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Procter-Gregg, N. (1956). Schopenhauer and Freud. Psychoanal Q., 25:197-214.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:197-214

Schopenhauer and Freud

Nancy Procter-Gregg


In those Glades which both men knew did not exist, Arthur Schopenhauer encountered Sigmund Freud, and began at once to talk to him. It is a peculiarity of these regions that the ghostly shades of the interlocutors who inhabit them vary in visibility according to the impressions they make upon each other. In the course of the conversation now to be recounted, I observed that Schopenhauer (who evinced considerable delight at meeting, as he said, one who at long last had added much supporting knowledge to his own theory) maintained as it were a fairly regular consistency of about medium intensity; Freud, who showed him both courtesy and interest, sometimes bulked quite opaquely with the latter, but the former could not prevent his attenuation almost to vanishing point when his interest failed. Among the Shades, it is all a question of 'does he say anything to me?'

'You have recognized me, I think', said Schopenhauer, and Freud replied that he had indeed done so. No one was more conscious than he of the fact of unconscious assimilation of ideas from other men's writings, even if one has forgotten them; but in his autobiographical study he had denied his acquaintance until late in life—'But then', he continued, 'I acknowledged that, as I put it, "not only did you assert the dominance of the emotions and the supreme importance of sexuality, but you were even aware of the mechanism of repression"'.

'And so I have very much to say to you', said Schopenhauer triumphantly, 'for as I so often wrote, my system is all one, all my books were just the exposition of my central insight—but in this infernal place no one can take in what he was not capable of receiving when alive, and from many of your publications I conclude you scorn philosophers'.


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