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Freud, S. (1897). Letter from Freud to Fliess, December 22, 1897. The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904, 287-289.

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Freud, S. (1897). Letter from Freud to Fliess, December 22, 1897. The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904, 287-289

Letter from Freud to Fliess, December 22, 1897 Book Information Previous Up Next

Sigmund Freud

Vienna, December 22, 1897

Dear Wilhelm,

I am in good spirits again and eagerly looking forward to Breslau, that is, to you and your beautiful novelties about life and its dependence on the course of the world. I have always been curious about it, but until now have found no one who could give me an answer. If there now are two people, one of whom can say what life is, and the other can say (almost) what the mind is—and furthermore the two are very fond of each other — it is only right that they should see and talk to each other more frequently. I only want to jot down quickly a few novelties, so that I myself will not have to tell anything and will be able to listen undisturbed.

The insight has dawned on me that masturbation is the one major habit, the “primary addiction,” and it is only as a substitute and replacement for it that the other addictions — to alcohol, morphine, tobacco, and the like — come into existence. The role played by this addiction in hysteria is enormous; and it is perhaps there that my major, still outstanding obstacle is to be found, wholly or in part. And here, of course, doubt arises about whether an addiction of this kind is curable, or whether analysis and therapy must come to a halt at this point and content themselves with transforming hysteria into neurasthenia.

With regard to obsessional neurosis, I have found confirmation that the locality at which the repressed breaks through is the word presentation and not the concept attached to it. (More precisely, the word memory.) Hence the most disparate things are readily united as an obsessional idea under a single word with multiple meanings. The tendency toward breaking through makes use of these ambiguous words as though it were killing several flies at one blow. Take, for example, the following case. A girl attending a sewing class that soon will come to an end is plagued by the obsessional idea: “No, you mustn't leave; you have not yet finished; you must still make

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