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Garcia, E.E. (1997). Remembering Anna O.: A Century Of Mystification. By Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen. Translated by Kirby Olson in collaboration with Xavier Callahan and the author. New York: Routledge. 1996, xi + 125 pp., $14.95 (paperback).. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:1311-1314.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:1311-1314

Remembering Anna O.: A Century Of Mystification. By Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen. Translated by Kirby Olson in collaboration with Xavier Callahan and the author. New York: Routledge. 1996, xi + 125 pp., $14.95 (paperback).

Review by:
Emanuel E. Garcia

The most remarkable thing about Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen's Remembering Anna O. is that a work with such obvious biases and based on such flimsy scholarship was ever published. But the most edifying aspect of this curious book is that it demonstrates very clearly how necessary the clinical experience of psychoanalysis is to those who would conduct research into its history and development.

Breuer's record of the treatment of Bertha Pappenheim, the famed “Anna O.” of Studies on Hysteria, assumed a pivotal role in the evolution of psychoanalysis. In conjunction with Charcot's demonstration to Freud of the purely psychological induction of physical hysterical symptomatology, Breuer's case propelled the young Freud toward a line of therapeutic and scientific inquiry that would eventually lead to the psychological discoveries manifested by the dream book, the three essays on infantile sexuality, and the famed case histories.

The significance of Anna O. to psychoanalysis lay in the dramatic revelation that hysterical symptoms could disappear with the affective recollection of unconscious traumata—that a “talking cure” could succeed where other attempts at treatment had failed. There is an elegant simplicity and beauty about the disappearance of Anna O.'s crippling symptoms, symptoms which even today are encountered in clinical work. I myself am fortunate enough to have treated a patient with a severe delusional obsession that was suddenly and powerfully dissipated through a therapeutic process essentially identical to the one described by Breuer.

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