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Halpert, E. (1975). Lermontov and the Wolf Man. Am. Imago, 32(4):315-328.

(1975). American Imago, 32(4):315-328

Lermontov and the Wolf Man

Eugene Halpert, M.D.

This paper examines the Wolf Man's identification with the poet and writer Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov. This examination offers evidence of a specific global identification of the Wolf Man and helps shed further light on the workings of the Wolf Man's mind.

Any attempt at further exploration of the Wolf Man's case has certain inherent difficulties. Anna Freud (1971) warned about the temptation bred by familiarity with the case “to test the interpretations given, to probe beyond the conclusions drawn” (Gardiner, 1971, p. X). Blum (1974) also comments on these difficulties and speaks of each analyst's feelings for Freud and his case histories which play some role in any analyst writing about them. Despite these difficulties it is possible, particularly with the new fund of information made available by the publication of The Wolf Man by the Wolf Man (1971) to explore and enrich our understanding of this important case. Indeed, as implied by Blum (1974); the progress made since the publication of the case in 1918, the advent of structural theory, of child-observation advances in ego psychology call for such reevaluations.

In this vein, Blum (1974) reexamined Freud's difficult and complex case in order “to demonstrate the Wolf Man's childhood disturbance as a severe borderline disturbance which was the foundation for a borderline adolescence” (p. 723) and adulthood. In attempting to demonstrate the severity of the Wolf Man's ego defects, Blum speaks of the Wolf Man's “regressive tendency to global identifications, which may involve merger with the object” (p. 727).

Before proceeding, we need to bear in mind that Freud meant to restrict himself to the presentation of the infantile neurosis. His primary purpose in publishing the case when he did was to answer the criticisms of both Jung and Adler who, each in his own way, denied the existence of infantile sexuality:

What is in dispute, therefore, is the significance of the infantile factor.

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