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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 33 / 69





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Cohen 30

having refused on an earlier page to adopt unhesitatingly, as the only tenable

explanation, the view that the primal scene was derived from an observation" of

animal copulation (237). The true purpose of introducing Grusha and the butterfly

into the case, then, is to protect the historical validity of the primal scene.

When squeezed into the already over-crowded causal weave of the Wolf-


early childhood, though, the Grusha incident becomes a kind of secondary

primal scene, with the butterfly as the uncontested screen memory and the

micturation as the disputed event: "It then appeared that his fear of the butterfly was

in every respect analogous to his fear of the wolf; in both cases it was castration,

which was, to begin with, referred to the person who had first uttered the threat of

castration" (237). As before, Freud is compelled to defend the simple possibility of

the event, arguing that the "scene in itself contained nothing objectionable or

improbable; on the contrary it consisted entirely of commonplace details which gave

no grounds for scepticism

(237). And with Freud's defense of the scene's

historical validity, the reader's experience of textual


is complete: "There was

nothing in it which could lead one to attribute its origin to the child's imagination;

such a supposition, indeed, seemed scarcely possible" (238).

In attempting to preserve the historical validity of the primal scene, then,

Freud ends up inadvertently recapitulating the very indeterminacy he is trying to

resolve, with the inherent tension between imaginary and physical history resurfacing

in the text itself. Describing earlier the Wolf-Man's sadomasochism following the

"seduction" by his sister, Freud remarks on "the unusually clear, intense, and constant


of the patient" (171):

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