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Fliess, R. (1956). The Déjà Raconté: a Transference-Delusion Concerning the Castration Complex. Psychoanal Q., 25:215-227.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:215-227

The Déjà Raconté: a Transference-Delusion Concerning the Castration Complex

Robert Fliess, M.D.


The problem of the déjà raconté has puzzled the writer for a long time. There is little literature on the subject. Other than reporting on his discovery of the phenomenon in a short article in 1913 (1), Freud, although returning to it several times, has done so only briefly.

This short study devotes itself to the development of a two-fold thesis concerning déjà raconté. First, the phenomenon is not, as has been thought, a parapraxia, but a delusion; second, it appears that the memory, recent or distant, that the patient is certain he has reported before, although actually he has not, alludes to castration. A few examples are:

1. A male patient states he had told me before that his mother had been in the habit of saying to him as a boy, 'Take your hand out of your pocket'. His associations to this were to occasional masturbation during puberty with sand under the prepuce, which caused the penis to bleed. His reaction to being informed that he had not previously reported this was one of considerable dismay.

2. A woman in analysis repeatedly and with great affect reported the ordeals she suffered before and after an emergency operation that had saved her life during the latency period. It had been at night and the euphoric child, 'feeling fine', was rushed to the hospital 'just for X-rays', as the mother explained it to her, promising that they would shortly be back. Once in the hospital the child was abandoned to the surgeons.

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