Freud the Analyst

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Fin de siècle Vienna was the center of psychoanalytic studies, known for explorations of the psyche and the unconscious as sites for introspection and self-dissection. Freud’s invention of psychoanalysis followed a decade of medical innovation in the fields of anatomy and psychology at the Second Vienna Medical School. He lived and worked most of his life at Berggasse 19, and the arrangement of his office space captured his vision of how the emerging science of psychoanalysis should be practiced. Freud was aware of the importance of domestic life—its inhabitants and its internal boundaries—in mapping the cartography of the unconscious. He saw patients at his home office, where one domestic setting met another—one material and another imaginary. Here, he created an interpersonal space for an iterative, analytic process where repressed, secret (Geheim) traumas that otherwise might have been confined to the intimate but conflicted spaces of home (Heim) would be evoked and worked through. Berggasse 19 itself had its own afterlife. After Freud left Vienna in 1938, it became a depot from which many Jewish families were deported to Auschwitz.

Diagram of Traits

Diagram from “On Transformations of Instinct in Anal Erotism,” 1917

Freud devoted several essays to what he termed the “anal personality,” associated with the character traits of “orderliness, parsimony, obstinacy.” He argued that the first manifestation of this personality occurs through feces retention: early on, the child wishes to retain the most primary gift (feces), resisting its loss; later, the trait is mostly manifested through a desire for cleanliness. The drawing demarcates the process of substitution among the various signifiers along two main axes, one running diagonally between feces (Lumpf) and baby (Kind), and the other running horizontally between baby and penis.
Sigmund Freud Papers, Library of Congress

Description of Wolfman Case

The Wolfman case study, From the History of an Infantile Neurosis, 1918 [1914]

This image shows the original manuscript along with Freud’s additions to the “Wolfman,” considered by some his most important case study. Freud’s text establishes the importance of the primal scene (Urszene), a “scene of sexual intercourse between the parents which the child observes or infers.” For the Wolfman, the primal scene was represented through a dream of “white wolves sitting on the big walnut tree in front of the window.” The blank space (marked Fig. 1) on the manuscript indicates the place where the Wolfman’s drawing of his dream would be inserted by Freud. Its blankness mirrors the qualities of the primal scene itself, which can never be seen, but only imagined or fantasized.
Library of Congress, Sigmund Freud Papers

See the Wolfman’s primal scene image here.
© Freud Museum, London

Freuds Consulting Room

Freud’s consulting room in Vienna
Illustration produced by Harvard Museums of Science & Culture
© President and Fellows of Harvard College


Drawing of Moses

Moses of Michelangelo, drawing (1913-4)
Sigmund Freud Papers, Library of Congress