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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 34 / 69





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Cohen 31

Such behavior was also characteristic of his later life, and so was this further

trait: no position of the libido which had once been established was ever

completely replaced by a later one. It was rather left in existence side by side

with all the others, and this allowed him to maintain an incessant vacillation

which proved to be incompatible with the acquisition of a stable character.


That no stage of psychosexual development ever held complete sway, that it "was

rather left in existence side by side with all the others," uncannily describes Freud's

revision of his own text at the same time that it portrays the patient's



attempt to provide the reader with a coherent picture of the neurosis ends in

frustration, then, but results in a layered text (Peter Brooks calls it a "palimpsest"


mimetically depicting its essential character. Unsettlingly, it is we who are

invited to re-experience the analysis, to repeat an act of detection whose push for

explanatory coherence begets further fragmentation and

Freud's text is


thus more active than he ever intended, and the neurosis transmittable less as

Freud also depicts the Wolf-Man's psyche using quasi-archaeological terms:

So it was that his mental life impressed one in much the same way as the religion of Ancient Egypt, which is so unintelligible to us because it preserves the earlier stage of its development side by side with the end products, retains the most ancient gods and their attributes along with the most modern ones, and thus, as it were, spreads out upon a two-dimensional surface what other instances of evolution show us in the solid. (260)

9 In her foreword to The Wolf-Man by the Wolf-Man, Anna Freud describes the desire to re-experience an analysis as on of the "unsuspected results" of her father's case histories:

The very familiarity which analysts began to feel with these patients aroused the temptation to deal with them in their imagination as if they were their own patients, to wish to know everything about them, to test the interpretations given, to probe beyond the conclusions drawn, and wherever possible to reconstitute once more the original data from which the author's abstractions had been made. (x)

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