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Veszy-Wagner, L. (1958). Serf Balázs: a “Boy without the Dike”; a Stage before the Solution of the Oedipal Conflict. Am. Imago, 15(2):181-194.

(1958). American Imago, 15(2):181-194

Serf Balázs: a “Boy without the Dike”; a Stage before the Solution of the Oedipal Conflict

L. Veszy-Wagner, Ph.D.

Alexander Grinstein, in an essay published in the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis (1) tells us of the Dutch story of “the boy and the dike”, current also in and after World War II, and examines it in the light of the analytical viewpoint. Grinstein gives the following account: “A little boy, son of a sluicer living near Haarlem, late one afternoon observed a tiny trickle coming from a small hole in a dike. He climbed up the dike and “without hesitation” put his finger into the little hole … He remained in this position throughout the entire night. His finger became numbed with cold, then his hand, then his arm, and finally his entire body … At dawn a clergyman … came to save him. He was praised for his deed and called a hero …” etc.

Grinstein, after having discussed similar tales, among others as far back as that one which is related in the famous German Muenchhausen-book, rightly comes to the conclusion that in the case of the Dutch boy, as well as in those of the other heroes “the heroic action … consists … of his triumph over his father” and that the material of the tale has to be interpreted in the light of the castration anxiety which precedes his triumph.

Recently, I came across a somewhat divergent Hungarian variation of the same story which is the more interesting because, apart from its comparative antiquity, it also evokes the need to modify some of Grinstein's further conclusions.

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