The failures of Freud and Psychoanalysis.

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Freud Paper

Joshua A Goldman


The Failures of Freud and Psychoanalysis

In October 1900, Philip Bauer took his 18-year-old daughter to see the little known psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud. Bauer took his daughter to be treated by Freud for her recent display of strange behaviors such as saying strange things, and threatening suicide. From Freud's initial point of view the case did not seem to be particularly promising in terms of supplying new features for his theories in development. Freud diagnosed the young woman as possessing the typical signs of hysteria, a psychosis that he had previously encountered copiously. However, the resulting case proved to engage Freud more than he initially thought and slowly blossomed into Freud's most famous case history. A few days after taking the case, Freud wrote his friend Wilhelm Fleiss that a "case has smoothly opened to the existing collection of picklocks."1 Freud's newfound interest in the case unexpectedly was siphoned because the young patient abruptly terminated her psycho-analyitical treatment at the end of December of 1904, only eleven weeks after she first came to Freud. Freud wrote up his case-notes in January of 1901, but it wasn't until 1905 that his 'Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria ', or known as Dora, was published in a specialist journal.2

This was the inauspicious start of a case history that snowballed into being recognized as the first of Freud's great case histories and which has taken its place as one of the classic reports in the psychiatric literature.3 The pseudonym that Freud gave to the patient Ida Bauer, Dora, has become commonly associated whenever Freud is mentioned. In his recounting of the Dora case, Freud is surprisingly frank about his inability to deal with his patient effectively. The Dora case morphed from a case that was supposed to strengthen Freud's psychoanalytical theory into an example of the failure on the part of both Freud and psychoanalysis. It was a combination of the ineffectiveness of Freud and his flawed theory that catalyzed Dora to stop her treatment. These failures and Freud's relative openness about them reveal that Freud was not able to clearly and effectively analyze his patient because of psychoanalysis's unwanted side effect of transference. As a medical scientist, Freud was so frank about his inability to deal with Dora because he wanted to improve his methods and ultimately learn from his mistakes. The failures in Dora also serve to show that Freud's method of psychoanalysis was attached with the phenomenon of transference, proving to be hugely detrimental to the success of Freud's attempt to cure his patient.
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Transference is the projection by the patient of the cause of his or her symptoms onto the analyst. The interaction between the patient and the analyst is structured or constructed by the patient as one in which the cause of the hysterical symptoms is transferred to the relationship with the physician. In the case of Dora, her symptoms brought on from exposure to Herr K and her father transferred to Freud becoming the cause of her hysteria. Transference's shifting of a psychosis from interaction with the original perpetrators to interaction with the analyst is something that Freud could ...

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