4 oktober 1897

Sigmund Freud skriver til sin venn Wilhelm Fliess i Berlin:

"Impotence: as an infant and as therapist. The children arrived. The fine weather is gone. Today's dream has, under the strangest disguises, produced the following: she was my teacher in sexual matters and complained because I was clumsy and unable to do anything [cf. Rat Man's description of his governesses]. (Neurotic impotence always comes about in this way. The fear of not being able to do anything at all in school thus obtains its sexual substratum.)

At the same time I saw the skull of a small animal and in the dream I thought "pig," but in the analysis I associated it with your wish two years ago that I might find, as Goethe once did, a skull on the Lido to enlighten me. But I did not find it. So [I was] a "little blockhead" [literally, a sheep's head].

The whole dream was full of the most mortifying allusions to my present impotence as a therapist [cf. 21 Sep 97 re failures to bring analyses to conclusion as sign of inadequacy of seduction theory]. Perhaps this is where the inclination to believe in the incurability of hysteria begins.

Moreover, she washed me in reddish water in which she had previously washed herself. (The interpretation is not difficult [?]; I find nothing like this in the chain of my memories; so I regard it as a genuine ancient discovery.) And she made me steal zehners to give them to her.

There is a long chain from these first silver zehners to the heap of paper ten-florin notes which I saw in the dream as Martha's weekly house-keeping money. The dream could be summed up as "bad treatment." Just as the old woman got money from me for her bad treatment, so today I get money for the bad treatment of my patients. ...

A harsh critic might say of all this that it was retrogressively fantasied instead of progressively determined [nach vorne]. The experimenta crucis must decide against him.

The reddish water would indeed seem to be of that kind. Where do all patients get the horrible details which often are as remote from their experience [Erleben] as from their knowledge?


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