20 juni 1898

Sigmund Freud skriver til sin venn Wilhelm Fliess i Berlin:

"I have not yet ceased mourning the lost dream. As if in spite, I recently had a substitute dream in which a house constructed of building blocks collapsed ("We had built a staatliches house") and which, because of this connection, could not be used. DIE RICHTERIN [THE FEMALE JUDGE]

There is no doubt that this has to do with a poetic defense against the memory of a [sexual] affair with the sister. Strange, though, that this [defense] proceeds exactly as it does in neurosis.

All neurotics create the so-called family romance (which becomes conscious in paranoia); it serves on the one hand the need for self-aggrandizement and on the other as a defense against incest. If the sister is not one's mother's child, one is relieved of all blame. (The same applies if one is oneself the child of other people.)

Where does the material for creating the romance -- adultery, illegitimate child, and the like -- come from? Usually from the lower social circles of servant girls. Such things are so common among them that one is never at a loss for material, and it is especially apt to occur if the seductress herself was a person in service. In all the analyses one therefore hears the same story twice: once as a fantasy about the mother; the second time as a real memory of the maid. This explains why in Die Richterin -- who is in fact the mother -- the same story appears twice without changes, a composition one would scarcely regard as a good literary accomplishment.

At the end mistress and maid lie lifeless side by side. In the end the maid usually leaves the house, which is how servant stories usually end, but in the novel it is also the maid's punishment. ...

Resentment against the mother is expressed in the novel by turning her into a stepmother. Thus, in every single feature is is identical with the romances of revenge and exoneration which my hysterics, if they are boys, invent about their mothers.

The psychology is proceeding in a strange manner; it is nearly finished, composed as if in a dream and certainly, in this form, not fit for publication, nor intended for it, as the style shows.

I feel very timid about it. All its themes come from the work on neurosis, not from that on dreams."


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