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Kanzer, M. (1976). Freud and His Literary Doubles. Am. Imago, 33(3):231-243.

(1976). American Imago, 33(3):231-243

Freud and His Literary Doubles

Mark Kanzer, Ph.D.

Freud's feelings of affinity for creative writers has often been noted. Indeed, we find in his own writings gifts of imagination, exposition and style which may be recognized even before he entered the University of Vienna. His frequent references to literature and the arts attest to deep-seated cultural interests and appreciation. Even in Freud's scientific writings, there is an admixture of metaphors and allegories which are not only an inherent part of their teaching value but arise from his very thought processes. His works reveal an alternation, hitherto insufficiently studied, between clinical and metapsychological observations on the one hand and applied analysis on the other. His metapsychological essay “On Narcissism(1914B), the clinical study of the Wolf Man (1918), and the semi-autobiographical article on “The Moses of Michelangelo” (1914A) were written almost simultaneously and disclose related aspects of a personal as well as scientific reorientation through which he was passing at the moment (Kanzer 1966).

It is sometimes held that Freud discovered the significance of dreams through the revelations of his patients; but in fact, he was collecting and appraising his own dreams scientifically long before he was practicing psychotherapy (E. Jones, 1953, E. Freud, 1960). His fundamental application of the principle of determinism to psychic events probably owed as much to such self-observations and critical appraisals of literature (see especially the letters to his fiancée, Martha Bernays, [E. Freud, 1960]) as to his observations on patients or, more generally, his schooling in the doctrines of physical determinism. Indeed, his introduction of this principle was expressed in metaphorical language as he described how “A most important piece of information is often announced as being a redundant accessory, like an opera prince disguised as a beggar,” (Breuer-Freud, 1893-5, pp. 279-280).

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