27 oktober 1897

Sigmund Freud skriver til sin venn Wilhelm Fliess i Berlin (her gjengitt i engelsk oversettelse -- originalen er på tysk):

"Dear Wilhelm, It seems that I cannot "await" your answer. You certainly cannot offer the explanation for your silence that you have been whirled back with an elemental force to times when reading and writing were bothersome chores for you, as happened to me on Sunday when I wanted to celebrate your not-yet-fortieth birthday with a letter -- but I hope it was something just as harmless.

As for myself, I have nothing to tell you about except analysis, which I think will be the most interesting thing about me for you as well. Business is hopelessly bad; in general, by the way, right up to the top of the profession, and so I live only for the "inner work."

I am gripped and pulled through ancient times in quick association of thoughts; my moods change like the landscapes seen by a traveler from a train; and as the great poet, using his privilege to ennoble (sublimate), put it:

Und manche liebe Schatten steigen auf;

Gleich einer alten, halbverklungenen Sage,

Kommit erste Lieb' und Freundschaft mit herauf.

And also first fright and discord. Many a sad secret of life is here followed back to its first roots; many a pride and privilege are made aware of their humble origins.

All of what I experienced with my patients, as a third [person] I find again here - days when I drag myself about dejected because I have understood nothing of the dream, of the fantasy, of the mood of the day; and then again days when a flash of lightning illuminates the interrelations and lets me understand the past as a preparation for the present.

I am beginning to perceive in the determining factors large, general, framing motives, as I should like to call them, and other motives, fill-ins, which vary according to the individual's experiences.

At the same time several, though not yet all, doubts about my conception of neruosis are being resolved. An idea about resistance has enabled me to put back on course all those cases of mine that had gone somewhat astray, so that they are now proceeding satisfactorily.

Resistance, which finally brings the [analytic] work to a halt, is nothing other than the child's former character, the degenerative character, which developed or would have developed as a result of those experiences that one finds as a conscious memory in the so-called degenerative cases, but which here is overlaid by the development of repression.

I dig it out by my work; it struggles; and the person who initially was such a good, noble human being becomes mean, untruthful, or obstinate, a malingerer - until I tell him so and thus make it possible for him to overcome this character. In this way resistance has become something actual and tangible to me, and I wish that instead of the concept of repression I already had what lies concealed behind it as well.

This infantile character develops during the period of "longing," after the child has been removed from sexual experiences.

Longing is the main character trait of hysteria, just as actual anesthesia (even though only potential) is its main symptom.

During this same period of longing fantasies are formed and masturbation is (regularly?) practiced, which then yields to repression. It if does not yield, then no hysteria develops either; the discharge of sexual excitation for the most part removes the possibility of hysteria.

It has become clear to me that various compulsive movements represent a substitute for the discontinued movements of masturbation.

Enough for today; details another time when I have heard good and new things from you. That there is nothing wrong I fortunately know from Oscar and Melanie - who perhaps have already learned something new while I am writing, perhaps not yet.

With the most cordial greetings to you, wife, and child. Your Sigm."


Freud, S., et al. (1985). The complete letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess : 1887-1904. Cambridge, Mass, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

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