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Masson, J.M. Masson, T.C. (1978). Buried Memories on the Acropolis: Freud's Response to Mysticism and Anti-Semitism. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:199-208.

(1978). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 59:199-208

Buried Memories on the Acropolis: Freud's Response to Mysticism and Anti-Semitism

J. Moussaieff Masson and T. C. Masson

Aunque sepa los caminos
yo nunca llegaré a Córdoba
[Although I know the road,
I shall never reach Cordoba]
FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA

In thinking about the meaning of Freud's (1936) title to his paper, 'A Disturbance of Memory on the Acropolis', we have been led to reconstruct the significance of this work in a way which throws light on Freud's response to two themes, not previously discussed in this context: mysticism and anti-Semitism. We see a deep structural and dynamic similarity in these two disturbances of affect.

The initial feeling of Freud's experience on the Acropolis is a loss of control, a feeling of being moved by some power outside himself. This is followed by a depression which gives way to an alien state of mind, the derealization. Although in the Acropolis paper Freud does not describe this experience as ending with feelings of pleasure, his analysis is in terms of oedipal victory which would entail feelings of triumph. Later Freud (1927) writes of this experience: 'I was already a man of mature years when I stood for the first time on the hill of the Acropolis in Athens, between the temple ruins, looking out over the blue sea. A feeling of astonishment mingled with my joy' (p. 25). In the Acropolis paper Freud analyses the derealization as a defensive split of the ego, involving a falsification of memory. In the course of the discussion, he offers, by analogy, two 'free associations': the story of king Boabdil and the story of Napoleon's coronation, the latter involving parapraxes on Freud's part—parapraxes which corroborate the assumption that these analogies were, indeed, free associations, fantasies serving the purpose of gratification and discharge.

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