Introite et hic dii sunt "Enter -- for here too are gods." Aristotle, De partibus animalium ;
  • the chapter on summation by: Sie treiben's toll, ich furcht es breche Nicht yeden Wochenschluss macht Gott die Zeche
  • the symptom-formation by: Flectere si nequeo superos Acheronta movebo ["If I cannot bend the higher powers I will move the infernal regions." Virgil, Aeneid VII, 312];
  • and resisitance by: Mach es kurz! Am jungsten Tag ist's doch nur ein ------ ["Cut it short! On doomsday it won't be worth a ----" cf. Schonau, 1968].

I cordially greet you and your little family and remain eager for rerum novarum [news] about family and science. (Masson, 1985, pp. 204-205)


January 3, 1897

The piece for Nothnagel should be ready in fourteen days. I can also give you some news about G. de B. Your diagnosis was absolutely correct. Herewith the circumstantial evidence:

As a child she suffered from anxiety, At age 8-10 fluor albus (white discharge). As a child she had a painful sensation in the vagina when she beat her little sister. She has the same sensation today when she reads and hears about horrors, cruelties. This youngest sister is the only one who, like herself, loves the father and also suffers from the same illness.A conspicuous tic; she forms [her lips into] a snout (from sucking).

She is suffering from eczema around her mouth and from lesions that do not heal in the corners of her mouth. During the night her saliva periodically accumulates, after which the lesions appear. (Once before I traced back entirely analogous observations to sucking on the penis.)

In childhood (12 years) her speech inhibitions appeared for the first time when, with a full mouth, she was fleeing from a woman teacher.

Her father has a similarly explosive speech, as though his mouth were full.

Habemus papam.

When I thrust the explanation at her, she was at first won over; then she committed the folly of questioning the old man himself, who at the very first intimation exclaimed indignantly, "Are you implying that I was the one?" and swore a holy oath to his innocence.

She is now in the throes of the most vehement resistance, claiming to believe him, but attests to her identification with him by having become dishonest and swearing false oaths. I have threatened to send her away and in the process convinced myself that she has already gained a good deal of certainty which she is reluctant to acknowledge.

She has never felt as well as the day when I made the disclosure to her. In order to facilitate

the work, I am hoping she will feel miserable again.

The pain in her leg appears to have come from her mother.

At present I am looking forward to the solution of a case that simultaneously affords insight into two psychoses, that of the ill seducer and that of the woman seduced by the patient, who fell ill later. The case also is of organological interest, as you will see (Oral sexual organs.) (pp. 220-221)

January 17, 1897

What would you say, by the way, if I told you that all of my brand-new prehistory of hysteria is already known and was published a hundred times over, though several centuries ago? Do you remember that I always said that the medieval theory of possession held by our ecclesiastical courts was identical with our theory of a foreign body and the splitting of consciousness? But why did the devil who took possession of the poor things invariably abuse them sexually and in a loathsome manner? Why are their confessions under torture so like the communications made by my patients in psychic treatment? Sometime soon I must delve into the literature on this subject [cf. next letter, re ordering the Malleus Maleficarum.] Incidentally, the cruelties make it possible to understand some symptoms of hysteria that until now have been obscure. The pins which make their appearances in the oddest ways; the sewing needles on account of which the poor things let their breasts be mutilated and which are not visible by X-ray, though they can no doubt be found in their seduction stories! Eckstein has a scene [that is, remembers] where the diabolus sticks needles into her fingers and then places a candy on each drop of blood. As far as the blood is concerned, you are completely without blame! [cf. 08 Mar 95] (Masson, 1985, p. 224)

January 24, 1897

The early period before the age of 1 1/2 years is becoming even more significant. I am inclined to distinguish several periods even within it. Thus I was able to trace back, with certainty, a hysteria that developed in the context of a periodic mild depression to a seduction, which occurred for the first time at 11 months and [I could] hear again the words that were exchanged between the two adults at that time! It is as though it comes from a phonograph. The temporal determination of epilepsy [hysterical] and hysterical psychosis therefore lies further back. But there also is a psychotic feature in the periodicity of the mild depression.

The idea of bringing in witches is gaining strength. I think it is also appropriate. Details are beginning to abound. Their "flying" is explained; the broomstick they ride is probably the great Lord Penis. The secret gatherings, with dancing and entertainment, can be seen any day in the streets where children play. I read one day that the gold the devil gives his victims regularly turns into excrement, and the next day Mr. E., who reports his nurse had money deleria, suddenly told me (by way of CagliostroóalchemistóDukatenscheisser [one who defecates ducats]) that Louise's money always was excrement. So in the witch stories it is merely transformed back into the substance from which it arose. ...

In hysteria I recognize the pater in the high demands made in love, in the humility in relation to the lover, or in the inability to marry because of unfulfilled ideals. The reason for this is, of course, the height from which the father lowers himself to the chid. Compare this with paranoia, the combination of delusions of grandeur and fictions of an alienation of parentage. This is the reverse of the coin.

At the same time I am becoming unsure about a conjecture I have hitherto entertained that the choice of neurosis is determined by the period in which it originates; it seems rather to be fixed in earliest childhood. But the decision keeps on oscillating between the period in which it originated and the period in which repression occurs (which is what I presently prefer). (Masson, 1985, pp. 226-228)

February 8, 1897

IX, Bergasse

Dear Wilhelm,

Breuer, whom they call the good one, cannot let any opportunity go by when there is a chance of spoiling the most harmless state of contentment. He received my book and thereupon paid a visit to my wife to ask her how the publisher may have reacted to the unanticipated size of this work. ...

That I am the "nobody" in Vienna who believes in your series you undoubtedly know. Brother-in-law Oscar makes very strange compromises between the claims made on him by his relatives and by acquaintances. He is, in equal measure, admiring and rejecting because the authority sitting in judgment in his intellect is strangely impartial. Thus, he is now enthusiastic about my addition of periodic mental in series of 13. The truth is that I have long given up the attempt, never intended seriously, to play on your flute. I would rather have you present a concert to me at Easter.

I.K. with the dyspnoea (?!?) is not my patient. If you knew Z.v.K., you would not doubt that this woman could have been my teacher. You probably saw a sister-in-law of hers.

I must correct one item I reported to you recently. When I called on Nothnagel a short time ago to present him with a complimentary copy, he told me spontaneously and, for the time being as a secret, that he and Krafft-Ebing would propose me for a professorship (as well as Frankl-Hochwart) and he showed me the document they had signed. He added that if the board did not go along, the two of them on their own would submit the proposal to the ministry. "Being a sensible man," he added, "you are aware of the further difficulties. It may achieve no more than bring up your name for discussion. We all know how little likelihood there is that the minister will accept the proposal."

February 11, 1897

Hysterical cold shivers = being taken out of a warm bed. Hysterical headache with sensations of pressure on the top of the head, temples, and so forth, is characteristic of the scenes where the head is held still for the purpose of actions in the mouth. (Later reluctance at photographer's, who holds the head in a clamp.)

Unfortunately, my own father was one of these perverts and is responsible for the hysteria of my brother (all of whose symptoms are identifications) and those of several younger sisters. The frequency of this circumstance often makes me wonder.
In any case, I shall bring a lot of strange material with me to Prague. (Masson, 1985, pp. 230-231)

Vienna, April 28, 1897

Dear Wilhelm,
Last night I had a dream concerning you. It was a telegraph message about your whereabouts:


"(Venice) Casa SECERNO"


The way I have writen it out shows what seemed obscure and what seemed multiple. "Secerno" was clearest. My feeling about it was annoyance that you had not gone to the place I had recommended to you: Casa Kirsch.

Vienna, May 2, 1897

Dear Wilhelm,

In the interim received postcard and telegram and regret that the congress did not bring you what it brought meópleasure and renewal. Since then I have been in a continual euphoria and have been working like a young man. As you will gather from the enclosure [Draft L], my acquisitions are becoming consolidated. In the first place, I have gained a sure inkling of the structure of hysteria. Everything goes back to the reproduction of scenes. Some can be obtained directly, others by way of fantasies set up in front of them. The fantasies stem from things that have been heard but understood subsequently, and all their material is of course genuine. They are protective structures, sublimations of the facts, embellishments of them, and at the same time serve for self-relief. Their accidental origin is perhaps from masturbation fantasies. A second important piece of insight tells me that the psychic structures which, in hysteria, are affected by repression are not in reality memories -- since no one indulges in memory activity without a motive -- but impulses that derive from primal scenes (Masson, 1985, pp. 238-239).

May 25, 1897

I am sending you herewith the "List of All the Beaties..."

Draft M

July 7, 1897

I know that at the moment I am useless as a correspondent, with no right to any claims, but it was not always so and it will not remain so. I still do not know what has been happening to me. Something from the deepest depths of my own neurosis set itself against any advance in the understanding of the neuroses, and you have somehow been involved in it. For my writing paralysis seems to me designed to inhibit our communication. ...

I see that the defense against memories does not prevent their giving rise to higher psychic structures, which persist for a while and then are themselves subjected to defense. This, however, is a most highly specific kindóprecisely as in dreams, which contain in nuce [in a nutshell] the psychology of the neuroses in general. What we are faced with are falsifications of memory and fantasies -- the latter relating to the past or future. I know roughly the rules in accordance with which these structures are put together and the reasons why they are stronger than genuine memories, and I have thus learned new things about the characteristics of the processes in the Ucs. Alongside these, perverse impulses arise; and when, as later becomes necessary, these fantasies and impulses are repressed, the higher determinations of the symptoms already following from the memories make their appearance, as well as new motives for adhering to the illness. I am learning to recognize a few typical cases of how these fantasies and impulses are put together and a few typical determinants for the initiation of reression against them. This knowledge is not yet complete. My technique is beginning to prefer a particular method as being the natural one.

The most certain thing seems to me to be explanation of dreams, but it is surrounded by a vast number of obstinate riddles. The organological side awaits your [solution]: I have made no advances there.

There is an interesting dream of wandering about among atrangers, totally or half undressed and with feelings of shame and anxiety. Oddly enough, it is the rule that people do not notice it -- for which we must thank wish fulfillment. This dream material, which goes back to exhibiting in childhood, had been misunderstood and worked over didactically in a well-known fairy tale. (The king's imaginary clothes -- "Talisman.") The ego habitually misinterprets other dreams in the same way. (pp. 254-255)

September 21, 1897

Dear Wilhelm,

Here I am again, since yesterday morning, refreshed, cheerful, impoverished, at present without work, and having settled in again, I am writing to you first.

And now I want to confide in you immediately the great secret that has been slowly dawning on me in the last few months. I no longer believe in my neurotica [theory of the neuroses]. This is probably not intelligible without an explanation; after all, you yourself found credible what I was able to tell you. So I will begin historically [and tell you] where the reasons for disbelief came from. The continual disappointment in my efforts to bring a single analysis to a real conclusion; the running away of people who for a period of time had been most gripped [by analysis]; the absence of the complete successes on which I had counted; the possibility of explaining to myself the partial successes in other ways, in the usual fashion -- this was the first group. Then the surprise that in all cases, the father, not excluding my own, had to be accused of being perverse -- the realization of the unexpected frequency of hysteria, with precisely the same conditions prevailing in each, whereas surely such widespread perversions against children are not very probable. The [incidence] of perversion would have to be immeasurably more frequent than the [resulting] hysteria because the illness, after all, occurs only where there has been an accumulation of events and there is a contributory factor that weakens the defense. Then, third, the certain insight that there are no indications of reality in the unconscious, so that one cannot distinguish between truth and fiction that has been cathected with affect. (Accordingly, there would remain the solution that the sexual fantasy invariably seizes upon the theme of the parents.) Fourth, the consideration that in the most deep-reaching psychosis the unconscious memory does not break through, so that the secret of childhood experiences is not disclosed even in the most confused delirium. If one thus sees that the unconscious never overcomes the resistance of the conscious, the expectation that in treatment the opposite is bound to happen, to the point where the unconscious is completely tamed by the conscious, also diminishes.

I was so far influenced [by this] that I was ready to give up two things: the complete resolution of a neurosis and the certain knowledge of its etiology in childhood. Now I have no idea of where I stand because I have not succeeded in gaining a theoretical understanding of repression and its interplay of forces. It seems once again arguable that only later experiences give the impetus to fantasies, which [then] hark back to childhood, and with this the factor of a hereditary disposition regains a sphere of influence from which I had made it my task to dislodge it -- in the interest of illuminating neurosis.

If I were depressed, confused, exhausted, such doubts would surely have to be interpreted as signs of weakness. Since I am in an opposite state, I must recognize them as the result of honest and vigorous intellectual work and must be proud that after going so deep I am still capable of such criticism. Can it be that this doubt merely represents an episode in the advance toward further insight?

It is strange, too, that no feeling of shame appeared -- for which, after all, there could well be occasion. Of course I shall not tell it in Dan, or speak of in Askelon, in the land of the Philistines, but in your eyes and my own, I have more the feeling of a victory than defeat (which is surely not right).

How nice that your letter has arrived just now! It induces me to advance a proposal with which I had intended to close. If during this lazy period I were to go to the Northwest Station on Saturday evening, I could be with you at noon on Sunday and then travel back the next night. Can you clear that day for an idyll for the two of us, interrupted by an idyll for three and three and a half [of us]? That is what I wanted to ask. Or do you have a dear guest in the house or something urgent to do elsewhere? Or, if I have to leave for home the same evening, which would then not be worthwhile, do the same conditions obtain if I go straight to the Northwest Station on Friday evening and stay with you one and a half days? I mean this week, of course.

Now to continue my letter. I vary Hamlet's saying, "To be in readiness": to be cheerful is everything! I could indeed feel quite discontent. The expectation of eternal fame was so beautiful, as was that of certain wealth, complete independence, travels, and lifting the children above the severe worries that robbed me of my youth. Everything depended upon whether or not hysteria would come out right. Now I can once again remain quiet and modest, go on worrying and saving. A little story from my collection occurs to me: "Rebecca, take off your gown; you are no longer a bride." In spite of all this, I am in very good spirits and content that you feel a need to see me again similar to mine to see you.

There remains one small anxiety. What can I still understand of your matters? I am certainly incapable of critically evaluating them; I shall hardly be in a position to comprehend them, and the doubt that then sets in is not the product of intellectual work, like my doubt about my own matters, but is the result of mental inadequacy. It is easier for you; you can survey everything I bring and criticize it vigorously.

I have to add one more thing. In this collapse of everything valuable, the psychological alone has remained untouched. The dream [book] stands entirely secure and my beginnings of the metapsychological work have only grown in my estimation. It is a pity that one cannot make a living, for instance, on dream interpretation!

Martha came back with me to Vienna. Minna and the children are staying in the country another week. They have all been exceedingly well.

My pupil, Dr. Gattel, is something of a disappointment. Very gifted and clever, he must nevertheless, owing to his own nervousness and several unfavorable character traits, be classified as unpalatable.

How all of you are and whatever else is happening between heaven and earth, I hope -- anticipating your reply -- to hear soon in person.

Cordially your

Sigm. (Masson, 1985, pp. 264-266)

October 3, 1897

There is still very little happening to me externally, but internally something very interesting. For the last four days my self-analysis, which I consider indispensible for the clarification of the whole problem, has continued in dreams and has presented me with the most valuable elucidations and clues. At certain points I have the feeling of being at the end, and so far I have always known where the next dream-night would continue. To put it in writing is more difficult than anything else for me; it also would take me too far afield. I can only indicate that the old man plays no active part in my case, but that no doubt I drew an inference from myself onto him; that in my case the "prime originator" was an ugly, elderly, but very clever woman, who told me a great deal about God Almightly and who instilled in me a high opinion of my own capacities; that later (between two and two and a half years) my libido toward matrem was awakened, namely, on the occasion of a journey with her from Leipzig to Vienna, during which we must have spent the night together and there must have been an opportunity of seeing her nudam (you inferred the consequences of this for your son long ago, as a remark revealed to me); that I greeted my one-year-younger brother (who died after a few months) with adverse wishes and genuine childhood jealousy; and that his death left the germ of [self-]reproaches in me. I have also long known the companion of my misdeeds between the ages of one and two years; it is my nephew, a year older than myself, who is now living in Manchester and who visited us in Vienna when I was fourteen years old. The two of us seem occasionally to have behaved cruelly to my niece, who was a year younger. This nephew and this younger brother have determined, then, what is neurotic, but also what is intense, in all my friendships [a prescient admission given the development of this friendship]. You yourself have seen my travel anxiety at its height.
I have not yet grasped anything at all of the scenes themselves at which lie at the bottom of the story. If they come [to light] and I succeed in resolving my own hysteria, then I shall be grateful to the old woman who provided me at such an early age with the means for living and going on living. As you can see, the old liking [?] is breaking through again today. I cannot convey to you any idea of the intellectual beauty of this work (Masson, 1985, pp. 268-269).

This seems a crucial letter: Freud here indicates he has exculpated Jacob, identified the real culprit, and located the first instance of Oedipal feeling for Amalia; and he adduces in the same sentence the jealousy/guilt complex underlying his constellation of character traits in friendship.

October 4, 1897

{enclosed with previous}

Impotence: as an infant and as therapist

The children arrived. The fine weather is gone. Today's dream has, under the strangest disguises, produced the following: she was my teacher in sexual matters and complained because I was clumsy and unable to do anything [cf. Rat Man's description of his governesses].
(Neurotic impotence always comes about in this way. The fear of not being able to do anything at all in school thus obtains its sexual substratum.) At the same time I saw the skull of a small animal and in the dream I thought "pig," but in the analysis I associated it with your wish two years ago that I might find, as Goethe once did, a skull on the Lido to enlighten me. But I did not find it. So [I was] a "little blockhead" [literally, a sheep's head]. The whole dream was full of the most mortifying allusions to my present impotence as a therapist [cf. 21 Sep 97 re failures to bring analyses to conclusion as sign of inadequacy of seduction theory]. Perhaps this is where the inclination to believe in the incurability of hysteria begins. Moreover, she washed me in reddish water in which she had previously washed herself. (The interpretation is not difficult [?]; I find nothing like this in the chain of my memories; so I regard it as a genuine ancient discovery.) And she made me steal zehners to give them to her. There is a long chain from these first silver zehners to the heap of paper ten-florin notes which I saw in the dream as Martha's weekly house-keeping money. The dream could be summed up as "bad treatment." Just as the old woman got money from me for her bad treatment, so today I get money for the bad treatment of my patients. ...
A harsh critic might say of all this that it was retrogressively fantasied instead of progressively determined [nach vorne]. The experimenta crucis must decide against him. The reddish water would indeed seem to be of that kind. Where do all patients get the horrible details which often are as remote from their experience [Erleben] as from their knowledge (Masson 1985, pp. 269-270)?

October 15, 1897
IX., Berggase 19

[in which Freud reports asking his mom about nursemaid Monica, and the one-eyed doctor; and discovers the secret of Oedipus, and of Hamlet "the hysteric"]

Dear Wilhelm,

My self-analysis is in fact the most essential thing I have at present and promises to become of the greatest value to me if it reaches its end. In the middle of it, it suddenly ceased for three days, during which I had the feeling of being tied up inside (which patients complain of so much), and I was really disconsolate until I found that these same three days (twenty-eight days ago) were the bearers of identical somatic phenomena. Actually only two bad days with a remission in between. From this one should draw the conclusion that the female period is not conducive to work. Punctually on the fourth day, it started again. Naturally, the pause also had another determinantóthe resistance to something surprisingly new. Since then I have been once again intensely preoccupied [with it], mentally fresh, though afflicted with all sorts of minor disturbances that come from the content of the analysis.

My practice, uncannily, still leaves me a great deal of free time. The whole thing is all the more valuable for my purposes, since I have succeeded in finding a few real points of reference for the story. I asked my mother whether she still remembered the nurse. "Of course," she said, "an elderly person, very clever, she was always carrying you off to some church; when you returned home you preached and told us all about God Almighty. During my confinement with Anna (two and a half years younger [cf. 03 Oct re Freud's age when seeing her nude]), it was discovered that she was a thief, and all the shiny new kreuzers and zehners and all the toys that had been given to you were found in her possesion. Your brother Philipp himself fetched the policeman; she then was given ten months in prison." Now look at how this confirms the conclusions of my dream interpretation. It was easy for me to explain the only possible mistake. I wrote to you that she induced me to steal zehners and give them to her. In truth, the dream meant that she stole them herself. For the dream picture was a memory of my taking money from the mother of a doctor -- that is, wrongfully. The correct interpretation is: I = she, and the mother of the doctor equals my mother. So far was I from knowing she was a thief that I made a wrong interpretation.

I also inquired about the doctor we had had in Freiberg because one dream concentrated a good deal of resentment on him. In the analysis of the dream figure behind which he was concealed, I also thought of a Professor von Kraus, my history teacher in high school. He did not seem to fit in at all, because my relationship with him was indifferent or even comfortable. My mother then told me that the doctor in my childhood had only one eye, and of all my teachers Professor Kraus was the only one with the same defect: The conclusive force of these coincidences might be weakened by the objection that on some occasion in my later childhood, I had heard that the nurse was a thief and then apparently had forgotten it until it finally emerged in the dream. I myself believe that that is so. But I have another, entirely irrefutable and amusing proof. I said to myself that if the old woman disappeared from my life so suddenly, it must be possible to demonstrate the impression this made on me. Where is it then? Thereupon a scene occurred to me which in the course of twenty-five years has occasionally emerged in my conscious memory without my understanding it. My mother was nowhere to be found; I was crying in despair. My brother Philipp (twenty years older than I) unlocked a wardrobe [Kasten) for me, knowing that my mother was not in it and that thereby he could not calm me down? Now I suddenly understand it. I had asked him to do it. When I missed my mother, I was afraid she had vanished from me, just as the old woman had a short time before. So I must have heard that the old woman had been locked up and therefore must have believed that my mother had been locked up too -- or rather, had been "boxed up" [eingekastelt] -- for my brother Philipp, who is now sixty-three years old, to this very day is still fond of using such puns. The fact that I turned to him in particular proves that I was well aware of his share in the disappearance of the nurse.

Since then I have got much further, but have not yet reached any real point of rest. It is so difficult and would carry us so far afield to communicate what I have not yet finished that I hope you will excuse me from it and content yourself with the knowledge of those elements that are certain. If the analysis fulfills what I expect of it, I shall work on it systematically and then put it before you. So far I have found nothing completely new, [just] all the complications to which I have become accustomed. It is by no means easy. Being totally honest with oneself is a good exercise. A single idea of general value dawned on me. I have found, in my own case too, [the phenomenon of] being in love with my mother and jealous of my father, and I now consider it a universal event in early childhood, even if not so early as in children who have been made hysterical. (Similar to the invention of parentage [family romance] in paranoia -- heroes, founders of religion). If this is so, we can understand the gripping power of Oedipus Rex, in spite of all the objections that reason raises against the presupposition of fate; and we can understand why the later "drama of fate" was bound to fail so miserably. Our feelings rise against any arbitrary individual compulsion, such as is presupposed in Die Ahnfrau and the like; but the Greek legend seizes upon a compulsion which everyone recognizes because he senses its existence within himself. Everyone in the audience was once a budding Oedipus in fantasy and each recoils in horror from the dream fulfillment here transplanted into reality, with the full quantity of repression which separates his infantile state from his present one.

Fleetingly the thought passed through my head that the same thing might be at the bottom of Hamlet as well. I am not thinking of Shakespeare's conscious intention, but believe, rather, that a real event stimulated the poet to his representation, in that his unconscious understood the unconscious of his hero. How does Hamlet the hysteric justify his words, "Thus conscience does make cowards of us all"? How does he explain his irresolution in avenging his father by the murder of his uncle -- the same man who sends his courtiers to their death without a scruple and who is positively precipitate in murdering Laertes? How better than through the torment he suffers from the obscure memory that he himself had contemplated the same deed against his father out of passion for his mother, and -- "use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?" His conscience is his unconscious sense of guilt. And is not his sexual alienation in his conversation with Ophelia typically hysterical? And his rejection of the instinct that seeks to beget children? And, finally, his transferral of the deed from his own father to Ophelia's? And does he not in the end, in the same marvelous way as my hysterical patients, bring down punishment on himself by suffering the same fate as his father of being poisoned by the same rival?

I have kept my interest focused so exclusively on the analysis that I have not yet even attempted to try out, instead of my hypothesis that in every instance repression starts from the feminine aspect and is directed against the male one, the opposite hypothesis proposed by you. I shall, however, tackle it sometime. Unfortunately I barely participate in your work and progress. In this one respect I am better of than you are. What I can tell you about mental frontiers [] of this world finds in you an understanding critic, and what you can tell me about its celestial frontiers [] evokes only unproductive amazement in me.

With cordial greetings to you, your dear wife, and my new nephew,


October 27, 1897

Dear Wilhelm,

It seems that I cannot "await" your answer. You certainly cannot offer the explanation for your silence that you have been whirled back with an elemental force to times when reading and writing were bothersome chores for you, as happened to me on Sunday when I wanted to celebrate your not-yet-fortieth birthday with a letter -- but I hope it was something just as harmless. As for myself, I have nothing to tell you about except analysis, which I think will be the most interesting thing about me for you as well. Business is hopelessly bad; in general, by the way, right up to the top of the profession, and so I live only for the "inner work." I am gripped and pulled through ancient times in quick association of thoughts; my moods change like the landscapes seen by a traveler from a train; and as the great poet, using his privilege to ennoble (sublimate), put it:

Und manche liebe Schatten steigen auf;
Gleich einer alten, halbverklungenen Sage,
Kommit erste Lieb' und Freundschaft mit herauf.

And also first fright and discord. Many a sad secret of life is here followed back to its first roots; many a pride and privilege are made aware of their humble origins. All of what I experienced with my patients, as a third [person] I find again here - days when I drag myself about dejected because I have understood nothing of the dream, of the fantasy, of the mood of the day; and then again days when a flash of lightning illuminates the interrelations and lets me understand the past as a preparation for the present. I am beginning to perceive in the determining factors large, general, framing motives, as I should like to call them, and other motives, fill-ins, which vary according to the individual's experiences. At the same time several, though not yet all, doubts about my conception of neruosis are being resolved. An idea about resistance has enabled me to put back on course all those cases of mine that had gone somewhat astray, so that they are now proceeding satisfactorily. Resistance, which finally brings the [analytic] work to a halt, is nothing other than the child's former character, the degenerative character, which developed or would have developed as a result of those experiences that one finds as a conscious memory in the so-called degenerative cases, but which here is overlaid by the development of repression. I dig it out by my work; it struggles; and the person who initially was such a good, noble human being becomes mean, untruthful, or obstinate, a malingerer - until I tell him so and thus make it possible for him to overcome this character. In this way resistance has become something actual and tangible to me, and I wish that instead of the concept of repression I already had what lies concealed behind it as well.

This infantile character develops during the period of "longing," after the child has been removed from sexual experiences. Longing is the main character trait of hysteria, just as actual anesthesia (even though only potential) is its main symptom. During this same period of longing fantasies are formed and masturbation is (regularly?) practiced, which then yields to repression. It if does not yield, then no hysteria develops either; the discharge of sexual excitation for the most part removes the possibility of hysteria. It has become clear to me that various compulsive movements represent a substitute for the discontinued movements of masturbation.

Enough for today; details another time when I have heard good and new things from you. That there is nothing wrong I fortunately know from Oscar and Melanie - who perhaps have already learned something new while I am writing, perhaps not yet.

With the most cordial greetings to you, wife, and child.


Vienna, November 14, 1897

Dear Wilhelm,

“It was on November 12,1897; the sun was precisely in the eastern quarter; Mercury and Venus were in conjunction—.” No, birth announcements no longer start like that. It was on November 12, a day dominated by a left-sided migraine, on the afternoon of which Martin sat down to write a new poem, on the evening of which Oli lost his second tooth, that, after the frightful labor pains of the last few weeks, I gave birth to a new piece of knowledge. Not entirely new, to tell the truth; it had repeatedly shown itself and withdrawn again; but this time it stayed and looked upon the light of day. Strangely enough, I have a presentiment of such events a good while beforehand. For instance, I wrote to you once in the summer that I was going to find the source of normal sexual repression (morality, shame, and so forth) and then for a long time failed to find it. Before the vacation trip I told you that the most important patient for me was myself; and then, after I came back from vacation, my self-analysis, of which there was at the time no sign, suddenly started.  A few weeks ago came my wish that repression might be replaced by my knowledge of the essential thing lying behind it; and that is what I am concerned with now.  I have often had a suspicion that something organic plays a part in repression; I was able once before to tell you that it was a question of the abandonment of former sexual zones, and I was able to add that I have been pleased at coming across a similar idea in Moll.  (Privately I concede priority in the idea to no one; in my case the notion was linked to the changed part played by sensations of smell: upright walking, nose raised from the ground, at the same time a number of formerly interesting sensations attached to the earth becoming repulsive -- by a process still unknown to me.)  (He turns up his nose = he regards himself as something particularly noble.)  Now, the zones which no longer produce a release of sexuality in normal and mature human beings must be the regions of the anus and of the mouth and throat.  This is to be understood in two ways: first, that seeing and imagining the zones no longer produce an exciting effect, and second, that the internal sensations arising from them make no contribution to the libido, the way the sexual organs proper do.  In animals these sexual zones continue in force in both respects; if this persists in human beings too, perversion results.  We must assume that in infancy the release of sexuality is not yet so much localized as it is later, so that the zones which are later abandoned (and perhaps the whole surface of the body as well) also instigate something that is analogous to the later release of sexuality.  The extinction of these initial sexual zones would have a counterpart in the atrophy of certain internal organs in the course of development.  A release of sexuality (as you know, I have in mind a kind of secretion which is rightly felt as the internal state of the libido) comes about, then, not only (1) through a peripheral stimulus upon the sexual organs, or (2) through the internal excitations arising from those organs, but also (3) from ideas -- that is, from memory traces -- therefore also by the path of deferred action.  (You are already familiar with this line of thought.  If a child's genitals have been irritated by someone, years afterward the memory of this will produce by deferred action a release of sexuality far stronger than at the time, because the decisive apparatus and the quota of secretion have increased in the meantime.)  Thus, there exists a non-neurotic deferred action occurring normally, and this generates compulsion.  (Or other memories operate ordinarily only because they have operated as experiences.)  Deferred action of this kind occurs also in connection with the memory of excitations of the abandoned sexual zones.  The outcome, however, is not a release of libido but of an unpleasure, and eternal sensation analogous to disgust in the case of an object.

To put it crudely, the memory actually stinks just as in the present day object stinks; and in the same manner as we turn away our sense organ (the head and nose in disgust, the preconscious and a sense of consciousness turn away from the memory.  This is repression.
Masson, 1895, pp. 279-280)

 Vienna, December 3, 1897

Dear Wilhelm,

Last night your dear wife, radiant as always, visited us, bringing the short-lived illusion of all of us being happily together and taking it away again with her departure. Such interruptions of loneliness have a salutary effect by reminding us how difficult renunciation actually is and how wrong one is to get used to it.

December 5. A critical day prevented me from continuing. In honor of the dear visitor, a part of an explanation occurred to me, which she was to have taken back to you. Probably it was not an auspicious day, however; the new idea which occurred to me in my euphoria retreated, no longer pleased me, and is now waiting to be born again. Every now and then ideas dart through my head which promise to realize everything, apparently connecting the normal and the pathological, the sexual and the psychological problem, and then they are gone again and I make no effort to hold onto them because I indeed know that neither their disappearance nor their appearance in consciousness is the real expression of their fate. On such quiet days as yesterday and today, however, everything in me is very quiet, terribly lonely. I cannot talk about it to anyone, nor can I force myself to work, deliberately and voluntarily as other workers can. I must wait until something stirs in me and I become aware of it. And so I often dream whole days away. – All of this is only introductory to our meeting – in Breslau, as Ida proposed, if the train connections suit you. You do know that what happened in Prague proved I was right. When we decided on Prague last time, dreams played a big part. You did not want to come to Prague, and you still know why, and at the same time I dreamed that I was in Rome, walking about the streets, and feeling surprised at the large number of German street and shop signs. I awoke and immediately thought: so this was Prague (where such German signs, as is well known, are called for). Thus the dream had fulfilled my wish to meet you in Rome rather than in Prague. My longing for Rome is, by the way, deeply neurotic. It is connected with my high school hero worship of the Semitic Hannibal, and this year in fact I did not reach Rome any more than he did from Lake Trasimeno. Since I have been studying the unconscious, I have become so interesting to myself. A pity that one always keeps one's mouth shut about the most intimate things.

Das Beste was Du weisst,
Darfst Du den Buben doch nicht sagen

Breslau also plays a role in my childhood memories. At the age of three years I passed through the station when we moved from Freiberg to Leipzig, and the gas flames which I saw for the first time reminded me of spirits burning in hell. I know a little of the connections. My travel anxiety, now overcome, also is bound up with this. Today I am not good for anything. All I can still do is "Feilen packen," as the late Dubois Raymond put it.

Farewell, and let me soon have a sensible answer to this meschugene letter.


Is it true that Robert has not been well? (pp. 284-285)

December 12, 1897

Dear Wilhelm,
Only someone who knows he is in the possession of the truth writes as you do. So I look forward with tremendous curiousity to Breslau and shall be all ears. I myself shall not bring anything along. I have gone through a desolate and foggy period and am now suffering painfully from {nasal} supperation and occlusion; I hardly ever feel fresh. If this does not improve, I shall ask you to cauterize me in Breslau.

Can you imagine what “endopsychic myths” are? The latest product of my mental labor. The dim inner perception of one’s own projected onto the outside and, characteristically, into the future and the beyond. Immortality, retribution, the entire beyond are all reflections of our psychic internal [world]. Meschugge? Psychomythology.
Let me recommend to you a book by Kleinpaul, Die Lebendigen und die Toten [The living and the dead].
May I ask you to bring for me to Breslau the dream examples I sent you (insofar as they are on separate sheets). Last week I gave a lecture on the dream to my Jewish society (an audience of laymen). It was received enthusiastically. Next Tuesday, the continuation.
My confidence in paternal etiology has risen greatly. Eckstein deliberately treated her patient in such a manner as not to give her the slightest hint of what would emerge from the unconscious and in the process obtained from her, among other things, the identical scenes with the father. Incidentally, the young girl is doing very well.

Vienna, December 22, 1897

Dear Wilhelm,

I am in good spirits again and eagerly looking forward to Breslau, that is, to you and your beautiful novelties about life and its dependence on the course of the world. I have always been curious about it, but until now found no one who could give me an answer. If there are now two people, one of whom can say what life is, and the other can say (almost) what the mind is -- and furthermore the two are very fond of each other -- it is only right that they should see and talk to each other more frequently. I only want to jot down quickly a few novelties, so that I myself will not have to tell anything and will be able to listen undisturbed.

The insight has dawned on me that masturbation is the one major habit, the "primal addiction," and it is only as a substitute and replacement for it that the other addictions -- to alcohol, morphine, tobacco and the like -- come into existence. The role played by this addiction in hysteria is enormous; and it is perhaps there that my major, still outstanding obstacle is to be found, wholly or in part. And here, of course, doubt arises about whether an addiction of this sort is curable, or whether analysis and therapy must come to a halt at this point and content themselves with transforming hysteria into neurasthenia.

With regard to obsessional neurosis, I have found confirmation that the locality at which the repressed breaks through is the word presentation and not the concept attached to it. (More precisely, the word memory.) Hence the most disparate things are readily united as an obsessional idea under a single word with multiple meanings. The tendency toward breaking through makes use of these ambiguous words as though it were killing several flies at one blow. Take, for example, the following case. A girl attending a sewing class that soon will come to an end is plagued by the obsessional idea: "No, you mustn't leave; you are not yet finished; you must still make more; you must still learn all sorts of things." Behind this lay childhood scenes in which she was put on the pot, did not want to remain there, and experienced the same compulsion: "You mustn't leave; you have not yet finished; you must still make more." The word "make" permits the later situation to be brought together with the infantile one. Obsessional ideas are frequently clothed in a characteristic verbal vagueness in order to permit such multiple deployment. If one takes a closer (conscious) look at it, one finds alongside it the expression "You must still learn more," which perhaps later becomes the fixed obsessional idea and arises through a mistaken interpretation of this kind on the part of the conscious.

All this is not entirely arbitrary. The word "make" has itself undergone an analogous transformation in meaning. An old fantasy of mine, which I would like to recommend to your linguistic sagacity, deals with the derivation of our verbs from such originally coproerotic terms.

I can scarcely detail for you all the things that resolve themselves into--excrement for me (a new Midas!). It fits in completely with the theory of verbal stinking. Above all, money itself. I believe this proceeds via the word "dirty" for "miserly." In the same way, everything related to birth, miscarriage, [menstrual] period goes back to the toilet via the word Abort [toilet] (Abortus [abortion]). This is really wild, but is entirely analogous to the process by which words take on a transferred meaning as soon as new concepts requiring a designation appear.

The intrinsic authenticity of infantile trauma is borne out by the following little incident which the patient claims to have observed as a three-year-old child. She goes into a dark room where her mother is carrying on [ihre Zustande abmacht] and eavesdrops. She has good reasons for identifiying herself with this mother. The father belongs to the category of men who stab women, for whom bloody injuries are an erotic need. When she was two years old he brutally deflowered her and infected her with his gonorrhea, as a consequence of which she became ill and her life was endangered by the loss of blood and vaginitis. The mother now stands in the room and shouts: "Rotten criminal, what do you want from me? I will have no part of that. Just whom do you think you have in front of you?" Then she tears the clothes from her body with one hand, while with the other hand she presses them against it, which creates a very peculiar impression. Then she stares at a certain spot in the room, her face contorted by rage, covers her genitals with one hand and pushes something away with the other. Then she raises both hands, claws at the air and bites it. Shouting and cursing, she bends over far backward, again covers her genitals with her hand, whereupon she falls over foreward, so that her head almost touches the floor; finally she quietly falls over backward onto the floor. Afterward she wrings her hands, sits down in a corner, and with her features contorted with pain she weeps.

For the child the most conspicuous phase is when the mother, standing up, is bent over foreward. She sees that the mother keeps her toes strongly turned inward!

When the girl was six to seven months (!!) old, her mother was lying in bed, bleeding nearly to death from an injury inflicted by the father. At the age of sixteen she again saw her mother bleeding from the uterus (carcinoma), which brought on the beginning of her neurosis. The latter breaks out a year later when she hears about a hemorrhoid operation. Can one doubt that the father forces the mother to submit to anal intercourse? Can one not recognize in the mother's attack the separate phases of this assault: first the attempt to get at her from the front; then pressing her down from the back and penetrating between her legs, which forced her to turn her feet inward. Finally, how does the patient know that in attacks one usually enacts both persons (self-injury, self-murder), as occurred here in that the woman tears off her clothes with one hand, like the assailant, and with the other holds onto them, as she herself did at the time?

Have you ever seen a foreign newspaper which passed Russian censorship at the frontier? Words, whole clauses and sentences are blocked out so that the rest becomes unintelligible. A Russian censorship of that kind comes about in psychoses and produces the apparently meaningless deleria.

A new motto: "What has been done to you, poor child?"

Enough of my smut.
See you soon.

I shall leave Saturday at eight o'clock as planned.
(Masson, 1985, p. 287-289)

January 4, 1898

It is of great interest to me that you are so affected by my still negative attitude to your interpretation of left-handedness. I shall try to be objective, for I know how difficult it is.
I had the impression, furthermore, that you considered me to be partially left-handed; if so, you would tell me, since there is nothing in this bit of self-knowledge that might hurt me. It is your doing if you still do not know every intimate detail about me; you have surely known me long enough. Well, then, I am not aware of any preference for the left hand, either at present or in my childhood; rather I could say that years ago I had two left hands. (p. 292)

February 9, 1898

A rumor has it that we will be invested with the title of professor at the emporer's jubilee on December 2. I do not believe it, but had a delightful dream about it, which unfortunatley cannot be published because its background, its second meaning, shifts back and forth between my nurse [my mother] and my wife and one cannot really subject one's wife to public reproaches of this sort as a reward for all her labor and toil. Quite generally, the best you know, and so on.

March 10, 1898

Dear Wilhelm,

Your sleepiness now explains to me my own simultaneous state.  Our protoplasm has worked its way through the same critical period.  How nice it would be if this close harmony between us were a total one; I would always know how you are and would never expect letters without disappointment.  I hope your Kück has correctly predicted the date on which your Ida can get up; otherwise your Easter trip will be in doubt; I was pleased to see you repeat that it was certain.  On the very same day your mother and Marie happened to visit us; but the only one in the family who is flourishing unquestionably is Melanie.  I see very little of Oscar (my O.); he seems to sense that he is becoming more and more estranged from me.  By now he has no doubt taken the small step that kept him from being a complete philistine.

Ad vocem Kück [as to your vision]: it was no small feat on your part to see the dream book lying finished before you.  It has come to a halt again, and meanwhile the problem has deepened and widened. It seems to me that the theory of wish fulfillment has brought only the psychological solution and not the biological -- or rather metapsyical -- one (I am going to ask you seriously, by the way, whether I may use the name metapsychology for my psychology that leads behind consciousness.) Biologically, dream life seems to me to derive entirely from the residues of the prehistoric period of life (between the ages of one and three) -- the same period which is the source of the unconscious and alone contains the etiology of all the psychoneuroses, the period normally characterized by an amnesia analogous to hysterical amnesia.  This formula suggests itself to me: what is seen in the prehistoric period produces dreams; what is heard in it produces fantasies; what is experienced sexually in it produces the psychoneuroses.  The repetition of what was experienced in that period is in itself the fulfillment of a wish; a recent wish only leads to a dream if it can put itself in connection with material from this prehistoric period, if the recent wish is a derivative of a  prehistoric one or can get itself adopted by one.  It is still an open question how far I shall be able to adhere to this extreme theory and how far I can expose it to view in the dream book.


I opened the recently published book by Janet, Hystérie et idées fixes,with a pounding heart and put it aside again with my pulse calm.  He has no inkling of the key.

So I go on growing older, contented the most of the time, watch myself rapidly turning gray and the children growing up, look forward to the Easter holidays, and exercise my patience in waiting for the solution to the problem of the neuroses.


(Masson, 1985, pp. 301-302)

June 9, 1898

My dear Wilhelm,

Many thanks for your beautiful picture! My brother made the acute ovservation that the photographer must know you; this is actually so, as you told me. It will get the place of honor on my desk, the place you hold in my friendship.

Many thanks too for your citique. I know that you have undertaken a thankless task. I need your critical help, because in this instance I have lost the feeling of shame required of an author. So the dream is condemned. Now that the sentence has been passed, however, I would like to shed a tear over it and confess that I regret it and that I have no hopes of finding a better one as a substitute. As you know, a beautiful dream and no indiscretion -- do not coincide. Let me know at least which topic it was to which you took exception and where you feared an attack by a malicious critic. Whether it is my anxiety, or Martha, or the Dalles, or my being without a father land? So that I can omit what you designate in a substitute dream, because I can have dreams like that to order. (p. 315)

June 20, 1898

I have not yet ceased mourning the lost dream. As if in spite, I recently had a substitute dream in which a house constructed of building blocks collapsed ("We had built a staatliches house") and which, because of this connection, could not be used.


There is no doubt that this has to do with a poetic defense against the memory of a [sexual] affair with the sister. Strange, though, that this [defense] proceeds exactly as it does in neurosis. All neurotics create the so-called family romance (which becomes conscious in paranoia); it serves on the one hand the need for self-aggrandizement and on the other as a defense against incest. If the sister is not one's mother's child, one is relieved of all blame. (The same applies if one is oneself the child of other people.) Where does the material for creating the romance -- adultery, illegitimate child, and the like -- come from? Usually from the lower social circles of servant girls. Such things are so common among them that one is never at a loss for material, and it is especially apt to occur if the seductress herself was a person in service. In all the analyses one therefore hears the same story twice: once as a fantasy about the mother; the second time as a real memory of the maid. This explains why in Die Richterin -- who is in fact the mother -- the same story appears twice without changes, a composition one would scarcely regard as a good literary accomplishment. At the end mistress and maid lie lifeless side by side. In the end the maid usually leaves the house, which is how servant stories usually end, but in the novel it is also the maid's punishment. ... Resentment against the mother is expressed in the novel by turning her into a stepmother. Thus, in every single feature is is identical with the romances of revenge and exoneration which my hysterics, if they are boys, invent about their mothers.
The psychology is proceeding in a strange manner; it is nearly finished, composed as if in a dream and certainly, in this form, not fit for publication, nor intended for it, as the style shows. I feel very timid about it. All its themes come from the work on neurosis, not from that on dreams. (p. 317-318)

July 7, 1898

Here it is. It was difficult for me to make up my mind to let it out of my hands. Personal intimacy would not have been a sufficient reason; it also took our intellectual honesty to each other. It completely follows the dictates of the unconscious, on the well-known principle of Itzig, the Sunday rider. oeItzig, where are you going?” oeDo I know? Ask the horse.” I did not start a single paragraph knowing where I would end up. It is of course not written for the reader; after the first two pages I gave up any attempt at stylization. On the other hand, I do of course believe in the conclusions I do not yet have the slightest idea what form the content will finally take. (p. 319)

August 26, 1898

Yesterday, from Chiavena, came the happy news of the unlocking of the mysteries of the universe and of life, of intellectual success more beautiful than one could dream of. Whether the road to the goal is short or longóyour intention to call mathematics to your aid would point to the latteróI can sense that the road is open to you; and I rejoice once again that eleven years ago [24 Nov 87?] I already realized that it was necessary for me to love you in order to enrich my life (Masson, 1985, p. 323).

January 3. 1899

Dear Wilhelm,
So I am the first to give news of himself after all. After the fall of the meteor gleams a light that brightens the gloomy sky for a long while thereafter. For me it is not yet extinguished. In this brightness, then, I suddenly glimpsed several things, and then even the first professional vexations of the New Year could not disturb my good mood.
In the first place, a small bit of my self-analysis has forced its way through and confirmed that fantasies are products of later periods and are projeced back from what was then the present into earliest childhood; the manner in which this occurs also emerged -- once again, by a verbal link.
To the question "What happened in earliest childhood?" the answer is, "Nothing, but the germ of a sexual implulse existed." The thing would be easy and a pleasure to tell you, but writing it out would take half a sheet so [I shall keep it] for our congress at Easter, together with other elucidations of the story of my early years.
In the second place, I have grasoed the meaning of a new psychic element which I conceive to be of general significance and a preliminary stage of symptoms (even before fantasy).

January 4. I got tired yesterday, and today I cannot go on writing along the lines I intended, because the thing is growing. There is something to it. It is dawning. In the next few days there certainly will be some additions to it. I shall write you then, when it has become transparent. I want to reveal to you only that the dream schema is capable of the most general application, that the key to hysteria as well really lies in dreams. I now also understand why in spite of all my efforts I have not yet finished the dream [book]. If I wait a little longer, I shall be able to present the psychic process in dreams in such a way that it also includes the process in the formation of hysterical symptoms. So let us wait.

Something pleasant about which I had meant to write you yesterday was sent me -- from Gibraltar by a Mr. Havelock Ellis, an author who concerns himself with the topic of sex and is obviously a highly intelligent man because his paper, which appeared in Alienist and Neurologist (October 1898) and deals with the connection between hysteria and sexual life, begins with Plato and ends with Freud; he agrees a great deal with the latter and gives Studies on Hysteria, as well as later papers, their due in a very sensible manner. (Masson, 1985, p. 339)

March 2, 1899

"Writing he has completely forgotten." Why? And with a plausible theory of forgetfulness in his memory as a warning.
Things are going almost uniformly well for me. I can hardly wait for Easter to show you in detail a principal part of the story of wish fulfillment and of the coupling of opposites. I am experiencing much pleasure with old cases and have begun two new ones, though not the most favorable. ...
Rome is still distant; you do know my Roman dreams.
Occasionally a second part of the treatment is dawning on meóto provoke their feelings in the same way as their associations, as though this were quite indispensable. The main result of this year's work appears to me the surmounting of fantasies; they have indeed lured me far from what is real. Yet all this work has been very good for my own emotional life; I am apparently much more normal than I was four or five years ago.

... I also have a secondary purpose in mind -- the realization of a secret wish that may become ripe at about the same time as Rome. Thus, if ome becomes possible, I shall give up the lectureship. But, as I said, we are not yet in Rome. (pp. 346-347)

Somewhere inside me there is a feeling for form, an appreciation of beauty as a kind of perfection, and the tortuous sentences of my dream book, with their parading of indirect phrases and squinting at ideas, deeply offended one of my ideals. Nor am I far wrong in regarding this lack of form as an indication of insufficient mastery of the material. ... Unfortunately, I cannot do without you as the representative of the Other -- and again have sixty more pages for you.
My central accomplishment in interpretation comes in the [enclosed] installment, the absurd dreams. It is astonishing how often you appear in them. In the non vixit dream I am delighted to have outlived you; isn't it terrible to suggest something like this -- that is, to have to make it explicit to everyone who understands?

May 28, 1899

Dear Wilhelm,

Yes, indeed, we are still alive, in spite of all the "head shaking," and intend to make the most of it. Your presentation should mark the day on the calendar in red, because -- and this you do not know -- it was humanly impossible to remember the powerful stuff on the basis of an oral communication or even to have an overview of it. The "Screen Memories" are in Jena with Ziehen; the wine has arrived and is reasting, according to your directions; but the dream [book] is suddenly taking shape, without any special motivation, but this time I am sure of it. I have decided that I cannot use any of the disguises, nor can I afford to give up anything because I am not rich enough to keep my finest and probably my only lasting discovery to myself. ...
So the dream [book] will be.
Masson, 1985, pp. 352-353)

December 21, 1899

I am not without one happy prospect. You are familiar with my dream which obstinately promises the end of E.'s treatment [among the absurd dreams], and you can well imagine how important this one persistent patient has become to me. It now appears that this dream will be fulfilled. I cautiously say "appears," but I am really quite certain. Buried deep beneath all his fantasies, we found a scene from his primal period [before twenty-two months] which meets all the requirements and in which all the remaining puzzles converge. It is everything at the same time -- sexual, innocent, natural, and the rest. I scarcely dare believe it yet. It is as if Schliemann had once more excavated Troy, which had hitherto been deemed a fable. At the same time the fellow is doing outrageously well. He demonstrated the reality of my theory in my own case, providing me in a surprising reversal with the solution, which I had overlooked, to my former railroad phobia. For this piece of work I even made him the present of a picture of Oedipus and the Sphinx. My phobia, then, was a fantasy of impoverishment, or rather a hunger phobia, determined by my infantile greediness and evoked by my wife's lack of a dowry (of which I am so proud). You will hear more about this at our next congress (Masson, 1985, 391-392).

December 29, 1899

To the valiant son who at his fatherís behest appeared at the right time,
to his assistant and fellow worker in fathoming the divine order.
But hail to the father, too, who just prior to the event found in his calculations
The key to resraining the power of the female sex

March 11, 1900

After last summer's exhilaration, when in feverish activity I completed the dream [book], fool that I am, I was once again intoxicated with the hope that a step toward freedom and well-being had been taken. The reception of the book and the ensuing silence have again detroyed any budding relationship with my milieu. For my second iron in the fire is after all my workóthe prospect of reaching an end somewhere, resolving many doubts, and then knowing what to think of the chances of my therapy. Prospects seemed most favorable in E.'s caseóand that is where I was dealt the heaviest blow. Just when I believed I had the solution in my grasp, it eluded me and I found myself forced to turn everything around and put it together anew, in the process of which I lost everything that until then had appeared plausible. I could not stand the depression that followed. Moreover, I soon found that it was impossible to cintinue the really difficult work in a state of mild depression and lurking doubts. When I am not cheerful and collected, erervy single one of my patients is my tormentor (Masson, 1985, 403-404).

April 16, 1900

E. at last concluded his career as a patient by coming to dinner at my house. His riddle is almost completely solved; he is in excellent shape, his personality entirely changed. At present a remnant of the symptoms is left. I am beginning to understand that the apparent endlessness of the treatment is something that occurs regularly and is connected with the transference. I hope that this remnant will not detract from the practical success. I could have continued the treatment, but I had the feeling that such a prolongation is a compromise between illness and health that patients themselves desire, and the physician must therefore not accede to it. The asymptotic conclusion of the treatment basically makes no difference to me, but is yet one more disappointment to outsiders. In any case I shall keep an eye on the man. Since he had to suffer through all my technical and theoretical errors, I actually think that a future case could be solved in half the time. May the Lord now send this next one. ...

Occasionally something stirs toward a synthesis, but I am holding it down.

Otherwise Vienna is Vienna, that is, extremely disgusting. If I closed with "Next Easter in Rome," I would feel like a pious Jew. So I say rather, "Until we meet in the summer or fall in Berlin or where you will." (Masson, 1985, 408-409).


Erikson. E.H. (1975). A historic friendship: Freud's letters to Fliess. In Life history and the historical moment. New York: Norton, pp. 49-81.

A correspondence of long standing is a rituel á deux. It develops and cultivates particular levels of mood, selected confessions, and habitual admissions; it is apt to indulge in expressions of admiration and even plaintive comparison with the unseen recipient's person or fate, and, pf course, in fervent hopes for a reunion; in other words, in invites some kind of mutual correspondence transference. All of this, of course, varies with the meaning of personal mail, that great achievement of intimacy over space and time. (p. 51)

The letters present us with a truer or clearer picture of Freud only to the extent to which we are able to recognize in them a correspondence personality of an almost deliberate moodiness, indulgent dependence, and radical self-doubt, which (as both Jones's biography and Freud's published dreams indicate) overlapped with but did not wholly characterize either Freud's actions or even his dream life at the time. These letters, then, stand somewhere between the relative transparency of Freud's published dreams and the formal discipline of his other writings. (p. 52).

Commenting on the "historical moment" at which Freud began his friendship with Fliess, Erikson concludes from Kris's introduction to "Origins" and from Bernfeld's papers.

With Fliess, Freud could initiate that relationship of bipolarization which many creative men need in order to have the courage of their own originality. (p. 56)

Erikson begins a five-page discussion of the "Project" with the observation by noting that:

Moody references to physical cpmplaints continues, and yet it becomes clear that Freud works best in what throughout the letters is hinted at as an optimum state of mild painful discomfort. This compromise seems to resolve the struggle against smoking. (p. 60)

Erikson is particularly acute in his recognition of Freud as precursor to the epigenetic schematizing of Childhood and Society. He corrects Origins's (Bonaparte, A. Freud, & Kris, 1954, p. 164) rendering of Freud's epigenetic diagram in the May 30, 1896 letter (cf. Bonaparte, A. Freud, & Kris, 1950, p. 175), by locating repression in the transitional periods between the second period of childhood (i.e., between ages 8 and 10) and puberty and between the pubescent phase and adulthood (i.e., between ages 14 and 17). Masson (1985, p. 188) seem to have it right.

Bonaparte, M., Freud, A., & Kris, E. (Eds.) (1954). The origins of psychoanalysis. Letters to Wilhelm Fliess, drafts and notes: 1887-1902 (E. Mosbacher & J. Strachey, Trans.). New York: Basic Books. (Original work published 1950)

Bonaparte, M., Freud, A., & Kris, E. (Eds.) (1950). Aus den anfängen der psychoanalyse. London: Imago.

Mephistopheles, in Goethe's Faust, Part 1, Scene 4: "After all, the best of what you know may not be told to boys." These were favorite lines of Freud's. He uses them again in the February 9, 1898 letter, twice in The Interpretation of Dreams [SE 4, p. 142, SE 5, p. 453]; and, towards the end of his life, on the occasion of his acceptance of the Goethe prize, he applied them to Goethe himself (Strachey/Freud, 1953, p. 142).

Freud had written on February 9, 1898:

I am deep in the dream book, am writing it fluently, and enjoy the thought of all the "head shaking" over the indiscretions and audacities itcontains.

The reference is to a book by Busch in which a candidate for the priesthood evokes repeated head shaking on the part of his examiners (Masson 1985, pp. 298-299 and note 2).

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