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Abraham, K. (1914). Letter from Karl Abraham to Sigmund Freud, January 7, 1914. The Complete Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Karl Abraham 1907-1925, 214-215.

Abraham, K. (1914). Letter from Karl Abraham to Sigmund Freud, January 7, 1914. The Complete Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Karl Abraham 1907-1925, 214-215

Letter from Karl Abraham to Sigmund Freud, January 7, 1914 Book Information Previous Up Next

Karl Abraham


7 January 1914

Dear Professor,

First something unpleasant—politics. Jung is asking about the venue for the Congress.1 On second thoughts, I myself find my suggestion (Schandau near Dresden), which had been accepted, not to be a good idea, in so far as the place is only good in fine weather. In bad weather we should be confined to the hotel and have nothing else to do. I believe therefore that Dresden is the right place. The Viennese colleagues will certainly be pleased with it because of the good [train] connections day and night. I would see to the arrangements. If this suggestion does not seem good to you, please let me know; our group will vote on 17 January. I have just written to Ferenczi and Jones to the same effect.

My negotiations with the reviewers for the Jahrbuch went well.—I am spending every free moment on the scoptophilia paper.2

Your communications about the genesis of masochism3 have, in the last few days, led me onto a trail that seems promising. It concerns solving the question of exhibitionism (as a perversion, not the general exhibitionistic tendencies of neurotics). The connection with castration anxiety seems quite striking to me. It would stand for exhibiting that part of the body about which one is anxiously worried for several reasons, probably mostly composite ones:

1.   Compulsion with strong anxiety; one exhibits oneself anxiously (because of the threatening castration) and, like the masochist, follows one's unconscious impulse and wish to be castrated.

2.   Defiant exhibiting: in spite of the threat, I still have the penis!

3.   The wish to impress the woman, or, rather, to frighten her. The attempt to incite the woman to similar activity, as the diminished sexual activity (castration anxiety!) does not allow for any other mode of behaviour. (Usually impotence is to be found simultaneously.)

According to my analysis, exhibitionism is certainly originally directed towards the mother. An attempt to compete with the father.


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