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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 20 / 69





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Cohen 17

which he indeed manages to uncover. And while the four-year long analysis

culminates with the construction of the primal scene, the text itself begins with it,

introducing it in a self-conscious moment of revelation only twenty-eight pages into

the one hundred nine-page account.

To put it differently, the construction of the primal scene in the analysis

caused innumerable loose pieces of information accumulated over the course of years

to instantly crystallize into a network of meaning; in the case history, Freud

introduces the primal scene and then suspends and subverts time, jumping from

component to component in depicting the structure that forms around it. As he

explains, "I am unable to give either a purely historical or a purely thematic account

of my patient's story; I can write a history neither of the treatment nor of the illness,

but I shall find myself obliged to combine the two methods of presentation" (158).

According to Peter Brooks, Freud's text actually has four levels of narrative: "the

history of the neurosis," "the etiology of the neurosis," "the history of the treatment,"

and "the order of report in the case history" (272). While the order of report

organizes the other three levels


what prevents the text from devolving into

explanatory anarchy, I would argue, is the primal scene itself, a single point that is

simultaneously the text's origin, end, and source of order.

Freud evokes this puzzling circularity late in his analysis with one final salvo

of rhetoric, a reinterpretation of the patient's reverse-Oedipal "womb-phantasy"

according to the ventriloquized objections of Jung and Adler. The patient imagined

and projected into his past the primal scene to avoid contending with the real sources

of his neurosis, Freud imagines his opponents arguing, and "his symptoms were then

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