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Layton, L. (1998). Reading Freud's Life: Madelon Sprengnether. American Imago. LII, 1995. Pp. 9-54. Psychoanal Q., 67(2):340-341.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Reading Freud's Life: Madelon Sprengnether. American Imago. LII, 1995. Pp. 9-54

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(2):340-341


Reading Freud's Life: Madelon Sprengnether. American Imago. LII, 1995. Pp. 9-54

Lynne Layton

Sprengnether continues to explore Freud's biography in order to explain why Freud chose to ground psychoanalysis in the oedipus complex. Why have Freud's construction of himself and his self-analysis been so readily accepted by his biographers and the analytic community? Sprengnether examines Freud's letters to his friend Eduard Silberstein and to Martha Bernays during their engagement. In his letters to Silberstein, Freud demands that his friend be totally forthcoming and say everything that is on his mind. The letters to Martha reveal a pattern Sprengnether likens to the fort/da game: instead of mastery, there is a failure to work through the painful feelings surrounding separation and loss. Freud would first provoke a fight with Martha and then reconcile and demand an even greater closeness. Both sets of letters return us to Freud's relationship with his mother, the missing link of psychoanalytic theory. In the letters to Eduard, Freud talks about his closeness to Frau Fluss, who, unlike his own mother, related to him in a non-narcissistic way. Sprengnether believes that Freud enacted a repetition compulsion with Martha, and that he never mourned his separation from and

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disappointment in his mother. Freud's oedipal theory bypassed sorrow and mourning. Unable to acknowledge anger toward the mother, Freud created a theory of hostility toward the father and idealization of maternal love.

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Article Citation

Layton, L. (1998). Reading Freud's Life. Psychoanal. Q., 67(2):340-341

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