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Eissler, K.R. (1993). Comments on Erroneous Interpretations of Freud's Seduction Theory. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41:571-583.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41:571-583

Comments on Erroneous Interpretations of Freud's Seduction Theory

K. R. Eissler, M.D.


The seduction theory, as formulated by Freud in 1896, has been erroneously understood by many to be a statement about the frequency of sexual abuse of children, but in reality it postulates a specific etiology of adult psychopathology. Freud stated two conditions that would falsify the theory. When he discovered their existence, he was forced, very much against his preference, to abandon the theory.

Later, this sequence was denied and Freud's change of theory was referred to opprobrious subjective traits, assertions made without documentation except by Masson. He maintained that he had come across a document from the pen of Ruth Mack Brunswick the alleged content of which implied grave deficits in Freud's scholarship. When it became possible to examine the original document, it was found that it does not contain anything corresponding to what Masson reported. The discrepancies between his account and Mack Brunswick's draft are presented.

In the document, Mack Brunswick set forth some of the observations she had made when treating the Wolf Man in the years subsequent to the patient's first analysis, which she had reported in 1928. Her enlargement of the role of seduction in the etiology of the Wolf Man's psychopathology is discussed.

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