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Book Title: Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria|
The author of the book: Sigmund Freud
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The size of the: 851 KB
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Reader ratings: 7.9
Edition: collier books
Date of issue: 1963
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Dora, Freud’s case study on Ida Bauer, is an account of the three months he spent treating a young woman said to be suffering from "hysteria" (hee hee). The case study, however, reads not like a dry account of therapeutic interactions between doctor and patient but rather more like a story full of foreshadowing and satisfactory (if not frustrating) connections drawn between disparate details. Even Freud admits that he wrote with hope of publication in mind and made alterations to “the order in which the explanations are given…for the sake of presenting the case in a more connected form” (Freud, 1905, p. 4). In other words, though Freud claimed he altered “nothing of any importance,” the impetus behind his alterations was to create a more readable, more accessible – but not necessarily more accurate – case history.
A critical reader will likely walk away with the impression that Freud is less concerned with how well his methods work than he is that they seem to work -- a self-serving desire certainly not unique to Freud. Freud delights in drawing connections and making inferences based on seemingly insignificant details that later, based on his careful presentation, appear at least somewhat logical. Knowing Freud as most who would read him likely do, readers may occasionally laugh/grumble/curse at Freud’s predictable tendency to attribute everything seemingly pathological to unconscious drives of sex and aggression. Even Dora herself rolls her eyes at this consistent tendency when Freud attempts to analyze one of her dreams – when he draws an analogy between the jewelry box in Dora’s dream and female genitalia, Dora responds, “I knew you would say that” (p. 61).
Freud is also quite careful, in that crafty analyst way, to cover his backside at every turn, criticizing the critics before they criticize him and reminding us that this treatment was cut short and would probably have been successful had it continued. Moreover, the very nature of Freudian analysis sometimes presents an unassailable façade of logistical traps such as Freud’s disappointing assertion that Dora’s “no” actually means “yes.” At another point, he actually writes, “I will pass over the details which showed how entirely correct all of this [earlier interpretation] was” (p. 35). Again and again, Freud attempts to silence both Dora and his readers by predicting and destroying her and our protestations before we have even had the opportunity to voice them. In theory, we as readers have already been primed by Freud to believe that Dora is virtually incapable of understanding her own motivations (hence the “no” means “yes” problem) and that when she disagrees with him she is merely cloaking the disturbing truth in more repression. After all, Dora is a woman suffering from life-long hysteria and so her opinion is therefore the unreliable one. Nicely played, Dr. Freud.
When it comes to Freud and contemporary readers, however, everyone’s a critic. It’s my feeling that the often under-informed, hypercritical perspective with which many approach Freud’s work blinds them to the essential and lasting contributions he has made to the field of psychology. While one can reasonably consider many of Freud’s notions arrogant, insulting, sexist, bigoted, and wholly without merit, certain others, such as the unconscious, defense mechanisms, and some elements of his psychosexual stages (on which others have developed more palatable explanations of development) are Freud’s contributions as well. I mean, don't you think your hatred of Freud seems a little, well, hysterical?
In your face, naysayers!
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Read information about the authorFreud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, who created an entirely new approach to the understanding of the human personality. He is regarded as one of the most influential - and controversial - minds of the 20th century.
Sigismund (later changed to Sigmund) Freud was born on 6 May 1856 in Freiberg, Moravia (now Pribor in the Czech Republic). His father was a merchant. The family moved to Leipzig and then settled in Vienna, where Freud was educated. Freud's family were Jewish but he was himself non-practising.
In 1873, Freud began to study medicine at the University of Vienna. After graduating, he worked at the Vienna General Hospital. He collaborated with Josef Breuer in treating hysteria by the recall of painful experiences under hypnosis. In 1885, Freud went to Paris as a student of the neurologist Jean Charcot. On his return to Vienna the following year, Freud set up in private practice, specialising in nervous and brain disorders. The same year he married Martha Bernays, with whom he had six children.
Freud developed the theory that humans have an unconscious in which sexual and aggressive impulses are in perpetual conflict for supremacy with the defences against them. In 1897, he began an intensive analysis of himself. In 1900, his major work 'The Interpretation of Dreams' was published in which Freud analysed dreams in terms of unconscious desires and experiences.
In 1902, Freud was appointed Professor of Neuropathology at the University of Vienna, a post he held until 1938. Although the medical establishment disagreed with many of his theories, a group of pupils and followers began to gather around Freud. In 1910, the International Psychoanalytic Association was founded with Carl Jung, a close associate of Freud's, as the president. Jung later broke with Freud and developed his own theories.
After World War One, Freud spent less time in clinical observation and concentrated on the application of his theories to history, art, literature and anthropology. In 1923, he published 'The Ego and the Id', which suggested a new structural model of the mind, divided into the 'id, the 'ego' and the 'superego'.
In 1933, the Nazis publicly burnt a number of Freud's books. In 1938, shortly after the Nazis annexed Austria, Freud left Vienna for London with his wife and daughter Anna.
Freud had been diagnosed with cancer of the jaw in 1923, and underwent more than 30 operations. He died of cancer on 23 September 1939.
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