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Gammelgaard, J. (2017). Why Dora Left: Freud and the Master Discourse. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 18(3):201-211.

(2017). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 18(3):201-211

Why Dora Left: Freud and the Master Discourse

Judy Gammelgaard, Ph.D.

The question of why Dora left her treatment before it was brought to a satisfactory end and the equally important question of why Freud chose to publish this problematic and fragmentary story have both been dealt with at great length by Freud’s successors. Dora has been read by analysts, literary critics, and not least by feminists.

The aim of this paper is to point out the position Freud took toward his patient. Dora stands out as the one case among Freud’s 5 great case stories that has a female protagonist, and reading the case it becomes clear that Freud stumbled because of an unresolved problem toward femininity, both Dora’s and his own. In Dora, it is argued, Freud took a new stance toward the object of his investigation, speaking from the position of the master. Freud presents himself as the one who knows, in great contrast to the position he takes when unraveling the dream. Here he is the humble scholar giving evidence of a great tolerance for not-knowing. These 2 positions run through Freud’s writings from “The Interpretation of Dreams” (1900b) to “Analysis Terminable and Interminable” (1937a). From the Dora case a line can be drawn to Freud’s metaphor of the bedrock of castration, the unsurpassable barrier to both analytical work and the theory of sex and gender.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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