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Deutsch, F. (1947). Artistic Expression and Neurotic Illness: I.: The Respiratory Neurosis of Charles Kingsley “The Water Babies” and “Anton Locke's” Dream. Am. Imago, 4D(4):64-102.

(1947). American Imago, 4D(4):64-102

Artistic Expression and Neurotic Illness: I.: The Respiratory Neurosis of Charles Kingsley “The Water Babies” and “Anton Locke's” Dream

Felix Deutsch, M.D.

Twenty eight years ago, I visited a friend who had a two-year old boy. When I arrived, my friend was just about to tell the child a story and I asked him not to disappoint the child because of my visit. My friend began with an improvised story. Once upon a time there lived a little boy, Julius, on the bottom of a pond, together with frogs, toads and little fish, and he was very happy there. Then my friend pictured the happy life the boy had, having all these inhabitants of the pond as his friends. When he was through, we went to another room and there I asked my friend what inspired him to present this water story. He looked some what perplexed and then said, laughingly—“Maybe because I have my spring hay fever or a cold,” and we both laughed.

Some years later, I treated the first patient with asthma and hay fever analytically and I was impressed with the great role fluid and water played in the dreams and fantasies of the life of this patient, and that these fantasies expressed the infantile ideas of being born in water and the wish of giving birth to a baby. In the meantime, we learned much more about the meaning of the symptoms of the different respiratory neuroses like stammering, hayfever and asthma. We learned that such patients use the respiratory tract as an organ for expression to revive old fantasies especially those of impregnation and childbearing.

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