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Garcia, E.E. (1989). Johann Weier and Sigmund Freud: A Psychoanalytic Note on Science, Narcissism and Aggression: The Riddle of Johann Weier. Am. Imago, 46(1):21-36.

(1989). American Imago, 46(1):21-36

Johann Weier and Sigmund Freud: A Psychoanalytic Note on Science, Narcissism and Aggression: The Riddle of Johann Weier

Emanuel E. Garcia, M.D.

In 1907, in answer to a request of Viennese publisher Hugo Heller to list “ten good books,” Freud wrote a letter which, in addition to fulfilling the publisher's request, contained elements that inspire curiosity.

You ask me to name ‘ten good books’ for you, and refrain from adding to this any word of explanation. Thus you leave to me not only the choice of the books but also the interpretation of your request. Accustomed to paying attention to small signs, I must then trust the wording in which you couch your enigmatical demand. You did not say: ‘the ten most magnificent works (of world literature)’, in which case I should have been obliged to reply, with so many others: Homer, the tragedies of Sophocles, Goethe's Faust, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Macbeth, etc. Nor did you say the ‘ten most significant books,’ among which scientific achievements like those of Copernicus, of the old physician Johann Weier on the belief in witches, Darwin's Descent of Man, and others, would then have found a place (1907, p. 245).1

I must confess that when I first perused this passage I gave no thought to what I have since come to recognize as a challenging oddity—namely, the identification of Johann Weier as author of what Freud considered to be one of the three greatest scientific achievements in man's history.


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