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Meissner, W.W. (1977). The Wolf Man and the Paranoid Process. Ann. Psychoanal., 5:23-74.

(1977). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 5:23-74

The Wolf Man and the Paranoid Process

W. W. Meissner, S.J., M.D.


Freud's case studies have an inherent value that transcends their mere historical interest. The detail and clarity of Freud's reconstruction of such cases provides not only a model of psychoanalytic investigation, but also an important testing ground against which the development of psychoanalytic insights and understanding can be paired off with the formulations of the founder of psychoanalysis. The result may be greater appreciation for the congruence and continuity of analytic insights, or it may be conversely a sharpening and focusing of the differentiation of such insights as a factor of scientific progress.

The case of the Wolf Man stands in the first rank of Freud's clinical studies and has been the object of continuing analytic interest since its original publication in 1918 (Freud, 1918; Gardiner, 1971).

The Wolf Man had originally been in treatment with Freud from February 1910 until June of 1914. He returned again for several months of treatment in 1919. However, when he again decompensated and returned to Freud for consultation in 1926, Freud referred him to Ruth Mack Brunswick, who conducted a brief second analysis lasting five months. Freud's original recounting of the case took place in the context of his debate with Adler and Jung. Consequently, his focus was on the reconstruction of the infantile neurosis and the demonstration of the connection between the infantile neurosis and the patient's adult illness.


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