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Keller, E.F. (1980). Lewis Carroll: A Study of Mathematical Inhibition. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 28:133-160.

(1980). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 28:133-160

Lewis Carroll: A Study of Mathematical Inhibition

Evelyn Fox Keller, Ph.D.


Carroll's mathematical abilities appear to have been severely constrained—subject simultaneously to inhibition and distortion. Through an analysis of his informal commentary on his relation to mathematical puzzles I have attempted to understand and explain the nature of these inhibitions and distortions. Particular attention to his metaphor of the "mental bun," and his use of this metaphor, has led me to conclude that the mathematical puzzle served, for Carroll, distinctly

fetishistic functions. This interpretation dovetails with Greenacre's early intuition about the prevalence in his literary work of fantasies and preoccupations reminiscent of clinical experience with fetishism. The connection argued here between inhibitions and distortions in the sexual and intellectual realms suggests, as a domain for further inquiry, the possibility of a more general investigation into the role of sexual fantasies in intellectual activities.

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