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Partridge, S. (2014). The Hidden Neglect and Sexual Abuse of Infant Sigmund Freud. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 8(2):139-150.

(2014). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 8(2):139-150

The Hidden Neglect and Sexual Abuse of Infant Sigmund Freud

Simon Partridge

In the context of the aftermath of the Savile scandal this paper explores and consolidates decades of research into Freud's own infant sexual abuse by his nursemaid, nurses, or his father. Acknowledging the work of Prophecy Coles, Louis Breger, Mary Marcel, and others, and drawing on some acute personal experience, it argues that the time has come to honestly face up to Freud's own neglect and abuse. It calls for recognition that his invention of the Oedipus complex and infantile sexuality was part of his own defensive formation against the pain and humiliation of his early sexual trauma, once it was revealed in his self-analysis. This necessitated his abandonment of the “seduction theory” of the aetiology of neuroses (hysteria) and its replacement by the “universal” Oedipus complex. The paper points to the regressive effect of the oedipal “shibboleth” in discouraging recognition of the widespread prevalence of child sexual abuse in society, as evident post Savile. It is sympathetic to Freud's inability to face his own early traumas in the absence of understanding and support in his day, but insists that the lingering cover-up in psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and society must now come to an end.

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