Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To sort articles by author…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

While performing a search, you can sort the articles by Author in the Search section. This will rearrange the results of your search alphabetically according to the author’s surname. This feature is useful to quickly locate the work of a specific author.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Blumgart, L. (1918). Jahrbuch für Psychoanalytische und Psychopathologische Forschungen. Psychoanal. Rev., 5(2):228-242.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Jahrbuch für Psychoanalytische und Psychopathologische Forschungen

(1918). Psychoanalytic Review, 5(2):228-242


Jahrbuch für Psychoanalytische und Psychopathologische Forschungen

Leonard Blumgart, M.D.Author Information

The third case he discusses is the little girl, who is noticed to be most precocious when very young. Sadger says that she flirted with him at the age of one and a half years. At one and three quarter years, as an evidence of her very strong attraction for her father, it was noted that when she received a photograph of him at the time he went on a long trip, the child was inseparable from it. She took it to bed with her, to the table, on her walks, etc., and showed it to everybody. From birth this child had urinated much and often. As a natural result of her father's experience, she was very strictly treated and often punished, all without avail. She urinated involuntarily every time she was frightened or punished. It was noticed that when her intense desires were not fulfilled, she wet herself in her rage. Her father noted that at the age of one year and ten months she stood in front of him and wet herself, and at the same time had the vacant look of a masturbating child—this in spite of the realization that she would be severely punished. It would seem as if the pleasure derived from this act was greater than the pain which came as a necessary consequence. The relation between the child's wetting herself and her father's trips away from home is interesting. A few days after her father's departure she stopped wetting herself. But on his return her bad habits reasserted themselves; in fact, if she knew in advance that he was returning, she anticipated it by wetting her bed the night before his homecoming. This child showed, also, very strong negativistic tendencies. At the age of three, it had not been possible to train her to sit on the pot—this in spite of the fact that, in default of obedience, she suffered corporal punishment. If she was forcibly placed on it, she refused to evacuate her bowels or empty her bladder, despite the fact of her enforced position on her nursery chair, with this end in view, for long periods of time. Immediately after being dressed or put to bed she soiled herself. Her compulsion-neurotic father kept a diary of this child, and by far the largest portion of this journal is taken up with the struggle of the

- 228 -

parents to teach the child to acquire “room and bed cleanliness.” In spite of the most severe chastisement, this child refused to pass dejecta or flush the bladder, except at her own convenience and pleasure, and though coerced into sitting for long periods on her chair, remained obdurate.

The second child of this couple, at the time this paper was written—the last citation—was not yet a year old. At three and a half months the mother noticed that every time she washed the genitals, the child had an erection; the slightest manipulation in this region caused the child to laugh heartily and to show every evidence of great pleasure. In its twelfth month his mother was forced to acknowledge that he masturbated. He refused to urinate alone and asked his mother to hold his penis for him. This bad habit was only overcome by repeated corporal punishment. Attempts have thus far been unsuccessful to teach him to empty bowels and bladder regularly into the pot. An additional interesting observation made by both parents is the marked preference he shows for the mother and the perfectly frank aversion manifested towards his father.

4. Analysis of Egmont's Dream.—In reading Goethe's “Egmont,” Robitsek is impressed with the dream which Egmont has in the last act, and his first conscious movement toward his head, to feel for the laurel wreath of which he has dreamed. Stimulated by the work Freud had done in analyzing the dreams of Jensen's “Gradiva,” he thereupon attempts an analysis of this dream in “Egmont.”

Robitsek dissolves the dream into its elements; shows its relationship to the thoughts of the waking period; interprets its symbolism; and reveals the latent content behind the manifest one. He discusses the effect of the dream in resolving Egmont's fears of his coming execution into fantasies of freedom and triumph.

Robitsek points out that the dream is composed of the elements which are present in real dreams: first, memories of childhood; second, unfulfilled wishes; third, the material in the conscious. Egmont's memories of childhood explain the contradictory character of the dream. As a result of his unfulfilled wishes, he beholds as fulfilled in his dream “the two dearest joys of his heart,” the freedom of his people and the possession of his beloved. And the fact that the consciousness of actuality is still present is shown by the fact that Egmont's first motion upon awaking is to feel for his head, as though to make sure he still possessed it. For, though he is conscious only of the picture of the goddess presenting him with a crown, nevertheless the thoughts of his execution have been but imperfectly repressed.

Finally, Robitsek asks how it is that a dream written by Goethe can so closely follow the lines, the structure, and the content shown by real dreams. He states that it is probably due to the identification of the author with his own hero. “Egmont” is, in fact, a piece of that “Great

- 229 -

Confession” which Goethe himself admitted was contained within all his works. Egmont is probably a portrait of Goethe in a certain period of his own life.

Robitsek closes with the words of Wagner's Hans Sachs:

“Just this the poet's work I deem:

To analyze his every dream.

For all the truths from men concealed

Are in their nightly dreams revealed.

And that which we call poetry

But clarifies and sets them free.”

5. A Dream that Explains Itself.

“In truth the subtle web of thought

Is like the weaver's fabric wrought:

One treadle moves a thousand lines,

Swift dart the shuttles to and fro,

Unseen the threads together flow,

One stroke a thousand threads combines.”


I. The Technique of the Analysis of Dreams

At the request of a young lady—not a neurotic—Rank undertook to analyze her dream. He deems it worthy of publication, because it reveals its own meaning. In order to make this fact clear, he refers to a point made by Freud concerning the technique of the analysis of dreams.

Freud distinguishes between the remembered “manifest dream content” and the “latent dream thoughts” which are gained through analytical interpretation. These latent thoughts are subdivided into two groups: first, the unconscious, buried under strata of psychic processes; second, understandable thoughts which may be localized in psychic regions, and which in the theory of dreams are known as the “preconscious.” To interpret a dream thoroughly we must probe into sexual wishes set aside in infancy but capable of renewal in a later period. But to get at this material, it is necessary to combat the psychic forces which tend to distort the dream. As regards the element derived from the unconscious, the development of the technique of psychoanalysis, with its resulting uniformity of conclusions, has made it possible to interpret that element with a great degree of certainty.

II. The Dream and its Interpretation

The dreamer narrates her dream in the following words: (The parts included in parentheses are her supplementary remarks.)

“I was in a king's palace as governess. The queen, an elderly woman, wearing a Chinese dress with a long train, was about to depart

- 230 -

on a trip. I had to leave the child (whether a boy or a girl, I do not know), in order to bid her farewell. To this end, I was supposed to lie on the floor, but did not want to do it. Thereupon she struck me in the face with a rod. Then I lay down, so that my nose touched the ground. I thought to myself: ‘So this is the good position I have found!’ And then she struck me, until it hurt. Afterward she extended me her hand, which I kissed. The queen then instructed one of her companions to conduct me, as a reward, into a {Chinese) lavender room, which was otherwise a forbidden chamber. As I entered, I was greatly astonished to think that I had not been so badly treated, since I was to have the honor of looking at the room. The companion told me that there were birds here. Suddenly I saw a magnificent bird fly in from behind and alight near me. He had a long tail, and bore himself in a proud, springy manner, like a wagtail. His color was lavender, like that of the room. Then I saw green oleander-like trees in blue vessels at the entrance to the lavender room. The sun shone. (Through this doorlike opening I saw a garden and thought: ‘Lord, if I could only go out into the garden.’ But I didn't get there.) Meanwhile, the steward, a tall, thin man, had likewise taken leave of the queen, and was also allowed to see the room. The queen told him that he must wait until I had left. He wanted to come in anyway, but the companion said that she had to lock up first. Then she unlocked the door again and he came in. The companion—or chambermaid—received twenty gulden as a reward. Then the queen pointed out to me a pink room containing a pink washstand, whereas the first reception room had been yellow. I surprised the king, a dark, stylish young man, who was dressing. (I saw him first in the mirror, then in reality. He was brushing up his hair; it was still wet and stood stiffly.) He said, ‘Pardon me, this is not your room. I excused myself and went out, thinking, ‘The king is such a stylish man and she such an old woman; he isn't at all suited to her.’ Then I met him again in the reception room and he turned toward me, as though he were in love with me—I also could have fallen in love with him—and said that he, too, was going away. (Thereupon, in the yellow room, he again looked into the mirror, as if to convince himself that he was pleasing to me.) Astonished, I said to him,’ So you're going away?’ ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I'm going away.’ The chambermaid had to pack the master's things quickly. Whether or not they went away, I do not know. I didn't see the child again either.”

Rank informs us that the dreamer has for several years been away from home, supporting herself as a governess. At the time of the dream she was without a position. The dream is the fulfilment of her wish for a good position, in pleasant surroundings. It recalls also the fact that, as a rule, she could not agree with her mistress and was annoyed by the master of the house. A second wish, that of a husband and a

- 231 -

home of her own, is also revealed, for the king represents the type of man she admires. Behind these desires is the sexual “hotel fantasy,” indicated by the entrance into a forbidden room, the sight of the king's toilet accessories, etc.

By the aid of well-established symbolism already referred to we can probe still deeper into the dream. The queen and king typify the girl's parents, the stern mother and the loved father. The entrance into a forbidden room by way of a reward is probably the distortion of an episode in childhood, in which the dreamer was punished for having committed a forbidden act. The fact that the governess must leave the child to bid the queen farewell is based on the fact that the dreamer, upon ceasing to be a child, left home in order to rid herself of her domineering mother. The departure of the queen is the fulfilment of an erotic childhood wish that her mother might depart and leave her alone with her father. Why, however, a girl should have dreamed of a forbidden room—which usually symbolizes a woman—was not clear to Rank until he heard the continuation of the dream.

The Dream, Part 2

“I was back home, walking in the fields. (I looked toward the railway station and saw a young man, H., coming from there. I looked to see whether he was really coming, but he remained standing on the same spot. Soon I was unable to see him any more. Then a lovely turnip field, with large, beautiful leaves, caught my attention.) I cut off splendid ears of barley and corn. I was surprised that the barley should be ripe ahead of the corn, when just the reverse is true. At the same time, the ears struck me as being unusually beautiful, full, and ripe. I put the ears I had cut off into my apron, so that I wouldn't be talked about, and went home. I passed the mill, near which a friend of my youth, Z., was emerging from the bathhouse. He took off his hat to me. He went to the field in which I had been. I wanted to prevent his speaking to me, for I thought: ‘He is certainly going to look at the barley, and will see that I have cut off the ears.’ (It suddenly grew muddy, a fact which surprised me, since it had not rained in the meantime.) As I drew near home, I met a girl, A., who stood in front of the door (and had a dog with her) and held something black in her hand. She asked,'Where do you come from?’ ‘I was walking,’ I said. Then she saw the ears protruding from my aprona thing which did not please meand said, ‘I suppose you gathered those for your housekeeper's hens?’ I said,’ Yes.’ Nearby stood another companion, B. The first girl, A., said, ‘She is also here from Vienna.’ I said, ‘Is that so?’ Then she said that she was not on speaking terms with B., and I answered, ‘I am also angry at her.’ A. accompanied me a little farther. We passed B., who stopped me. (While we spoke to one another, A. had curled herself up near the gate, and was stirring the ground with a stick, pretending that she wasn't

- 232 -

listening to us.) B. asked, ‘Where were you?’ I said, ‘Walking.’ ‘What have you in your apron?’ ‘Ears.’ ‘Was the com cut, then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Then I suppose you gathered them together after the reaping?’ I said yes, for I didn't want to betray the fact that I had torn them off. She had needlework in her hand. Through the open gate I saw her garden, which was very alluring to me. Then she asked me if I couldn't go home with her. I said,’ Yes, but first I must bring the ears home.’ The housekeeper was glad when I gave her the ears and remarked that, as a result, the hens would lay fine eggs. Then I was in my friend B.'s house; we were naked and fondled each other….”

Close inspection reveals the same elements present in the two dreams, though in different guises. The king is represented by the young man emerging from the bathhouse; the bird appears again as the hens; there is a forbidden garden in each; the bundle of ears corresponds to the queen's bundle of rods. The forbidden room episode, which runs through folk-lore (cf. the story of “Bluebeard”), symbolizes that act forbidden to children: masturbation. The forbidden ears of corn have the same meaning. The similarity between the words ear (Ähre) and honor (Ehre) is significant.

The dreamer's meeting with the young man refers to a meeting with her former fiancé in the summer preceding the dream, when she was visiting her home. More recent incidents bearing on the dream were the girl's admiration of a beautiful bird, the reading of an article on the Chinese, and a discussion on the Eskimo custom of rubbing noses. The fact that the dream took place on the night before St. Nicholas Eve (December 6) awoke memories of garments received from her mother. The dreamer feared that she would not receive a gift this time, since she had not kissed her mother goodby (cf. the parting with the queen). Rank points out that the governess’ enforced position with nose to the ground is reminiscent of the punishment of dogs who are not house trained. The mud and rain mentioned in the second dream are manifestations of early anal- and urethral-eroticism.

It is significant that at the end of the second dream, the girl found herself in the same position as that in which she took leave of the queen. In the first dream the presence of her mother (the queen thwarts her sexual desires. The absence of the mother in the second dream permits the fulfilment of these desires.

Freud tells us that dreams in which facts are reversed (as, for example, the ripening of the corn and the barley) have, as a rule, a homosexual significance, That this dream has such a meaning, is proved by the following facts: The girl referred to as B. was known to her playmates as “the mother,” on account of her physical development and her attitude toward other children. In childhood the dreamer had “played father and mother” with a girl friend or her young brother,

- 233 -

always reserving the part of the father for herself. She was also fond of wearing masculine apparel. The fact that in the second dream she conducts herself as a man explains the significance of the room in the first dream. Yet her womanly instincts reveal themselves in her attitude toward the men in her dreams. Her bisexual nature is further shown by the fact that she does not know whether the child (a personification of herself in childhood) is a boy or a girl. The steward in the first dream is her masculine counterpart. The reference to the Chinese has, according to Stekel, a bisexual meaning, on account of the braid worn by the Chinaman. Finally, thorough investigation into the girl's character reveals a two-sided nature.

III. Theoretical Observations

A dream is not the reproduction of one thought but—to quote Freud —of a “web of thoughts,” reaching as far back as the unfulfilled wishes of early childhood. The first dream (built up from recent events and daydreams of the future) is interesting in that it presents in distorted form the primitive sexual material. The second dream (the fulfilment of actual infantile sexual wishes) is interesting in that it points the way to the interpretation of this symbolism. The first dream, in which desire is thwarted, is known as a “fear dream”; the second, which fulfils desire, as a “pollution dream.” These two types of dreams are “the end members of a series, in which the dream life of man is enacted in the most varied stages and forms of disguise.”

Analysis proves that normal as well as neurotic persons have psycho-sexual constitutions and sexual experiences in childhood. The difference between them lies in the fact that normal beings can control these complexes without harm to themselves. In childhood it is difficult to draw the line between the neurotics and those who in later life become normal.

This abstract is of necessity short, and, therefore, does not show to what a marvelous extent Rank has worked out its details. It is without doubt one of the best and most complete dream analyses that exists in psychoanalytic literature. It occupies seventy-six pages. Practically every dream mechanism of importance is illustrated. A careful study of this paper in the original is earnestly recommended to students of dream psychology and to all those who have doubts as to the correctness of Freud's dream psychology. Here they will find ample proof for most of the theories set up by Freud.

6. Fantasy and Fable.—Between individual psychology and race psychology there are certain close relations, which permit one to apply principles derived from the first to the second, and vice versa. Laws regulating the formation and disposition of ideas, the development and manifestation of impulses, inhibitions, habits, character building, education, the formation of taste in the individual, are more or less exactly

- 234 -

applicable to the race psyche, appearing in such equivalent forms as: spirit of the times, will of the people, public opinion, custom, ruling taste, criticism, etc.

In his study of the connection between individual and race psychology the author has profited by the works of Dr. Riklin and Dr. Abraham on the same subject.

I. The Functional Phenomenon

Silberer distinguishes between the material and the functional phenomena. The former deal with the thought content of the dream; the latter with the manner in which consciousness functions in the dream. The functional are usually characterized by an explicable feeling, such as weariness, or ease, according to the manner in which the thought operates.

II. Dream, Myth, Fulfilment of Wishes, Freud's Ψ-Systems

The dream of the individual and the myth of the race exhibit corresponding elements. Every dream is important, for it contains suppressed thoughts, disguised so as to please the censor of the mind. The same is true to a great extent of myths.

Abraham has pointed out that, just as the dreamer is incapable of understanding his dream, so the race cannot understand its mythology. As dreams have their roots in childhood (the prehistoric period of the individual), so myths are derived from the prehistoric epoch (the infantile life) of the race. Moreover, the individual, in his development, recapitulates to a very large extent the life of the race.

Someone has remarked that the long sleep of children is an ontogenetic reminiscence of the days when men were seers and dreams were reality. What we do know is that children live in a world of fancy which adults cannot approach.

Man's unfulfilled wishes often take the form of supernatural power, attributed to prehistoric times. Similarly, most fairy tales begin with an allusion to “the olden days, when wishes still availed.” The historical race-wish to be a mighty people is expressed in myths in which the national hero is descended from a god.

Silberer closes this chapter with a reference to Freud's Ψ-systems, which typify, on the one hand, elementary psychic forces, and, on the other, those processes which seek to unify and sublimate the crude forces. Speaking mythologically, the human mind, in its development, repeats the struggle of the Gods, for supremacy over the Titans.

III. The Functional Phenomenon in Fairy Tales and Myths

The struggles which take place in the human mind are symbolized, as we have seen, in myths and fairy tales. Freud has identified the Devil as “the personification of suppressed impulses.”

- 235 -

Silberer analyzes a fairy tale, to show that not only are folk-lore, myths, and fairy tales built up according to Freudian mechanism, but that a number of them reveal the mechanism itself. The story is as follows:

A king's son kills his parents and ascends the throne. Later he marries a princess, who gives birth to a daughter. Upon the death of her mother, this girl flees from her cruel father to a distant land, where she later marries the king. Her husband promises her that he will never harbor a guest without her consent. However, the wicked father succeeds in entering the palace, and causes the queen much suffering. At last the villain is brought to judgment and forced to tell his life history while bound with bands of iron. Every time he tries to lie the bands grip him. At the conclusion of his confession a stone beneath him opens and precipitates him into a kettle of boiling pitch, where he perishes.

The king's son (a strong egoistical wish) holds sway over his wife (the reason). At the death of his wife their daughter (the psyche) is in danger of being overpowered. Not being strong enough to combat her father, she flees (the oppressed thought isolates itself from the overpowering complex). She exacts the promise that a guest shall not be entertained without her knowledge (the psyche opposes the entrance of the displaced complex). The father succeeds in entering. As a result, the daughter suffers (psychoneurosis). Through the father's confession (psychoanalysis) she is released.

This tale, as most myths, contains a functional phenomenon, the phenomenon of thought repression.

IV. Examples from the Domains of Fairy Tales, Myths, and Magic

Grimm's story of “The Frog Prince”—in which the princess is compelled to take the frog home as her playmate—symbolizes a woman's disgust for the sexual. The prince who is delivered from his enchantment represents a freed psyche.

Enchantment reminds one of the compulsion neurosis, or of the disturbances of physiological functions in hysteria. The evil spirit, or witch, is in many cases a condensation of the idea of the sexual rival with that of repressed sexual impulses.

In Grimm's “Fairy Tell True,” where the opening of a forbidden door gilds the culprit's finger, fear of discovery results in a psychoneurosis, accompanied by a compulsory attempt to remove the gold. The compulsion lasts until the suppressed element (the opening of the door) is brought to light through confession. That this story has a sexual meaning is proved by the fact that the girl's confession quenches the flames which were about to consume her.

Here it is the good fairy1 who brings about the heroine's salvation.


1 In the German version, the Virgin. (Abstracter's note.)

- 236 -

The god who rescues the hero of a tale is a projection of the hero's own soul; a fantastic “dramatic person,” who is able to perceive that which the individual himself cannot perceive.

In many tales the heroes are given impossible tasks to accomplish. And these heroes are for the most part simple people or else children. The reason why children succeed in executing the impossible is that it is they who in real life come closest to the fulfilment of their wishes.

The fact that heroes often become kings or lords symbolizes the process of sublimation. The evil spirits never lend themselves to sublimation. They must be overcome by a magic sword (the will). They flourish in the dark (the unconscious region) but perish in the light (of consciousness).

A functional phenomenon in simple myths and fairy tales is the objective expression of feeling. Thus in the “Frog Prince” disgust is embodied in the form of a loathsome frog. Likewise, the mythological gods of light, storm, wisdom, etc., are projections of the inner life. The wanderings of the soul, seeking purification, typify the mind's striving toward harmony.

V. For the Comprehension of the “Mythological Stage” of Knowledge—Further Examples

Silberer points out that that conception is termed mythological which has been succeeded by a more enlightened view of the subject. Thus, at some future time, the ideas of our day will be termed mythological, in view of future knowledge. Those ideas which are not comprehensible appear to us in symbolic form. The symbol stands as an intermediary between us and the truth. The step-like progress of knowledge is ever working toward the goal of absolute knowledge. Mythology, in portraying a time when such knowledge prevailed, gives the race hope of reattaining this power. Here lies also one of the psychological roots of religion—religion which prophesies the return of man to his original godlike state.

The myth, like the dream, contains condensed elements. Just as the naive dreamer never attains a full comprehension of his dream, so the race that produces myths never penetrates their inmost meaning. In every age learned men have’ tried to solve these hidden truths. We must not expect, however, that every myth or tale contains elements revealing religious conceptions. Some myths are merely the childish-mythological portrayal of a subject. But all myths, like dreams, contain a chain of thoughts, leading to a definite point.

In a subtle manner the heavenly, human, astronomical, earthly, and ethical elements are condensed in mythology. An example showing this dream-like mechanism is the story of the migration of souls.

The souls known as “damp” souls are lured down from heaven by

- 237 -

Dionysos, god of wine, who represents pantheistic nature as opposed to the oneness of God. The dark, damp earth attracts the damp souls. Their emotional life now resembles the restless sea. As the water produces living things from the dead earth, so the souls animate bodies which would be dead without them. (Fertilization through water has a sexual meaning.) They drink from the damp cup of Dionysos and forget their higher natures.

The sea denotes the underworld into which the sun sinks, in order to rise, refreshed, in the morning. Our spiritual sun, consciousness, likewise disappears at night, to reappear in the morning. Sleep may, therefore, be considered as the damp underworld of consciousness. As soon as the sun, triumphant, mounts out of the dark, the soul starts on its way to the light.

Mythology pictures the souls as having butterfly's wings. When they drop to earth, they lose their wings and go through the various stages in the life of the butterfly. Unaware of their godly origin, they change into a crysalis in the dark. But a drink from the cup of knowledge restores them to consciousness. After many wanderings and purifications they enter, new-winged, the Zodiacal door to the upper world and return to their homes.

The descent and ascent of the soul is a functional phenomenon. The ascent, typifying the feeling of freedom accompanying a climb into higher mountain regions, may symbolically be applied to the sphere of the psychic.

7. The Psychoanalysis of Freud.—Bleuler says that Freud's followers are charged with being actuated by emotional rather than scientific motives. Yet the very men who bring this criticism give evidence of but an imperfect understanding of that which they oppose. Overlooking the mass of facts upon which Freud has built his theories, they demand proof. But they furnish no proof on their side. They base their objections on esthetic and ethical grounds, which surely have no place in a scientific discussion.


The most vehement accusations are directed against Freud's conception of the sexual in man. This is labeled, from the intellectual viewpoint, as nonsense, and from the emotional, as disgusting. Yet sexual desires are natural to all; they are the most repressed of the fundamental desires. Repression and hypocrisy concerning them are harmful.

Upon investigation, the great majority of symptoms attributed to other causes are proved to have a sexual origin. Of the hundreds of schizophrenic patients analyzed by the author, none was without a sexual complex. In most cases, it was the dominating symptom. Contrary to the inference of critics, the analyst was careful not to make any suggestion leading to the disclosure of the patient's sexual experiences.

- 238 -

Many objections to the sexual theory would be overcome, if the Freudian definition of the sexual were understood. The Freudian “libido” embraces all positive strivings, even such, for example, as the infant's desire for food.

Sexual desires in the child are evident to all who do not blind themselves to facts. Freud and Frank have found, through analysis, that as early as the fourth year, the foundations of a later sexual development are laid. Likewise, the much discussed “Œdipus complex,” so revolting to critics, is an established fact.

The Mistakes of Normals

Many complexes are bound up with seemingly irrelevant thoughts. Bleuler cites as an example the case of a man who, in repeating a Latin quotation, could not recall the simple word “aliquis.” Freud discovered, upon analysis, that this inability resulted from the patient's repressed fear that his mistress might be pregnant and so fail to menstruate.

Association Experiment

The same concept is colored, at different times, with different emotions. But analysts, versed in the methods of psychoanalysis, can detect the underlying complex.

That other persons have been unable to isolate the complex from its associations is due to the fact that they have not gone about the experiment in the proper way.

Interpretation and Symbolism

Facts regarding patients which are accepted when obtained through other sources are doubted when proved to be true through psychoanalysis. Yet through this method, the same fact is not repeated, but is brought forward in different guises, so that each time new light is thrown upon it.

Psychoanalysts do not claim the absolute certainty and completeness of every analysis. But since complexes possess almost stereotyped symbols, which reappear in person after person, the experienced analyst can detect these complexes with a great degree of assurance. Physical reactions on the part of the patient, such as alteration of the tone, blushing, trembling, movements of hands and feet, reveal much without the patient's knowledge. Thus, the word “yes,” uttered in certain tones, can be interpreted as meaning “no,” and vice versa.


Psychoanalysis cures cases to which other methods are inaccessible. Every one knows that the outward expression of emotion—as, for

- 239 -

instance, weeping—has a soothing effect; that, on the contrary, the suppression of emotions is harmful. But when this principle is applied in psychoanalysis, its efficacy is disputed.

It is claimed that the unconscious, disturbing complexes are suggested to the patients by the doctor. Let, however, the patient follow these “suggestions” to the end, and he will discover that he entertained them long before the cure began.

Another argument against the treatment is that psychoanalyzed persons lose their purity of mind. Bleuler answers it by this question: Is it better to relegate one's repressed sexuality to the realm of dreams and neuroses, or to regulate one's acts in the light of knowledge?

Psychoanalytic therapy is still in its infancy; time alone will prove its test.


Bleuler hesitates to criticize Freud, because experience has proved to him that those Freudian theories which at first seemed to him untrue or absurd were, in the end, correct. Moreover, many of his criticisms are levelled at individual Freudian scholars rather than at the master himself. That he should differ from Freud in minor questions is not surprising, since in psychological, as in many other scientific subjects, absolute certainty is impossible.

Bleuler points out the dangers of generalizations built upon insufficient proof. He is opposed to pathographies, such as those of Kleist, because of the incompleteness of the material at hand, and because these works are presented to a public unacquainted with Freudian theories. Similar studies of literary heroes also appear unsatisfactory to him.

Concerning Freud's sexual theory, the author is not convinced that infantile sexuality is much richer in autoerotic, somatic, and psychic material than later periods; nor that the unconscious processes revert entirely to infantile sexuality. Likewise, Freud's studies of wit do not appear to him thoroughly conclusive. He believes that the future may reveal a mixed etiology and show the relative parts played by sexual and other causes.

Historical Relations

The sublimation and repression of sexuality has long been known to poets and (at least the first of these) to physicians. Conclusions formulated by Freud had long before been apparent to Bleuler, as a result of his psychological investigations.

The conception of emotion as a quantity, directly proportionate to the energy possessed by the idea which the emotion accompanies, is not new. The transference of the same emotion from one object to another is likewise a matter of common observation.

Bleuler is not prepared to state the exact relation between sexuality and such processes as religious fervor, esthetic ideals, or thirst for

- 240 -

knowledge, regarded by Freud as sublimations of erotic impulses. He offers the supposition that scientific or esthetic urgings, primarily present, are strengthened by the influence of the libido.

The relation of fear dreams and other manifestations of fear to sexuality is not new to us. It remained for Freud, however, to point out that a sexual repression or frustrated striving provoked the fear.

Observation shows that unconscious processes influence our conscious thoughts and acts. Many actions which cannot be traced to outward circumstances prove, upon investigation, to have originated in the region of the unconscious. The unconscious is such an integral part of the psyche and has such influence on our whole life, that Bleuler does not understand the Freudian limitation of its origin to the infantile period.

In discussing thought association, Bleuler points out that an experience which arouses a certain affect for the first time creates that emotion for the whole life. Later experiences similar to the first call up merely modifications of the first affect. This creation of affective tones explains the tremendous significance of infantile experiences in later life.

Bleuler considers the Freudian theory of dream interpretation as one of the greatest aids to the understanding of the psychology of the unconscious. Yet the mechanism contains gaps which demand further proof.

As to the question of bisexuality, investigation has revealed homosexual tendencies in normal as well as in abnormal persons.


Bleuler sums up his article in the following words:

“With the exception, perhaps, of the investigations of Heilbronner, I know of no attack on the Freudian teachings which is to the point. Most of them rest upon ignorance in theory and practical application of the psychology of the unconscious (Tiefenpsychologie). The attacks against the therapeutic methods are based, for the most part, on Freud's conception of sexuality, which his opponents unscientifically oppose with ethical motives. If the Freudian school has erred in the matter of exposition and argument, it has been greatly surpassed in this respect by its antagonists.

“The greater, I might say the fundamental portion of the Freudian teachings is based in logical fashion on assured facts, and must, therefore, be regarded as correct. Furthermore, much of that which, according to Freud's presentation, astonishes the public, is not new, but is merely used in a new connection. If one is well acquainted with the workings of the emotional element in our psyche, most of the Freudian mechanisms will appear as self-evident postulates. One has but to consider how great is their activity in reality. The rest of the Freudian

- 241 -

psychology is not nonsense, but disputable hypotheses, from which, in the future, much truth may be precipitated. That in the fine points of the entire school many details are problematical, too quickly generalized, or directly false, is not surprising. It would be marvelous if false conclusions were not drawn in this freshly ploughed field and in the unending complications of our psyche, as well as in every other sphere.”

8. Report of the Second Private Psychoanalytical Conference in Nuremberg on March 30 and 31, 1910.

9. Concerning Criticism of Psychoanalysis.—Jung quotes a criticism of Freud's theories by Kurt Mendel (Neurological Zentralblatt, 1910), to show that such criticism is based, not on scientific facts, but on personal prejudices.

- 242 -

Article Citation

Blumgart, L. (1918). Jahrbuch für Psychoanalytische und Psychopathologische Forschungen. Psychoanal. Rev., 5(2):228-242

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.