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October 13, 2006

Jenny's Quote Commentary on Freud

“He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his finger-tips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore. And thus the task of making conscious the most hidden recesses of the mind is one which is quite possible to accomplish.” – Sigmund Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria p. 69

This quote occurs within Freud’s analysis of Dora’s first dream as a way of explaining how he arrives at his conclusions about the significance of each aspect of the dream. Freud attributes symbolic meaning to the physical actions of the characters within the dream due to his belief that the enigmas of the unconscious can be decoded by the observation of outward expressions. The forbidden nature of the unconscious is expressed with the words ‘secret,’ ‘hidden,’ and ‘betrayal.’ The thoughts are deemed illicit by society’s unwillingness to acknowledge them in polite conversation. Much like the detectives we have encountered in the course thus far, Freud suggests that his ability to decipher aspects of the unconscious comes from his strong observational powers. He states that he has ‘eyes to see and ears to hear,’ making the interpretation of the physical expressions of hysterical symptoms ‘quite possible.’ Finally, Freud’s notion of the fluid action of transference in delivering unconscious thoughts to the conscious can be observed in his description of how the symptoms ‘ooze’ from the patient in a liquid form of enlightenment. This passage is significant in its ability to describe Freud’s rationalization of his interpretation of hysteria.

Posted by jennlong at October 13, 2006 03:53 PM



First of all, what a great quote! I like that you analyze the quote in terms of hysteria or somatic symptoms, and that dreams, too, are sort of configured in the same way - they, like symptoms, are a result of repressed emotions. Your analogy between Freud and the other detectives in terms of their observational and rational skill is appropriate and well-stated, and I like that you hint that although Freud may be rationalizing his interpretation, his methods aren't explicitly or overarchingly rational - he has to deal with the irrationality of human repression, etc. in order to interpret or create patterns.


Posted by: emmorris at October 13, 2006 06:52 PM

Sayan's comments:

Good points.

Your observation, especially, about Freud's belief in the "fluid action of transference" showing up in the word "ooze", was really a very perceptive and insightful observation.

It's interesting to note how the notion of "betrayal" also occurs on p. 2:

"If it is true that the cause of hysterical disorders are to be found in the intimacies of the patients' psycho-sexual life, and that hysterical symptoms are the expression of their most secret and repressed wishes, then the complete exposition of a case of hysteria is bound to involve the revelation of those intimacies and the betrayal of those secrets."

Also, the phrase "the most hidden recessed of the mind" remind me of a line from Poe's "William Wilson", where Poe is describing the house: "The huge old house, with its countless subdivisions, had several large chambers communicating with each other, where slept the greater number of the students. There were, however, (as must necessarily happen in a building so awkwardly planned,) many little nooks or recesses...

Posted by: bhattach at October 14, 2006 04:20 PM

I like this passage you chose mostly for the language within the quote. I think "chatters with his finger-tips" and "betrayal oozes out of him" are very interesting simply because of the interesting word combinations. I think you're explanation of the fluid action of transference. I also like how you compared Freud as a detective with the other detectived we have read so far, all using their strong observational powers. I think you were very accurate in your explanation of this idea.


Posted by: linzsmit at October 18, 2006 08:49 AM

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