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Emerson, L.E. (1913). Internationale Zeitschrift Für Aerztliche Psychoanalyse. Psychoanal. Rev., 1(1):108-112.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Internationale Zeitschrift Für Aerztliche Psychoanalyse

(1913). Psychoanalytic Review, 1(1):108-112


Internationale Zeitschrift Für Aerztliche Psychoanalyse

L. E. Emerson, Ph.D.Author Information

(Vol. I, No. I)

1.   Further Suggestions as to the Technique of Psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud.

2.   The Relation Between Anxiety Neurosis and Anxiety Hysteria. Ernest Jones.

3.   On the Psychopathology of Anxiety. L. Seif.

4.   Contribution to the Analysis of Sadism and Masochism. Paul Federn.

5.   The Matron of Ephesus. An Investigation of the Meaning of the Fable of the Faithless Widow. Otto Rank.

1. Technique of Psychoanalysis.—Continued article.

2. Relation Between Anxiety Neurosis and Anxiety Hysteria.—Our advance in the knowledge of the pathology of anxiety states may be divided into three steps: (1) When, in 1895, Freud distinguished from neurasthenia a clinical picture which he called “anxiety neurosis”(2) when, in 1898, he created the concept of anxiety hysteria in order to indicate certain fears; (3) when, in 1912, Stekel showed that the same psychical factors that played the chief role in anxiety hysteria also were effective in apparently pure cases of anxiety neuroses.

The question is,—which of the two aspects, the physical or the psychical aspect, of the sexual impulses, is the more important as a reason for these neuroses. Many authors assume that the problem, is essentially physical. If one examines the situation carefully, he sees it to be essentially one of intrapsychical conflict. This conflict arouses an inborn fear instinct against repressed sexual wishes which expresses itself as pathological anxiety. There are cases of anxiety neuroses in which the removal of the physical factors (coitus inter-ruptus, etc.) results only in a partial improvement, and other cases in which such factors utterly fail. The analysis of such cases always

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demonstrates infantile psychical moments, such as are characteristic of anxiety hysterias. For these reasons one must attribute to psychical factors the essential causative agents to all anxiety states. Bodily factors alone can probably never produce pathological anxiety.

Freud distinguishes between the “actual” neuroses and the psychoneuroses in three ways: (1) The individual symptoms of the first are unamenable to any further psychological analysis; (2) the causes of the first are physical, the second psychical; (3) the cause of the actual neurosis is actual (present), while that of the psychical lies in the past (childhood).

The psychoanalytic treatment of an anxiety neurosis should be undertaken only if the treatment of the physical factors gives no improvement, and when the treatment of such factors is not easy, as in the case of widows over forty, and maidens.

The essential cause of all forms of anxiety states consists in a deficiency of psychical satisfaction for the libido. Anxiety springs from the inborn fear instinct and the exaggeration in its expression is due to a defense against repressed sexual wishes. In all cases the psychical factors play an important part, in many the only part. Physical factors accompany them often, but in no case they alone give rise to an anxiety state. Physical factors are much more important, however, in anxiety neuroses than in anxiety hysterias. The anxiety neurosis should be considered as a single symptom of the anxiety hysteria, which is the wider concept.

3. Psychopathology of Anxiety.—After a short but intensive historical orientation, the author takes up the Freudian point of view. “If under certain conditions the psychophysiological sexual excitation can find neither bodily nor mentally an outlet, then there arises, psychically, the picture of pathological anxiety, physically, its accompanying physiological phenomena.” According to Freud, pathological anxiety is a substitute for sexual satisfaction: according to Jones pathological anxiety is a reaction against repressed sexuality. To the author a combination of these two views is necessary to get the true conception of pathological anxiety. “The mechanism of anxiety, wherever and under whatever conditions it appears, whether normal or pathological anxiety, is always the same, a defensive or protective mechanism, obviously the result of thousands of years of biological work in the service of the preservation, development, and adaptation of the individual to the outer world.”

Pathological anxiety differs from the normal in three ways: (1) In normal anxiety the personality is unified; in abnormal, however, it is divided. Pathological anxiety has a bipolar structure. (2) In contrast to normal anxiety, pathological anxiety is always related to

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sexuality. And (3) pathological anxiety has an inordinately greater intensity than its physical occasions warrant, in contrast to normal anxiety, where the occasion is adequate to the effect.

The author finds a final significant character of pathological anxiety in the passive, feminine character, only here much increased, namely, the masochistic component of the sexual impulse. The author concludes that out of new and deeper insight comes a new possibility of helping sufferers.

4. Contribution to the Analysis of Sadism and Masochism.—The author narrows his field to an investigation of the relation between sadism and the active sexual component only, and only for the masculine sex. The author does not believe that the active component of the sexual impulse is identical with sadism, but is changed into sadism by a peculiar psychic mechanism. This change takes place at a time when sexuality is not mature, but nuclear, autoerotic, for specific sadism is traced back to a pre-puberty age, often to the infantile life of the individual. Hence sadism is a result of the mechanism of the unconscious. Sadism is no simple, sexual component, but the immature, masculine, active sexuality, unconscious to the child during development, becomes transformed from the primary psychic system into sadism, through the mechanism of the unconscious. Sadistic impulses arise out of the infantile, immature, but active feelings in the penis. The author seeks to establish his position by showing the connection between sadistic dreams and sensations in the penis. The case of a man who had gonorrhea is quoted. Only during the disease did he have sadistic-masochistic dreams. Another patient, suffering from urethritis posterior in consequence of gonorrhea, had a dream of a fight. No dream is known to the author, though, where pleasure in pain itself is shown. He deduces from that, that algolagnia is not identical with “sadomasochismus.”

This position is supported by the childhood histories of many sadists. The relation of sadism with the excretory organs is in the highest degree complicated. The employment of these processes as the expression of sexual activity is the simplest. Typical are those cases where children like to daub up others. Coprolagnia and uro-lagnia complicate matters. Sexual tyranny is the minor picture of masochism and is characterized by a sexually toned desire for power.

To sum up: If one seeks to trace back to its roots the complicated picture of sadism he will find the original root to be sexual, in particular. The source of energy of sadism is libido.

5. The Matron of Ephesus.—In this fable a widow mourns for her dead husband, refusing food and drink. But after a while she returns

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to life, so to speak, and actually substitutes the dead body of her husband for a thief hanging on the gallows in order to rescue the life of the new lover. The author shows that this is a common theme, having many versions. As a rule the story runs as follows: A wife learns that a widow was untrue to her husband and had very soon forgotten him. She regards herself as incapable of such disloyalty, but is convicted of faithlessness to her supposedly dead husband, and commits suicide by hanging. The account of Petronius is an exception. Petronius begins his story by the tale of the matron of Ephesus who decided to seek death by hunger, watching by the body of her beloved husband. She was forced to eat, by a soldier who was on guard near a crucified thief, and soon consoled herself by his love. She was compelled also by the soldier, who wished completely to subdue her, to substitute the body of her husband for that of the thief. This is varied by the wife not only dishonoring her husband's body by hanging, but also by mutilating it, that it might be a more complete substitute for that of the thief. Sometimes the story runs that she knocks out two of his teeth, or cuts off both ears, or as in Voltaire's “Zadig” tries to cut off his nose. From Freud's dream analysis we know that these are symbols for castration.

Now one can see the reason for the story of mutilating the body and why that is almost universal in the various tales. The widow is faithful, not to the body of her husband, but to his penis, and to that only so long as it gives her sexual satisfaction. That such a phantasy lies close to the minds of men is shown by the Japanese custom by which the widow preserves, embalmed, the penis of her dead husband. Scherring tells the case of a Belgian woman of his acquaintance who secretly cut off the penis of her beloved dead husband and preserved it in a silver box. An older illustration is that of a French woman who embalmed and perfumed the genitals of her dead husband and preserved them in a golden casket. But one does not need to go to such remote sources for examples. In the Egyptian saga of Isis and Osiris, Osiris is killed and cut into pieces, through jealousy, by his brother. Isis puts the pieces together again and breathes life into them; only the penis is lost and she has to make one out of wood. This unchangeable wood phallus, which is a good substitute for the originally embalmed member, has its counterpart in the series of tales of the faithless widow. A widow cannot bear to part with her beloved husband John, so she has a wooden image made and holds it all night, until her clever maid substituted her living brother. The woman was thus satisfied, and when the maid said she could get no breakfast because they had no wood, she told her to throw the wooden John in the stove.

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Gradually, as the motive of preserving the phallus became offensive, it was transformed, through repression, into the wooden image of John. This transformation goes still further, when in the story the widow sacrifices the body of her husband as fuel to boil a can of fish for her new lover. In the next transformation the wooden image becomes a wax one, which is later melted and remoulded into candles for the wedding banquet.

We can now see the origin of the story of the faithless widow. It originally was only the fantasy of an especially faithful widow, who, after the death of her husband, shunned any other sexual intimacies, in spite of her inclinations, in order to gratify herself with the severed and embalmed genitals of her husband. This motive soon became offensive and was repressed, and in later tales became the foundation of stories of feminine faithlessness.

The author shows the connection of hanging with the story, through the fact, well known, he says, that when a man is hanged he has an erection.

The mechanism of these transformations is the same that Freud has shown in his “Traumdeutung,” i. e., the displacement by emphasis from significant to insignificant parts of the story. Thus the origin of the story is obscured.

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Article Citation

Emerson, L.E. (1913). Internationale Zeitschrift Für Aerztliche Psychoanalyse. Psychoanal. Rev., 1(1):108-112

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