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Woltmann, A.G. (1971). The Riddle of the Amazon. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(1):135-148.

(1971). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(1):135-148

Clinical Notes

The Riddle of the Amazon

Adolf G. Woltmann

Current trends in psychotherapy reject psychoanalytic therapy as being ineffective, as taking too long, as using antiquated methods, and so on. It is fashionable right now to employ sensitivity training, to form encounter groups, to use behavior therapy or to try Gestalt therapy. It is true that many roads lead to Rome, but the above-mentioned methods circumvent the fact that sexuality, like everything else, also has a beginning, a childhood. They deny the fact that attitudes and associations, formed in childhood, are responsible for difficulties encountered later on in life.

This case is presented because: (1) It reaffirms the validity of the psychoanalytic method. (2) It unearthed the beginning from which later difficulties emanated. (3) It clearly shows how unconsciously drives and desires, centered around a body part of one person (the father), are transferred symbolically to the body of the patient. (4) The case also reveals how the original affect accompanying the primal situation is fully recaptured through a dream.

I call this presentation “The Riddle of the Amazon” for reasons which will be elaborated upon in the presentation. The patient, Joan, is a 27-year-old, white, married woman.

Approximately two years after her marriage (at the time when I first saw her) she had developed anxiety attacks while traveling in the subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn. These attacks were characterized by palpitation of the heart, breathing difficulties and a paralysis.

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