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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 8 / 69





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Cohen 5

analyzes these memoirs in lieu of Schreber himself, a situation inverted and parodied

in Pale Fire by the poet's sanity and the interpreter's mental distress.

While The Case of Dr. Schreber is significant in relation to Pale Fire, the

novel has deeper resonances with From the History of an Infantile Neurosis, arguably

the most complex and influential of Freud's case histories. Beset by the "twisted re-



of maverick psychoanalysts Carl Jung and Alfred Adler,

Freud attempts here to prove conclusively the causal link between early childhood

experience and neurosis, presenting his analysis of an adult patient later dubbed "the

wolf- an."^

Jung and Adler had been claiming that adult neurotics invent childhood

traumas to resist addressing the real, contemporary sources of their illness, so Freud

tasks himself here with irrefutably demonstrating that such a "primal scene" did

indeed affect the patient's childhood. At the heart of Freud's account is the

interpretation of a dream the patient had at age four immediately preceding the onset

of his childhood neurosis, an ominous vision of bushy-tailed wolves staring through

his window from the branches of a tree. The dream, Freud argues, encodes the

patient's repressed memory of his parents having sex, the primal scene whose

historical fact decides the debate in favor of psychoanalytic orthodoxy.

Though Freud wrote the case history in 1914-15, World War I prevented him

from publishing it until 1918. Sometime during these intervening years, he returned

to his text, adding two bracketed passages to the original manuscript. In these

interpolations to an otherwise unaltered account, Freud startlingly questions the

On the level of biography, it is worth acknowledging the similarities between the backgrounds of Nabokov and Sergei Pankejeff (aka "the Wolf-Man"): both were born near the turn of the century to aristocratic Russian families, had fathers active in liberal politics, were raised on opulent country estates, and were exiled as poor young men to Europe in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution.

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