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Bartemeier, L.H. (1943). Concerning the Psychogenesis of Convulsive Disorders. Psychoanal Q., 12:330-337.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:330-337

Concerning the Psychogenesis of Convulsive Disorders

Leo H. Bartemeier

In an article entitled Dostoevski and Parricide, which appeared in 1929, Freud provided us with our first clear understanding of affective epilepsy through his painstaking psychological study of the life and character of the famous Russian novelist. His careful investigation showed us the specific connections between the severe emotional disturbance which Dostoevski had suffered as a child and his later epileptic attacks. It revealed that his seizures were the more violent manifestations of the very same impulses which had troubled him in his boyhood, and it portrayed convincingly why the murder of his father in his eighteenth year became the precipitating factor which determined the outbreak of his convulsive disorder. Here for the first time we could trace the earlier and later effects of the murderous feelings of a son towards his father. In his childhood they had resulted in morbid fears about his own death, and in his adolescence, following the actual murder of his father, he began having epileptic seizures of the grand mal type. These violent attacks represented his own deathlike punishment. He had wished to kill his father in order to be in his father's place. In his seizures he was his father, but the dead father. Freud therefore regarded Dostoveski's epileptic attacks as the symptoms of a hystero-epilepsy or a serious hysterical neurosis and he took care to differentiate it from those convulsive seizures which are organic in origin. Freud saw Dostoevski as a man who had a marked bisexual predisposition and one who was possessed of a very strong destructive impulse which throughout his life was directed mainly against his own person.

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