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Tabin, J.K. (1994). Fantasies about Freud's Fantasies. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(3):281-284.
(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(3):281-284
Fantasies about Freud's Fantasies
Johanna Krout Tabin, Ph.D.
To the Editor:
In an excellent article in this journal, Diaz de Chumaceiro (1993) takes up and dispels fantasies that O'Brien (1991) and Masson (1985) hold about Freud's fantasies. Such fantasizing has led to speculations also about Freud's behavior. Those writers may be right about their guesses as to Freud's sexual activities. However, Diaz de Chumaceiro makes it clear that they cannot prove their case by interpreting their versions of what Freud's fantasies must have been.
Even Diaz de Chumaceiro, however, overlooked a chance to make her argument still clearer. O'Brien based a significant amount of his speculating on a particular passage in Freud's letter to Fliess on May 16, 1897. Diaz de Chumaceiro quotes this passage as O'Brien presents it. She accepts with O'Brien an addendum by Masson that provides the heart of O'Brien's thesis.
In the actual letter, Freud enthusiastically expresses his own delight and amazement at his solitary achievement in discovering the meanings of dreams. He says that he feels like “that Celtic imp” (1887-1902). Consonant with Freud's classical interests, an immediate association might be that Freud is thinking of the Shakespearean sprite, Puck. He continues with a poem, tantalizingly writing only its first line, followed by ellipses: “Oh, how happy I am that no one, no one knows it …” (H. Frank Brull, trans., private communication, 1994).
O'Brien proceeds from Masson's translation of the letter. For reasons probably known only to Masson's unconscious, he throws in a footnote to his otherwise fair translation, asserting that (rather than Puck) Freud really meant Rumpelstiltskin. From this, O'Brien proclaims that Freud's reference was to a character that split apart when his secret identity was known. O'Brien then interprets this as evidence of dark preoccupation by Freud with the possibility of his own splitting apart, should the terrible secrets become known of his true identity as a despicable character who impregnated his sister-in-law and required her to have an abortion.
What Freud (1962) wrote on May 16, 1897, was the following (translated by H.
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