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Freud, S. (1916). A Mythological Parallel to a Visual Obsession. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works, 337-338.

Freud, S. (1916). [SEN337a1]A Mythological Parallel to a Visual Obsession. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works, 337-338

Shorter Writings (1915-1916)

[SEN337a1]A Mythological Parallel to a Visual Obsession Book Information Previous Up Next Language Translation

Sigmund Freud

[SEN337a2]In a patient of about twenty-one years of age the products of unconscious mental activity became conscious not only in obsessive thoughts but also in obsessive images. The two could accompany each other or appear independently. At one particular time, whenever he saw his father entering the room, there came into his mind in close connection an obsessive word and an obsessive image. The word was ‘Vaterarsch’ [‘father-arse’]; the accompanying image represented his father as the naked lower part of a body, provided with arms and legs, but without the head or upper part. The genitals were not indicated, and the facial features were painted on the abdomen.

[SEN337a3]It will help to explain this more than usually absurd symptom if I mention that the patient, who was a man of fully developed intellect and high moral ideals, manifested a very lively anal erotism in the most various ways until after his tenth year. After this had been got over, his sexual life was once again forced back to the preliminary anal stage by his later struggle against genital erotism. He loved and respected his father greatly, and also feared him not a little; judged by his own high standards in regard to asceticism and the suppression of the instincts, however, his father seemed to him a person who stood for debauchery and the pursuit of enjoyment in material things.

[SEN337a4]Father-arse’ was soon explained as a jocular Teutonizing of the honorific title of ‘patriarch’. The obsessive image is an obvious caricature. It recalls other representations which, with a derogatory end in view, replace a whole person by one of his organs, e.g.

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