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Timms, E. (2017). What is this Professor Freud like? A Diary of an Analysis with Historical Comments, edited by Anna Koellreuter, translated by Kristina Pia Hofer (London: Karnac Books, 2016; 117 pp.). Psychoanal. Hist., 19(3):418-421.
    

(2017). Psychoanalysis and History, 19(3):418-421

What is this Professor Freud like? A Diary of an Analysis with Historical Comments, edited by Anna Koellreuter, translated by Kristina Pia Hofer (London: Karnac Books, 2016; 117 pp.)

Review by:
Edward Timms

Letters and diaries form a precious source for historians of psychoanalysis, taking us closer than formal publications to seminal processes of thought and feeling. The correspondence between Sigmund Freud and his fiancée Martha Bernays, of which three volumes have so far appeared, offers privileged insights into a period when hypnosis was Freud's preferred treatment for nervous disorders. Their exchanges show how reluctant he was in the mid 1880s to take dreams seriously - it was Martha, in a letter of 26 June 1882, who initiated the sharing of dreams (Freud & Bernays, 2011, p. 110). But 20 years later the picture was transformed after Freud had identified dream interpretation as the royal road to the unconscious.

These issues are brought into focus by the diary of the Swiss psychiatrist Anna Guggenbühl, who was in analysis with Freud for almost four months between April and July 1921, seeing him six days a week. When the diary was discovered decades later among family papers, her granddaughter Anna Koellreuter, who is a psychoanalyst, initially hesitated to publish this intensely intimate document. It was the encouragement received from fellow analysts that finally led to the publication of the first German edition (Koellreuter, 2009). It caused a considerable stir, not least because there followed a dramatized version of the exchanges between Freud and his patient, staged at a theatre in Zurich.

The diary kept by Anna Guggenbühl during those analytical sessions, now translated by Kristina Pia Hofer, only takes up 25 pages in this neatly produced and vividly illustrated English edition, but they abound in suggestive insights.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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