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October 13, 2006

Sam's Entry on Freud's Dora

"An attempt must first be made by the roundabout methods of analysis to convince the patient herself of the existence in her of an intention to be ill." Dora, pg. 38

This quotation contains a very interesting mix of words that lend themselves to feelings of certainty and those that impart a very unsure feeling. First, Freud uses the term “attempt”, which already suggests that his intended result may or may not occur. He then says that these attempts are made by “roundabout methods”. In the thesaurus, the term “roundabout” has the word “roughly” as a synonym and “exactly” as its opposite. I found this to be intriguing because the dictionary definition of “analysis” is “The action of taking something apart in order to study it”. Now, it would appear to me that taking something apart to study it should be performed in a more exact fashion than “roundabout”. Next, Freud mentions that his goal is to “convince” the patient that there “exists in her” an “intention to be ill”. I found this to be a little bit odd because Freud sets up a situation in which an outsider (himself) wants to get his patient (Dora) to accept that what he is telling her about her own being is correct and therefore that he knows more about Dora than she knows about herself. The term “exists” lends me to think of something living. Freud’s theories of the id, ego, and superego are amost treated as such in many circumstances. Therefore, this “intention” to be ill could arguably be the id or, as he refers to it in this case, the “unconscious”.

Posted by samlily at October 13, 2006 04:20 PM


Good. You're getting the hang of how to do a close reading.

Posted by: bhattach at October 14, 2006 01:53 AM

I agree with you on the juxtaposition of the concepts of something that is roundabout and analysis. In my own experience of analysis, the methods used are always direct and deliberate. Something that needs doing in a roundabout way means that there is a lack of certainty as to how to actually accomplish the task most efficiently therefore requiring a sort of prodding in the dark until the end is accomplished by this undefined means. Freud acknowledges this lack of directness as he writes, “An attempt must first be made…” meaning that he was never able to guarantee the success of this objective.

I also agree with you in how Freud implies that he knows more about Dora than she knows about herself. This is rather contradicting to the acknowledgement Freud just made about having to use a roundabout method that he is not sure will work and yet is certain that he has to convince Dora of what he knows about her that she does not.

Posted by: lacaga at October 17, 2006 10:43 PM

I agree with Laura in that it is hard to have confidence in an analyst who is unsure of his methods or who uses "roundabout" methods in the first place, but Freud had a method to his madness. He knew that the only way to correctly present the case was to use an indirect technique and to display his technique in a "story-telling" manner.

Whereas more scientific studies use a direct route, Freud, like Poirot and Dupin, uses methods that other psychologists (like the police in the other stories we have read) did not think of. The fact that his analysis was an "attempt," however, makes him different from the other detectives. Poirot and Dupin knew how to use the clues and solve the mystery, and they were sure of themselves. Freuds uncertainty about his methods (which was inversely proportional to his confidence about Dora's illness) may have been his downfall.

Posted by: romie at October 18, 2006 03:29 PM

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