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Grossman, L. (2013). The Third Wish: Some Thoughts on Using Magic against Magic. Psychoanal Q., 82(2):477-482.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 82(2):477-482

Brief Communication

The Third Wish: Some Thoughts on Using Magic against Magic

Lee Grossman

In the section on wish-fulfillment in dreams in the Introductory Lectures, Freud (1915-1917) cites the following fairy tale:

A good fairy promised a poor married couple to grant them the fulfillment of their first three wishes. They were delighted, and made up their minds to choose their three wishes carefully. But the smell of sausages being fried in the cottage next door tempted the woman to wish for a couple of them. They were there in a flash; and this was the first wish-fulfillment. But the man was furious, and in his rage wished that the sausages were hanging on his wife's nose. This happened too; and the sausages were not to be dislodged from their new position. This was the second wish-fulfillment; but the wish was the man's and its fulfillment was most disagreeable for his wife. You know the rest of the story. Since after all they were in fact one—man and wife—the third wish was bound to be that the sausages should come away from the woman's nose. [p. 216]

In his subsequent discussion, Freud describes how the first wish was the woman's, directly fulfilled; the second was both the fulfillment of the husband's wish and the punishment of the wife for her foolishness. He then adds, in parentheses, “We shall discover in neuroses the motive for the third wish, the last remaining one in the fairy tale” (p. 219). The editor has appended a footnote to this parenthetical remark: “It is not clear what is intended here” (p. 219n, brackets omitted).

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Lee Grossman is a Training and Supervising Analyst at San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis.

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