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Evans, W.N. (1974-75). Pseudostupidity: A Study in Masochistic Exhibitionism. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(4):619-632.

(1974-75). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(4):619-632

Pseudostupidity: A Study in Masochistic Exhibitionism

William N. Evans

Pseudostupidity is a symptom we encounter every day of our lives and a source of constant exasperation. That is why the vernaculars of the world have their own descriptive synonyms for it. Most learning difficulties have little to do with native intelligence but could be subsumed under the title of this paper. One could include many acts of clumsiness, what we commonly call a lack of coordination in sport, gaucherie in its many forms, slips of the tongue of the more outrageous sort, so many acts of folly—these are some of the manifestations of this symptom. It is possible that the reason why psychoanalytic literature has so little to say about this topic is that it commonly goes unrecognized.

An amusing dream is recounted by Freud, the Chemist's Dream. A patient found himself in a semisleep repeating the word phenyl. In his associations to the word he stated that he was fond of all radicals ending in -yl, because they were so easy to use: benzyl, acetyl, etc. Freud felt that this explained nothing and finally suggested Schlemihl—“as another radical in the series.” The patient burst out laughing and recalled that he had read a book by Marcel Prévost in which there was a chapter on les exclus de l'amour which included some remarks on les Schlémiliés and said to himself, “This is just what I am.”

As the account stands, Freud's comment is a non sequitur.

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