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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 32 / 69





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Cohen 29

reconstituting the case's fragments, the reader reestablishes it as an entity possessing


The case's fragments, however, cannot be synthesized as neatly as Freud's

instructions promise. In the first bracketed addition to the text, he offers the

destabilizing possibility that the primal scene was an imagined fulfillment of a wish

inspired by the child's witnessing the copulation of sheepdogs. While the primal

scene must have been an experience of the patient's childhood and not a neurotic

projection back from adulthood, Freud argues, it is inconsequential whether it was a

historical event or a historical fantasy (201-203). And though Freud acknowledges he

has "now laid myself open to grave aspersions on the part of the readers of this case

history," he sidesteps the questions that inevitably result by promising that "a factor

will emerge which will shake the certainty which we seem at present to enjoy" (203).

Yet the last thing the reader possesses at this point is "certainty," and the promised

"factor" elucidated in Chapter VIII, confidently entitled "Fresh Material from the

Primal Period-Solution," only serves to complicate an already overdetermined


Namely, Freud interprets the Wolf-Man's terror at encountering a butterfly as

screening his attempted urinary "seduction" of Grusha, a family servant, and her

subsequent threat to castrate him (232-234). While Freud holds up this bit of analysis

as an intermediate link between the primal scene and the dream of the wolves, as well

as between the childhood and adult manifestations of the neurosis, it is only effective

in elucidating the latter. Picking up the differed questions from the first bracketed

passage, Freud notes in the second that the incident "affords me a justification for

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