Psykoanalysens Fortraengte Fortid. (The Repressed Past of Psychoanalysis.): Uffe Hansen. Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1991.
Review by: Henning Paikin
It is surprising to read that a Dane: Carl Hansen (1833–1897) was a key person in the discovery of the unconscious, which happened around 1880 the year when Joseph Breuer began his epoch-making treatment of Fräulein Anna O.
However, this is what the Danish assistant professor Dr.Phil. Uffe Hansen from the Institute of Literature at The University of Copenhagen tries to prove in his book about the hypnotist Carl Hansen.
The author is extremely conscientious in his documentation of what he, with a freudian term, calls his reconstruction. Uffe Hansen has not spared himself the effort to find sources which can prove his thesis, which is that the three persons who participated in the creation of psychoanalysis, viz., the patient Anna O., her doctor Joseph Breuer and his young friend Sigmund Freud, all have experienced Carl Hansen at his performances in Vienna. Sigmund Freud mentions Carl Hansen in his autobiography (1925). Uffe Hansen's hypothesis is that Breuer must have been inspired by Carl Hansen in his unusual treatment of Anna O.
Although the book centers around Carl Hansens's checkered career, it also gives a picture of European culture and history of science around the end of the 19th century. The description of the milieu around Carl Hansen appears very similar to what we see today. On the one side: A motley crowd of spiritualists, charlatans and ‘magnetizers’, and on the other side: Natural scientists, unable to measure ‘the animal magnetism’ and its effects and therefore rejecting the psychological phenomena as fraud.
The author succeeds in showing that Carl Hansen was a serious investigator, although he earned his living as a hypnotist on the stage. Carl Hansen thus belongs to the pre-history of psychoanalysis.
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