Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To quickly go to the Table of Volumes from any article…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To quickly go to the Table of Volumes from any article, click on the banner for the journal at the top of the article.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

(1951). American Imago. Psychoanal. Rev., 38(2):180-195.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Imago

(1951). Psychoanalytic Review, 38(2):180-195


American Imago

(Vol. 6, No. 1)

1.   La Barre, Weston. The Apperception of Attitudes.

2.   Hitschmann, Edward. Swedenborg's Paranoia.

3.   Bergler, Edmund. Story-Tellers and Story-Writers.

4.   Wormhoudt, Arthur. The Unconscious Identification Words-Milk.

1.   La Barre, Weston. The Apperception of Attitudes. Subtitled, the Responses to “The Lonely Ones” of William Steig. In all their daily behavior, whether intended or accidental, people are constantly exhibiting or betraying their inner attitude stances. Threatened by this fact, many would prefer to join an official conspiracy of silence to the effect that some human behavior is indeterminate and meaningless, and that a rigorous and unrelentingly analytic view, goes too far, i.e. arouses anxiety when it encroaches upon the areas wherein it has been culturally agreed that the Emperor is wearing beautiful clothes. One excellent way of unmistakably eliciting this unacknowledged insight people have is to confront them with the caricature of behavior, the emotionally indifferent and ethically denatured world of the cartoon. By implicitly agreeing that here in this dehumanized world (of course it is not) everything is all in fun and that we don't really mean it, humanity can be caught off guard and freed to exercise emotional apperception and projection. A few cartoons are described. It is evident that the enjoyment of these cartoons must involve the readers' unwitting insight into and apperception of the situation. Steig's volume is especially valuable in this connection. The following material contains student comments on the Steig drawings. People understand what people mean, even in disguised and highly symbolical forms, and even when everybody is busy pretending that they don't understand, or is strenuously joining in the pretense that there is no meaning, there is no basis for understanding, and anyone who maintains this is a Freudian so-and-so.

2.   Hitschmann, Edward. Swedenborg's Paranoia. Taking for granted that Swedenborg suffered from religious paranoia, all the following facts are explained: a famous scholar and worker in the realm of natural history, one day in the fifth decade of his life, he was called by the Lord to interpret to mankind the inner meaning of the Bible. He abandoned Science, resigned his offices, and devoted himself completely to these supernatural phenomena and instructions, and has recorded these revelations extensively in a hundred volumes. Passages proving the origin of his works out of a disordered brain, may be found. A modest attempt at an interpretation of the psychical change in Swedenborg, may be made.

- 180 -

It does not pretend to give the deepest and final explanation, nor would it be justified, owing to many missing details of statements. The external cause of the change is still obscure. The age when it happened is not without significance: it (age 46) would correspond with a premature climacteric in man. It appears first by hallucinations, and it is clear that it depends upon a regression to childhood, and to love of his father and the father's religio-mystical influence. The whole insanity seems to be a fulfillment of infantile narcissistic megalomania: to be a son who surpasses the father, a kind of son of the Lord, a Saviour, a Reformer of Christendom. One sees a kind of detachment of the sublimated libido when Swedenborg renounced his earlier scientific activities, pursued so intensively and successfully. Freud is quoted on paranoia.

3.   Bergler, Edmund. Story-Tellers and Story-Writers. Story-telling and story-writing seem not to be carved out of the same wood: not every writer is a raconteur. The second practical reason, contradicting the identity of raconteur and writer, is another simple empirical fact that every raconteur is not a writer. Some raconteurs never even think of writing, at least consciously. If they try writing, they fail. The third—this time theoretical—reason relates to the basic unconscious conflict to be solved in writing and story-telling, respectively. Both types of conflicts are completely different. Writing and story-telling may coincide in one and the same person; both are not interconnected. Analysis of raconteurs convinces one that they labor under the following repressed conflict: the rejected child (in reality rejected or in his imagination) is not taken seriously; that supercilious attitude of parents is later masochistically elaborated, leading to a secondary exhibitionistic defense—to be at any costs the center of attention, thus spiting the parents. Hence, the combination of verbal and mimetic fiestas is exhibitionistically put in operation—-before spectators and listeners in company. The antics of the raconteurs are parts of their trade. The writer, on the other hand, labors under a different conflict: He could not take the dependence on the giant of the nursery: mother. He eradicates that lesion in self esteem in a singular way: he unconsciously denies the narcissistic defeat by negating the mere existence of the offending person: mother. The writer sets up shop in an autarchic manner: he acts out in his productivity, corrected giving mother and recipient child. That peculiar unification tendency is characteristic of the creative person exclusively. Whereas every other normal and neurotic person unconsciously need two people for unconscious re-enactment of allusions to the nursery past, the creative artist requires one person only. Comparing the inner conflicts leading to writing and being a raconteur, one observes that the latter's conflicts are much more superficial in the long scale of regression. Both the writer and the raconteur alike fight their never ending battle of the conscience. Both are defendants indicted before the high tribunal of the “hell within.” Since the indictment

- 181 -

is different, the defensive alibis are different too. In writers the indictment reads: You want to be masochistically refused by the pre-oedipal mother. In raconteurs, the indictment reads: You are masochistically attached to the oedipal mother and father—by playing little child pushed into the corner.

4.   Wormhoudt, Arthur. The Unconscious Identification Words Milk. Reference is made to Bergler's work. The autarchic fantasy involves a regression to the oral level, as noted by Brill, and the attempt to exclude the giving mother and her breast by the fantasy that the writer give himself words-milk. This unconscious identification of words-milk can be documented with literary as well as clinical evidence, and it is to a consideration of some examples of this sort that this paper is devoted. The identification of words-milk, or in its most general significance as the infant probably distinguishes it: sounds-liquid, finds expression in phrases describing the poetic process in almost every poet in the European tradition. Such, for example, are the common idioms, a flood of words, fluent speech etc. In poetry more elaborate images frequently depend on the mythological fact that the Greeks made the Muses goddesses of poetry and the arts who lived on mountains such as Helicon or Parnassus and guarded sacred springs such as Castalia, Aganippe, or Pieria. It was the liquid from these springs which inspired the poets and thus the myth admirably supports the theory that poetry stems from an oral level of the unconscious. The Muses may be taken as pre-genital mother symbols. The mountains as breast symbols and the springs as milk which issues from the brew In the first epistle of Peter believers are urged to “desire the sincere milk of the word, as new born babes, that ye may grow thereby.” Numerous literary examples are given.

(Vol. 6, No. 2)

1.   Histschann, Esward. Johannes Brahms and Women.

2.   Bergler, Edmund. Anxiety, Feet of Clay and Comedy.

3.   Moloney, James Clark and Rockelein, Laurence A. Flight.

4.   Lourie, Anton. The Jew as a Psychological Type.

1.   Hitschmann, Edward. Johannes Brahms and Women. It is evident that musicians command a language which enables them to express their inner selves, without revealing it to the world. Among great musicians one finds reserved personalities, usually taciturn, solitary creative. It can be shown that the musical language which they use is due to some deep spiritual need, seeking to resolve internal conflicts and moods, and is often derived from the traditions of early home-life. When one finds with what deep emotional disturbance and with what weeping Brahms sometime composed and how easily when he was playing, the tears came to his eyes, one begins to be interested in his otherwise well concealed inner life. He himself said that it was his life's misfortune not to be married, to have no children, to be forced to mental solitude as to the causes of which his

- 182 -

own reasoning misled him; he himself recognized all this in the violent grief, which attacked him and made him appear so harsh and unjust under the power of disappointment and envy. Brahms was exceedingly uncommunicative. Much biographical data is given, especially to the Schumanns; Clara Schumann was a mother surrogate for him. The faithfulness of the wife and the gratitude of the young man towards Robert Schumann made this a friendship of high sanctity. A sexual relationship with a woman of refinement was not vouchsafed to Brahms throughout his life. The objects of his social life were only girls of common people, mostly paid prostitutes. Of course Brahms loved other women; married and unmarried. These relationships are described in some detail. Marriage meant for Brahms a great deed, something beyond his powers; thus he puts matrimony on a level with the composition of an opera. A man who is sexually diffident shrinks before a lady, while he does not fear the criticism of a prostitute for his peculiarities and his weaknesses. Here the exposure of his failure as a musician, stands for the exposure of the failure of his masculinity and is therefore a real debacle to marriage. Thus Brahms renounced the greatest and most difficult thing in both love and music: marriage and composing an opera. Not to be able to lose oneself is narcissism and here too his matrimonial inhibitions are rooted. To such men, who have not overcome the oedipus complex, the beloved woman only substitutes the mother and the relationship has neurotic features, changing moods, attempts to escape and so on. From that came Brahms' passionate emotion, when composing, from that came the weaving in of his love, the dedications. The composer escapes into his creation and liberates himself in it; there is given form and pattern to inner processes. Brahms' works therefore are a diary of the man, who was otherwise so reserved. His true life is spent apart from the things of the outer-world. It is his consolation, the spiritualization of his wishes, a sublimation. Brahms' most honest, cheerful and ambitious father had a decisive influence upon him. Music, sincerity and ambition were to be the supporting pillars of Brahms' life: there was little room left over for the love of women. His mother gave him his tender, kind and pious nature. Besides these aims he early learned to esteem solitude, to listen to his own spirit in quiet. Coming from a poor house Brahms never had learned society manners and had seen nothing of elegant dress. He remained diffident and timid. His profound sense of inferiority remained unconscious. Brahms placed in the foreground a slow career and perhaps too the fact that he was small and shortsighted. His fate was inner isolation in spite of his fondness for pleasant sociability. Longing and grief sounds through his music. His moods are better understood, his harshness, his aggressive mocking and teasing, when one understands how his life remained incomplete in order that his creative work might be whole.

2.   Bergler, Edmund. Anxiety, Feet of Clay, and Comedy. Some neurotics have the constant need to prove that all protagonists have feet of

- 183 -

clay. This demotion of the potential enemy is, at bottom, an unconscious attempt to demonstrate that the alleged adversary is too weak to be dangerous. There is a clear cut difference between the unavoidable observation of the relatively healthy person to the effect that everyone has peculiarities and ridiculous attitudes, and the compulsive necessity of neurotics to find the weak spot. The healthy person uses his observations for the purpose of making fun, the neurotic, under the disguise of making fun, uses them for the diminution of latent anxiety. The whole search is based on a mistaken premise: the assumption that there exist people without some weak or ridiculous corners in their personality. To prove that a person you have first put on a pedestal has feet of clay, is as simple as that other incontestable proof; everybody has a nose. Still the discovery of half-gods is a favorite sport of neurotics. Experience teaches that the simplest way of being disappointed is—to expect too much. A man has to be judged by his ideas and achievements, and not by his inherent silliness. Satire and comedy, as literary products, serve a specific purpose in the psychic economy: to deny inner dependence on the upbringers in childhood, later projected upon the great and not so great. Irony, wit, satire, are the weapons of the weak; and who is weaker than the child in his relation to the people with the halo in the nursery ? Hence, irony—biting irony—develops early in the child. The writer of comedy is somewhere between both extremes: he must use his strongest defensive aggression without falling into the neurotic alibi-trap of the refusing rule. It has been observed in clinical analysis that the writer of satiric comedy often cannot muster the necessary defensive aggression. The writer of satiric comedies is handicapped in his productivity by the constant duality of deep masochistically tinged depression and the tendency to direct unproductive irony against himself. Only in exceptional cases does he—the self-rescued defendant living under the shadow of manic-depressive psychosis, having outrun and outwitted the shadow—muster enough aggression to hit back. That rarely encountered half miracle makes him a writer of satiric comedy. Thus he answers Ibsen's question: “Is the great really great?”

3.   Moloney, James Clark and Rockelein, Laurence A. Flight. Freud is quoted. At times the word and not the picture contains the idea. It is in connection with the study of these word images, instead of picture images, that one finds that new and dynamic interpretation subsumes the climbing of stairs in dreams. This new interpretation implicates the word image for flight, as used in the American scene for a flight of stairs. Heretofore in keeping with the comments of Freud, dreams of stairs have been almost universally and exclusively accepted in the action-picture frame of reference as connoting sexual intercourse. That the word picture of a flight of stairs may carry a significance of its own was precipitated by the free association and other material of a dream (dream quoted). It is understood

- 184 -

by the dreamer's use of such terms as running, chase, run for my life, pounding after me, breath on my back, behind me, flying up the stairs, and chase me up the stairs. Where one American will speak of mounting, ascending or even going up the stairs, a dozen will tell of racing, tearing, flying, leaping, running, hurrying, bounding, scurrying, hopping, zooming, darting, charging, rushing, scramming, trotting, scooting, beating it up the stairs, or of taking steps two or three at a time. Each of these it will be noted at a glance is a basic expression of panic, fright or flight. With this in mind it is not difficult, either, to see how the physiological reactions from the act of mounting indicated by Freud as, perhaps, common to the act of intercourse might readily be confused (in the American scene) with the reaction from flight associated with stairs. For panic and an urge to escape also produce an increase in excitation and a shortening of breath.

4.   Lourie, Anton. The Jew as a Psychological Type. The results thus far are not presented as conclusive evidence of a Jewish personality. What is seen are some significant traits: aggression seems to be deflected from its natural aim, destruction, and converted into a craving for superiority (disputing replaces fighting, for instance); this attitude has a child-like quality resembling sibling jealousy; connected with it is a curious self-centeredness which tends to personalize every issue and often manifests itself in irrational behavior (expressionistic talk, counter-questioning, etc.); finally, there is glimpse of masochistic tendencies, But all this does not add up to a personality portrayal. It is as though one had fitted together the first few pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This is as much as can be expected from the material considered; while behavior patterns can yield some important clues they cannot reflect the whole personality. Another limitation is that up to now only Jews from Central and Eastern Europe have been considered, i.e., Ashkenazim, and at that those who either were living in Ghettos or had become emancipated relatively recently. Whatever has been learned about them does not apply necessarily to other groups of Jews, nor does it justify the assumption that the Ashkenazim already had those personality traits; this personality development could well be the result of ghetto life. It thus becomes necessary to broaden the scope so as to include more diversified material.

(Vol. 6, No. 3)

1.   Sterbe, Richerd. The Cosmological Aspect of Freud's Theory of Instincts.

2.   Bernfeld, Siegfrird. Freud's Scientific Beginnings.

3.   Arkin, Arthur M. A Short Note on Empedocles and Freud.

4.   Bergler, Edmund. Did Freud Really Advocate a Hands-Off Policy Towards Artistic Creativity?

5.   Ekstein, Rudoif. A Biographical Comment on Freud's Dual Instinct Theory.

6.   Wormhoudt, Arthur. Freud and Literary Theory.

- 185 -

1.   Sterbe, Richard. The Cosmological Aspect of Freud's Theory of Instincts. Freud named a remarkable and apparently senseless effort of mind repetition compulsion.’ Freud's definition of instinct is given, “An instinct is the inner urge of a living organism to reinstate some earlier condition.” The paramount example of repetition compulsion is the embryonic development, where, in organic processes, all the complicated states, attempts at adaptation and modifications because of changed conditions which the animal species previously experienced and endured are revealed. The forces which compelled the changes in the condition of living matter, however, came from without in the shape of great catastrophes, and only two of them can one imagine in their magnitude: the dessication which threw life out of a watery existence onto land, and the glacial period, which according to a theory of Freud, inhibited sexual instincts and directed them into cultural channels, and which repeats itself psychologically in the dichronous onset of sexual development as the latency period. It is cosmic events which stamp their indirect impression in one's strivings to repeat, which want to reinstate the condition which preceded change. It is the relation of the earth to the sun, which alone is life-giving, that stands legible in the organic repetition and in the instincts, if only one knew how to read the script. Beyond the Pleasure Principle is quoted, “But in the last report it must have been the evolution of our earth and its relation to the sun, that has left its imprint on the development of organisms. The conservative organic instincts have absorbed every one of these enforced alterations in the course of life and have stored them for repetition; they thus present the delusive appearance of forces striving after change and progress, while they are merely endeavoring to reach an old goal by ways both old and new.”

2.   Bernfeld, Siegfried. Freud's Scientific Beginnings. The childhood phantasies and the adolescent day dreams of Freud, as far as known, do not foretell the future originator of psychoanalysis. They fit a general, a reformer or a business executive rather than the patient, fulltime listener to petty complaints, humdrum stories and the recounting of irrational sufferings. An early letter of Freud shows he felt he had to be great, “I fear mediocrity.” The early work of Freud is then examined in connection with Zoology, The Histology of the Nerve Cell, New Methods, Physiology, and Translations.

3.   Arkin, Arthur M. A Short Note On Empedocles and Freud. There are references in Freud's late writings to the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Empedocles. Freud indicated that Empedocles had, in essence, priority in the formulation of the dual-instinct theory. The purpose of this note is to present under one heading Freud's remarks concerning Empedocles and the translation, from the original surviving fragments, of those of Empedocles' verses which pertain to this subject. “The Greek philosopher taught that there were two principles of natural process in the life of the universe, as in that of the mind, and that these principles were

- 186 -

eternally in conflict with one another.” The form in which the theory is presented (as in the atomic theory of Democritus and Leucippus) is such that the theory is non-verifiable; it offers no reliable predictability with respect to the phenomena it describes, and at best is one of a series of possible explanations of events which enable one to give an account of them only after they have occurred. To the author it seems that Empedocles' theory belongs to this latter class and that Freud was overly modest in attributing to him ideas directly anticipatory to his own.

4.   Bergler, Edmund. Did Freud Really Advocate a Hands-Off Policy Toward Artistic Creativity? It seems that nine years before his death Freud relinquished his pessimism (at least temporarily) as to the role psychoanalysis can play in the elucidation of artistic creativity. For those who question this conclusion, another even more decisive argument can be adduced. It is known that Freud believed firmly in scientific progress and hence an a priori denial of future scientific findings cannot be rightly attributed to him. A quotation is given from Civilization and Its Discontents. Still the fact remains that Freud reiterated between 1908 and 1928 the incompetence of analysis to explain artistic creativity. On the other hand one finds in Freud's writings a great many studies on poets and their work (Shakespeare, Jensen, Goethe, Schnitzler, Zweig, E. T. A. How-mann, etc.) One must admit that the psychology of works of art had some magic attraction for Freud—and still, he stated that his own science had to “lay down its arms before the problem of the artist.” How is one to explain the contradiction? It is believed that Freud's stress on the artist's inaccessibility is a case in point. In none of his 6000 printed pages is the clinical analysis of even one writer actually analyzed by Freud mentioned. Why this reticence, or lack (avoidance?) of clinical material, and why the superabundance of speculative deductions pertaining to dead writers? It is interesting that Freud decided to study medicine after hearing a recital of Goethe's Fragment Upon Nature. Goethe's description is that of the pre-oedipal mother with some oedipal sugar coatings. It is suspected that unconsciously Freud had emotional difficulties in clarifying for himself the dichotomy of mothers, as stated in Goethe's fragment. This was intra-psychically shifted to a denial of the possibility of understanding artistic creativity in poets in general. That effective motive was—as is possible for a scientific genius—interrupted around 1930 in the passage quoted from Civilization and its Discontents, and one year later in his basic paper on Female Sexuality in which he built in the pre-oedipal phase of the psychic history.

5.   Ekstein, Rudolf. A Biographical Comment on Freud's Dual Instinct Theory. The present author is interested in throwing some light on certain biographical aspects of Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle which might lead to a fuller appreciation of certain personal problems of Freud that have been a contributing cause for the formation of the dual

- 187 -

instinct theory, that is: the introduction of the death instinct theory, the most powerful source of psychological discovery seems to be awareness of inner struggle, inner conflict, mastery of one's own destiny. It is this constant struggle for inner mastery, this eternal solution of inner conflicts which gave Freud the strength and the conviction to carry on in spite of the loss of those he loved, against fatal illness and its pain and the infirmities of age. He who created the death instinct was sufficiently optimistic to fight ceaselessly until the end. He dared to face Thanatos because he believed in Eros. He suggested, “If you want to endure life be prepared for death.”

6.   Wormhoudt, Arthur. Freud and Literary Theory. Perhaps the most widespread of misunderstandings is the belief that psychoanalysis was primarily concerned with sexual motivations. In its crudest form this belief gave new impetus to the traditional unconventionality of the artist and seemed to encourage him to throw off the inhibitions on his sexual impulses both in his personal life and in his artistic work. This was, however, only a passing phase for it was soon discovered that Freud stood not at all for sexual license, which is a symptom of mental illness, but rather for a normal, healthy attitude toward sexuality. The writer's basic unconscious conflict is heavily tinged with psychic masochism. Against this tendency he raises a pseudo-aggressive defense which accordingly finds expression in his work. But the ultimate goal of aggression is destruction and the writer, as has been seen, above all likes to be thought of as a creator, that is he likes to be thought of as someone who is dominated by love. The result is that the preoccupation with love and sex in his work is, from the unconscious point of view, a defense—a taking the blame for the lesser crime. Freud simply contended that the most coherent level of meaning in a work of art will be found on that level which refers to unconscious states of mind. Still one often hears artists and critics declaring that Freud has no right to impose this judgment on literature. They exclaim that the artist's view of reality is just as valuable, if not more so, as that of the normal person. There is another point which should be mentioned in this connection. Writers and critics in opposing Freud's view that art is the product of inner conflict often declare that it disposes of all values. This is plainly not the case. Even the artists themselves admit that they are not the inventors of moral values, though they may or may not embody them in their work. Finally Freud's view of art as phantasy has had to meet another charge. It has been said that such a view neglects or underestimates the fact, and it is a fact, that art has a social reference. It has also been said by way of definition of this social reference that the artist deals with material which is common to everybody. With regard to this latter point, however, as has already been noted, the qualification must be added “everybody who has neurotic needs similar to those of the artist.” But even if one grants that some writers were consciously influenced by the

- 188 -

writings of Freud, one is still at a loss to explain the obscurity which appears in their work. There is one last misconception about the relation of Freudianism to the artist's work. There is a widespread belief that psychoanalysis is capable of destroying the artistic gift. It may be true that in the judgment of some people his work after treatment is less valuable than before treatment. But this is unlikely since a successful analysis will relieve the writer of precisely those difficulties which hamper his creative abilities. In spite of the misunderstandings which have been summarized it remains to be said that some artists have shown real insight into the importance of Freud's work for the future. Chief among these is Thomas Mann, and one might name others who have been equally sympathetic. It is such people who justify Freud's own very profound respect for the artist and his role in society.

(Vol. 6, No. 4)

1.   Leschnitzer, Adolf F. Faust and Moses.

2.   Reik, Theodor. The Three Women in a Man's Life.

3.   Bliss, Hilde Scheuer and Bliss, Donald Thayer. Coleridge's Kubla Khan.

4.   Bengler, Edmund. A New Misconception in Literary Criticism.

5.   Grantham, Marcus. The Sexual Symbolism of Hats.

6.   Webster, Peter Dow. A Critical Fantasy or Fugue.

7.   Rapport, Nathan. Pleasant Dreams.

8.   Róheim, Gésa. The Symbolism of Subincision.

9.   McGuire, Ivan A. The Role of the Serpent in Mental Development.

10.  Fodor, Nandor. Nightmares of Bears.

1.   Leschnitzer, Adolf F. Faust and Moses. Burdach shows that the conceptions, memories and ideas directly traceable in such surprising detail to Goethe's preoccupation with Moses are components, or rather, integral parts of the towering figure of Faust. The Moses referred to here is scarcely the one of the Old Testament; he is rather the representation in rabbinical, Islamic, Christian lore, the Moses of theological and mystical meditation. It is the picture of Moses as portrayed for many centuries in the traditions of the Arabic and occidental civilizations whose imprint—influence would be somewhat of an understatement—Goethe's Faust bears. At various points in his investigations, Burdach raise such questions as: Why did Goethe devote his attention so frequently and in such detail to the Moses figure? There can be no doubt whatever that Goethe as a youngster knew the Moses story. However, to understand the importance it had for him, one must be prepared to follow comprehensively the development of Goethe as a child. An incident is given. According to Freud, the incident refers to a rather definite development in Goethe's youth which became a determining factor in his whole life, i.e., the blissful and gratifying relationship with his mother. Goethe did indeed become one of the characteristic

- 189 -

representatives of that type of person whose life, so to speak, bears the imprint of a harmonious and happy relationship with the mother, In line with Freud's conception, it is conjectured that Goethe's attitude as a child may furnish an explanation of Goethe's life-long interest in the Moses figure. Goethe as a child had the inclination found in many people to spin a fanciful story about his family history. Such a myth always tends in the direction of the birth of the hero, as demonstrated by Otto Rank, the basic details of the myth are that the hero, or the great man, is of mysterious origin. At birth he was exposed to danger, had to be hidden, and saved from drowning or some other catastrophe. This myth is known in various forms ranging from that of Moses to that of Lohengrin. One wonders: Did not Goethe as a child identify himself with Moses? In his early youth, through the biblical story of Moses, Goethe became acquainted with the earliest version of the myth of the hero, a version which was not only generally accessible at the time but also the purest and clearest version known then. Moses is the only Hebrew boy of his generation who survives, all other new-born boys having been killed at Pharaoh's command. Goethe's identification with Moses occurred at any early age. The identification was forgotten because it was linked with a hostile attitude toward his little brother. Poetry and Truth alone proves clearly that he must have had the identification with Moses in his mind. The important psychological fact is, it was the danger surrounding the birth of the infant Moses and his miraculous salvation; and it was the fact that he was the only boy of his generation to survive. The identification was established by way of analogy. Goethe also came across Faust for the first time in his youth when he saw the puppet play of Doctor Faustus. Actually Faust proved to be the more appealing figure, and one more suitable for identification, originating in an era much closer to Goethe than that in which the Moses story was created. Both the Faust story, a product of the late fifteenth century, and the Biblical Moses story, about three thousand years older, captivated Goethe's imagination at an early age and never lost their effect on him. The two fused into one in a noteworthy process of integration. This is documented by Goethe's Faust. It is also manifested by his life which, many people think, is a monument greater than even Faust.

2.   Reik, Theodor. The Three Women in a Man's Life. An unknown melody haunts the author for several days. Its repeated emergence is irking. It must have been heard long ago. It comes from the Tales of Hoffman. A study of the music then follows. It is concluded that the author of the Tales of Hoffman wanted to portray three typical figures who play a role in a young man's life. They are the child woman, the siren, and the artist, or a woman who oscillates between wanting to be a wife or to follow a career. Olympia, Guiletta, and Antonia would then represent three types whom every young man meets and finds attractive in different ways, appealing as they do to the playful, the sensual, and the affectionate part in

- 190 -

him. Guiletta is the “courtesan with the brazen mien.” She stands in the middle, following after Olympia, the doll, and preceding Antonia over whom looms the shadow of death. She probably represents the figure which governs the mature years of a man's life. If Olympia represents the mother, the first love-object of the small boy, then Guiletta is the woman loved and desired by the grown man, the object of his passionate wishes, the mistress who gratifies his sensual desires. Antonia is the last image of woman as she appears to the old man. Antonia is the figure of death. Here are three women in one, or one woman in three shapes: the one who gives birth, the one who gives sexual gratification, the one who brings death; the mother, the mistress, the annihilator.

3.   Bliss, Hilde Scheuer and Bliss, Donald Thayer. Coleridge's Kubla Khan. As in the case of Leonardo, so brilliantly discussed by Freud, the encroachments of Coleridge's neurosis were attended by increasing inhibition of the creative abilities. It may be conjectured that Coleridge could only have persisted in the composition of poetry if the examination of human sexuality had been permhis, of course, was not feasible in 19th century England. When the practice of verse became forbidden to him as overly dangerous, Coleridge turned to the theory of verse and the safer medium of prose. Whatever the word ‘must’—whatever the categorical imperative of Kant—may mean to the philosopher, to the unprejudiced observer it can only mean compulsion; and amid the high comedy, worthy of Shakespeare alone, which invests the comments of the author of Kubla Khan on the ends of poetry, the observer must perceive with mixed pity and amusement the attempt of a man who has foregone the practice of poetry because of its fundamentally sexual nature to make it the loyal and devoted handmaiden of an ethics by its nature asexual. It is a profound reflection on the devious way of human intellect, that one of its chief representatives could deem himself better, because less productive, than his predecessors; and nearer to God, because farther from mankind. Coleridge offers a prime example of the artist annihilated by the society and morals of his time. The miracle of the bees and flowers, the whole Romantic attachment to Nature, was at length the only means which permitted him expression of the strong vital impulses, on which his creativity was founded, while the taboos incident to his time and place crushed and introverted the remaining portion. With this, it is allowed possibly to conclude that the great secret of the Romantic movement was the attempt to liberate those vital energies which not alone the preceding Classicism, but the whole institution of Western Christendom, had conspired to suppress or at least divert into useless compulsive outward activity—a deliverance which our own age, after the long pause of the Victorian Restoration, has again assumed as its duty and salvation.

4.   Bergler, Edmund. A New Misconception in Literary Criticism. Literary criticism is at present faced with a dilemma: both the personality

- 191 -

of the writer, and his artistic product are not explainable without the application of psychoanalytic concepts. This fact, however, is still taboo. The result is that new subterfuges must be sought for and found. The latest of these fashions involves the supposed discovery that a specific writer is at bottom a frustrated actor. The formula has been recently applied to both Dickens and Poe. Further discoveries are in store. This misconception is based on complete misunderstanding of both the psychology of the writer and the psychology of the actor. What is the material with which the writer works? Reduced to the simplest common denominator, one can state that an idea occurs from nowhere (unconscious) which is subjected to prolonged elaboration in the forming of the plot. This done the writer starts to write. This sequence of events has a genetic basis in which imagination corresponds to voyeurism, the act of writing down to an exhibitionistic defense. In the inner lawbook of the writer, exhibitionism is the lesser crime. Hence a voyeur-exhibitionistic chain reaction is set in motion. The act elaborates in the identical material in a completely different way. In the analysis of a dozen actors, there has been found with astonishing regularity recollections of terrifying peeping experiences, so full of terror that the real experience had been shortchanged into a game or play. By making the real into the unreal, fear was alleviated. Later in life, in the sublimation of acting, passively experienced infantile voyeuristic terror was short-changed into an active exhibitionistic defense via the unconscious repetition compulsion. This went so far that the roles were fully reversed: not the child peeps in the dark at forbidden sexual performances of others, quite the contrary—the spectators of a stage or screen performance are the peepers at the now harmless play. They are in the darkened auditorium, the actor in the limelight. A perfect alibi reversal from passivity to activity. Thus both the writer and actor fight with identical infantile peeping conflicts, warded off with defensive exhibitionism. Still, there are decisive differences. (1) The future actor has been frightened more profoundly than the future writer. Proof positive is the amount of conscience money paid by the actor. This conscience money consists of complete extinction of personality: the actor acts and represents other people and other people's emotions. His originality is confined to his version of the dramatis personae of the author. This empty bag alibi is the result of undigested infantile fear. In contradistinction, the writer creates original characters, hence his voyeurism is less inhibited. Only in writers suffering from specific types of writers block, does this imaginative function cease to exercise itself. Expressed paradoxically: if the writer had the same amount of voyeuristic fears as the still functioning actor, his head would be as blank as the unused piece of paper in his typewriter.

5.   Grantham, Marcus. The Sexual Symbolism of Hats. The inference is drawn that the plumes worn in their helmets by the armored knights

- 192 -

of the Middle Ages would have denoted originally their prowess in battle and their victories over the enemy. Also in this connection, one is reminded of the three feathered plume with the motto Ich Dien which has for centuries been the distinguishing coat of arms of the Prince of Wales. Legend has it that this coat of arms originally belonged to the old king of Bohemia in the thirteenth century, and that it was appropriated by the English Black Prince when he killed the king on the field of battle. It is not stretching the hypothesis too far, to envisage a primitive time when, instead of the exhibition of a feather in the cap or helmet, the actual enemy genital was worn proudly in the hair, stretched erect and, most probably, embalmed. If this is so there is here a most direct connection between the genital actually projecting upwards from the hair as an ornament, and the feather, which later symbolically replaced the actual genital. From here to the symbolic phallic significance of the helmet and the hat is but one further short step, since, by a kind of unconscious displacement, the symbolic significance of the feather would be transferred to the helmet or the cap which carried the feather. One thus finally arrives at what is believed to be the original significance of this perennial symbol, and the inquiry leads back to primitive times when that significance was much less hidden than it is at the present time.

6.   Webster, Peter Dow. A Critical Fantasy or Fugue. A little flower, some horses, and two wounded boys, both of whom died. These symbolic elements are the projections of unconscious defenses against infantile fixations in Franz Kafka and William Shakespeare. The discussion shows that the highest function of art is not merely to conceal art, but also to conceal the artist—to protect and defend him from such inner self-knowledge as would impair or destroy his capacity to create. Between the conscious ego of the artist and his unconscious past there intervenes a protective layer of illusion, a land of mist and snow, through whose refractive mechanism one senses the profounder depths of the artist's inward identity. It is now believed that the poem or story contains the depth only as it is disguised, transposed, or otherwise concealed by an unconscious defense against the nuclear complex within the unconscious itself. It is proposed to illustrate this new hypothesis in a discussion of Shakespeare's, Venus and Adonis and Kafka's A Country Doctor. Neither work is the greatest of the artist, but each suggests the principal function of art as a propitiation for unconscious guilt, an invitation for the reader to share his guilt, and the excellence of the unconscious defense against the original trauma, always to be considered oral in nature. Though neither Shakespeare nor Kafka is a prophet, though neither artist is a philosopher, each is the cause that we think with richer materials in a world far more alive because they preferred their dreams to objective reality. Let the critic, therefore, redream the poet's dream, but let him analyze it not as his own fantasy wills but as the artist creates—a polyphonic composition or fugue.

- 193 -

7.   Rapport, Nathan. Pleasant Dreams. Man displays a routine forgetfulness which is a powerful factor limiting the scant and scattred knowledge of dreams. Personal dreams are given. As to the mysterious glories all too seldom remembered from dreams—why attempt to describe them? Those magical fantasies, the weird but lovely gardens, these luminous grandeurs; they are enjoyed only by the dreamer who observes them with active interest, peeping with appreciative wakeful mind, grateful for glories surpassing those the most accomplished talents can devise in reality. The fascinating beauty found in dreams amply rewards their study. But there is a higher call. The study and cure of the mind out of touch with reality can be aided by attention to dreams. And when secrets are wrested from the mystery of life, many of them will have been discovered in pleasant dreams.

8.   Róheim, Gésa. The Symbolism of Subincision. The ritual of the Ngallunga is referred to. This ritual usually belongs to the kangaroo totem and consists in the older men (the imitators) running backwards and showing their subincision hole. The blood spurts forth from the subincision hole and the youngsters see the great mystery of initiation. It is quite clear that the aim of the rite is to separate the young men from the group of the mothers and to aggregate them to the group of the fathers. It is clear what is meant when they call the subincision hole a vagina or a penis womb. In this war-like ceremony, why are the men pretending that the penis is a vagina, that the blood is milk and so on? The equivalence of the touching of the subincision wound in men and submitting to coitus in women makes matters quite clear.

9.   McGuire, Ivan A. The Role of the Serpent in Mental Development. The universality of the relationship between man and the serpent once openly expressed in religious belief but which now in cultured mankind finds only symbolic expression in religious and artistic productions and the sensuous images of dreams and hallucinations, is the subject of this paper. There are special attributes of the serpent that are closely connected with the early ego feelings and are thus capable of arousing affects that, long since, have become foreign to the mature ego. The most outstanding characteristic of the serpent is that it has no appendages. Its method of locomotion is peculiar and it inflicts harm by biting or squeezing. There is an infantile period when the arms and legs are less important to the child and when its gut is most important. In this period the groundwork is laid for object cathexis and identification with the serpent. It is a period when the body image may be projected as essentially a gut with a mouth with destructive impulses. The serpent by its shape and motion becomes the anally expelled object that has been incorporated. The universality of serpent worship and later its transformation into modern religions must have had to do with an attempt at restitution and deification of the introjected and destroyed object. So it is that the serpent often appears in those conditions

- 194 -

where the individual has regressed to a stage where the immature ego is threatened by its own sadistic impulses and by the object toward whom these impulses are directed. In various pathological conditions where the severity of the super ego is represented by the serpent as a persecutor, the character of the child's relation to the world, not only on all levels of object relationships but also at a time probably preceding object cathexis can be seen, for there is little doubt that this persecutor is the child's early intestinal aggression.

10.  Fodor, Nandor. Nightmares of Bears. Childhood memories play a great part in the genesis of bear fantasies. One fears instinctively all big and powerful animals because they might devour one. Foolish parental remarks lend color to the fear, and nursery rhymes may further support it. Much literary and case material is given. There is a case of a bear nightmare with original content, the dream of an 18 year old ballet dancer showing the evaluation of bear, the animal, with bare as a reference to the nakedness of the newborn child, a western social worker in whom a combination of bear and stove symbolism is shown, and a male patient in whose dream the hugging bear as a symbol of destructive love appears. The choice of the bear by primitive peoples as a totem animal points in the same direction, the bear as a parental symbol. Emerging in spring the bear might easily parallel the birth of the child. The Great Bear, Ursa Major was considered a magic generator by primitive peoples.

- 195 -

Article Citation

(1951). American Imago. Psychoanal. Rev., 38(2):180-195

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.