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Good, M.I. (1995). Karl Abraham, Sigmund Freud, And The Fate Of The Seduction Theory. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:1137-1167.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:1137-1167

Karl Abraham, Sigmund Freud, And The Fate Of The Seduction Theory

Michael I. Good

Karl Abraham

Even after Freud had turned his attention away from the seduction theory of neurosogenesis, his close pupil and colleague, Karl Abraham, initially sought to investigate child sexual trauma further. In two of the very first articles on child sexual molestation, Abraham proposed that sexual abuse was particularly common among neurotic and psychotic patients as a result of a “traumatophilic diathesis,” a trauma-related conceptual precursor of the repetition compulsion. In their correspondence, Freud trenchantly criticized many aspects of Abraham's papers on the subject of sexual trauma, in contrast to his public endorsement of Abraham's work in this area. For largely transferential reasons that this paper attempts to elucidate, Abraham did not encourage dialogue regarding persistent questions on the seduction issue, ceased publishing on that topic, and for some time controlled his apparently deep rankle over Freud's criticisms and failure to acknowledge Abraham's contribution to the concept of the repetition compulsion. Despite their close friendship and shared intellectual enthusiasm, Freud's response to Abraham's 1907 papers, as well as Abraham's almost uniformly positive disposition toward Freud, apparently prevented Abraham from further developing his observations and ideas on seduction and also lent background to their later clash. Subsequently, there was virtually no further psychoanalytic investigation of the subject of child sexual abuse until the issue arose briefly with Ferenczi in the early 1930s, and only occasionally after that for the next fifty years. The death of Abraham, and then Ferenczi, shortly after disputes with Freud may be among the factors that had an inhibiting effect on an earlier reconsideration of the seduction theory by others. Abraham's previously unheralded concept of traumatophilia has relevance to current clinical controversy regarding constitution and sexual trauma.

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