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Freud, S. (1931). Letter from Sigmund Freud to Yvette Guilbert, March 8, 1931. Letters of Sigmund Freud 1873-1939, 403-404.

Freud, S. (1931). Letter from Sigmund Freud to Yvette Guilbert, March 8, 1931. Letters of Sigmund Freud 1873-1939, 403-404

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Yvette Guilbert, March 8, 1931 Book Information Previous Up Next

Sigmund Freud

Vienna IX, Berggasse 19
March 8, 1931

Dear Friend

I would very much like to be with you when your husband1 translates this letter to you, for owing to my poor state of health I profited far too little from your last visit to Vienna. It is good to hear that you are again going to write something about yourself. If I understand correctly, you intend this time to elucidate the secret of your achievement and success, and you imagine that your technique consists in relegating your own person completely to the background and replacing it by the character whom you are representing. And now you wish me to tell you whether this process is likely and whether it applies to you.

I wish I knew more about this process; then I would certainly tell you everything I know. Since I don't understand much about it, I must ask you to be content with the following suggestions. I believe that what you consider the psychological mechanism of your art has been claimed very often, perhaps universally. But this idea of the obliteration of one's own person and its replacement by an imagined one has never quite satisfied me. It tells us so little, doesn't inform us how it is brought about, and above all it fails to explain why one person should succeed so much better than another in achieving what every artist allegedly wants. I rather suspect that an element of the opposite mechanism is indispensable for it: that one's own person is not obliterated but that parts of it —repressed desires and traits that haven't had a chance to develop —are employed to represent the chosen character and in this way find expression and give it the stamp of realistic truth.

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