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Freud's Dora

Freud's Dora: A Psychoanalytic, Historical, and Textual Study

Patrick J. Mahony
Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Freud's Dora
    Book Description:

    The case of the patient whom Freud immortalized as Dora is regarded as a landmark in the evolution of psychoanalytic theory and technique, as a graphic demonstration of psychosomatics and the therapeutic significance of dreams. Now in this brilliant book Patrick Mahony claims that this case study isnota model of treatment but a remarkable exhibition of the rejection of a patient by a clinician, an inkblot test of Freud's misapprehensions about female sexuality and adolescence.Combining psychoanalytic, historical, and textual approaches, Mahony makes us look at the famous case history in a new way. He maps out in detail how Freud neglected much significant data, and he traces the clinical impact of Freud's undigested friendship with Fliess. Mahony also sheds fresh light on Dora's bisexuality, transference, trauma, and symptoms, and uncovers the deeper, problematic meaning of Dora's dreams. Through his close textual analysis, Mahony shows that this case history is a specimen of symptomatic writing and evidence of Freud's countertransferential impasse. Mahony's book is testimony to the fact that any serious study of Freud must not be limited to theStandard Editionof his works.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14626-4
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. 1 Steering the Story
    (pp. 1-21)

    For better and for worse, Sigmund Freud’s longest text on a female patient, the case history of Dora, has become part of our psychoanalytic and non-psychoanalytic heritage. To start with a positive litany, the case history of Dora has been called the first of Freud’s great analytic cases and the first involving an adolescent; the centerpiece of Freud’s memorable trilogy, bounded byThe Interpretation of Dreams(1900) andThree Essays on the Theory of Sexuality(1905); “a model for students of psychoanalysis” (Jones, 1955, 257); and “the classical analysis of the structure and the genesis of a hysteria” (Erikson, 1964,...

  6. 2 Bisexuality and Transference
    (pp. 22-48)

    Bisexuality constituted a major stumbling block in Freud’s treatment of Dora. To understand the nature of that block we must put Dora aside for a while and consider Freud’s greatest intimacy with a male in his adult life, a subject that I have explored elsewhere at length (1979). Just a few months before he began Dora’s treatment, Freud had what turned out to be his very last meeting with Fliess. The meeting at Achensee also turned out to be a climax in their personal and theoretical entanglement over bisexuality.

    Fliess’s presence and the issue of bisexuality haunted Freud after their...

  7. 3 Trauma, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
    (pp. 49-75)

    The original title of the Dora case, “Dreams and Hysteria: A Fragment of an Analysis,” encapsulates some of its major clinical aims. In sum, Freud undertook to show how the analysis of dreams could be used in treatment to explain the etiology of hysteria and its symptomatic aftermath. He had already underscored the impact of trauma and conflict inStudies on Hysteria;and in publications shortly following that one, he added that all hysteria had a sexual etiology. In the Dora case, the supplement toThe Interpretation of Dreams,Freud continued to explore his understanding of psychoneurosis and its inscription...

  8. 4 What Was the Matter with Waking to Dreams?
    (pp. 76-104)

    Freud valued dreams for their avoidance of repression in dramatizing recent and childhood experiences (15). That feature, along with the convenience of textually manageable oneiric material, induced him to use Dora’s two dreams as organizing set pieces in his narrative—a harbinger of the Wolf Man’s case history. At every turn in the discussion to follow, we are confronted with uncertainties about psychoanalyst and patient as they grapple with the nocturnal narratives. What new meanings did Dora’s first dream acquire when she dreamt it again during therapy and then when she told it? How did Freud’s previous (mis)understanding of her...

  9. 5 Psychodynamics in Freud’s Textuality
    (pp. 105-142)

    There remains much to understand about the gendered ramifications of Freud’s personal life. Gender shaded his view of the chief polarities in our mental life: passivity and activity, the ego and the external world, pleasure and unpleasure. In particular, he equated the passive with the feminine, the weak, and the morally negative, and he unconsciously extended this equation into his unconscious conceptions of the oedipal complex, narcissism, masochism, and even religion.¹

    Gender also played a salient role in Freud’s thinking about historical figures. He identified with a long line of them, all male, in the political, cultural, scientific, artistic, and...

  10. 6 Conclusions
    (pp. 143-154)

    Dora’s case history exemplifies a remarkable amount of coercion. A male adult forced himself upon a young female who afterward was forced by her father into therapy sessions where the therapist elected to force or “direct” (32) her associations, the pursuit of his own theories perforce interfering with his free-floating attention. Freud built gratuitous reconstructions, projecting onto the young Dora his own excitability and wishes for her excitation and corralling her desires within the orbit of his knowledge and ambitions. Failing in common sense and common decency, he dismissed much of the victim’s complaint but praised the attacker. Freud had...

  11. References
    (pp. 155-166)
  12. Index
    (pp. 167-170)