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1921 Letters 386–406

Karl Abraham Karnac Books ePub



[to Mrs Abraham]

Vienna IX, Berggasse 19
3 January 1921

Dear Frau Doctor,1

Your children's letters were too charming—I hope they did not cost them too much trouble or even tears, were not rewritten several times, etc. I should have answered the little ones directly, but I was afraid of undermining their morals, because I should certainly have thought of confessing that the finest gifts are spoilt by having to say thank you for them. It would also have embarrassed me either to go on playing the part of the great patron or having to admit that I had made them happy by means of the resources of others. When the opportunity arises, please tell them the true state of affairs, to which the moral can be attached that also by work like the practice of psychoanalysis it is possible to acquire a few Dutch guilders sometime late in life.

From your news I pick out the one that your husband is now at last well again. We were already quite annoyed about his illness. Here too we are haunted by more illness than is actually indispensable.

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1913 Letters 148–189

Karl Abraham Karnac Books ePub




Vienna IX, Berggasse 19
1 January 1913

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your friendly lines. The hospitality we are able to provide in Vienna, and what I in particular am able to do in that respect, is so little.

Now accept my cordial good wishes for the New Year, which will certainly not be an easy one for us. The past year achieved something nice on the very last day with a letter from Fr. Kraus, from which I gather that he asked you to call on him and is by no means disinclined to your cause. He still counts on “Bonhoeffer's approval” and confirms that you have a good reputation—even among the opponents. The letter was very decent, exceptional for someone who will soon be a privy councillor. Will you keep me informed about how things develop?

Stekel is to give a talk in Berlin on the 6th of January. Stöcker,1 as I told you, excused herself to me on the basis of ignorance of the state of affairs, which was forgivable at that time and expressed her opinion that nothing can be done now. That may be so, but he should still feel that he has an anachronism to thank for his invitation, and he should feel inhibited to some extent in his productions. Firstly, he will lie shamelessly about the reasons for his resignation. I have already prepared Stöcker for this. Secondly, he will obviously preach Adlerism, as he is now in their employ, and politeness need not go so far as to acclaim everything he says. He should be reminded of the change of conditions. So have another word with Stöcker, and think how anxious he might be made in his godlikeness.

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1 Dreams and Myths: A Study in Folk-Psychology (1909)

Karl Abraham Karnac Books ePub

The Subject-Matter and Theory of Freudian Psycho-analysis

THE theories associated with the name of Sigmund Freud relate to several spheres of psychic life which, at first sight, seem to have little connection with one another. In his Studies on Hysteria published in 1895 in collaboration with Joseph Breuer, Freud used pathological psychic manifestations as his starting-point. The progressive development of the psycho-analytical method necessitated the intensive study of dreams.1 It then became clear that in order to understand these phenomena fully, it was also necessary to make a comparative study of certain other phenomena. Freud was consequently impelled to incorporate an increasing range of psychological phenomena, both normal and abnormal, into the scope of his investigations. In this way, in the ‘Sammlung Kleiner Schriften zur Neurosen-lehre’, he came to collect papers on hysteria, obsessional ideas and other psychic disorders, the monograph on wit which was published in 1905, the Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex,2 and later the psychological analysis of a work of fiction,3 which together form the first volume of this series. It was Freud’s achievement to discern in these apparently unrelated products of the human mind the attributes they share in common. These are their relationship to the unconscious, to the psychic life of infancy and to sexuality. They also share in common the tendency to represent man’s wishes as fulfilled and the means used to represent such fulfilment.

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Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub




MORE than ten years have passed since I first attempted to trace the aetiology of manic-depressive disorders on psycho-analytical lines.2 I was quite aware at the time of the shortcomings of that attempt and was at pains to make this clear in the title of my paper. But we should do well to remember how very little had been written as yet on any psycho-analytical subject. And in especial there were very few earlier works in existence on the circular insanities. Private psychotherapeutic practice offers little opportunity for the analysis of cases of this kind, so that it was not possible for any single analyst to collect and compare sufficient data on this subject.

Nevertheless, in spite of the shortcomings of that first attempt, its results have proved to be correct in certain not unimportant particulars. Freud’s paper, ‘Mourning and Melancholia ‘, confirmed my view that melancholia stood in the same relation to normal mourning for a loss as did morbid anxiety to ordinary fear. And we may now regard as definitely established the psychological affinity between melancholia and obsessional neuroses. Furthermore, these two illnesses show similarities in regard to the process of the disengagement of the libido from the external world. On the other hand, it had not hitherto been possible to discover anything concerning the point of divergence of melancholic and obsessional states; nor indeed had any light been shed as yet on the problem of the specific cause of the circular insanities.

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1916 Letters 286–305

Karl Abraham Karnac Books ePub




12 January 1916

Dear Professor,

Your letter of the 8th2 has just arrived. I shall answer it in detail soon, but for the moment will only tell you that the promised work is ready. A copy is in Berlin, my wife is typing the copy and will then send you the finished opus. I had already told Rank about this; as I now hear from you, he is no longer in Vienna, so I am repeating the news directly. I am very glad that you have such good news of your sons.3

In haste, with kind regards,


Karl Abraham

1.  Military postcard [Feldpostkarte].

2.  Missing.

3.  On 1 January 1916, Ernst had become Fähnrich [cadet] and Martin lieutenant (Freud's calendar entry, LOC).


23 January 1916

Dear Professor,

Due to my wife's rather lengthy indisposition—she had a painful inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth—the manuscript is not yet finished, but I hope it will be ready this week. In a few days, too, I am going to take up my new psychiatric post. I have recently had many interesting experiences, especially on traumatic neuroses. In February I shall be speaking here on hysteria in an “Evening on Medicine in Wartime”.

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