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Rankin, A.V. (1963). The Three Generations: Freud's Hasdrubal/Hamilcar Error. Am. Imago, 20(4):403-409.

(1963). American Imago, 20(4):403-409

The Three Generations: Freud's Hasdrubal/Hamilcar Error

Anne Vannan Rankin

In “The Psychopathology of Everyday Life” Freud explained by analysis three factual errors of memory made by him in “The Interpretation of Dreams”. (1) He found that “the same theme is at the bottom of all the three examples I have given: the errors are derivatives of repressed thoughts connected with my dead father”. (2)

This was a discovery highly consonant with his recognition after the completion of “The Interpretation of Dreams” that it was “a portion of my own self-analysis, my reaction to my father's death”. (3) Another common factor between these three errors, which partially emerges in his discussion of them is Freud's recollections of his visit at the age of nine teen to his half-brother, Emanuel, in England. (4) The strong emotional content of the repressed material underlying these errors is shown by the fact that Freud persistently overlooked them in three sets of proofs. In this essay it is proposed to consider the second of the three errors, and to examine the possibility that in his analysis of it Freud did not succeed in bringing all the repressed material, or even the most important part of it, to consciousness.

The error consisted of the substitution of the name Has-drubal for Hamilcar Barca in a reference to Hannibal's father. (5) It gave Freud particular annoyance, in view of his thorough acquaintance with the history of the house of Barca.

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