From notes on "The Wolf Man"

I, who am a Russian émigré, eighty-three yeas of age, and who was one of Freud's early psychoanalytic patients, known as the "Wolf Man," am sitting down to write my recollections of my childhood. I was born on Christmas Eve, 1886, according to the Julian calendar in use in Russia at the time, on my father's estate on the banks of the Dnieper, north of the provincial city of Kherson. This estate was well known throughout the surrounding countryside, because part of our land was used as a marketplace where fairs were held every now and then. As a small child I once watched one of these Russian country fairs. I was walking in our garden and heard noise and lively shouting behind the garden fence. Looking through a crack in the fence I saw campfires burning -- it was wintertime -- with gypsies and other strange people clustered around them. The gypsies were gesticulating wildly ... (Gardiner, 1971, pp. 4-5)

As I (D2) attempt once again to extricate myself "from the history of an infantile neurosis," I think the patient Sergius's dream and Freud's discussion thereof will repay our study, and I offer these appositional (de)constructions of each element:

  • a real occurrence
  • dating from a very early period
  • looking
  • immobility
  • sexual problems
  • castration
  • his father
  • something terrible
  • a fantasy/invention/gift to Freud
  • 6/18/30 months, 3/4/5 years, a recurring dream
  • being seen
  • violent motion, goat/doggie style
  • aggression imagined, feared, enticed
  • phallic pride, anal phase
  • Nanya/Anna/Miss Oven/(mother)/Therese
  • (sado-masochistic) pleasure
  • Freud's repeated acknowledgement of the tenuousness of his interpretive moves in this case is as striking as his insistence on the essential rightness of the whole -- and therefore of the theory of infantile sexuality as against both recent psychoanalytic defectors and his own early traumatic seduction theory. The patient's anxious passivity, his manipulative clingingness, his weak ego, are amply demonstrated in his own reminiscence of Freud and in Ruth Mack Brunswick's attempt to re-analyze him (Gardiner, 1971).

    Freud discussed forms of "acting-out" in the Wolf Man case (Freud, 1918) under the term "Verwerfung" (a kind of psychic repudiation) as opposed to "Verdrängung" (repression) (cf. McDougall, 1985, p. 111). The function of such phenomena is to prevent threatening material from being preconsciously represented and therefore either worked through or transmuted into conventional symptoms. The illness-proneness of such persons represents a mobilization of the body's protective armamentarium for unconscious psychological purposes, and the narcissistic component of such transformations preserves an archaic link with the mother's body (ibid., p. 115). For S. Pankejeff, preserving this link this produced a tangled Web, indeed.

    Freud, S. (1918). From the history of an infantile neurosis. In M. Gardiner (Ed.) 1971.

    Gardiner, Muriel (Ed.) (1971). The Wolf-Man. With The case of the Wolf-Man, by Sigmund Freud and a supplement by Ruth Mack Brunswick. Foreword by Anna Freud. New York, Basic Books.

    McDougall, Joyce. (1985). Theaters of the mind. New York: Basic Books.

    Pankejeff, Sergius, 1887-1979. In M. Gardiner (Ed.) 1971.

    Miss Oven, who was either a severe psychopath or often under the influence of alcohol, continued her mischief for several months. (Gardiner, 1971, p. 6)

    My Nanya was a peasant, and from the period when there was still serfdom. She was a completely honest and devoted soul, with a heart of gold. In her youth she had been married, but her son had died as an infant. (Gardiner, 1971, p. 8)

    As our parents were often away, my sister and I were left mostly under the supervision of strangers, and even when our parents were home we had little contact with them. I do remember that my father talk me the Russian alphabet and talk me to read Russian and for a while he visited us children every evening and played a game with us called "Don't Get Angry, Man." (Gardiner, 1971, p. 8)

    Since my mother, as a young woman, was so concerned about her health, she did not have much time left for us. But if my sister or I was ill, she became an exemplary nurse. (Gardiner, 1971, p. 9)

    My sister and I both liked to draw. At first we used to draw trees, and I found Anna's way of drawing the little round leaves particularly attractive and interesting. But not wanting to imitate her, I soon gave up tree-drying. I began trying to draw horses true to nature, but unfortunately every horse I drew looked more like a dog or a wolf than like a real horse. (Gardiner, 1971, pp. 9-10)

    . . .

    It was carnival time, and on the evening of the day I moved into the sanatorium a fancy dress ball for the staff and the nurses was to take place. Dr. H. and I were also invited to this ball. Watching the dancers I was immediately struck by an extraordinarily beautiful woman. She was perhaps in her middle or late twenties and thus a few years older than myself. This did not disturb me, as I always preferred more mature women. Her blue-black hair was parted in the middle, and her features were of such regularity and delicacy that they might have benches with a sculptor. She was dressed as a Turkish woman, and as she was a definitely southern type, with somewhat oriental characteristics, this costume suited her very well and could hardly have been better chosen. (Gardiner, 1971, p. 49)

    Web Resources


    A Freud Glossary (prepared for Psychology 109g)

    The "aliquis" slip (notes for Psychology 109g)

    Cf. Holland, Norman N. (1985). The I. Yale University Press: New Haven and London. The Aesthetics of I.