This framing of the self-analysis as an « endless beginning » suggests the narratives of mystics. For an analysis of mystic speech and a comparison between forms of writing in mysticism and psychoanalysis, cf. Certeau (1982 ; 1987) and, in a similar vein, Chiantaretto (1998). Ellenberger (1964 (1993)) also groups Freud’s self-analysis together with the experiences reported by the religious mystics and pœts, reclassifying all these diverse singular events under the category of « creative illness ». For other critical historians who perceive the major task of history and sociology of science in the destruction of myths, the question of dating the actual beginning of Freud’s self-analysis and evaluating its eventual « results » are of chief importance (cf. Sulloway, 1979 (1992), 207-210).
Earlier versions of this text were presented at the conference « The Interpretation of Dreams/The Dreams of Interpretation », University of Minnesota, October 5-8, 2000, and in the Psy studies seminar in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, February 28, 2001. I thank John Forrester, Lydia Marinelli, Alexandre Métraux, Simon Schaffer, and Henning Schmidgen for their comments on earlier drafts, and Laura Otis for helping me with the English.
Sulloway, 1979 (1992).
According to William James, « introspective observation is what we have to rely on first and foremost and always. The word introspection hardly needs to be defined - it means, of course, looking into our own minds and reporting what we discover there. Everyone agrees that there we discover states of consciousness. As far as I know, the existence of such states has never been doubted by any critic however skeptical in other respects he may have been » (James, 1890, vol. I, 185). For histories about the demise of introspection in psychology, cf. Boring (1953) and Danziger (1980).
Freud, 1900b, 105. It should be noted that the notion « self-analysis » appears for the first time in Freud’s book in the plural form and in quotation marks (« Selbstanalysen »). Throughout the book, the term recurs in the singular only once again, in the context of a dream in which Freud carries out the dissection of his own body (Freud, 1900a, 262 and 278 ; Freud, 1900b, 454 and 477).
When this remarkable shift is placed in its concrete historical context and linked to the politics of the psychoanalytic movement, Freud’s sudden confession in the preface to the second edition appears in a different light. By 1907, the year when the second edition of the book was completed, Freud started to elaborate the Œdipus complex as a universal pattern structuring human sexuality (cf. Forrester, 1980, 84-96). Hence, the weight conferred upon the Œdipus dream shifted considerably between the first edition and further editions of the book. Only gradually, the acknowledgment of the Œdipal pattern provided a clear demarcation of the true and false Freudians. Thus Freud’s new preface should enable contemporary readers to link the freshly developed master concept of the Œdipus complex with the autobiographical information given in his own dream samples in the book. The rewriting of Freud’s dreambook in the context of the emergence of the psychoanalytic movement is analyzed extensively in Marinelli, Mayer (2000) and Marinelli, Mayer (forthcoming).
Only a few historians of psychoanalysis have so far discussed Freud’s self-analysis as a technical procedure in its own right. For a notable exception, cf. the study of Schott (1985).
There is an abundant literature on autobiographical writing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which is mostly centered on famous literary or philosophical models such as Rousseau and Gœthe (for a representative, cf. Starobinski, 1971). A grand historical tour through the nineteenth century is given by Gay (1995) who manages to ignore strikingly the prominent place of introspection in the history of psychology. In recent years, several historians of science have drawn attention to the role of self-experimentation in scientific practice. Cf. the work of Schaffer (1992 ; 1994) for an investigation of « self-evidence » in various disciplines in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Hagner (forthcoming) for psychophysiology, and Strickland (1998) for romantic physics.
Freud, 1900b, xxiii.
For a history of hypnotism and experimental psychology in France, cf. Carroy (1991), and for a social constructionist history of experimental psychology, Danziger (1990). Many of these studies focus on the emergence and evolution of diagnostic categories, hysteria (Castel, 1998) and double and multiple personalities (Carroy, 1993 ; Hacking, 1995) being the most popular ones.
Danziger, 1990, 49 f.
It should be remembered that the experimental program of hypnotism as developed in the context of physiology and pathology took animal hypnotism as one of its starting points. In order to establish a genealogy for this research, physiologists such as Czermak (1873) and Preyer (1880) engaged in a re-interpretation of Athanasius Kircher’s famous « experimentum mirabilis » in which a hen was put into a state of immobility. Charcot (1878) also performed such an experiment in his clinic in order to suggest an analogy between the « cataleptic » human subject and the effect produced on the hen.
Danziger, 1990, 52 f.
There are various accounts of the diversity of the French cultures of hypnotism. Cf. Carroy (1991), Harrington (1988), and the important work of Gauchet, Swain (1997) who even argue for a diversification of practices within Charcot’s school. For a broad historical overview of various schools of hypnotism, cf. Gauld (1992).
For a sociological analysis of the controversy between the two schools of hypnotism cf. the extensive treatment in Mayer (forthcoming) and, for an abridged version, Mayer (2001).
Cf. Chertok, Stengers, 1989, 15-37 ; Schaffer, 1992, 349 f.
Oskar Vogt, who later became a famous brain anatomist and founder of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institute for Brain Research in Berlin, is rarely mentioned in the history of hypnotism. While Gauld (1992, 537 f.) summarizes Vogt’s physiological theories of hypnosis, the study of Satzinger (1998) is the first to establish the relevant biographical data. Vogt’s career as a hypnotist began in 1894 when he visited Forel, his first publication in the field being a number of annotations to the third edition of Forel’s manual on hypnotism (Forel, 1895). From 1896 on, he acted as the only editor of the Zeitschrift für Hypnotismus. Between 1895 and 1899, he attempted to establish a laboratory of experimental hypnotism. Cf. the next section of this article.
The English translation of the first edition of Forel’s manual (Forel, 1890) was not accessible to me. The later translation (Forel, 1906) only reproduces the fifth German edition which is a largely revised version. Therefore, the passages cited in the following section have been translated by myself from the earlier German editions.
The attempt to establish an experimental psychology in the German-speaking countries thus differed from the strategies followed by French psychologists (such as Binet) who did not combine introspection with hypnotic procedures. However, as Carroy (1997) suggests, the re-introduction of introspection into French experimental psychology during the 1890s was also due to a large extent to the reference to brain science.
It is not clear when Bleuler was initiated into hypnotism, but it is likely that his first encounter with the technique took place in Paris during the mid 1880s when he visited Charcot’s service. His first published text on the subject (Bleuler, 1887) reviews mostly the French literature, with the aim of reconciling the findings of the Salpêtrière school and the school of Nancy. From 1885 on, Bleuler was Forel’s protégé, becoming first director of the psychiatric asylum Rheinau (1886-1898) and later his successor at the Burghölzli hospital in Zurich. In 1889, Forel mentioned him as one of his collaborators during the First International Congress on Experimental and Therapeutic Hypnotism in Paris (Bérillon, 1890, 155), and credited him in his manual with « having himself hypnotized a great deal and completely master[ed] the method » (Forel, 1889, 81).
Delbœuf, 1886 ; 1889.
For dream research before Freud, cf. Saussure (1926) and Métraux (2000).
Forel, 1889, 21 f., cited in Forel, 1906, 84.
Forel, 1895, cited in Forel, 1906, 86.
The widely used concept of « inhibition » (Hemmung) formed an important bridge for making this link. For a historical study of this notion, cf. Smith (1992).
In the third edition of his manual, Forel even added a sentence which dramatizes his experience : « At the time, I began to be afraid not to be able to get out of this state, and avoided to fall asleep during the afternoon » (Forel, 1895, 222). In the fourth edition, Forel (1902) replaced his retrospective account by a short summary which is reprinted in the english translation of the fifth German edition : « I myself experienced a sort of autohypnosis some time ago (1878), when going to sleep on a sofa or in an easy-chair in the afternoon. I was only able to awaken myself with difficulty, and at first only partially, so that to begin with only certain muscle groups awakened – i.e., could be voluntarily moved – while the rest of the body remained cataleptic. At the same time partial dreams occurred (hallucinating of steps or of movements, which I really had not made, and the like) » (Forel, 1906, 366).
The exposition of his weak brain also takes center stage in Francis Galton’s introspective reports (Galton 1878) which led him to the development of the association test (cf. Mayer, 1999). When the self-observer is his own expert witness, the subjective staging of memories is an important ingredient to make his account objective. Forel’s text thus differs from other earlier reports of medical self-observation in a hypnotic state, such as Obersteiner (1885) who reports how all his own observations under hypnosis were checked by his friend and colleague von Fleischl.
Delbœuf, 1885 (1993), 39. Forel was in extensive correspondence with Delbœuf, some excepts of which have been published in Forel (1968). It is most likely that the philosopher’s strategies to make the hypnotic state analogous to the normal dream had an impact on Forel. Cf. Delbœuf (1885 ; 1885 (1993) ; 1886).
Vogt, 1895-1896, 32.
In this sense, Wundt’s autobiographical report reflects the psychologist’s denial of the clinic as a possible site for psychological experimentation which he sustained in the second edition of his pamphlet (Wundt, 1911). Schmidgen (1999) has argued that, contrary to this denial, the clinic formed the primary context for Wundt’s experimental knowledge.
Letter from Freud to Fliess, August 29, 1888, in Freud (1985, 24), translation modified.
The only hints about Freud’s reception of the work done by Forel, Vogt and Bleuler are given in his preface to the second German Edition of Bernheim’s book on suggestion. There, Freud criticizes the author for not having made clear « that "suggestion" (or rather the accomplishment of a suggestion) is a pathological psychical phenomenon which calls for particular conditions before it can come about. […] And, while he explains all the phenomena of hypnotism by suggestion, suggestion itself remains wholly unexplained, but is veiled by a show of its needing no explanation. This gap has no doubt been observed by all those enquirers who have followed Forel in a search for a psychological theory of suggestion » (Freud, 1896, 86 f.).
Letter from Freud to Fliess, March 4, 1895, in Freud (1985, 114).
Freud, 1900b, 125. In the commentary to the German edition of the letters (Freud, 1986, 115), Michael Schröter has made the plausible suggestion that the two episodes are related in this way.
The further proliferation of this sort of writing can be followed in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901b) where Freud reports the following episode from his medical practice : « There is a very old lady whom I have been visiting twice a day for some years. On my morning visit my medical services are limited to two actions. I put a few drops of eye-lotion into her eye and give her a morphine injection. Two bottles are always prepared for me : a blue one with the collyrium and a white one with the morphine solution. During the two operations my thoughts are no doubt usually busy with something else ; by now I have performed them so often that my attention behaves as if it were at liberty. One morning I noticed that the automaton had worked wrong. I had put the dropper into the white bottle instead of the blue one and had put morphine into the eye instead of collyrium. I was greatly frightened and then reassured myself by reflecting that a few drops of a two per cent solution of morphine could not do any harm even in the conjunctival sac. The feeling of fright must obviously have come from another source » (Freud, 1901b, 177). In the ensuing analysis of this « bungled action » (Vergreifen), Freud reveals that he was absorbed in thoughts about the universality of the Œdipus dream and the wish to have sexual intercourse with one’s own mother. Thus, the theorist stages one of his major insights as the upshot of a mistake in the realm of clinical practice, an act of « sich vergreifen » (which means both « to make a blunder » and « to harrass somebody »).
« A suggestion : You will read this book, even if you try to resist it. And the more you resist, the faster you will be under its spell ».
Satzinger, 1998, 44 f.
Vogt, in Forel, 1895, 42.
Brodmann, 1898, 243.
However, Vogt’s strategies to combine hypnotism and experimental psychology were continuous with those used after 1900 by the exponents of the Würzburg school (like Külpe and Narziss Ach) who started to oppose Wundt’s restrictions of the psychic phenomena that could be studied under laboratory conditions. Boring (1953) argues that these new psychological schools emerged in opposition to what he termes Wundt’s « classical introspection », namely the idea that the « description of consciousness reveals complexes that are constituted of patterns of sensory elements » (Boring, 1953, 172). For a recent anthology and overview on this theme, cf. Ziche (1999). To place Vogt in such a genealogy makes sense, since he was seen by his contemporaries first and foremost as one of the German opponents of Wundt (cf. e.g. Farez, 1897-1898).
In several passages of his review of Forel’s book on hypnotism, Freud endorsed such a view : « Anyone who has assembled a few personal experiences with hypnotism will recall the impression it made on him for the first time he exercised what had hitherto been an undreamt-of influence on another person’s psychical life and was able to experiment on a human mind in a away that is normally possible only on an animal’s body » (Freud, 1889, 98 f.).
Complaisance was a term introduced by Joseph Delbœuf (1886) to characterize the behavior of the hypnotized subject. In her reading of Freud’s technical papers, Isabelle Stengers has argued that the drive to make psychoanalysis into a laboratory science persisted in Freud’s later development of his technique, the concept of resistance being a central component, but was followed by an insight in its failure (cf. Chertok, Stengers, 1989 ; Stengers, 1992 ; Stengers, personal communication). I agree with Stengers that in order to grasp the specific scientificity of psychoanalysis, the absence of a laboratory has to be taken into account. However, I would suggest that Freud’s development of an experimentalism without a laboratory with its distinctive practices of mediation was already well in place when he set out to write his technical papers.
As a reviewer noted in the late 1880s, « the literature on hypnotism is more bought by laymen than by medical doctors » (Pauly, 1889, 429). The bibliography of Dessoir (1888 ; 1890) gives an idea of the amount of work published. During the 1890s, the writings on the subject increased, especially in popular accounts and in the press.
Freud, quoted in Hirschmüller, 1978, 157.
Freud, 1900b, 106. In Strachey’s translation, the reader is – as in Freud’s German original – male.
Letter from Freud to Fliess, April 28, 1897, in Freud, 1985, 236 f.
This expression is taken from Binet (1886, 114), an early instance of a technique by which the experimental findings in hypnotism could be reproduced in a simple writing exercise : attempting to write down a well-known name that one has forgotten. Binet followed the classic example given by Ribot (1881) in his book on memory. An earlier instance of such a strategy is Galton’s conception of the association test (cf. Mayer, 1999). Freud’s most popular book at the time, The Psychopathology of Everyday-Life (1901b) was conceived in a similar line.
For a larger discussion of the early reception on which this section is drawing, cf. Marinelli, Mayer (2000, 40-48) and Marinelli, Mayer (forthcoming).
Letter from Freud to Fliess, November 26, 1899, in Freud, 1985, 389.
Bleuer had already written a positive review of the Studies on Hysteria (Bleuler, 1896) when Freud announced enthustiastically in 1904 to Fliess that he « recently found an absolutely stunning recognition of my point of view […] by an official psychiatrist, Bleuler in Zurich » (Letter from Freud to Fliess, April 26, 1904, in Freud, 1985, 461). From 1901 on, Bleuler started to study Freud’s work at the Burghölzli together with his assistants Franz Riklin and Carl Gustav Jung.
It has to be stressed that Freud refrained for a longer period from any methodical exposition of his psychoanalytic technique. This point is decisive for an assessment of the ambivalent alliance between the Swiss and Viennese psychoanalysts in the period 1905-1914. Cf. Mayer (forthcoming) for a more extensive treatment.
Only a part of Bleuler’s correspondence with Freud has been preserved in the Freud collection of the Library of Congress, Washington DC (hereafter cited from the unpublished originals as LC) ; some excerpts were published in English by Alexander, Selesnick (1965). The letters reveal that the official historical account about the formation of the link between Vienna and Zurich has to be revised. Before Jung contacted Freud in 1906, Bleuler was already in correspondence with the latter.
Letter from Bleuler to Freud, October 9, 1905, LC.
Bleuler, 1904, quoted in Jung, 1918, 4 f.
In correspondence with this blend of experimental techniques, Bleuler’s psychological theories were highly eclectic (cf. Bleuler, 1894 ; 1905).
Bleuler to Freud, October 14, 1905, LC.
Cf. Klaesi (1956, 10). From his letters to Freud, we learn that Bleuler had just started using a typewriter. In a later series of dream reports (Bleuler, 1913), the typewriter figures prominently in one example.
Bleuler to Freud, November 5, 1905, LC.
The criticism of typing emerges in the context of psychotechnical experiments. For a later study, written in a similar vein, cf. Scholz (1923).
This has changed only recently, with the advent of a new Jung scholarship (for programmatic statements, cf. Taylor, 1996 ; Shamdasani, 1998).
Letter from Jung to Freud, February 14, 1911, in Freud, Jung, 1974, 392.