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XXII. MANIFESTATIONS OF THE FEMALE CASTRATION COMPLEX (1920)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

THE psychological phenomena which we ascribe to the so-called castration complex of the female sex are so numerous and multiform that even a detailed description cannot do full justice to them. These questions are made still more complicated by their relations to biological and physiological processes. The following investigation, therefore, does not pretend to present the problem of the female castration complex in all its aspects, but is limited to the purely psychological consideration of material gathered from’ a wide field of clinical observation.

I

Many women suffer temporarily or permanently, in childhood or in adult age, from the fact that they have been born as females. Psycho-analysis further shows that a great number of women have repressed the wish to be male; we come across this wish in all products of the unconscious, especially in dreams and neurotic symptoms, The extraordinary frequency of these observations suggests that the wish is one common to and occurring in all women, If we incline to this view we place ourselves under the obligation of examining thoroughly and without prejudice the facts to which we attribute such a general significance,

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XVI. THE APPLICABILITY OF PSYCHO-ANALYTIC TREATMENT Ta PATIENTS AT AN ADVANCED AGE (1919)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

THE question of what the conditions are under which psycho - analytic treatment promises therapeutic success has hardly been discussed at all up to the present, except for some general remarks by Freud in a paper which appeared many years ago.2

Since then psycho-analytic experience has been much increased and its technique greatly developed. It therefore seems an opportune moment to consider more carefully this question, which is of great practical importance. The following remarks are intended as a first attempt to throw light on the subject.

In his paper Freud has expressed the opinion that psychoanalysis loses its effectiveness if the patient is too advanced in years. There is no doubt about the general correctness of this view. It was only to be expected that at the commencement of physical and psychical involution a person should be less inclined to part with a neurosis which he has had most of his life. Daily psycho-analytical experience, however, shows that we must not expect mental processes to be too uniform. It warns us against approaching the investigation or treatment of nervous conditions with a priori theories. For instance, has it not been shown that certain mental diseases which psychiatric medicine has pronounced to be quite intractable are accessible to psycho-analytic methods? It would seem therefore incorrect to deny a priori the possibility of exercising a curative influence upon the neuroses in the period of involution. It is rather the task of psycho-analysis as a scientific procedure to inquire into precisely this question as to whether, and under what conditions, the method of treatment can attain results in patients in the later years of life.

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VIII. MENTAL AFTER-EFFECTS PRODUCED IN A NINE-YEAR- OLD CHILD BY THE OBSERVATION OF SEXUAL INTERCOURSE BETWEEN ITS PARENTS (1913)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

THE editor of this Journal has asked for accounts of dreams occurring in childhood the interpretationof which would justify the conclusion that the dreamer had witnessed sexual intercourse at an early age. The following contribution only in part satisfies this request, in that in this case the observation of parental sexual intercourse did not take place in the earliest years of childhood, but in all probability took place immediately before the occurrence of the dream which I am about to relate and of the concomitant neurotic anxiety. Nevertheless, I consider it worth publishing, because the case shows with more than usual clearness how a child disposed to neurosis reacts to an event of this nature.

Some time ago I was called in to see a little girl of nine and three-quarters who had recently begun to suffer from anxiety states.

Ten days before the consultation the child had been put to bed as usual in the evening. After having slept for a good hour she called for her mother with screams of fear, Her mother, who was in the next room, went to her, and the little girl told her a dream with every sign of terror. She said: ‘A man wanted to murder you in bed, but I saved you\ While relating this she still could not distinguish between dream and reality. When her mother tried to soothe her she said with a horrified expression, ‘Oh, you aren’t my mother at all’, She then showed fear of objects in the room, mistaking them for animals. It was some time before she cotild be pacified; but she then slept till morning. On waking she declared that she had slept well and undisturbed during the night, and that she felt quite welL When her parents questioned her cautiously (and hence only superficially) it appeared that she did not remember the episode.

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XXIV, THE INFLUENCE OF ORAL EROTISM ON CHARACTER-FORMATION (1924)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

ACCORDING to the usual view the formation of character is to be traced back partly to inherited disposition, and partly to the effects of environment, among which particular significance is ascribed to upbringing. Psycho-analytical investigation has for the first time drawn attention to sources of character-formation which have not hitherto been sufficiently considered. On the basis of psycho-analytical experience we have come to take the view that those elements of infantile sexuality which are excluded from participation in the sexual life of the adult individual undergo in part a transformation into certain character-traits. As is well known, Freud was the first to show that certain elements of infantile anal erotism undergo a transformation of this kind. Some part of this anal erotism enters into the final organization of mature sexual life, some becomes sublimated, and some goes to form character. These contributions to character from anal sources are to be regarded as normal. They render it possible for the individual to adapt himself to the demands of his environment as regards cleanliness, love of order, and so on. Apart from this, however, we have learnt to recognize an ‘anal character’ in the clinical sense, which is distinguished by an extreme accentuation of certain character-traits; but it is to be noted that the excessive addiction to cleanliness, parsimony, and similar tendencies found in such characters never succeeds completely. We invariably find the opposite extreme more or less strongly developed in them.

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XV. A PARTICULAR FORM OF NEUROTIC RESISTANCE AGAINST THE PsYCHO-ANALYTIC METHOD (1919)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

WHEN we begin to give a patient psycho-analytic treatment we make him acquainted with its fundamental rule to which he has to adhere unconditionally. The behaviour of each patient in regard to that rule varies. In some cases he will easily grasp it and carry it out without particular difficulty; in others he will frequently have to be reminded of the fact that he has to make free associations; and in all cases we meet at times with a failure to associate in this way. Either he will produce the result of his reflected thoughts or say that nothing occurs to him. In such a situation the hour of treatment can sometimes pass without his producing any material whatever in the way of free association. This behaviour indicates a ‘resistance ‘, and our first task is to make its nature clear to the patient. We regularly learn that the resistance is directed against allowing certain things in the mind from becoming conscious. If at the commencement of the treatment we have explained to the patient that his free associations give us an insight into his unconscious, then his refusal to give free associations of this kind is an almost obvious form for his resistance to take.

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