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XI THE EAR AND AUDITORY PASSAGE AS EROTOGENIC ZONES (1913)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

SEVERAL years ago my attention was drawn by the following observation to the significance of the ear and external auditory meatus as erotogenic zones, A neurotic patient suffered from peculiar ‘ attacks ‘which occurred ten to twenty times a day and even more often. I had ample opportunity of observing these ‘attacks’ during a long psycho-analytic treatment. In the middle of a conversation the patient would suddenly jump up, turn pale, put his hands up to his ears, and run to the door; then he would stick the forefinger of his right hand into his right ear and move the finger violently about in it with every sign of the most intense excitement. At the same time his face would work as though he were in a towering rage, and he would wriggle about and stamp his feet. The motor innervation would finally be discharged in panting breaths, and he would then sink down exhausted. After a few moments he would be able to continue his previous train of thought, though I sometimes had to recall to his memory the words he had been speaking immediately before his attack. Consciousness was always clouded during the attacks; and after them the patient had a feeling of returning to reality out of a different state. He knew that quite definite thoughts appeared at the height of his state of excitement, but he was never able to recollect what they were precisely. The analysis, which cannot be given in full here, showed that at the beginning of each attack the patient felt violent itching in the auditory meatus, of which he rid himself with every sign of great excitement. These attacks were a surrogate for certain kinds of sexual activity which were denied him. It is particularly interesting to note that the attacks, and most of his other symptoms as well, disappeared on one occasion for some months. This was at a time when he had become acquainted with a girl. They did not proceed to sexual intercourse, but found pleasure in tickling each other with feelings of great excitement until they became exhausted.

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VII. A COMPLICATED CEREMONIAL FOUND IN NEUROTIC WOMEN (1912)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

SEVERAL years ago Freud published a short paper 2 in which he discussed the relation between obsessional neurosis and religious practices. Ordinary observation shows us that very many neurotics—and not only obsessional ones—carry on in private a cult which in its various forms reminds us of religious rites and ceremonies, and that they repeat some of these practices day by day with the same regularity and fixed procedure with which a religious community will repeat its prayers every morning -and evening.

Although there is a very wide scope for individual difference in a private cult of this kind, we often find persons making use of the same or of very similar neurotic ceremonials, notwithstanding that they come from entirely different social circles, and differ completely in their way of life, the circumstances in which they are placed, their intellectual abilities, and their opinions. This applies particularly to the simplest forms of ceremonial. For example, there is the very prevalent compulsion of having to step in a certain way on the flagstones of the pavement; and there is the equally frequent compulsion to count one’s steps in walking or going upstairs and to end up with an even number. This compulsion has to do with ideas of fairness, and is also an over-compensation for certain forbidden impulses. But this is a subject we cannot enter into any further in this place.

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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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XIX. THE SPIDER AS A DREAM SYMBOL (1922)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

AS far as I know there has been nothing of any practical value written in psycho-analytic literature about the significance of the spider as a symbol, although every analyst must have come across this symbol in the dreams of patients, Freud has once said that a spider represents one aspect of the mother, namely, the angry mother of whom the child is afraid. But it is not clear why it should be precisely the spider that stands for this side of the mother, One might say that it is because spiders catch and kill small animals, and small animals often represent children in dreams. But there are numbers of other creatures who prey on smaller, defenceless ones; why, then, should the spider be singled out to symbolize the wicked mother? The spider is one of those dream symbols whose meaning we know—at least in one aspect—without knowing the reason why it has that meaning.

In practice, however, we find that this meaning of spiders is not always true—or, at least, is not always their only meaning—as we should expect from our knowledge of the ambiguity of symbols. But we shall search our literature in vain for further information on this point. Stekel2mentions the spider as a phallic symbol, it is true, but he interprets the dreams he quotes in such a superficial manner that he throws no further light on the subject. In only one of the dreams quoted are the long legs of a species of spider (Phalangium) interpreted as phallic symbols. But this spider does not spin a web, so that it remains uncertain what significance is to be attached to those spiders which do not have long legs and which spin webs.

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XX. AN INFANTILE THEORY OF THE ORIGIN OF THE FEMALE SEX (1923)

Abraham, Karl Karnac Books ePub

FROM the psycho-analyses of many patients we become acquainted with the infantile idea, which is retained in the unconscious, that the daughter has been made a girl by castration on the part of the father. Recently a female patient told me a dream in which the determination of her sex was assigned in this way to her father. The process, however, was different from that which I have met before in dreams, and was, besides, located in the period before the patient’s birth. The dream was as follows:

‘I was lying on the ground under water. I was dead, that is to say, I was lying motionless; but I could still observe everything. I saw a big ship sailing on the water. A man with a long pole was standing on it. He was moving the ship forward with the pole, as they do on our rivers. He now plunged the pole into the water in my direction and made a hole in me with it in the region of my mouth. The next thrust struck me in the breast, and the third one bored a hole in my abdomen/

The dreamer is inside her mother’s body witnessing sexual intercourse between her parents—a situation which occurs in many patients’ dreams. The particular point in this dream is, however, that the dreamer is made a woman by the process she is witnessing. The dream, therefore, gives expression to the idea that the vagina of the female child is bored out by the father’s penis before her birth.

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