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Van Ophuijsen, J.H. (1920). On the Origin of the Feeling of Persecution. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:235-239.

(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:235-239

On the Origin of the Feeling of Persecution

J. H.W. Van Ophuijsen

In the course of his practice the psycho-analyst is brought into constant touch with the problem of delusions of persecution. Either he has occasion to examine a paranoic patient or his mental products, or he is obliged to recognize that the pathological phenomena which he observes in his neurotic patients are more or less completely analogous to paranoic symptoms. Indeed, psychoanalytical literature already includes a considerable number of contributions to the solution of this problem, Freud's papers being the most important among them. In these the person of the persecutor, the origin of the delusion, and the nature of the persecution, have been the subject of enquiry; nor has there been any lack of allusions to the question which I wish to discuss here, namely the origin of the feeling of being persecuted.

This feeling is a symptom which, in a mitigated form, is never absent from a case of psychoneurosis, but which must of course be distinguished from the delusion of being persecuted. With this feeling I include the neurotic's ideas of reference, his common fear of being attacked from behind, his not being able to bear anyone walking behind him in the street or on the stairs, his dreams of persecution, etc. All these symptoms have in common the uncanny feeling of which the paranoic also complains, or to which he reacts in some other way.

Experience has brought me to the view that this feeling can be traced back to the anal complex, and has led me to expect that psychiatrists will be able to confirm this theory of its origin in the case of their patients. I give below some accounts of cases which may serve as specimens of my observations on this point.

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