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Jelliffe, S.E. (1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(2):221-230.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: International Journal of Psycho-Analysis

(1935). Psychoanalytic Review, 22(2):221-230

International Journal of Psycho-Analysis

Smith Ely Jelliffe

(Vol. XI, Part 3)

1.   Sharpe, Ella Freeman. The Technique of Psychoanalysis. Pp. 231-277.

2.   Reik, Theodor. Final Phases of Belief Found in Religion and in Obsessional Neurosis. Pp. 278-291.

3.   Alexander, Franz. The Neurotic Character. Pp. 292-311.

4.   Laforgue, Rene. On the Eroticization of Anxiety. Pp. 312-321.

5.   Strachey, James. Some Unconscious Factors in Reading. Pp. 322-331.

6.   Shorter Communications-Book Reviews, Bulletin of the International Association.

1.   Sharpe, E. F. Technique of Psychoanalysis. -In this extremely valuable contribution the writer begins a discussion of the subject of analytic technique which, with Glover's equally valuable contribution, affords guides of great value to the practising analyst. The present series consists of lectures to training analysts at the British Psychoanalytic Institute in London. The first requisite spoken of is the personal analysis.

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Through such a procedure, if at all successful, the analysand will recognize the chief features in the technique through personal experience. No analysis is flawless and every trained analyst realizes that they are still students of the unconscious. A second source of knowledge is through the literature. This should always be left to a time after one's personal analysis and preparatory to analyzing others. Every individual analysis is but a fragment. Hence the value of the reading after the nature of unconscious resistance is fully grasped. Specifically one who would analyze must also have certain qualifications other than those of general culture and knowledge. To know a lot about analysis is no guarantee of being a good technician any more than being a good critic of the theory of art can make one a good painter. The formula? are secondary to the practice. Art must precede the science.

These lectures cannot be abstracted since they are so full of detailed points the fragments of an abstract only deforms them. They should be read in the original. They go through two parts of the International Journal.

2.   Reik, T. Belief in Religion and in Obsessional Neurosis. -The author first emphasizes the tentative nature of this undertaking. As yet the science of religion has not advanced to the point that it can even recognize the existence of the problems here discussed. It has been only through the new material brought up by psychoanalysis that the essential mental processes that determine religious experience at their foundations can be reached. Heretofore they have not been accessible to investigation. Three religious phenomena are taken as examples to show the manner in which the mental motives and mechanisms characteristic of religion work out in the decadent and transitional forms of this social phenomenon. He discusses in turn (1) Pia et impia fraus. [According to the rules of the Israelitish ceremonial religion a good Jew may not extinguish a light on Friday evening.] It happened that Reik came to know a man who had devised an ingenious way of illumining his Friday nights and yet going to sleep in the dark without, as he thought, breaking the commandment. He wanted the light extinguished at a certain hour, but was too religiously conscientious to turn it off himself. He rejected the method adopted by many Jews: that of persuading a member of another religion to put out the light at a stated time. He would, he thought, lead no one into sin, not even an adherent of another faith. His house was illuminated by gas. The following extraordinarily ingenious method occurred to him: he fixed an alarm clock to the gas-tap in such a way that the spring, in running down, automatically closed the tap. On Friday afternoons he set the alarm to the hour at which he wished the light extinguished. When the hour came the alarm sounded and simultaneously turned off the gas without the lifting of a finger by the pious believer. Clever though he was, he could not be convinced that his whole action was in effect a ruse carried out against the deity. No clear thinker

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will deny that an evasion of the religious prohibition was thus achieved while exact adherence to it was made to serve the purpose of the evasion.

This form of observance of a commandment is quite comparable with those obsessional symptoms in which healthy thinking is fused with obsessional thinking into an apparently homogenous pattern. Reality forces an entrance into the realm of obsessional phenomena and demands consideration. There are mixed formations in which the obsession is indeed partially observed and at the same time transgressed. In a certain phase of the development of these disturbances the obsession is obeyed and yet, in one and the same activity, broken through in such a way that the greatest triumph of the repressed impulse is secretly involved in the most exact and conscientious obedience to the obsessional commands. Here is an example: A girl with obsessional neurosis is obliged to convince herself several hundred times a day that the water-tap in her bathroom is turned off. The analysis finds the origin of the symptom in a sexual scene with the girl's lover. At that time she had experienced fear lest an ejaculation by the man might occur. Her obsessional act had therefore the character of a precaution, but at the same time it gave her opportunity to touch and play with the water-tap. In a later phase of the development of her illness her precautionary action became more and more a mere opportunity for turning on the water-tap while she nevertheless desired to convince herself that it was closed. But her turning on the tap occurred precisely when she attempted to carry out her obsessional precaution. In the final phases of the illness the compromise nature of the obsessional symptoms will undergo a change in a certain direction: the original repression of proscribed impulses becomes weaker and the share of the hidden satisfaction of instinct becomes clearer. From analytical investigation of the symptomatology of obsessions it is found that a decisive breaking through of those originally repressed instincts characterizes the outcome of many obsessional neuroses. The strongest intensification of obsessional conscientiousness, as also of religious conscientiousness, which characterizes the final phases of both processes, leads compulsively to an irruption of the proscribed impulses. The opposing underground current bursts through just when the believer is most painfully intent on the observance of the religious commands. The extreme of religious veneration is consequently often threatened in a startling manner by a sudden irruption of opposite feelings. Anatole France once described in conversation the strong impression made upon him by the confidence and familiarity shown to their God by the pious citizens in Rome. A simple Roman tradesman's wife once came to the high altar with her baby on her arm. The child made as if to grasp with its innocent hands the white Host, which it took to be a sweetmeat or butterfly. The priest gently pushed the small profane hand away: this scene was repeated two or three times. At last, in order to protect the angel's bread from unholy contact, he had to whisper warningly, “Nasty, my pretty one, nasty!”

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(2) The second case deals with an obsessional neurotic playing the game of patience. A lady, ill with obsessional neurosis, boasts of being a complete free-thinker in religious matters. She performs no religious duties, mocks at the credulousness of others, and jokes frequently about religion. She likes to play patience. In this game, as is well known, one plays generally alone and lays the cards upon or alongside one another in a certain series. If the number of cards works out on the accepted principle, the player has won. This is the simplest and certainly the least frequent way of playing patience. This lady plays patience under the conditions which are certainly most commonly laid down by players of the game. Before she spreads the cards on the table and arranges them, she thinks, for example: “If it comes out, this and that which I wish will happen; if it does not, my wishes will not be satisfied.”

(3) This section deals with a social institution-the Insurance Contract. First he defines the idea of insurance contracts. Then he sketches their ancient history. Reik then goes on to say, “Personal and property-insurance, the social advantages of which need no explanation, obviously form a common-sense arrangement based on rationality. My thesis is that this social institution forms a modern substitute for various religious arrangements which were based on certain creadal assumptions. Such a thesis may seem fantastic at first, and this impression is due to the specially strong rational element in insurance. To bring out the essence of his thesis he proposes first of all to exclude the money category, which is a modern part of the insurance contract, originally unrelated to the world of religious phenomena. The quintessence of it then appears as a defensive measure on the part of man, who wishes to safeguard himself from the consequences of accidents and thinks to attain this end through voluntary offerings to a certain power. Here, however, analysis stands on familiar ground. One can distinguish, at first faintly, the subterranean connections which relate the modern institution of insurance with the ancient phenomena of sacrifice and the vow. The inquiry as to what differences exist, historically and psychologically, between sacrifice, the vow, and prayer cannot be pursued; and a review of the investigations of religious science must also be postponed.

Reik only mentions that religious science has shown that there are various forms of sacrifice: offerings of homage, of gratitude, of atonement, etc. The general content of sacrifice is the surrender to the divinity of a valued part of the believer's property. In the course of the development of a religion the sacrifices change: originally they are regarded as being purely material; the gods take pleasure in the flesh and blood of men and animals. Soon only animals, and not human beings are sacrificed; later these too are replaced by inanimate objects. Finally renunciation of desire is regarded as the only sacrifice which divinity appreciates. The 50th Psalm already makes known that Jahveh sets obedience above material sacrifice.

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Psychoanalysis is now in a position to explain all these various forms of sacrifice as differentiations of a single form. Offerings of homage, gratitude, atonement, etc., are developments and transformations of the precautionary offering which is intended to ward off a threatening evil or an expected punishment, to assuage the anger of the gods. This tendency to sacrifice is often enough unconsciously exhibited in the mental life even of the people of our time, who have emancipated themselves from sacrifices and belief in them. In his Psychopathology of Every-day Life Freud has shown by analysis of various examples that many otherwise incomprehensible actions have unconsciously the significance of sacrifice. The symptomatology of the obsessional neuroses shows the same phenomena, together with the premises on which they are subjectively based. Sacrifice in ancient religions was a communal act of the tribe. There were, indeed, offerings by individuals but these represented a late and derived form of the religious activity of the tribe. Sacrifice needed, so to speak, the sanction of generality. The promise of a future sacrifice is known as a vow. It consists generally of protasis and apodosis. The first sets forth the condition under which the believer will carry out his promise of sacrifice. The form is generally this: If Jahveh is with me and fulfills my hopes, then I will sacrifice this and that to him (Gen. XXVIII: 20 ff.).

The comparison of religious phenomena with the institution of insurance appears now not quite so paradoxical. In one case, as in the other, the primary concern is to ward off a dreaded evil or, at least, to soften its consequences. Where the man of old went hunting to obtain a sacrifice to propitiate the divinity and so protect his life against a threatening danger, the man of our time will insure himself against accident. As viewed by depth-psychology the payment of a premium corresponds therefore to a sacrifice, and can rightly be compared with an insurance contract, with the votive tablets from ancient Babylon, containing a promise of sacrifice to Istar on condition that a danger be averted. The modern form of sacrifice returns also to the original form in which the sacrificer voluntarily resigns a part of his property to the deity. The forms of sublimated sacrifice are seen, in the light of religious science, to be secondary. In insurance again, a portion of material wealth is sacrificed in order to obtain protection against too extensive consequences of a possible misfortune. The times of sacrifice correspond to the dates at which premium payment becomes due; the insurance conditions to those exact and commercially precise formulations concerning the amount and mode of offering of a sacrifice. Not God, but the State or a Society appears now as partner to the contract. One can, perhaps, see a trace of the original tribal character of sacrifice in the increasingly emphasized social obligation to insure which is found in great industrial concerns and societies (accident and old age insurance). It can scarcely be denied that there is here a continuation, adapted to reality, of religious institutions

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which are perpetuated in many of the features of the modern system. This continuation is, of course, at the same time a substitution which proves the decay of the social function of religion: “he who lets God manage his affairs needs no insurance.”

Reik does not discuss what risk the individual runs when he leaves his interests to the gods or to an insurance company. The promises of a deity are not always fulfilled. (Insurance companies, too, are sometimes declared insolvent.) In spite of such failure in heaven and on earth man will continue to take precautionary measures against threatening evil. The Jew Shylock remembers that Antonio possesses a galleon bound to Tripolis and another to the Indies. A third sails to Mexico and a fourth to England: “But ships are but boards, sailors but men; there be land-rats and water-rats, water-thieves and land-thieves, I mean pirates, and then there is the peril of waters, winds and rocks” (Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, 1:3).

Man's fear in face of so many dangers and uncertainties which his ship has to meet has good psychological grounds. Nevertheless the feeling that one must venture remains in the end victorious.

3.   Alexander, F. The Neurotic Character. - Abstracted - see Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. 15, p. 95.

4.   Laforgue, R. Erotisation of Anxiety. -“Psychoanalysis has made us familiar with the remarkable way in which an individual's repressed libido is able to make use of infantile mechanisms and substitutive organs for its satisfaction. We have thus come to recognize that psychical and bodily functions that have apparently no connection with sexuality can be put at its disposal as surrogates for it, i.e., can be eroticized. Intestinal activities, for example, or, as can be frequently observed, suffering, may express the censored satisfaction of a libido that has remained attached to the CEdipus stage.

“For some time now the possibility that anxiety also can be eroticized in a similar fashion has been of psychoanalytic interest especially as there are, perhaps, connections existing between anxiety and fore-pleasure that make it easier for the libido to utilize anxiety as a substitutive gratification. It is not difficult to observe that the power to cause anxiety in anyone, whether in phantasy or in games, or even in business, is often consciously experienced as a satisfaction by many people. One only needs to recall the numbers of popular ghost-stories which are so calculated to rouse anxiety in children and even in adults, and can therefore be directly employed to create anxiety. To these may be added dramatic representations of deeds of horror, terrifying experiences, dreadful catastrophes, etc. Mention need hardly be made of the way in which human beings have often systematically framed their conduct with the object of reducing their fellow-men to submission by causing them anxiety. Indeed this forms an essential part of our educational methods, both in the relations

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of parents and teachers to children, and of the State, its authority or its leaders, to the masses. It would certainly be very interesting to make a more exact investigation with the object of discovering how far these affective relations among the individuals composing a social order can be sexualized. In other words, to what extent does the alarming figure of the non-commissioned officer or the gendarme owe its existence to the need that many people have of cultivating erotism, on the one hand, in the more active, masculine rôle of ‘causing anxiety,’ and on the other, in the more passive and feminine one of ‘being anxious’? These examples may suffice to allow one to raise the question: how far can anxiety, which plays its own psychologically serviceable part in every situation of danger (whether arising from within or from without), be withdrawn from its own aims and placed entirely at the disposal of erotic gratification?

“The main interest of the therapeutist in this question lies in the discovery of the causes of anxiety in many cases of anxiety-neurosis and obsessional neurosis. Following Freud's arguments psychoanalysts have been led in their investigations to connect anxiety, in certain cases, with the act of birth, and, further, with the damming-up of the libido and castration-anxiety. Nevertheless one has to ask whether, in quite a large number of cases of anxiety-neurosis, an individual's anxiety is eroticized in such a way that it can represent the only possible compromise among the various libidinal tendencies that are seeking satisfaction, namely, the anxiety being made to act as a surrogate for the orgasm, in comparison with which it is indeed regarded as the loftiest ideal that can be attained.

“Certain clinical observations seem to make it probable that, in the case of some neurotics, the whole mechanism for the satisfaction of the libido has been enlisted for the purpose of creating anxiety-in other words, that the anxiety-formation represents the cardinal aim and gain (secondary pleasure-gain) of certain individuals.”

A number of short case histories are then given with dream interpretative material tending to elucidate the processes by which (in Case 1) the patient could cause “great anxiety” to her friends, and to rouse in herself a real death anxiety. Indeed the patient in question had been able to put an organic disease, zoith probable fatal issue but for the analysis, at the service of her neurosis. (Italics ours.) In the analysis of a dream (and other material) it was probable “that the anxiety in the dream corresponds to the anxiety felt by the child when she was observing the primal scene, and that the latter was recalled simply for the sake of experiencing once more the memories connected with it; just as in the dream cited by Freud, in which a patient dreamt of the death of a relative simply because she wished to create the possibility of once more meeting her lover, whom she had last seen at such a funeral. But on the strength of our material we consider it more likely that the orgasm of the woman observed by our patient in the primal scene was construed as anxiety, and

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that, consequently, ‘anxiety’ became the sole image present to the patient's mind of the satisfaction of her libido.

“In corroboration of this interpretation. Laforgue adds that the French word ‘affoler’ can signify both ‘to cause anxiety’ and ‘to excite sexually,’ and that the phrase ‘tu m'affolles’ means ‘you are giving me an orgasm.’ Still further confirmation of this is found in the connection between sexual satisfaction and the fear of death, which is shown in the expression ‘la petite mort,’ which in current speech means the orgasm. Indeed, the general question may be raised whether the first sexual excitement of a young child may not rather be felt as anxiety, and consequently become fixated as such. If the interpretation of the dream and of certain of the patient's symptoms be right, then it may be assumed that the feeling of anxiety produced by her symptoms in so many different ways was pleasurably toned, and that the anxiety signified both the satisfaction and the penalty of her CEdipus-fixated libido.

“In a second case, a man of fifty, it was a positive pleasure for him to look out for symptoms of a terrible nature, which he would then dramatize, not only to call the attention of those around him to himself, to cause his family anxiety, but even to terrify himself and to suffer a real fear of death in the most literal sense of the word. For example, he would look for syphilitic spots in his body, would forthwith telephone his friends and analyst, and hunt all over his body to find symptoms to be anxious about. A yellow spot on his back is ‘cancerous,’ etc., etc. Analysis showed, among other things, that through a father identification he would ‘arouse anxiety’ and through a mother identification ‘experience anxiety.’ The need to inform was the compulsion to confess and thus relieve the sense of guilt.”

A typical anxiety neurosis in a woman of forty-four is then given in detail, too closely woven to permit abstracting.

“Since the media by which anxiety is roused are very varied, it is conceivable that in certain cases involving criminal acts these may not merely serve the need for punishment, but may also be used to arouse fear of the punishment, and in that case-as Reik, approaching the matter from another angle, has pointed out-the anxiety is analogous to the fore-pleasure and the punishment to the end-pleasure. The conjecture may be offered that psychic reactions of this nature always repeat the same situation-the experience of an anxiously-toned fore-pleasure, and of an end-pleasure that neutralizes the sense of guilt. All kinds of variants of this situation may accordingly be imagined, from an ordinary game to the final stages of the gambling passion in the Casino or on the Stock Exchange, or, in another region, from military ‘maneuvers’ to the ‘terrible game of war’; but it must not be forgotten that theories can be corroborated only by clinical experience.

“This inference from the preceding arguments would be that our patients express anxiety not merely as a reaction to danger, but that in

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quite a number of cases psychoanalysis has to deal, so to speak, with an artificial anxiety, which is exploited for erotic gratification. Further, there may be an intimate relation between this eroticized anxiety and the sense of guilt, which is also sexualized, and therefore I'aiguillon du remords would be exalted to the ranks of a despot who dispenses masochistic pleasure with royal liberality.

“A more thorough study of the problem will be required to discover how far the eroticization of anxiety has contributed in these patients to fixate obstinate inhibitory states with all the complications that result from them. The intention has been to state this whole problem in its salient outlines, and indicate the involved conditions that can result from the eroticization of anxiety.”

5.   Strachey, J. Some Unconscious Factors in Reading. -“Among the characteristics that distinguish the more advanced forms of civilization from the more primitive perhaps the most outstanding are the arts of writing and reading. They have been practised in every highly organized human society with the single exception of the Empire of the Incas. And even today it is usual to estimate the relative degree of civilization in different countries from the percentage of illiterates among their inhabitants. Whether it be believed that these arts developed independently in various parts of the world, or whether one prefers to accept the diffusionist view that they originated in the Nile valley or in Mesopotamia, it is clear that (if we consider the whole course of cultural development) they are very recent acquisitions. Indeed, until the last fifty years, even in the most civilized communities these accomplishments have been restricted to an extremely limited number of individuals. It might, therefore, be imagined that such newly acquired forms of activity could scarcely play any considerable part in the deeper mental life of mankind. If one turns from communities as a whole to the individual members of them, it may be found that writing and reading perform functions of some appreciable importance in the economics of the mind of modern man, and, further, that an examination of the factors involved will throw light on some problems of wider scope and deeper significance.

“Reading is about the first intellectual activity that a child is systematically taught; for the process of learning to talk seems to proceed in a much more instinctual fashion. Talking seems to need little prompting but most children usually have to be prodded into reading. Many adult neurotics have similar difficulties. Several determiners are at work. A history is outlined where compulsive checking up of pages, or paragraphs, or even lines hindered the reading. In mild forms the pace is modified. Some people must silently pronounce every word. Here the oral component is evident. Defects in sublimation of unconscious trends are there. Illustrations of the oral trends are given. A book and a box of sweets, a pipe, a whiskey and soda, reading in bed, as a ‘night cap,’ etc., etc. Secondary oral phases are of interest as well. Reading and

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talking- “eating another's words.” These considerations lead to deeper understanding of the inhibitions that frequently are noted. Not only are ‘aim’ situations of great interest but ‘books’ as object symbolizations are significant. Books stand usually as female symbols. Jones points out that paper and printing are often equated with smearing, i.e., with anal trends. Strachey enters extensively into the possibilities of anal erotic gratifications in those who read or have to read while defecating. Interesting examples are given. One patient had to eat a ‘custard’ tart in order to defecate. This and other examples of coprophagy are cited. The possibilities of widespread release and sublimation of anal sadistic impulses through the cheap newspaper for the masses is dealt with. Strachey calls attention to Melanie Klein's studies of children, indicating how oral sadistic phases in development are sublimated in the process of intellectual development.

An interesting contribution to be read by the practising analyst.

6.   Shorter Comvmnications. -J. H. Shultz reports the case of a fourteen-year-old girl, not obviously suffering from a manifest neurosis, in whom there was a complex of the nature of a phobia always ready to break out given the specific occasion, namely, some situation comprising illness and a physician. The content of this complex coincides exactly with the traumatic experience of the first four weeks of life (starvation owing to spasm of the pylorus) and the symptoms became noticeable when the child was still a baby, at the time when she was beginning to speak.

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Article Citation

Jelliffe, S.E. (1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(2):221-230

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