First Contributions to Psycho-analysis

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This book is a collection of Ferenczi's early papers which secured him, in an amazingly short time, his prominent position among Freud's followers. Included here are several of the papers that now belong to the classics of psychoanalysis, such as: "Introjection and Transference", "On Obscene Words", "On Onasism: Stages in Development of the Sense of Reality" and "The Ontogenesis of the Interest in Money". In addition it contains Ferenczi's pioneer papers on impotence, homosexuality, paranoia, and symbolism.

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I. THE ANALYTIC INTERPRETATION AND TREATMENT PBTCHOSEXUAL IMPOTENCE

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SEX IN PSYCHO-ANALYSIS

ONE of the few objective arguments brought against the method of treatment of the psycho-neuroses inaugurated by Freud is the criticism that it effects only a symptomatic cure. It is said to cause the pathological manifestations of hysteria to disappear, but not the hysterical disposition itself. In regard to this Freud quite rightly directs our attention to the fact that the same critics shew much more indulgence towards other anti-hysterical procedures, which cannot even effect a final cure of one symptom. We may also bring forward against the argument just mentioned the fact that the analysis, penetrating into the depths of mental life (a process which Freud tellingly compares with the excavating work of the archaeologist), not only effects a cure of the symptoms, but also results in such fundamental change in the patient’s character that we no longer have any right to call him a sick man.2 We are the less justified in doing so, in that after the analysis is finished he is well armed also against new psychical conflicts and shocks, pretty much as well as the non-analysed “healthy persons,” who—as we now know with certainty—carry about with them throughout life a multitude of repressed ideational complexes that are at all times ready to increase and exaggerate with their affect-value the pathogenic action of psychical traumata.

 

II. INTROJECTION AND TRANSFERENCE

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/. Introjection in the Neuroiei

THE productivity of the neurosis (during a course of psycho-analytic treatment) is far from being extinguished, but exercises itself in the creation of a peculiar sort of thought-formation, mostly unconscious, to which the name ‘transferences’ may be given.

“These transferences are re-impressions and reproductions of the emotions and phantasies that have to be awakened and brought into consciousness during the progress of the analysis, and are characterised by the replacement of a former person by the physician.”

In these sentences Freud announced, in the masterly description of a hysterical case,2 one of his most significant discoveries.

Whoever since then, following Freud’s indications, has tried to investigate psycho-analytically the mental life of neurotics, must have become convinced of the truth of this observation. The greatest difficulties of such an analysis, indeed, proceed from the remarkable peculiarity of neurotics that “in order to avoid insight into their own unconscious, they transfer to the physician treating them all their affects (hate, love) that have been reinforced from the unconscious.” 3

 

III. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS or DREAMS …

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A PHENOMENON not rare in the evolution of science is that professional men of erudition, with all the help at their disposal, with all the implements of their knowledge and ability, combat some principle of popular wisdom which is, on the other hand, defended by the people with equal tenacity, and that finally science is forced to recognise that in essentials the popular conception, and not its own, is the correct one. It would be especially worthy of investigation to discovery why it is that science, on its gradually mounting path, progresses in an irregular zigzag line, which at times comes close to the popular view of the world, and at times quite departs from it.

I mention this peculiar phenomenon for the reason that the latest investigations of dreams, those remarkable and bizarre manifestations of mental life, have laid bare facts that compel us to abandon our former views regarding the nature of dreams, and, with certain limitations, to return to the popular conceptions.

The people have never given up a belief in the significance of dreams. The oldest writings that have been preserved to us, hewn out in stone in praise of the old Babylonian kings, as also the mythology and history of the Hindoos, Chinese, Aztecs, Greeks, Etruscans, Jews, and Christians, take the point of view held to-day by the people, that dreams can be interpreted. The interpretation of dreams was for thousands of years a special science, a particular cult, whose priests and priestesses often decided the fate of countries and called forth revolutions that changed the history of the world. This now antiquated science rested on the unshakable belief that dreams, though in a concealed way and by obscure analogies, were quite capable of being interpreted by the initiate and revealed the future, and that by these nocturnal phenomena the powers above desired to prepare mortals for approaching events of importance. In the lower ranks of the populace the dream book, that curious survival of ancient Babylonian astrology, still enjoys to-day great popularity. Although the details of the dream-books differ in the different countries, they have to be considered as products of the common folk-spirit.

 

IV. ON OBSCENE WORDS

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Contribution to the Psychology of the Latent Period

IN all analyses one is sooner or later faced with the question whether one should mention in front of the patient the popular (obscene) designations of the sexual and excremental organs, functions, and material, and get him to utter in an unvarnished, unaltered way the obscene words, phrases, curses, etc., that occur to his mind, or whether one can rest content with allusions to them or with the use of scientific language to denote such matters.

In one of his earlier works Freud called attention to the possibility of finding ways and means to discuss with patients even the most proscribed sexual activities (perversions) without wounding their modesty, and for this purpose he recommended the use of technical medical expressions.

At the beginning of a course of psycho-analytic treatment one avoids unnecessarily provoking resistance on the part of the patient, and in this way setting up perhaps insurmountable obstacles to the continuation of the analysis. One contents oneself, therefore, at first with allusive references or with serious scientific terms, and can very soon talk with one’s patient about the most delicate matters of sexuality, as of the instincts in general, without exciting any reaction of shame whatever. In a number of cases, however, this does not suffice. The analysis comes to a standstill, no thoughts occur to the patient, his behaviour shews signs of inhibition, indications of increased resistance manifest themselves, and this resistance ceases only when the physician manages to discover the ground for it in the fact that proscribed words and phrases have occurred to him, which he does not venture to utter aloud without the analyst’s express “permission.”

 

V. ON THE PART PLAYED DY HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE PATHOGENESIS OP PARANOIA

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IN the summer of 1908 I had the opportunity of opening up the problem of paranoia in the course of conversation with Professor Freud, and we arrived at certain tentative ideas, which for the main part were developed by Professor Freud, while I contributed to the final shaping of the train of thought with detached suggestions and criticisms. We laid down to begin with that the mechanism of projection, as explicated by Freud in the only case of paranoia at that time analysed, is characteristic of paranois in general. We assumed further that the paranoiac mechanism stands midway between the opposite mechanisms of neurosis and of dementia praecox. The neurotic gets rid of the affects that have become disagreeable to him by means of the different forms of displacement (conversion, transference, substitution); the patient suffering from dementia praecox, on the other hand, detaches his intcrcst from objects 2 and retracts it to his ego (auto-erotism, grandiose delusions).

The paranoiac also would make an attempt to withdraw his participation (in external interests), but it meets with only a limited success. Some of the desires get happily retracted into the ego— grandiose delusions occur in every case of paranoia—but a greater part of the interest, varying in amount, cannot disengage itself from its original object, or else returns to it. This interest, however, has become so incompatible with the ego that it gets objectified (with a reversal of affect, t. e. with a “negative sign in front”) and thus cast out from the ego. The tendency that has become intolerable, and has been withdrawn from its object, in this way returns from its love-object in the form of a perception of its own negative. The feeling of love is turned into the sensation of its opposite.

 

VI. ON ONANISM

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APART of the neurotic disturbances caused by onanism is certainly of a purely psychical nature and can be traced to the apprehension that, in the earliest years of childhood (at the time of infantile masturbation), had been brought into an indissoluble associative connection with the idea of self-gratification (fear of castration with boys, fear of having the hands cut off with girls). A great many cases of hysteria and obsessional neurosis prove in the analysis to be the psychical result of this infantile apprehension, which—on the awaking of object-love—becomes accompanied with apprehension of incestuous onanistic phantasies. The adult dread of masturbation is thus composed of infantile (castration-) dread together with juvenile (incest-) dread, and the symptoms resulting from the conversion and substitution of this dread may be removed by means of analysis.

I have no doubt, however, that onanism is also able directly to evoke certain nervous and psychical disturbances, although it cannot be pointed out too often that this significance of onanism is as a rule much less than that of psychoneurotic symptoms caused by rough frightening and repression.

 

VII. TRANSITORY SYMPTOM-CONSTRUCTIONS DURING THE ANALYSIS

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(Transitory Conversion, Substitution, Illusion, Hallucination, “Character-Regression,” and “Expression-Displacement.”)

IT is in the transference that the physician, as well as the patient, receives the really convincing impressions as to the correctness of the analytical explanation of symptoms. So long as the psychical material afforded through free association is the only proof that the patient has of the correctness of the analytical explanations, they may seem to him remarkable, surprising, even illuminating; he still does not attain a conviction of their indubitable correctness, the feeling that they are the only explanations possible, however honestly he may try to become convinced, or even if he forces conviction on himself with all his strength. It definitely looks as if one could never reach any real convictions at all through logical insight alone;2 one needs to have lived through an affective experience, to have—so to speak—felt it on one’s own body, in order to gain that degree of certain insight which deserves the name of “conviction.” The physician also who lias only learned analysis from books, without having submitted his own mind to a thorough analysis and gathered practical experience with patients, cannot convince himself of the truth of its results; at the most he gains a more or less high degree of confidence, which may at times closely approach conviction, but behind which there always still lurks a suppressed doubt.

 

VIII. STAGES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SENSE or REALITY

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THE development of the mentai iorms of activity in the individual consists, as Freud has shewn, in the resolution of the originally prevailing pleasure-principle, and the repression mechanism peculiar to it, by the adjustment to reality, i. e. by the testing of reality that is based on judgment. Thus arises out of the “primary” psychical stage, such as is displayed in the mental activities of primitive beings (animals, savages, children), and in primitive mental states (dreams, neurosis, phantasy), the secondary stage of the normal man in waking thought. At the beginning of its development the new-born babe seeks to attain a state of satisfaction merely through insistent wishing (imagining), whereby it simply ignores (represses) the unsatisfying reality, picturing to itself as present, on the contrary, the wished-for, but lacking, satisfaction; it attempts, therefore, to conceal without effort all its reeds by means of positive and negative hallucinations. “It was only the non-appearance of the expected satisfaction, the disappointment, that led to the abandonment of this attempt at satisfaction by the hallucinatory method. Instead, the psychical apparatus had to decide to represent the actual circumstances of the outer world to itself, and to strive to alter reality. With this a new principle of mental activity was initiated; not what was pleasant was any longer imagined, but what was real, even though it should be unpleasant.” 2

 

IX. A LITTLE CHANTICLEER

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A LADY a former patient of mine who had retained her interest in psycho-analysis, called my attention to the case of a little boy, which she surmised would be of general interest.

The case was that of a five-year-old boy, Arpid by name, who according to the unanimous reports of all his relatives had developed up to the age of three and a half in quite a regular way both mentally and physically, and was said to have been a perfectly normal child; he spoke fluently and shewed considerable intelligence.

All at once he became quite different. In the summer of 1910 the family went to an Austrian spa, where they had also spent the previous summer, and took rooms in the same house as in the year before. Immediately after the arrival the child’s demeanour changed in a curious way. Hitherto he had taken an interest in all the goings on, both indoors and out of doors, that might attract the attention of a child; from now on he was interested in only one thing, and that was the fowl-house in the courtyard of the dwelling. Early in the morning he hastened to the poultry, watched them with tireless interest, imitated their sounds and movements, and cried when he was forcibly removed from the fowl-run. But even when he was away from it he did nothing else but crow and cackle. He did this unintermittingly for hours at a time, and answered to questions only with these animal cries, so that his mother was seriously concerned lest her child would lose his power of speech.

 

X. SYMBOLISM

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The Symbolic Representation of the Pleasures and Reality Principles in the Oedipus Myth1

SCHOPENHAUER writes :2 “Every work has its origin in a happy thought, and the latter gives the joy of conception; the birth, however, the carrying out, is, in my own case at least, not without pain; for then I stand before my own soul, like an inexorable judge before a prisoner lying on the rack, and make it answer until there is nothing left to ask. Almost all the errors and unutterable follies of which doctrines and philosoplues are so full seem to me to spring from a lack of this probity. The truth was not found, not because it was unsought, but because the intention always was to find again instead some preconceived opinion or other, or at least not to wound some favourite idea, and with this aim in view subterfuges had to be employed against both other people and the thinker himself. It is the courage of making a clean breast of it in face of every question that makes the philosopher. He must be like Sophocles’ Oedipus, who, seeking enlightenment concerning his terrible fate, pursues his indefatigable enquiry, even when he divines that appalling horror awaits him in the answer. But most of us carry in our hearts the Jocasta, who begs Oedipus for God’s sake not to enquire further; and we give way to her, and that is the reason why philosophy stands where it does.3 Just as Odin at the door of hell unceasingly interrogates the old prophetess in her grave, disregarding her opposition and refusals and prayers to he left in peace, so must the philosopher interrogate himself without mercy. This philosophical courage, however, which is the same thing as the sincerity and probity of investigation that you attribute to me, does not arise from reflection, cannot be wrung from resolutions, but is an inborn trend of the mind.”

 

XI. SOME CLINICAL OBSERVATIONS ON PARANOIA AND PARAPHRENIA

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(Contribution to the Psychology of “System-Constructions”)

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THE sister of a young artist called on me one day and told me that her brother A., a very talented man, had been behaving for some time in a very peculiar manner. He had read a doctor’s treatise on the serum treatment of tuberculosis,2 since when he had been the whole time concerned only about himself, had got his urine and sputum examined for abnormal constituents, and, although there were none present, had undergone the serum treatment with the doctor in question. It was soon plain that it was not a question of a simple hypochondriac moodiness with him. Not only the treatise, but also the doctor’s personality made an unusual impression on him. When on one occasion the doctor treated him in a rather off-hand way, he immersed himself in making notes (which the sister gave me to read) of endless worryings as to how this behaviour of the doctor could be harmonised with the fact that he was a real savant (which he did not venture to doubt.) It then turned out that his hypochondriaca! ideas were interwoven in a larger philosophical system, built, so to speak, into the structure of the latter. For a long time the young man had been interested in Ostwald’s natural philosophy, and was an eager follower of his; the energetic main idea and the marked emphasis laid on the economic principle in Ostwald’s proposals had made a specially deep impression on him. The statement that one should accomplish as much as possible with as little expenditure of energy as possible he wanted to realise ir every respect in the practical affairs of his life, but in doing so he went to extremes that struck even his sister (who had a specially high estimation of her brother’s intelligence) as peculiar. So long as he only prescribed (in writing) uncommonly exact arrangements for the day, in which every bodily and every kind of mental activity was allotted a definite time, he might still have passed as a specially dutiful pupil of his master, but later he began to exaggerate the tendency to economy to such an extent as to drive it—unconsciously, of course—to downright absurdity. This became most evident when the amalgamation with the hypochondriacal ideas came about. He experienced paresthesias in the most diverse organs, among others in the legs; he remarked that the latter ones disappeared when he lifted his leg. In order, now, to deflect his attention (whose energy, according to his convictions, he felt obliged to employ for more valuable matters than the perception of bodily states) from the sensations in the leg, his sister had to hold his leg up in the air so that he could engross himself in thought undisturbed, the most valuable accomplishment of which he was capable. The sister often faithfully carried out this wish. Gradually he came to sec that he ought really not to perforin any work at all himself except thinking; the carrying out of his ideas in detail—a subordinate task—must be left to people with feebler capacities. In this way he finally became occupied only with the statement of problems, and employed his whole time in reflecting on ultimate scientific, psychological, and philosophical questions. He directed those around him to see to it, in ways exactly prescribed by him, that he had absolute rest during his mental work. All this still would not have caused his family any serious solicitude had he not given himself up to complete inactivity, after having up till then conscientiously carried out his projects. In his endeavour to work “with the most favourable coefficients possible” he had thus brought himself to a point where he neglected the tasks that lay nearest to hand (since they could not be literally harmonised with the theory of energetic economy) ; the precept of creating in the most economic way possible thus served him, and quite consistently, for the purpose of giving up creating altogether. He lay inactive for hours in certain artificially arranged positions. This latter I had to regard as a variety of catatonic posture, and the purely psychical symptoms as fragments of hypochondriacal and megalomaniac ideas; I gave the patient’s family to understand that I considered the case to be one of paranoid paraphrenia (dementia praecox), and that the young man needed for the time being to be certified as insane. The family at first refused to accept the diagnosis and the advice, although I left open the possibility that it might prove to be a slight and passing attack.

 

XII. THE NOSOLOGY OF MALE HOMOSEXUALITY (HOMOEROTISM)

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WHAT we have learned about homosexuality through psycho-analysis may be put together in a few sentences. The first and most important step towards a deeper knowledge of this instinct-aim was the supposition by Fliess and Freud2 that really every human being traverses a psychically bisexual stage in his childhood.3 The “homosexual component” falls later a victim to repression; only a minor part of this component gets rescued in a sublimated form in the cultivated life of adults, in playing, in readiness for social help, in friendship leagues, in club life, etc., a part that is not to be underestimated. Insufficiently repressed homosexuality can later, under certain circumstances, become once more manifest, or express itself in neurotic symptoms; this is especially the case with paranoia, concerning which the more recent investigations have been able to establish that it is really to be conceived as a disguised manifestation of the inclination towards the person’s own sex.4

A newer point of view, which renders more easy the understanding of homosexuality, we owe to Sadger and Freud. Sadger discovered in the psycho-analysis of several male homosexuals that intense heterosexual inclinations had been displayed in their early childhood; indeed that their “Oedipus complex” (love for the mother, attitude of hate towards the father) had come to expression in a specially pronounced manner. He considered that the homosexuality which later develops in them is really only an attempt to restore the original relation to the mother. In the homosexual pleasure-objects of his desires the homosexual is unconsciously loving himself, while he himself (also unconsciously) is representing the feminine and effeminate part of the mother.

 

XIII. THE ONTOGENESIS OF THE INTEREST IN MONET

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THE deeper psycho-analysis penetrates into the knowledge of social-psychological productions (myths, fairy-tales, folk-lore) the stronger becomes the confirmation of the phylogenetic origin of symbols, which stand out in the mental life of every individual as a precipitate of the experiences of previous generations. Analysis has still to perform the task of separately investigating the phylogenesis and ontogenesis of symbolism, and then establishing their mutual relation. The classical formula of “Dai-mon kai Tyche” in Freud’s application (the cooperation of heredity and experience in the genesis of individual strivings) will finally become applied also to the genesis of the psychical contents of these strivings, and this also brings to the front the old dispute about “congenital ideas,” though now no longer in the form of empty speculations. We may already, however, anticipate to this extent, namely, that for the production of a symbol individual experiences are necessary as well as the congenital disposition, those providing the real material for the construction of the symbol, while the congenital basis preceding experience has perhaps only the value of an inherited, but not yet functioning mechanism.

 

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