Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Freud's Patients: Anna O

On that rock Freud built his church.

The cornerstone of Freud’s great psychoanalytic church was the case of Anna O. Her real name was Bertha Pappenheim.

Supposedly suffering from hysteria Anna O. was treated by Freud’s mentor, Josef Breuer. She called the treatment mode they developed the “talking cure.”

Freud and Breuer reported in Studies on Hysteria that their treatment had cured Anna O. of all her hysterical symptoms.

In truth, it was a lie, a fabrication, a fiction. The talking cure did not cure or treat what ailed Anna O.

Freud knew it, but he could not very well build a church on a treatment failure. So he made up a story. It was a good story; it made narrative sense. Still, it was a fraud.

Among those who have worked longest and hardest at debunking Freud’s claims is University of Washington Professor Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen. Over the years his impressive body of work has revealed the many falsehoods behind what I would call the Fraudian church.

Now, to coincide with his new book on Freud’s patients, he has undertaken to blog about them for Psychology Today.

Among the first cases he examines is that of Bertha Pappenheim, Anna O.

For someone like me who thought he knew a lot about it, the true story came as a shock. For those who are tempted to undertake psychoanalysis it is essential reading.

Upon reading it you will come away with the impression that the Fraudian church was not built on a rock; it was built on sand.

The question was never whether it would fail, but when.


RileyD, nwJ said...

I am not surprised at the facts, only that they are finally seeing the light of day.
However, with analysts acting as rabbis or priests or pastors for the secular world I expect real push back against the truth.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

If you've been following the debate over autism and psychoanalysis in France you will see how strongly they have been pushing back... by punishing a filmmaker who made them look bad and by convincing a court to censor the film. My comments and the film are under the autism tag on this blog.

I don't follow the ongoing drama very closely on this blog because it's mostly in French, but Sophie Robert has a Facebook page called "Soutien a Sophie Robert" where those who are interested can follow it.