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FREUD VE RUHÇÖZÜMLEME
ÜZERİNE MAKALELER


Books of The Times; A Failure for Freud, and Its Lessons

Date: December 18, 1990, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final
Byline: By MICHIKO KAKUTANI
Lead:

Freud, Dora and Vienna 1900 By Hannah S. Decker 299 pages. The Free Press. $22.95.

In October 1900, Sigmund Freud began treating an 18-year-old woman for a mysterious cough and other signs of "hysteria." Her name was Ida Bauer, better known by the pseudonym Dora, which Freud gave her later. After 11 weeks, Dora stopped treatment, leaving much of the analytic work undone. Her case entered history as one of Freud's earliest and most significant failures, and it taught him and his critics many important lessons about psychoanalysis.


Text:

In her new book, "Freud, Dora and Vienna 1900," the historian Hannah S. Decker re-examines this case, giving the reader a detailed account of Dora's life and family background. Ms. Decker analyzes the family dynamics and the larger social realities that helped shape Dora's sensibility, and she offers her own assessment of why Dora's psychoanalysis "was a doomed affair" from the start.

Quoting Freud's dictum that psychoanalysts are obliged to pay as much attention "to the purely human and social circumstances" of their patients' lives as "to the somatic data and the symptoms of the disorder," Ms. Decker begins her study by sketching in the cultural and political mood of turn-of-the-century Vienna, showing the reader how the social climate might have impinged on Dora's consciousness.

Though Dora's family had attained a measure of wealth and social standing -- her father, Philipp, owned several lucrative textile mills in Bohemia -- Ms. Decker notes that Jews in Austria led a precarious existence, devoid of real emotional or financial security. Central Europe had a long history of anti-Semitism, and while there were periods in which Jews "were invited to join the wider world," declines in the social or economic climate repeatedly led to atrocities and restrictive legislation.

By 1882, the year of Dora's birth, a "public, defiant anti-Semitism" had emerged in Vienna, and by 1897 the city had an openly anti-Semitic mayor. Such developments, Ms. Decker notes, could not help but warp the way Jews of both Freud's and Dora's generations saw themselves, nurturing a sense of powerlessness and self-hatred.

As for women in fin de siecle Vienna, they, too, were regarded as social inferiors. In Viennese society, women's lives were determined by their fathers, brothers and husbands. Educational opportunities for girls were severely limited, and women were expected to conform to strict Victorian behavior standards. This is one reason, Ms. Decker suggests, that hysteria ("a condition manifested by a variety of physical and emotional problems, unaccompanied by any discernible organic changes") was so common among women of the day: it gave them, she argues, a veiled but acceptable outlet for their forbidden feelings of anger and assertiveness.

In Dora's case, feelings of anger and helplessness were fed by the dysfunctional dynamics of her family. She was estranged from her mother, Katharina, a cold, sickly woman obsessed with cleanliness and housekeeping. And while she initially adored her successful father, the devotion turned to resentment as he became increasingly involved with a neighbor known as Mrs. K.

When Dora was 15, Mrs. K.'s husband made sexual advances toward her that she reported to her parents. Her father, however, accepted K.'s explanation that Dora was a sex-obsessed girl who had fantasized the entire episode, and his refusal to believe her brought Dora to the edge of suicidal despair. She felt "she had been handed over to Herr K. as the price of his tolerating the relations between her father and his wife."

It becomes clear from Freud's description that he badly mishandled Dora's case. Although he accepted her account of the events involving the K.'s (and thereby enabled her to confront them with the truth later in life), he showed little empathy for the feelings of a teen-age girl. She was understandably distressed by his observations and advice, which were that she was really attracted to Mr. K. and that the best possible solution to the whole situation was for the K.'s to divorce and for Dora to marry Mr. K. His position implied that he was taking the side of Dora's father and Mr. K., and his frank talk about sexual feelings so early in the analysis no doubt heightened her discomfort.

As Ms. Decker and other commentators have pointed out, Freud's failures in these areas had a lot to do with his lack of experience: the psychoanalyst was still in the early stages of formulating his theories and was still fairly unfamiliar with transference and countertransference, which are the emotional bonds formed between the patient and the analyst. He did not realize that during the treatment Dora had come to identify him with her father and Mr. K., and he therefore did not understand the ways in which she perceived him as a threat.

Equally damaging, in Ms. Decker's opinion, was Freud's failure to come to terms with his own emotions concerning Dora. She contends that the psychoanalyst himself harbored erotic feelings toward his patient and that those feelings were accompanied by feelings of hostility and resentment. In addition, she contends that Freud's handling of the case was compromised by his eagerness for it to yield evidence that might develop or buttress his evolving ideas on dream analysis, infantile sexuality, masturbation, bisexuality and somatic illness.

Although Ms. Decker overgeneralizes the role of social conditions in Dora's story (she frequently tries to extrapolate the Bauer family's attitudes and dilemmas from comments made by writers of the day, like Stefan Zweig), her overall reading of Dora's case is intelligent, insightful and sympathetic. She makes the reader understand the pivotal role the case played in the development of psychoanalysis, and in doing so she also creates a fascinating portrait of a woman, her family and her analyst -- a portrait that has all the drama of fiction and all the emotional resonance of real life.

 



Yükleme tarihi: 28 Ocak 2000