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Neu, J. (1973). Fantasy and Memory: The Aetiological Role of Thoughts According to Freud. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 54:383-398.

(1973). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 54:383-398

Fantasy and Memory: The Aetiological Role of Thoughts According to Freud

Jerome Neu

'Hysterics suffer mainly from reminiscences.' This early formulation, though it underwent drastic revision as Freud's psychoanalytic thought developed, contains two elements which remained central. It places one source of psychological disorder in thoughts, and it treats the hysteric as somehow the victim of his or her past. The hysteric is unfree, a prisoner of his individual history. The maxim brings the past into play through thoughts, specifically thoughts about the past, i.e. memories. That our past can influence our present behaviour in devious ways is an important insight, that one of those ways is through thoughts proves an even more important insight. A cluster of questions arises around these points. Is it actually our past, or (better) our actual past, that influences our behaviour in the areas Freud discusses? How is one to distinguish the causal efficacy of reality and fantasy? Is their efficacy 'causal'? How and why is 'memory' brought in as intermediary? How is one to distinguish memory of reality, memory of fantasy, and fantasy of memory? And do any of these distinctions matter to the individual's unfreedom and the possibilities of overcoming it? In this paper I will be taking only some first steps towards answering these questions.

HYPNOSIS, CURE AND THE ROLE OF THOUGHTS

What were the grounds at the beginning of psychoanalysis for believing that there could be an 'analytical' therapy? Why should 'analysis', 'understanding', 'interpretation', 'insight' be of value in treatment? Part of the answer is to be found in the belief that certain disorders are psychological in origin.

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