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Furthermore, his claim that her leg pains were cured as a result of his supposedly uncovering the pathogenic moment (1910, p. Mahony (1984) observes that he is ever struck by Freuds early written endorsement of hypnosis and enthusiastic description of its cures as compared with his subsequent scepticism about its means and achievements, and notes more generally the assured tone and persuasive force of Freuds expositions that contrast with his subsequent retractions when he has moved on to new procedures and theories (p. These observations are especially pertinent to the next stage of Freuds career, the period immediately following the publication of , Mollon (pp.
286, 289), the patient was far from cured when the treatment terminated (Ellenberger, 1972; Hirschmller, 1989, pp. Rather, the four cases treated by Freud are all presented as examples of emotional conflict and trauma, resulting in undischarged and dammed up affect or libido.
113116, 201), and it is evident from the discovery of his original notes that the case history written by Breuer (partly from memory) some 13 years after the events is a retrospectively idealized account of the treatment (Webster, 1995, pp. His final conclusion is that [n]one of these cases, as described by Freud, involved repression of memory.
case, which have been shown to be misleading in several important respects.
For instance, some of the patients symptoms diminished spontaneously (Hirschmller, 1989, pp. Mollon goes on to provide a brief summary of Freuds 4 main cases in do not concern repression of memory, nor recovered memory, and are not related to childhood sexual abuse.
He reported that the patient had completely forgotten a specific scene by her sisters [death]bedside and the odious egoistic impulse that she experienced at that moment, but remembered it during the treatment and reproduced the pathogenic moment with signs of the most violent emotion, and, as a result of the treatment, she became healthy once more (1910, pp. However, it is evident from the case history in that Elisabeth had not forgotten the scene by her sisters deathbed (1895b, pp. Moreover, close reading of the relevant paragraph in the case history reveals that Freud did not explicitly state that Elisabeth recalled the traumatic impulse (though his readers may well be left with that impression from the artfully composed passage in question) (pp.
157158); rather, he inferred that it was present as an unconscious memory from her strenuous resistance when he put the situation [i.e., his surmise] drily before her. 145160) exemplifies the way in which Freuds excessive confidence in his own analytic inferences results in his entwining them with factual information in such a way that readers are almost insidiously led to view the patients experiences through Freuds interpretative lens.This aim can contains several examples of patients supposedly recovering forgotten memories of incidents associated with disturbing ideas (e.g., Freud, 1895b, pp. Breuer and Freud (1895b) claimed that patients symptoms disappeared when we had succeeded in bringing clearly to light the memory of the event by which it was provoked and in arousing its accompanying affect . 1017) follows Freuds versions of events, writing that (with the exception of the case of Emmy von N.) painful emotional conflicts and dilemmas involving desire, guilt and shame (p. But for all Freuds confident assurances to the reader, it remains a fact that these are, for the most part, assumptions on his part that he has by no means demonstrated. As Slater (1965) has pointed out, trouble, discord, anxiety and frustration are so prevalent at all stages of life that their mere occurrence near to the time of onset of an illness does not mean very much (p. Mollons propensity to accept uncritically whatever Freud reported is illustrated by his writing in relation to Katharina that the patient agreed with [Freuds] reconstruction of the supposed traumatic idea he had inferred (p.He writes that when a patient was encouraged to talk freely it was often possible to trace the origin of a patients symptom, the psychodynamic understanding of which would result in its removal.However, Mollon makes no mention of the doubts that have been expressed in recent times about the traditional accounts of the Anna O.This involved his pressing on the patients forehead and insisting that something would come to mind, with the expectation that the resulting ideas or images would eventually lead to material relating to an event or idea that could be identified as the determining trauma (Freud, 1895b, pp. In the seduction theory papers, Freud claimed that the sexual abuse he had supposedly uncovered most commonly occurred at age 3 or 4, and for 2 cases at half these ages (Freud, 1896a, p. 144, 145), only 4 months later he claimed to have analytically traced back from his patients symptoms to repressed memories of multiple childhood sexual experiences, mostly in infancy, for no fewer than 16 patients (13 hysterics and 3 pure obsessionals: Freud, 1896a, pp.  In the Aetiology paper Freud claimed that the patients reproduced the infantile sexual experiences that he warn[ed] them would emerge (1896c, p.204), but it is far from clear what he meant by reproductions. It seems likely that in some cases Freud relied almost entirely on the symbolic interpretation of symptoms that lay at the heart of his etiological determinations. reported to Wilhelm Fliess in January 1897 (Masson, 1985, pp. (In the latter case, having inferred an infantile scene of fellatio from eczema around the mouth and other indications, Freud wrote that he thrust the explanation at the patient, and then threatened to send her away if she persisted in her skepticism.) Given also the extraordinarily short time between Freuds postulating the theory and his claim of 100% corroboration for 16 patients, the situation is best summed up by Schimeks (1987) conclusion that the knowledge of the original trauma, whether considered as unconscious memory or fantasy, was based on Freuds interpretation and reconstruction; it was not directly revealed by the patient (p.Mollons propensity to take Freuds clinical claims at face value is apparent in his discussion of the instances of supposedly objective corroborations adduced in The Aetiology of Hysteria (1896c, p. He notes that Freud argued that there would be unassailable proof if there were confirmation from someone other than the person being analysed, praises him for having put forward the standard of proof requested by those who support todays false memory societies, and goes on to report Freuds examples.In the first of these, Mollon writes, a brother confirmed his childhood sexual activity with his sister (p. If we turn to what Freud actually wrote, however, we find that he did not deliver what he had promised, for the brother of his own accord confirmednot, it is true, his earliest sexual experiences with his sister (who was the patient)but at least scenes of that kind from later childhood, and the fact that there had been sexual relations dating further back (1896c, p. So the crucial infantile sexual scene was confirmed by the brother.(2000) gives a succinct account of Freuds early clinical experiences, and of his theories of repression and the nature of memory.Mollons discussion of some of Freuds early cases enable the reader to gain an idea of the roots from which Freuds theories developed, and afford the present writer the opportunity to consider these in some detail.