Sigmund Freud Believed his Patients at First

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”
* Looking for people who have been used as breeders in a cult setting for submissions for an anthology I hope to put together. Even if you have not been abused this way, could you spread the word and tell all your survivor friends and supportive therapists or pastors about the project? They can write me at rahome@ra-info.org for more information. Thank you so much!

Sigmund Freud Believed his Patients at First

My two main sources for the information in this post are:
“Freud and the Seduction Theory: A challenge to the foundations of psychoanalysis:” Jeffrey M, Masson, The Atlantic Magazine, February 1984. 
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1984/02/freud-and-the-seduction-theory/376313/
and
“Assault on Truth: Freud’s Suppression of the Seduction Theory.” Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, 1984.
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jeffrey_Moussaieff_Masson_The_Assault_on_Truth?id=jDkkSLkjdJ8C

I have wanted to write this post for a long time but I postponed it for the day when I could research it properly, with all the footnotes in place. Finally, I have admitted that day is unlikely to come, so decided to write a less-than-perfect post and get it off my mind.

It’s the sad story of Sigmund Freud and his best friend and colleague, Wilhelm Fliess. It’s also the sad story of the difficulty in breaking through denial about child sexual abuse, both individually and societally.

Freud’s wrote to Fleiss for over ten years. His letters have been preserved, but all of Fleiss’s letters to Freud have been destroyed. These letters show Freud’s thinking during the 1890’s when he was developing the “seduction theory” and how he later came to disbelieve his hypothesis and decided that his patients had been fantasizing sexual abuse by their fathers because they really wished to displace their mothers and have their fathers all to themselves sexually.

Wilhelm Fleiss was a medical doctor and a nose and throat specialist. He held the controversial theory that masturbation caused neurotic symptoms and that there was a link between the nose and the genitals. Thus if the nose was cauterized or operated on, the urge to masturbate would subside and the symptoms would disappear.

Freud, a neuropsychologist, held the equally if not more controversial belief that the stories his patients were telling him were true and that they had been sexually abused in childhood, usually by their fathers. He called this the “seduction theory,” meaning that the adult had seduced (or assaulted) the child, not that the child had seduced the adult. He stated that he believed them because of the emotions they showed while recounting the assaults and by the fact that their symptoms got better after they talked about their childhoods.

Freud also believed Fleiss’s theory. How he could believe both at once is beyond me, but he did.

Many of those letters were about a patient they shared, Emma Eckstein. I’m going to skip over that, except to say the Fliess persuaded Freud to let him operate on her nose, and he botched the operation and she almost bled to death. He never admitted his mistake, and Freud came to believe that Emma’s hemorrhage was a symptom of her neurosis, not an error on Fleiss’s part, thus remaining loyal to his friend.

Not long after this, Freud repudiated his original belief that his patients had been sexually abused in childhood. Here is part of the letter he wrote Fleiss describing his change of heart:

“And now I want to confide in you immediately the great secret of something that in the past few months has gradually dawned on me. I no longer believe in my neurotica [theory of the neuroses]. This is probably not intelligible without an explanation; after all, you yourself found what I was able to tell you credible. So I will begin historically [and tell you] from where the reasons for disbelief came. The continual disappointment in my efforts to bring any analysis to a real conclusion; the running away of people who for a period of time had been most gripped [by analysis]; the absence of the complete successes on which I had counted; the possibility of explaining to myself the partial successes in other ways, in the usual fashion – this was the first group. Then the surprise that, in all cases, the father, not excluding my own, had to be accused of being perverse – the realization of the unexpected frequency of hysteria, with precisely the same conditions prevailing in each, whereas surely such widespread perversions against children are not very probable.”

This sounds to me much like the arguments of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation proponents. The patients’ accounts are too similar, the accusations too bizarre, it must be fantasies and lies. These women come from good families and incest is exceedingly rare, perhaps one in a million families.

What really grips my attention, though, is Freud’s stating, “… in all cases, the father, not excluding my own, had to be accused of being perverse…” How many people have said, “not me – I had a happy childhood.” “Not my family.” “Not my father.” And later, “Oh shit, it did happen to me.”

Freud went on to say,

“What would you say, by the way, if I told you that my brand-new theory of the early etiology of hysteria was already well known and had been published a hundred times over, though several centuries ago?. . . But why did the devil who took possession of the poor things invariably abuse them sexually and in a loathsome manner? Why are their confessions under torture so like the communications made by my patients in psychological treatment?”

He is talking about the Inquisition. My guess is that he believed that the women accused of being witches stated they were sexually assaulted by the devil, not by their fathers. And yet, he says that their accounts are very similar to what he heard from his patients.

He continues:

“Imagine, I obtained a scene about the circumcision of a girl. The cutting off of a piece of the labia minora (which is still shorter today), sucking up the blood, following which the child was given a piece of the skin to eat.

“I dream, therefore, of a primeval devil religion whose rites are carried on secretly, and I understand the harsh therapy of the witches’ judges.”

And here I say to myself, “Aha! Others have said that this is the first time that ritual abuse survivors have broken through their denial and spoken publicly. And yet I have long thought that the first wave of public acknowledgment of Satanic ritual abuse was during the Inquisition.” Here is Freud disagreeing with me, yet agreeing in almost the same breath. For he says that his patients were fantasizing, and yet one had a deformed labia, evidence that the abuse she described was true, and this makes him fantasize about a primitive devil religion.

There is more to this story, though.

Fleiss had children, and one of them, Robert, became an analyst. He, like Freud, believed his patients. Unlike Freud, he did not recant. In 1959 he published “Erogeneity and Libido: Addenda to the theory of Psychosexual Development of the Human.” In a footnote he wrote:

“In the first volume of his [Freud’s] biography Jones gives a description of my father that enables the psychiatric reader to make his own diagnosis. Some of these readers, perhaps defending themselves against acknowledging the above mentioned incidence [incest] in their own families, may therefore be tempted to dismiss what I have observed as a form of projection. For their benefit: following Freud’s advise to the analyst to re-enter analysis, I have clarified the picture of my father in two expert and thorough analyses, the last in middle age with Ruth Mack Brunswick: and I have had an extended conversation with Freud himself about his onetime friend.”

The description Jones gave of Wilheim Fleiss suggested he was a child molester, and Robert Freud hints in this passage that he was abused by his father. This would have happened about the time that Freud stopped believing his patients. If what I surmise is true, we have two close friends, one who is incesting his son and one who was incested by his father, but is still amnesic for that part of his childhood. Very interesting.

I’ll end with something that does not call for interpretation or conjecture. When Freud was talking about incest, he was rejected by his colleagues and others who read his papers. Sixty years later, Robert Fleiss was also rejected for believing his clients. In the 1980’s, when Jeffrey Masson edited Freud’s letters and included material on Freud’s belief in child sexual abuse, he too was rejected. (Believing that he had been pushed out of the field, he wrote books about animals and became an animal activist.) And to this time, many therapists who work with survivors of extreme child abuse are rejected.

We have come a long way, but the road to acceptance is still long and lonely.

 

 

Upcoming Holidays
May

5/13 Mothers’ Day
5/28 Memorial Day
5/29 Full moon
June
6/17 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer Solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/23 St John’s Eve
6/28 Full moon
July
7/4 Fourth of July/US Independence Day
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)

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A Beltane Re-Birth Memory

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”
* A reader wants to know if anybody else was married to the beast. You can post it under “Feast of the Beast” or here if you prefer.
* Also, does anybody know how to get through a flashback when you have been stuck in it for months?
* Looking for people who have been used as breeders in a cult setting for submissions for an anthology I hope to put together. Even if you have not been abused this way, could you spread the word and tell all your survivor friends and supportive therapists or pastors about the project? They can write me at rahome@ra-info.org for more information. Thank you so much!

A Beltane Re-Birth Memory

I was going to write about Walpurgisnacht, but when I started to research it, everything sounded familiar. That’s because I wrote about it last year. You can read about it at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/

I found I couldn’t think of anything else to write about. I couldn’t focus: my brain wandered from one thing to the next. When I asked myself why, the answer was “because of Beltane.” Then I could focus again.

I told you-all that a memory was trying to surface. It made it! It is of an initiation ritual, being “born again” into Satanism at the age of four.

At Beltane that year, I was in a clearing in the woods at my grandfather’s country home in the Adirondacks. The carcass of a deer was brought in and I was shoved, naked, into the cavity. It was loosely sewn up so that I could breathe, the requisite words were spoken or chanted in unison, and then they started pushing me forwards by pressing on the deer skin. I came out, head first, born into the world of evil around me. I was then officially old enough to attend rituals.

I don’t remember what happened next. I do have a body memory of pressure around the top of my head, pressure from the deer skin. I may get more of the memory when that pressure passes.

I believe this is not a Beltane ritual at all, but one that is supposed to occur on the equinox. Beltane is about sex and conception, not birth, and the equinox is when lambs and calves are born. But since I lived in New York City, it was difficult, to say the least, to obtain a whole cow or a whole deer. My “birth” was therefore postponed until somebody could go shoot a female deer.

My mind wandered and I imagined transporting a cow carcass through the streets of New York. Too big to shove into a taxi, so they must have used a truck. Certainly it wasn’t delivered during the day, but there are still enough people around at night that somebody might have seen that. The city that never sleeps!

What explanation could they possibly have given? At least with a deer they could say they were taking it to a taxidermist and it was being prepared for the Museum of Natural History. Then they wouldn’t have to sneak around at night – unless the ritual called for a midnight delivery.

The cult I was born into was stingy and not  very imaginative. They wouldn’t have been happy shelling out money for a deer and trucking it into the city, all for a ritual for a measly four year old. And they didn’t like to take risks, either. So it would have been more expedient to postpone the ritual until May.

When I am half into a memory, I get to Googling things. I learned that the deer season in New York from 1940 to 1942 was November 1 – 30 and the limit was one antlered (male) animal per licensed hunter. And I learned that the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Alison Miller, Valerie Sinason, and Walter Bowart all mention this ritual but none discuss it at length. Also that daffodils bloom in mid May in the Adirondacks but there is much variation depending on when the snow fall melts and the ground warms. I Googled this because I have a photo of myself picking daffodils that year.

Okay, I feel a little better now that I have that information. I feel that I “always knew” that had happened to me. Certainly I have known about that birth-into-evil- ritual for decades and it is unlikely I read about it, since I have never read the Book of the Dead and neither Bowart, Sinason, nor Miller had written about it by the early ’90’s.

I wish I could trust that “always knew” feeling, or at least notice when I seem to know something that others don’t. Sometimes I trust it, other times I don’t. This time I didn’t even notice it for over twenty years. I hate to think what else I haven’t noticed…and how long it will take me to remember.

 

Upcoming Holidays
April
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve
May
5/1 Beltane/May Day/ Labour Day in Europe
5/13 Mothers’ Day
5/28 Memorial Day
5/29 Full moon
June
6/17 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer Solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/23 St John’s Eve
6/28 Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
5/8 V-E Day: Victory in Europe, WW2
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)

 

 

Making Anna Proud

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”

* A reader wants to know if anybody else was married to the beast. You can post it under “Feast of the Beast” or here if you prefer.

* Also, does anybody know how to get through a flashback when you have been stuck in it for months?

*I’m looking for people who have been used as breeders in a cult setting for submissions for an anthology I hope to put together. Even if you have not been abused this way, could you spread the word and tell all your survivor friends and therapists or pastors you know about the project? They can write me at rahome@ra-info.org for more information. Thank you so much!

Beltane is coming up, and I feel I should write about it. But I’m working on a Beltane memory and am very jittery. I don’t want to get out of this space by writing about it yet. I therefore refer you  to “Beltane” at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/ This entry is historical. “Beltane Blues” at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/beltane-blues/, however, is an essay  on self-forgiveness by a man I have known since 1993.

Making Anna Proud

I’m a fan of Anna Kunnecke, who is an online life coach. I haven’t been a client of hers, but she throws out free useful little things to do to get your life going more smoothly. And I think she is hilarious.

I’m quoting part of her latest blog post – you can see all of it at http://declaredominion.com/2018/04/13/are-you-actually-just-a-wimp/

Now, every year I have a terrible times with taxes. It’s so bad that some years I have said that the Ides of April are a cult holiday. It’s a meeting of three fears: authority, money, and the post office. (I imagine not everyone shares my fear of post offices – if you do, I would love to hear if you have figured out what it is all about. The only thing I have remembered is my mother telling me that if I didn’t behave, she would put a stamp on me and mail me. Where? She didn’t say. I didn’t speculate, I don’t think. But I did imagine being stuffed into a mail box.)

So, convergence of phobias. Fear of envelops. Fear of writing a check. Fear of addressing an envelop. Fear of putting the check into it and sealing it. Oh! I almost forgot the stamp. And worst of all, fear of actually mailing it.

When the taxes were over and done with and mailed, I was relieved, pleased with myself, maybe even proud. I mailed them two days early so I didn’t have to worry about them putting me in prison because they were late. I neglected to worry about going to prison for making a mistake and that was very nice.

I planned on giving myself some sort of treat, but forgot to. Oh well, perfection eludes me still.

That very day, Anna sent out her weekly email. She’s addressing last year’s me, who scolded myself for still being stuck with all these stupid anxiety-provoking, procrastination-provoking phobias. Here’s what she said, edited down a bit.
“It’s a little bit like the way that my family is about airports. We have, collectively, spent about 4,000 years in airports – dropping each other off, picking each other up, saying hello, saying goodbye – and instead of being blasé about the whole thing, it’s as though the emotions just grow bigger each time. It’s as if every painful goodbye wells up in me every time I say goodbye, and it gets harder, not easier. We dread these airport partings so much that we have moved to a strict curbside drop-off policy, quick and clean, love-you-bye-kiss-wave-drive away-and-cry.

“We talk about this amongst ourselves, how instead of getting easier it seems to get harder, and how that doesn’t make any sense.

“But it does make sense. Because we are humans, and we remember things. Our minds, sometimes, imperfectly – but our bodies remember.

“So here is the whole reason I am telling you all this.

“If there is something in your life that is hard for you, and every time it comes up you think, THIS SHOULD BE EASIER BY NOW WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME, this is your permission slip to knock that shit right off.

“Give yourself some grace, instead.

“Give yourself some kindness.

“Give yourself a fucking break, okay?

“Some things are harder, even for powerhouses.

“Maybe calling the insurance company is really hard for you, but you’re amazing at being with people in unbearable grief. Maybe dealing with your ex leaves you shaken and hollow-eyed, but you can wrangle a gnarly tax return like a superhero. Maybe you’re basically a total boss about EVERYTHING…unless your stepmom calls.

“We’re all strong in some areas, and we have some things that still reduce us to puddles of melting jello.

“Just be kind to the melting jello that is you.

“It is not the only part of you. It is just a part of you that is reminding you to be human. And human is messy. But human is also sweet.

“So here’s the deal. When I’m a mess this week, I’m going to be kind to myself.

“And when you’re a mess this week, you’re going to be kind to YOURSELF.

“Deal?”

 

I silently say, “Yup, Anna, deal. You’d be proud of me for being kind to my yearly April 15 puddle of jello. And right now I’ll try and not put myself down for not remembering,after all this damn time, all of those horrible things that happened at Beltane.

 

Upcoming Holidays

April
4/16 – 4/23 Grand Climax/Da Meur/ (Preparation for sacrifice in some Satanic sects}
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve
May
5/1 Beltane/May Day/ Labour Day in Europe
5/13 Mothers’ Day
5/28 Memorial Day
5/29 Full moon
June
6/17 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer Solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/23 St John’s Eve
6/28 Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
4/20 Hitler’s birthday
5/8 V-E Day: Victory in Europe, WW2
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)