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Mahon, E. (2000). Anna and Sigmund at the Rue Royale. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 48(4):1621-1628.

(2000). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 48(4):1621-1628

The Life Cycle

Anna and Sigmund at the Rue Royale Related Papers

Eugene Mahon

In my imagination the history of ideas is a dialogue: the seminal thoughts of the past generating new meanings, new challenges, new contradictions for current listeners who are not passive receptacles of, but active communicators with, the great legacy of the past. This is an old intellectual notion, not a new one. What is the oedipus complex after all from an aesthetic point of view but a tension between one generation and another that turns the wheels of intellectual progress, even as it preserves them? The dialogue as scientific catalyst is as old as Plato, as provocative as Galileo, and as modern as Stanley Leavy who has suggested that psychoanalysis itself can be thought of as an enduring dialogue. In that time-honored intellectual tradition and spirit I invoke a posthumous dialogue between Anna and Sigmund Freud at a restaurant called the Rue Royale. It is a dialogue between the past and the present, and the coordinates are the royal road of intellectual discourse where legacy meets scientific truth with one interest only: the pursuit of meaning through the never-ending psychoanalytic investigation of the mind.

October 9, 1982. A table in a restaurant. An old man seated. A Beethoven piano sonata is heard softly in the background. A woman enters, old but youthful. (It will become clear, as the dialogue proceeds, that this is a meeting in the afterlife of Sigmund Freud and Anna Freud).

SIGMUND: I've waited since 1939 for this moment.

ANNA: Forty-three years! Nothing, in the larger scheme of things. A mere turn or two of the hourglass in tectonic time.


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