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Morley, R. (2012). A Couple Therapist Looks at the Wolf-Man. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 2(1):1-15.

(2012). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 2(1):1-15


A Couple Therapist Looks at the Wolf-Man

Robert Morley

Elspeth Morley


In his last book, The Analysand's Tale (2007), Robert Morley gave us a fascinating study, drawn from his exhaustive research into the comparison of psychoanalysts' accounts of their patients' analyses, of which there are many, with the published accounts of the patients, of which there are all too few. The jewel in the crown of this work was the comparison of Freud's famous 1918 paper on the Wolf-Man, that Freud used as the definitive case study to prove the universality of the Oedipus Complex, while the published accounts by the Wolf-Man himself (a Russian émigré whose real name was Sergei Pankejeff) give his own extraordinarily different view of virtually every aspect of his analysis. He had indeed what Morley calls ‘a discordant agenda’ from that of Freud. It is not that Sergei discounted his analysis; indeed he sustained a powerful father transference to Freud and clung onto the considerable fame and even fortune that his status as Freud's celebrated patient brought to him, continued long after Freud's death by the psychoanalytic community. But he makes it clear that he was never able to recognise Freud's interpretations of his material, nor even the material itself, including that of the famous dream from which he got his sobriquet.

In this paper, first published the previous year in 2006, Morley is anticipating the comprehensive conclusions of his book, by looking at the Wolf-Man from the specific angle of the couple therapist. He notes the way Freud virtually ignores Sergei's tumultuous relationships with his sister Anna, and with his wife Therese who replaced her, both of whom committed suicide. This case-history is far from being the supreme illustration of Freud's Oedipal theories.

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