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Emerson, L.E. (1914). Internationale Zeitschrift Für Aerztliche Psychoanalyse. Psychoanal. Rev., 1(4):460-469.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Internationale Zeitschrift Für Aerztliche Psychoanalyse

(1914). Psychoanalytic Review, 1(4):460-469


Internationale Zeitschrift Für Aerztliche Psychoanalyse

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

(Vol. 1, No. 4)

1.   The Gottmensch Complex. Prof. ernest jones.

2.   The Psychological Analysis of Socalled Neurasthenic and Similar Conditions. trigant burrow, M.D., Ph.D.

3.   Moral Judgments as Hindrances of Psychical Treatment. dr. marcinowski.

4.   Eroticism of the Posteriors. Dr. J. sadger.

1. The Gottmensch Complex.—Every psychoanalyst has had patients who, in their unconscious phantasies, believed themselves to be God. Such a megalomanic phantasy is scarcely to be understood if one does not recognize the close relation between the idea of God and of the father. From a purely psychological standpoint the idea of God is simply an enlarged, idealized, and projected idea of the father. The identification of one's self with the beloved object is a regular thing and regularly takes place with the child in relation to its father. It is only natural, therefore, that a similar relation may evolve with respect to the heavenly father, God. The passage from a more obedient imitation to identification takes place very quickly, sometimes, and in the unconscious are practically identical. The minor prophets and preachers speak sometimes in the name of God with such overwhelming authority that one cannot help think but that in their unconscious phantasies they identify themselves with God.

These phantasies are not uncommon; naturally they are met more often in men. But women have a corresponding phantasy: they believe themselves to be the mother of God.

According to the author the principal root of the complex lies in an enormous narcissism. All of its characteristics come either directly from narcissism or are in close relation to it. Unmeasured narcissism leads inevitably to an overwhelming admiration of one's own

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power and superiority, physical as well as spiritual, to a trust in one's own wisdom. Two psycho-sexual tendencies are especially closely bound up with this, autoerotism and exhibitionism. They are two of the most primitive tendencies, and as we shall see, play the weightiest rôle in character building. The opposite of exhibitionism, the looking and knowing craving, is always found with it and has its part in bringing about the end-result in character.

A negative characteristic, excessive humility or modesty, repressed, manifests itself often as excessive vanity or vaingloriousness. The strength of the fundamental tendency is often only to be inferred by the strength of the reaction against it. Bound up with narcissistic exhibitionism, with the wish to show the body, or a part of it, is the belief in the irresistible power of the body. This power, the same possessed by the Tabu king (Freud, Imago, S. 306-315), or the Sun and Lion Symbolism of Mythology, is for good or bad, creation or destruction, and thus is typically ambivalent.

Especially typical reaction formations are self-satisfaction and self-renunciation. The latter is commoner and more characteristic. Such a man is as unapproachable as possible and hides himself in a veil of secrecy. He will not live near others. Such a one told with pride of living in the last house in the city. They lay the greatest stress on private life, which is on one side the direct expression of autoerotism (masturbation), and on the other side a reaction of the repressed exhibitionism. There are, therefore, two elements in this tendency: the wish not to be seen, and the wish to be remote and unapproachable. The meaning of this wish is most clearly seen in its extreme form. The paranoic, King Ludwig, is typical. He began by imitating Ludwig XIV and finally identified himself with the sun as king. He would not speak with the people unless there were a separating barrier between him and them, and when he went out he ordered the guards to tell the people to keep in, lest they be killed by the effulgence of his glory. This can be explained only by his belief in the destructive power of the rays streaming from him and his anxiety corresponds, possibly, with repressed death wishes. We have here a modern version of the old Egyptian, Grecian, and Persian projection of the father as a Sun God, which idea also played an important role in early Christianity. Bound with this desire for inaccessibility is the desire for mystery. Such a man is very slow to tell his age, or name, or business, to strangers. Such a man lived eight years in a Western city of America without any of his friends knowing whether he was married or not. Such a man writes unwillingly and ungracious letters. In spite of a strong demand for correct

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speech, he seldom expresses his thought clearly and directly. His diction is characteristically long winded, involved, rambling, and so bombastic and dark that the reader can hardly understand what is meant. In striking contrast to this is the fact that the handwriting is generally clear and readable. On the other hand, with some of these people the handwriting is completely illegible. But in both cases the person concerned is full of overwhelming pride. That all these secrecies betray not only narcissistic values to the person involved, but also autoerotism in general, and especially masturbation is too well known to need emphasis here. The inclination to exclusiveness manifests itself quite clearly on the psychic side. Such people are unsocial in the wider sense. They take up only with difficulty any activity with others, be it politics, science, or business. Their ideal is to be “The man behind the throne.” As is to be expected there is associated with this strong tendency to exhibitionism a complementary tendency, curiosity. Often one meets a higher form, a sublimation, of this tendency in the form of a great interest in psychology. If one is by nature endowed intuitively to look into the souls of others he will use it, whatever his calling may be. If he is not so endowed, he wishes he were and thus takes up psychology or psychiatry, or at least an abstract interest in such subjects. This wish to compensate for a natural defect gives us obviously the explanation of the notorious fact that psychologists of eminence so often show a stupid lack of knowledge of the human spirit. It explains further their constant attempts at finding “objective” methods of studying the mind, which shall be independent of intuition, and their antagonism towards such methods as psychoanalysis, which deliberately cultivates intuition. The flood of curves and statistics which threaten to suffocate the science of psychology bear witness to the distress of these people. Such an one is especially interested in short cuts to the knowledge of the human soul and turns with pleasure to such methods as the Binet-Simon tests, psychogalvanic phenomena, word association reactions, or graphology, in a mechanical manner and always with the hope to find results automatically.

A less direct result of narcissistic exhibitionism is the phantasy of omnipotence. Perhaps this is most closely connected with the feeling of the power of money. Such men set out to be multimillionaires and delight in the thought of their power. The characteristic sub-group in this relation is that of omniscience. This can be regarded as simply one form of omnipotence, for whoever can do anything, knows everything also. The path from the one to the other shows itself most clearly in prophesy. The difference between a god and a prophet is often indistinguishable (Mahommet!).

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One of the worst characteristics of the type under consideration is the opposition to any new knowledge. This follows from the feeling of omniscience. There are two typical forms of reaction: (r) The one is to modify the idea, give it a new name, perhaps even spell it differently; (2) The other is to deprecate the newness of the idea, take away all emphasis distinguishing it from older ways of looking at the subject and finally maintain that one had always known it.

Of especial importance is the relation of the individual to time. Age, death, power, wishes, hopes are naturally of the greatest importance to one who holds he is omnipotent and omniscient. The relation to past time concerns his own memory. This he holds infallible. The ease with which he prophesies shows his feeling of power over future time.

Such people are interested in speech. They regard themselves as authorities in literary style. Two characteristics stand in direct relation to narcissism, their relation to advice and to giving judgment. They give advice reluctantly because of the responsibility. Religion is of the greatest interest to such people. As a rule they are naturally atheists, because they cannot allow the existence of any other god.

One of the characteristics of such people is the overwhelming desire to be loved. It is seldom expressed directly and manifests itself more through a striving for praise and admiration than for love. They busy themselves much in their unconsciousness with their own immortality whether it be a continuance of their life, or a series of rebirths. In general such people have a passion for romantic idealism often hidden under a glow of materialism or realism.

The castration idea plays a quite important role both in the form of castration wishes against the father and a fear of castration on the part of the younger generation. The latter is as a rule the stronger and lends naturally to a strongly pronounced jealousy against younger rivals. The obverse of this is seen in the desire for proteges.

Not all gods have the same characteristics, therefore the type varies according to the particular god the person identifies himself with. By far the most important of these variations attaches itself to the idea of God's son. The three principal characteristics are rebellion against the father, salvation phantasies, and masochism. In other words, an (Edipus situation in which the hero-son is a suffering savior. In this class the mother plays an especially important part and her influence shows itself in particular ways. Salvation can often be gained only by a terrible self-sacrifice, through which the masochistic tendency gets full satisfaction.

It is interesting to note that under the influence of the man-god

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complex characters develop in two ways. On the one hand we have men who are truly godlike in their characters, and on the other, men who are of almost no use socially.

The single details of the above sketch are taken from different subjects. The author has never seen anyone who possessed all the characteristics mentioned. The unity is artificial.

2. Analysis of Socalled Neurasthenic and Similar Conditions.1—For a long time scientific medicine has had a deeply rooted opinion as to the nature of neurasthenic and similar conditions. The time has come to consider critically this picture of the illness and the medical view from which it has arisen.

Etymologically, neurasthenia naturally means an exhaustion of the nerve tissue. This change is either chemical or molecular and thus neurasthenia is essentially an anatomical process. From the standpoint of physiological pathology this definition is sufficient. But is the clinical picture actually such as one might expect?

Observations were made under the unfavorable conditions of an unquiet out-patient department and with occasionally only weekly visits, instead of daily.

A case is that of a woman of forty-five with the typical syndrome usually called neurasthenia.

From earliest youth the patient led a quiet secluded life. She had to work hard and was burdened with cares and duties. As she herself expressed it, she was never allowed “to be like other girls.” Until four the patient had always felt well. At this time, however, she began to lose strength, which manifested itself in physical disturbances, on account of over-exerting herself to help a sick sister and her two little children.

In the beginning her principal trouble was a general weakness, a bilious; attack with pain in the back and groin. A medical examination found no cause, and then, as so often is the case with women, the trouble was laid at the door of the abdominal organs. And she was treated like so many by means of an operation. This interference consisted in removing the uterus and the appendix—also a floating kidney was fixed. All this however did not reduce the symptoms in the slightest. These symptoms really lacked characteristics that would permit their being explained on an organic basis. Under these circumstances the psychoanalytic method discovers the weightiest


1 Partially presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, D. C, December 29, 1911. Fully presented at the Meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Boston, Mass., May 28, 1912.

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unconscious affective tendencies which are always striving for expression and satisfaction. When these instinctive tendencies are blocked they take substitute satisfactions—or, are bound up, with organically associated relations.

An analysis of the dreams of the patient showed that the principal content of constantly recurring dreams was about marriage and maternity. This showed that the complexes of the patient were principally concerned about sexuality. She dreamed, for instance, that she received attentions from some young man, presents, flowers, notes, and love tokens,—and also that she held a child in her arms, that she conceived a child, that she was pregnant and carried a child, that she bore a child, etc. Often she identified herself in her dreams with her sister, and had husband and children. In over a hundred dreams there was not one which did not show, with the help of analysis, this tendency.

A close observation showed that her symptoms had a striking similarity to those of pregnancy: headache and nausea, especially in the morning, a feeling of weakness; pains in back and limbs—the sensations of weight and fullness in abdomen and legs thus making it hard to go up and down stairs.

The patient had a long and complicated dream, the details of which, on association, showed close connections with babies, pregnancies, and births, and awoke feeling “nervous” and with severe pains in body and back, which lasted the whole day.

Many other dreams are related with an account of the following symptoms showing the close relation existing between dreams and symptoms.2

It is not possible, however, to give an adequate account of the closeness of this relation without going very deeply into details.

The significance of this whole work shows that while many, if not all, of the symptoms of neurasthenia cannot be adequately explained on an organic basis, they can be adequately explained as the result of unconscious tendencies and desires striving for expression. These unconscious processes are most obviously laid bare through the analysis of dreams, and the psychoanalytic method, as a whole, is a way to the most profound scientific study of neurasthenia possible.

3. Moral Judgments as Hindrances of Psychical Treatment.—It is obvious that in psychotherapy no greater difficulty is known than the moral evaluating of the facts learned. Thus patients enter into personal relations with the doctor.


2 See Dreams as a Cause of Symptoms, by G. A. Waterman, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. V, No. 4, p. 196.

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The neurotic, just like a child, demands love from all, and reacts strongly and personally if he knocks against any fact that he thinks means a denial of the doctor's love. About him he is always thinking and dreaming. The self-reliance of the patient comes in question here, the more he doubts his own personal worth. There thus comes about either the positive or negative Ubertragung, or transference, according as he reacts with love or hate. A third motive, a secret feeling of guilt, may lead the patient to say: if you knew me as I really am, etc. and this leads to reserve and repression. This impatiently waiting for a proof of personal moral evaluation is obviously (so thinks the author) a great hindrance to the treatment, as soon as this results in, or leads to, the laying bare of the patient, including his loves and hates.

The rest of the paper is largely an emotional reiteration of the above position. The position taken by the author is only correct if one understands that he means by a “moral evaluation,” condemnation. Obviously a patient condemned is a patient lost. But the doctor cannot refrain from making a decision on the character of concrete acts, as moral. He needs, however, a wide conception of morality, and a keen discrimination between what is bad, objectively, and what is bad, morally.

But instead of a passive, merely-looking-on attitude, being the best, as the author seems to suggest, a positive sympathy and relative approval is the only attitude likely at all to lead to good results, even to the getting of “facts.”

The author says, “The reasonable patient says to himself: I want above all things to get well; I will use this man's knowledge to the utmost; what he thinks of me in general is all one to me.”

The author seems sublimely oblivious of the fact that if the patient had any such superior attitude to another's opinion of him, he would have no neurosis at all. A “reasonable” patient is a contradiction in terms. If he were reasonable he couldn't be a patient. Hence it is the office of the psychoanalyst to overcome his unreasonableness by positive sympathy and efficient identification of himself with the patient, so that the needed personal facts can be learned and openly considered, evaluated, and finally acted upon.

As Freud has proven, and as Jelliffe shows in his paper on “transference,” the sine qua non of a successful psychoanalysis is a positive “transference” finally generalized and sublimated.

4. Eroticism of the Posteriors.—From among the numerous people who have a more or less anal eroticism, the author selects a group distinguished by special characteristics. There are people whose sexual

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feelings are less attached to the rectum than to the continuation of that zone, the buttocks, and, in part, the thigh. There is a close connection between anal eroticism and posterior (Gesässerotik) eroticism. In some cases it is but a continuation of anal eroticism. The right to this new and apparently superfluous terminology lies in its specific symptoms, and especially in its relation to two of the most frequent perversions: homosexuality, and flagellation.

As the name indicates, a person afflicted with this disease shows a principal or exclusive sexual interest in the buttocks or its neighbor the thigh. Often there is an organic predisposition in especial fullness, massiveness, and strength of these parts. Inheritance and education act similarly. Not only do the parents and grandparents possess a fullness or strength of these parts, but they also show their affection often by patting the children there. The mother, not infrequently, kisses the baby there, strokes and caresses, or even bites it there, and later, when the child has grown up, cannot refrain from giving it a little pat on this place.

Such persons begin to show in their earliest years, at the age of three or four, an especial interest in the posteriors of children and grown-ups. They manifest often the greatest shyness in getting glimpses of these parts: peeking in the bath-room just as the mother gets into the bath, or in the dressing-room when she is undressed, or run suddenly into the bedroom just as she is about to have a douche. Later they show a great pleasure in exhibitionism between sisters or playmates.

It appears that the posterior serves for perversions better even than the actual sexual organs, and people with strong posterior eroticism act as if it were the genitals, or as a form of fetich. Thus there are not a few men who, on the street, observe the posteriors of girls more than their faces. And girls, with such parts highly developed, act in such manner as to show it off to best advantage. They act coquet-tishly with these parts, through skilful motions, and hold up their dresses in such manner that their purpose is clear. A male patient said that on the street he always looked at the posteriors of girls and women.

Many pederasts love youths or men in very tight garments, liveries, or uniforms, which show in plastic form the buttocks and thighs. Especially preferred, they all say, are footmen, hunters, grooms, soldiers (in Austria the Hungarian Regiment especially), conductors and policemen.

But perhaps the most important role played by this form of eroticism is in flagellation. Here the muscles quiver and twitch almost

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coitus-like with the painful strokes. The changes in the skin, the streaks, the reddening, swelling, or at last the blood running down, are perceived by the true flagellant with great pleasure. This eroticism of the muscles often reaches finally almost to an orgasm. Many feel at the same time an intensive passion in the genitalia.

Many flagellants have said that as children their first sexual feelings, or indeed erections, were noticed when they saw sisters or schoolmates spanked on their naked backsides. In other cases there has been the same thing take place when they read of striking the slave in Uncle Tom's Cabin, or in reading the history of culture.

A homosexual flagellant told the following: “In my fifth year I had a sailor-suit made of thin linen. My twelve-year-old cousin loved to trot me on her left knee, in this dress, and thus bring her knee under my genitals and posterior. Through the thin dress I could feel her leg and its warmth very pleasantly and never could get enough of this game.”

The tendency that nearly every one has of giving another, bending over, a slap on the bottom, goes back to the time when his mother used to give him a sort of caressing love-pat there, which was not unpleasant. A patient said, “In my dreams it is characteristic that I do not resent blows by my mother.”

A close relation exists between posterior eroticism and narcissism. One of the roots of this lies in the early adoration of the mother. Another form, especially in boys, is associated with an over-valuation of the genitals, and in both sexes is related to the love pats of the mother. When a little boy puts on his first pair of trousers the admiration of the family tends to narcissistic over-valuation of the self.

In conclusion the author gives three symptoms of eroticism of the posteriors in a young student twenty-six years old, of a strongly anal erotic family. A part of the analysis follows: “In school I had a strange habit of leaving out whole letters in writing. The teacher called it an ‘omitting illness’”—“Did you leave out special letters?” “As to that I cannot remember—but something else I do remember: in the last year it happened that I wanted to write 1781, but I actually wrote 1871, thus reversing the numbers.”—“That is a symptom of your eroticism of the posteriors. You really reversed the genitals, for you are not interested in the front side, only in the posterior.”—“I wished, for instance, to write ‘Abend,’ but wrote instead ‘Abnd,’ omitting the e, or what is more significant, leaving an empty space.”—“Hence two halves and an empty space between, i. e., the backside. Do you usually omit the letter in the middle of the word?”—“That I cannot affirm, but probably.”—“How was it now with the number

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1781?”—“I don't know”— 1 + 7 = 8, and the 8 lying down ($$) represents the two buttocks, with the anus in the middle. 1 stands for your member, and you like, you have told me, to stick the penis between the buttocks.”—“Yes, I thought in the third Gymnasium class that it would not be bad if one could stick his penis backwards in his own anus.”

Here then are three symptoms of posterior eroticism in this patient: (1) Reversal of a number because of a secret wish to use the posterior as a genital; (2) omitting a middle letter in order to have two halves and an opening—buttocks and anus; and (3) a number as a symbol of pederasty. There is needed further experience in order to establish this case or to supplement it.

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Article Citation

Emerson, L.E. (1914). Internationale Zeitschrift Für Aerztliche Psychoanalyse. Psychoanal. Rev., 1(4):460-469

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