The Association Method/Lecture III
Ladies and Gentlemen: In the last lecture we have seen how important for later life are the emotional processes of childhood. In to-day’s lecture I should like to give you some insight into the psychic life of the child through the analysis of a 4-year-old girl. It is much to be regretted that there are doubtless few among you who have had opportunity to read the analysis of “Little John” (Kleiner Hans), which has been published by Freud during the current year. I should properly begin by giving you the content of that analysis, so that you might be in a position to compare for yourselves the results of Freud with those obtained by me, and to observe the marked, even astonishing, similarity between the unconscious creations of the two children. Without a knowledge of the fundamental analysis of Freud, much in the report of the following case will appear to you strange, incomprehensible, and perhaps unacceptable. I beg you, however, to defer final judgment and to enter upon the consideration of these new subjects with a kindly disposition, for such pioneer work in virgin soil requires not only the greatest patience on the part of the investigator, but also the unprejudiced attention of his audience. Because the Freudian investigations apparently involve an indelicate discussion of the most intimate secrets of sexuality many people have had a feeling of repulsion and have therefore rejected everything as a matter of course without any real proof. This, unfortunately, has almost always been the fate of Freud’s doctrines until now. One must not come to the consideration of these matters with the firm conviction that they do not exist, else it may easily come to pass that for the prejudiced they really do not exist. One should perhaps for the moment assume the author’s point of view and investigate these phenomena under his guidance. In this way only can the correctness or incorrectness of our observations be affirmed. We may err, as all human beings err. But the continual holding up to us of our mistakes,—perhaps they are worse than mistakes,—does not help us to see things more distinctly. We should prefer to see wherein we err. That should be shown to us in our own sphere of experience. Thus far, however, no one has succeeded in meeting us on our own ground, and in giving us a different conception of the things which we ourselves see. We must still complain that our critics are persisting in complete ignorance and without the slightest notion about the matters in question. The only reason for this is that our critics have never taken the trouble to become thoroughly acquainted with our method; had they done this they would have understood us.
The little girl to whose sagacity and intellectual vivacity we are indebted for the following observations is a healthy, lively child of emotional temperament. She has never been seriously ill, and never, even in the realm of the nervous system, had there been observed any symptoms prior to this investigation. In the report which will now follow we shall have to waive a connected description, for it is made up of anecdotes which treat of one out of a whole cycle of similar experiences, and which cannot, therefore, be arranged scientifically and systematically, but must rather be described somewhat in the form of a story. This manner of description we cannot as yet dispense with in our analytic psychology, for we are still far from being able in all cases to separate with unerring certainty the curious from the typical.
When the little daughter, whom we will call Anna, was about 3 years old, she once had the following conversation with her grandmother:
Anna: “Grandma, why have you such withered eyes?”
Grandma: “Because I am old?”
A. “But you will become young again.”
G. “No, do you know, I shall become older and older, and then I shall die.”
A. “Well, and then?”
G. “Then I shall become an angel.”
A. “And then will you again become a little child?”
The child found here a welcome opportunity for the provisional solution of a problem. For some time before she had been in the habit of asking her mother whether she would ever have a living doll, a little child, a little brother. This naturally included the question as to the origin of children. As such questions appeared only spontaneously and indirectly, the parents attached no significance to them, but received them as lightly and in appearance as facetiously as the child seemed to ask them. Thus she once received from her father the amusing information that children are brought by the stork. Anna had already heard somewhere a more serious version, namely, that children are little angels living in heaven and are brought from heaven by the stork. This theory seems to have become the starting point for the investigating activity of the little one. From the conversation with the grandmother it could be seen that this theory was capable of wide application, namely, it not only solved in a comforting manner the painful idea of parting and dying, but at the same time it solved satisfactorily the riddle of the origin of children. Such solutions which kill at least two birds with one stone were formerly tenaciously adhered to in science, and even in the child they cannot be made retrograde without some shock.
Just as was the birth of a little sister the turning point in the history of “little John,” so it was in this case the birth of a brother, which happened when Anna had reached the age of 4 years. The pregnancy of the mother apparently remained unnoticed; i.e., the child never expressed herself on this subject. On the evening before the childbirth when the labor pains began to manifest themselves in the mother, the child was in her father’s room. He took her on his knee and said, “Tell me, what would you say if you should get a little brother to-night?” “I would kill it,” was the prompt answer. The expression “to kill” looks very serious, but in reality it is quite harmless, for “to kill” and “to die” in child language signify only to remove either in the active or in the passive sense, as has already been pointed out a number of times by Freud. “To kill” as used by the child is a harmless word, especially so when we know that the child uses the word “kill” quite promiscuously for all possible kinds of destruction, removal, demolition, etc. It is, nevertheless, worth while to note this tendency (see the analysis of Kleiner Hans, p. 5).
The childbirth occurred early in the morning in the presence of a physician and a midwife. When all remnants of the birth, including some blood traces, were cleaned up, the father entered the room where the little one slept. She awoke as he entered. He imparted to her the news of the advent of a little brother which she took with surprise and strained facial expression. The father took her in his arms and carried her into the confinement chamber. She first threw a rapid glance at her somewhat pale mother and then displayed something like a mixture of despair and suspicion as if thinking, “Now what else is going to happen? (Father’s impression.) She displayed hardly any pleasure at the sight of the new arrival, so that the cool reception she gave it caused general disappointment. During the forenoon she kept very noticeably away from her mother; this was the more striking as she was usually much attached to her mother. But once when her mother was alone she ran into the room, embraced her and said, “Well, aren’t you going to die now?” This explains a part of the conflict in the child’s psyche. Though the stork theory was never really taken seriously, she accepted the fruitful re-birth hypothesis, according to which a person by dying assisted a child into life. Accordingly the mother, too, must die; why, then, should the newborn child, against whom she already felt childish jealousy, cause her pleasure? It was for this reason that she had to ascertain in a favorable moment whether the mother was to die, or rather was moved to express the hope that she would not die.
With this happy issue, however, the re-birth theory sustained a severe shock. How was it possible now to explain the birth of her little brother and the origin of children in general? There still remained the stork theory which, though never expressly rejected, had been implicitly waived through the assumption of the re-birth theory. The explanations next attempted unfortunately remained hidden from the parents as the child stayed a few weeks with her grandmother. From the grandmother’s report we learned that the stork theory was often discussed, and it was naturally re-enforced by the concurrence of those about her.
When Anna returned to her parents she again on meeting her mother evinced the same mixture of despair and suspicion which she had displayed after the birth. The impression, though inexplicable, was quite unmistakable to both parents. Her behavior towards the baby was very nice. During her absence a nurse had come into the house who, on account of her uniform made a deep impression on Anna; to be sure, the impression at first was quite unfavorable as she evinced the greatest hostility to her. Thus nothing could induce her to allow herself to be undressed and put to sleep by this nurse. Whence this resistance originated was soon shown in an angry scene near the cradle of the little brother in which Anna shouted at the nurse, “This is not your little brother, it is mine!” Gradually, however, she became reconciled to the nurse and began to play nurse herself, she had to have her white cap and apron and “nursed” now her little brother and now her doll.
In contrast to her former mood she became unmistakably mournful and dreamy. She often sat for a long time under the table singing and rhyming stories which were partially incomprehensible but sometimes contained the “nurse” theme (“I am a nurse of the green cross”). Some of the stories, however, distinctly showed a painful feeling striving for expression.
Here we meet with a new and important feature in the little one’s life, that is, we meet with reveries, tendencies towards the composition of poetry, and melancholic attacks. All these things which we are wont first to encounter at a later period of life, at a time when the youthful person is preparing to sever the family tie and to enter independently upon life, but is still held back by an inward, painful feeling of homesickness and the warmth of the parental hearth. At that time the youth begins to replace his longing with poetic fancies in order to compensate for the deficiency. To approximate the psychology of a four-year-old child to that of the age of puberty will at first sight seem paradoxical, the relationship lies, however, not in the age but rather in the mechanism. The elegiac reveries express the fact that a part of that love which formerly belonged and should belong to a real object is now introverted, that is, it is turned inward into the subject and there produces an increased imaginative activity. What is the origin of this introversion? Is it a psychological manifestation peculiar to this age, or does it owe its origin to a conflict?
This is explained in the following occurrence. It often happened that Anna was disobedient to her mother, she was insolent, saying, “I am going back to grandma.”
Mother: “But I shall be sad when you leave me.”
Anna: “Oh, but you have the little brother.”
The effect which this produced on the mother shows what the little one was really aiming at with her threats to go away again; she apparently wished to hear what her mother would say to her proposal, that is, to see what attitude her mother would actually assume to her, whether her little brother had not crowded her out altogether from her mother’s favor. One must, however, give no credence to this little trickster. For the child could readily see and feel that despite the existence of the little brother there was nothing essentially lacking for her in her mother’s love. The reproach to which she subjects her mother is therefore unjustified and to the trained ear this is betrayed by a slightly affected tone. Such a tone if unmistakable, shows that it does not expect to be taken seriously and hence it obtrudes itself re-enforced. The reproach as such must also not have been taken seriously by the mother for it was only the forerunner of other and this time more serious resistances. Not long after the previously reported conversation the following scene took place:
Mother: “Come, we are going into the garden now!”
Anna: “You are lying, take care if you are not telling the truth.”
M. “What are you thinking of? I always tell the truth.”
A. “No, you are not telling the truth.”
M. “You will soon see that I am telling the truth; we are going into the garden now.”
A. “Indeed, is that true? Is that really true? Are you not lying?”
Scenes of this kind were repeated a number of times. This time the tone was more rude and more penetrating, and at the same time the accent on the word “lie” betrayed something special which the parents did not understand; indeed, at first they attributed too little significance to the spontaneous utterances of the child. In this they merely did what education usually does with official sanction. One usually pays little heed to children in every stage of life; in all essential matters, they are treated as not responsible, and in all unessential matters, they are trained with an automatic precision.
Under resistances there always lies a question, a conflict, of which we hear at later times and on other occasions. But usually one forgets to connect the thing heard with the resistances. Thus, on another occasion Anna put to her mother the following difficult questions:
Anna: “I should like to become a nurse when I grow big,—why did you not become a nurse?”
Mother: “Why, as I have become a mother I have children to nurse anyway.”
A. (Reflecting) “Indeed, shall I be a different woman from you, and shall I still speak to you?”
The mother’s answer again shows whither the child’s question was really directed. Apparently Anna, too, would like to have a child to “nurse” just as the nurse has. Where the nurse got the little child is quite clear. Anna, too, could get a child in the same way if she were big. Why did not the mother become such a plain nurse, that is to say, how did she get a child if not in the same way as the nurse? Like the nurse, Anna, too, could get a child, but how that fact might be changed in the future or how she might come to resemble her mother in respect to getting children is not clear to her. From this resulted the thoughtful question, “Indeed, shall I be a different woman from you? Shall I be different in every respect?” The stork theory evidently had come to naught, the dying theory met a similar fate; hence she now thinks one may get a child in the same way, as, for example, the nurse got hers. She, too, could get one in this natural way, but how about the mother who is no nurse and still has children? Looking at the matter at this point of view, Anna asks: “Why did you not become a nurse?” namely, “why have you not got your child in the natural way?” This peculiar indirect manner of questioning is typical, and evidently corresponds with the child’s hazy grasp of the problem, unless we assume a certain diplomatic uncertainty prompted by a desire to evade direct questioning. We shall later find an illustration of this possibility. Anna is evidently confronted with the question “where does the child come from?” The stork did not bring it; mother did not die; nor did mother get it in the same way as the nurse. She has, however, asked this question before and received the information from her father that the stork brings children; this is positively untrue, she can never be deceived on this point. Accordingly, papa and mama and all the others lie. This readily explains her suspicion at the childbirth and her discrediting of her mother. But it also explains another point, namely, the elegiac reveries which we have attributed to a partial introversion. We know now from what real object love had to be taken and introverted to no purpose, namely, it had to be taken from the parents who deceived her and refused to tell her the truth. (What must this be which cannot be uttered? What is going on here?) Such were the parenthetic questions of the child, and the answer was: Evidently this must be something to be concealed, perhaps something dangerous. Attempts to make her talk and to draw out the truth by means of (insidious) questions were futile, she exerted resistance against resistance, and the introversion of love began. It is evident that the capacity for sublimation in a 4-year-old child is still too slightly developed to be capable of performing more than symptomatic services. The mind, therefore, depends on another compensation, namely, it resorts to one of the relinquished infantile devices for securing love by force, the most preferred is that of crying and calling the mother at night. This has been diligently practised and exhausted during her first year. It now returns and corresponding to the period of life it has become well determined and equipped with recent impressions. It was just after the earthquakes in Messina, and this event was discussed at the table. Anna was extremely interested in everything, she repeatedly asked her grandma to relate to her how the earth shook, how the houses were demolished and many people lost their lives. After this she had nocturnal fears, she could not remain alone, her mother was forced to go to her and stay with her; otherwise she feared that an earthquake would appear, that the house would fall and kill her. During the day, too, she was much occupied with such thoughts. While walking with her mother she annoyed her with such questions as, “Will the house be standing when we return home? Are you sure there is no earthquake at home? Will papa still be living?” About every stone lying in the road she asked whether it was from an earthquake. A new building was a house destroyed by the earthquake, etc. She finally even cried out frequently at night that the earthquake was coming and that she heard the thunder. In the evening she had to be solemnly assured that there was no earthquake coming.
Many means of calming her were tried, thus she was told, for example, that earthquakes only exist where there are volcanoes. But then she had to be satisfied that the mountains surrounding the city were not volcanoes. This reasoning gradually caused in the child an eager desire for learning, strong but quite unnatural for her age, which manifested itself in her requiring that all the geological atlases and text-books should be brought her from her father’s library. For hours she rummaged through these works looking for pictures of volcanoes and earthquakes, and asking questions continually. We are here confronted by an energetic effort to sublimate the fear into an eager desire for learning, which at this age made a decidedly premature exaction; but, as in many a gifted child which suffers from precisely the same difficulty, many effects of this immature sublimation were surely not to her advantage. For, by favoring sublimation at this age one merely enforces a fragment of neurosis. The root of the eager desire for learning is the fear and the fear is the expression of a converted libido; that is, it is the expression of an introversion which henceforth becomes neurotic, which at this age is neither necessary nor favorable for the development of the child.
Whither this eager desire for learning was ultimately directed is explained by a series of questions which arose almost daily. “Why is Sophie (a younger sister) younger than I?” “Where was Freddy (the little brother) before? Was he in heaven? What was he doing there? Why did he come down just now, why not before?
This state of affairs induced the father to decide that the mother should tell the child when occasion offered the truth concerning the origin of the little brother. This having been done Anna soon thereafter asked about the stork. Her mother told her that the story of the stork was not true, but that Freddy grew up in his mother like the flowers in a plant. At first he was very little, and then he became bigger and bigger just like a plant. She listened attentively without the slightest surprise, and then asked, “But did he come out all by himself?”
Anna: “But he cannot walk!”
Sophie: “Then he crawled out.”
Anna, overhearing her little sister’s answer,—“Is there a hole here? (pointing to the breast) or did he come out of the mouth? Who came out of the nurse?” She then interrupted herself and exclaimed, “No, no, the stork brought little brother down from heaven.” She soon left the subject and again wished to see pictures of volcanoes. During the evening following this conversation she was calm. The sudden explanation produced in the child a whole series of ideas, which manifested themselves in certain questions. Unexpected perspectives were opened; she rapidly approached the main problem, namely, the question, “Where did the child come out?” Was it from a hole in the breast or from the mouth? Both suppositions are entirely qualified to form acceptable theories. We even meet with recently married women who still entertain the theory of the hole in the abdominal wall or of the Cæsarean section; this is supposed to betray a very curious form of innocence. But as a matter of fact it is not innocence, as we are always dealing in such cases with infantile sexual activities, which in later life have brought the vias naturales into ill repute.
It may be asked where the child got the absurd idea that there is a hole in the breast, or that the birth takes place through the mouth. Why did she not select one of the natural openings existing in the abdomen from which things come out daily? The explanation is simple. Very shortly before, our little one had invited some educational criticism on her mother’s part by a heightened interest in both abdominal openings with their remarkable products,—an interest not always in accord with the requirements of cleanliness and decorum. Then for the first time she became acquainted with the exceptional laws of these bodily regions and, being a sensitive child, she soon learned that there was something here to be tabooed. This region, therefore, must not be referred to. Anna had simply shown herself docile and had so adjusted herself to the cultural demands that she thought (at least spoke) of the simplest things last. The incorrect theories substituted for correct laws persisted for years until brusque explanations came from without. It is, therefore, no wonder that such theories, the forming of and adherence to which are favored even by parents and educators should later become determinants of important symptoms in a neurosis, or of delusions in a psychosis, just as I have shown that in dementia præcox what has existed in the mind for years always remains somewhere, though it may be hidden under compensations seemingly of a different kind.
But even before this question, whence the child really comes out, was settled, a new problem obtruded itself; viz., the children come out of the mother, but how is it with the nurse? Did some one come out also in this case? This question was followed by the remark, “No, no, the stork brought down the little brother from heaven.” What is there peculiar about the fact that nobody came out of the nurse? We recall that Anna identified herself with the nurse and planned to become a nurse later, for,—she, too, would like to have a child, and she could have one as well as the nurse. But now when it is known that the little brother grew in mama, how is it now?
This disquieting question is averted by a quick return to the stork-angel theory which has never been really believed and which after a few trials is at last definitely abandoned. Two questions, however, remain in the air. The first reads as follows: Where does the child come out? The second, a considerably more difficult one, reads: How does it happen that mama has children while the nurse and the servants do not? All these questions did not at first manifest themselves.
On the day following the explanation while at dinner, Anna spontaneously remarked: “My brother is in Italy, and has a house of cloth and glass, but it does not tumble down.”
In this case as in the others it was impossible to ask for an explanation; the resistances were too great and Anna could not be drawn into conversation. This former, officious and pretty explanation is very significant. For some three months the two sisters had been building a stereotyped fanciful conception of a “big brother.” This brother knows everything, he can do and has everything, he has been and is in every place where the children are not; he is owner of great cows, oxen, horses, dogs; everything is his, etc. Each sister has such a “big brother.” We must not look far for the origin of this fancy; the model for it is the father who seems to correspond to this conception: he seems to be like a brother to mama. The children, too, have their similar powerful “brother.” This brother is very brave; he is at present in dangerous Italy and inhabits an impossible fragile house, and it does not tumble down. For the child this realizes an important wish. The earthquake is no longer to be dangerous. As a consequence of this the child’s fear disappeared and stayed away. The fear of earthquakes now entirely vanished. Instead of calling her father to her bed to conjure away the fear, she now became very affectionate and begged him every night to kiss her.
In order to test this new state of affairs the father showed her pictures illustrating volcanoes and earthquake devastations. Anna remained unaffected, she examined the pictures with indifference, remarking, “These people are dead; I have already seen that quite often.” The picture of a volcanic eruption no longer had any attraction for her. Thus all her scientific interest collapsed and vanished as suddenly as it came. During the days following the explanation Anna had quite important matters to occupy herself with; she disseminated her newly acquired knowledge among those about her in the following manner: She began by again circumstantially affirming what had been told her, viz., that Freddy, she, and her younger sister had grown in her mother, that papa and mama grew in their mothers, and that the servants likewise grew in their respective mothers. By frequent questions she tested the true basis of her knowledge, for her suspicion was aroused in no small measure, so that it needed many confirmations to remove all her uncertainties.
On one occasion the trustworthiness of the theory threatened to go to pieces. About a week after the explanation the father was taken sick with influenza and consequently had to remain in bed during the forenoon. The children knew nothing about this, and Anna coming into the parents’ bedroom saw what was quite unusual, namely, that her father was remaining in bed. She again took on a peculiar surprised expression; she remained at a distance from the bed and would not come nearer; she was apparently again reserved and suspicious. But suddenly she burst out with the question, “Why are you in bed, have you a plant in your belly, too?”
The father was naturally forced to laugh. He calmed her, however, by assuring her that children never grow in the father, that only women can have children and not men; thereupon the child again became friendly. But though the surface was calm the problems continued to work in the dark. A few days later while at dinner Anna related the following dream: “I dreamed last night of Noah’s ark.” The father then asked her what she had dreamed about it, but Anna’s answer was sheer nonsense. In such cases it is necessary only to wait and pay attention. A few minutes later she said to her mother, “I dreamed last night about Noah’s ark, and there were a lot of little animals in it.” Another pause. She then began her story for the third time. “I dreamed last night about Noah’s ark, and there were a lot of little animals in it, and underneath there was a lid and that opened and all the little animals fell out.”
The children really had a Noah’s ark, but its opening, a lid, was on the roof and not underneath. In this way she delicately intimated that the story of the birth from mouth or breast is incorrect, and that she had some inkling where the children came out.
A few weeks then passed without any noteworthy occurrences. On one occasion she related the following dream: “I dreamed about papa and mama; they had been sitting late in the study and we children were there too.” On the face of this we find a wish of the children, to be allowed to sit up as long as the parents. This wish is here realized or rather it is utilized to express a more important wish, namely, to be present in the evening when the parents are alone; of course quite innocently it was in the study where she has seen all the interesting books and where she has satiated her thirst for knowledge; i.e., she was really seeking an answer to the burning question, whence the little brother came. If the children were there they would find out. A few days later Anna had a terrifying dream from which she awoke crying, “The earthquake was coming, the house had begun to shake.” Her mother went to her and calmed her by saying that the earthquake was not coming, that everything was quiet, and that everybody was asleep. Whereupon Anna said: “I would like to see the spring, when all the little flowers are coming out and the whole lawn is full of flowers—I would like to see Freddy, he has such a dear little face—What is papa doing? What is he saying? (The mother said, “He is asleep and isn’t saying anything now.”) Little Anna then remarked with a sarcastic smile: “He will surely be sick again in the morning.”
This text should be read backwards. The last sentence was not meant seriously, as it was uttered in a mocking tone. When the father was sick the last time Anna suspected that he had a “plant in his belly.” The sarcasm signifies: “To-morrow papa is surely going to have a child.” But this also is not meant seriously. Papa is not going to have a child; mama alone has children; perhaps she will have another child tomorrow; but where from? “What does papa do?” The formulation of the difficult problem seems here to come to the surface. It reads: What does papa really do if he does not bear children? The little one is very anxious to have a solution for all these problems, she would like to know how Freddy came into the world, she would like to see how the little flowers come out of the earth in the spring, and these wishes are hidden behind the fear of earthquakes.
After this intermezzo Anna slept quietly until morning. In the morning her mother asked her what she had dreamed. She did not at first recall anything, and then said: “I dreamed that I could make the summer, and then some one threw a Punch down into the closet.”
This peculiar dream apparently has two different scenes which are separated by “then.” The second part draws its material from the recent wish to possess a Punch, that is, to have a masculine doll just as the mother has a little boy. Some one threw Punch down into the closet; one often lets other things fall down into the water closet. It is just like this that the children, too, come out. We have here an analogy to the “Lumpf-theory” of little John. Whenever several scenes are found in one dream, each scene ordinarily represents a particular variation of the complex elaboration. Here accordingly the first part is only a variation of the theme found in the second part. The meaning of “to see the spring” or “to see the little flowers come out” we have already seen. Anna now dreams that she can make the summer, that is she can bring it about that the little flowers shall come out. She herself can make a little child, and the second part of the dream represents this just like a passage of the bowels. Here we find the egotistic wish which is behind the seemingly objective interest of the nocturnal conversation.
A few days later the mother was visited by a lady who expected soon to become a mother. The children seemed to take no interest in the matter, but the next day they amused themselves with the following play which was directed by the older one: they took all the newspapers they could find in their father’s paperbasket and stuffed them under their clothes, so that the intention of the imitation was quite plain. During the night little Anna had another dream: “I dreamed about a woman in the city, she had a very big belly.” The chief actor in the dream is always the dreamer himself under some definite aspect; thus the childish play of the day before is fully solved.
Not long thereafter Anna surprised her mother with the following performance: She stuck her doll under her clothes, then pulled it out slowly head downwards, and at the same time remarked, “Look, the little child is coming out, it is now all out.” By this means Anna tells her mother, “You see, thus I apprehend the problem of birth. What do you think of it? Is that right?” The play is really meant to be a question, for, as we shall see later, this conception had to be officially confirmed. That rumination on this problem by no means ended here is shown by the occasional ideas conceived during the following weeks. Thus she repeated the same play a few days later with her Teddy Bear, which functioned as an especially loving doll. One day, looking at a rose, she said to her grandma, “See, the rose is getting a baby.” As her grandma did not quite understand her she pointed to the enlarged calyx and said, “You see she is quite thick here.”
Anna once quarrelled with her younger sister, and the latter angrily exclaimed, “I will kill you.” Whereupon Anna answered, “When I am dead you will be all alone; then you will have to pray to the dear Lord for a live baby.” But the scene soon changed: Anna was the angel, and the younger sister was forced to kneel before her and pray to her that she should present to her a living child. In this way Anna became the presenting mother.
Oranges were once served on the table. Anna impatiently asked for one and said, “I am going to take an orange and swallow it all down into my belly, and then I shall get a little child.” Who will not think here of the fairy tales in which childless women finally become pregnant by swallowing fruit, fish, and similar things. Thus Anna attempts to solve the problem how the children actually come into the mother. She thus enters into an examination which hitherto has not been formulated with so much sharpness. The solution follows in the form of an analogy, which is quite characteristic of the archaic thinking of the child. (In the adult, too, there is a kind of thinking by analogy which belongs to the stratum lying immediately below consciousness. Dreams bring the analogies to the surface; the same may be observed also in dementia praecox.) In German as well as in numerous foreign fairy tales one frequently finds such characteristic childish comparisons. Fairy tales seem to be the myths of the child, and therefore contain among other things the mythology which the child weaves concerning the sexual processes. The spell of the fairy tale poetry, which is felt even by the adult, is explained by the fact that some of the old theories are still alive in our unconscious minds. We experience a strange, peculiar and familiar feeling when a conception of our remotest youth is again stimulated. Without becoming conscious it merely sends into consciousness a feeble copy of its original emotional strength.
The problem how the child gets into the mother was difficult to solve. As the only way of taking things into the body is through the mouth, it could evidently be assumed that the mother eats something like a fruit which then grows in her belly. But then comes another difficulty, namely, it is clear enough what the mother produces but it is not yet clear what the father is good for.
What does the father do? Anna now occupied herself exclusively with this question. One morning she ran into the parents’ bedroom while they were dressing, she jumped into her father’s bed, she lay down on her belly and kicked with her legs, and called at the same time, “Look! does papa do that?” The analogy to the horse of “little John” which raised such disturbance with its legs, is very surprising.
With this last performance the solving of the problem seemed to rest entirely, at least the parents found no opportunity to make any pertinent observations. That the problem should come to a standstill just here is not at all surprising, for this is really its most difficult part. Moreover we know from experience that not very many children go beyond these limits during the period of childhood. The problem is almost too difficult for the childish reason, which still lacks much irremissible knowledge without which the problem cannot be solved.
This standstill lasted about five months during which no phobias or other signs of complex elaboration appeared. After the lapse of this time there appeared premonitory signs of some new incidents. Anna’s family lived at that time in the country near a lake where the mother and children could bathe. As Anna feared to wade farther into the water than kneedeep, her father once put her into the water, which led to an outburst of crying. In the evening while going to bed Anna asked her mother, “Do you not believe that father wanted to drown me?” A few days later there was another outburst of crying. She continued to stand in the gardener’s way until he finally placed her in a newly dug hole. Anna cried bitterly and afterwards maintained that the gardener wished to bury her. To finish up with, Anna awoke during the night with fearful crying. Her mother went to her in the adjoining room and quieted her. Anna dreamed that “a train passed and then fell in a heap.”
We have here repeated the “stage coach” of “little John.” These incidents showed clearly enough that there was again fear in the air, i.e., that there again had arisen a resistance against the transposition on the parents, and that therefore a larger part of the love was converted into fear. This time suspicion was directed not against the mother, but against the father, who she was sure must know the secret, but would never let anything out. What could the father be secreting or doing? To the child this secret appeared as something dangerous, so that she felt the worst might be expected from the father. (This feeling of childish anxiety with the father as object we see again most distinctly in adults, especially in dementia præcox, which lifts the veil of obscurity from many unconscious processes, as though it were following psychanalytic principles.) It was for this reason that Anna apparently came to the very absurd conclusion that her father wanted to drown her. At the same time her fear contained the thought that the object of the father had some relation to a dangerous action. This stream of thought is no arbitrary interpretation. Anna meanwhile grew up a little and her interest for her father took on a special coloring which is hard to describe. Language possesses no words to describe the very special kind of affectionate curiosity which radiated from the child’s eyes.
Anna once took marked delight in assisting the gardener while he was sowing grass, without apparently divining the profound significance of the child’s play. About a fortnight later she began to observe with great pleasure the sprouting young grass. On one of these occasions she asked her mother the following question: “Tell me, how did the eyes grow into the head?” The mother told her that she did not know. Anna, however, continued to ask whether the Lord or her papa could tell this? The mother then referred her to the father, who might tell her how the eyes grew into the head. A few days later there was a family reunion at a tea, and after everything was over the guests departed. The father remained at the table reading the paper and Anna also remained. Suddenly approaching her father she said, “Tell me, how did the eyes grow into the head?” Father: “They did not grow into the head; they were there from the beginning and grew with the head.”
A. “Were not the eyes planted?”
F. “No, they grew in the head like the nose.”
A. “Did the mouth and the ears grow in the same way? and the hair, too?”
F. “Yes, they all grew in the same way.”
A. “And the hair, too? But the mousies came into the world naked. Where was the hair before? Were there no seeds added?”
F. “No, you see, the hair really came out of little grains which are like seeds, but these were already in the skin long before and nobody sowed them.” The father was now getting concerned; he knew whither the little one’s thoughts were directed, but he did not wish to overthrow, for the sake of a former false application, the opportunely established seed-theory which she had most fortunately gathered from nature; but the child spoke with an unwonted seriousness which demanded consideration.
Anna (evidently disappointed, and with a distressed tone): “But how did Freddy get into mama? Who stuck him in? and who stuck you into your mama? Where did he come out from?
From this sudden storm of questions the father chose the last for his first answer. “Just think, you know well enough that Freddy is a boy; boys become men and girls women. Only women and not men can have children; now just think, where could Freddy come out from?”
A. (Laughs joyfully and points to her genitals): “Did he come out here?”
Father: “Yes, of course, you certainly must have thought of this before?”
A. (Overlooking the question): “But how did Freddy get into mama? Did anybody plant him? Was the seed planted?”
This very precise question could no longer be evaded by the father. He explained to the child, who listened with the greatest attention, that the mother is like the soil and the father like the gardener; that the father provides the seed which grows in the mother, and thus gives origin to a baby. This answer gave extraordinary satisfaction; she immediately ran to her mother and said, “Papa has told me everything, now I know it all.” She did not, however, tell what she knew.
The new knowledge was, however, put into play the following day. Anna went to her mother and said, “Think, mama, papa told me how Freddy was a little angel and was brought from heaven by a stork.” The mother was naturally surprised and said, “No, you are mistaken, papa surely never told you such a thing!” whereupon the little one laughed and ran away.
This was apparently a mode of revenge. Her mother did not wish or was not able to tell her how the eyes grew into the head, hence she did not know how Freddy got into her. It was for this reason that she again tempted her with the old story.
I wish to impress firmly upon parents and educators this instructive example of child psychology. In the learned psychological discussions on the child’s psyche we hear nothing about those parts which are so important for the health and naturalness of our children, nor do we hear more about the child’s emotions and their conflicts; and yet they play a most important rôle.
It very often happens that children are erroneously treated as quite imprudent and irrational beings. Thus on indulgently remarking to an intelligent father, whose 4-year-old daughter masturbated excessively, that care should be exercised in the presence of the child which slept in the same room with the parents, I received the following indignant reply, “I can absolutely assure you that the child knows nothing about sexual matters.” This would recall that distinguished old neurologist who wished to abjudicate the attribute “sexual” from a childbirth phantasy which was represented in a dreamy state.
On the other hand a child evincing a neurotic talent exaggerated by neurosis may be urged on by solicitous parents. How easy and tempting it would have been, e.g., in the present case, to admire, excite, and develop prematurely the child’s eager desire for learning, and thereby develop an unnatural blasè state and a precociousness masking a neurosis. In such cases the parents must look after their own complexes and complex tendencies and not make capital out of them at the expense of the child. The idea should be dismissed once for all that children are held in bondage by, or that they are the toys of, their parents. They are characteristic and new beings. In the matter of enlightenment on things sexual it can be affirmed they suffer from the preconceived opinion that the truth is harmful. Many neurologists are of the opinion that even in grownups enlightenment on their own psychosexual processes is harmful and even immoral. Would not the same persons perhaps refuse to admit the existence of the genitals themselves?
One should not, however, go from this extreme of prudishness to the opposite one, namely that of enlightenment á tout prix, which may turn out as foolish as it is disagreeable. In this respect I believe the use of some discretion to be decidedly the wiser plan; still if children come upon any idea, they should be deceived no more than adults.
I hope, ladies and gentlemen, that I have shown you what complicated psychic processes the psychanalytic investigation reveals in the child, and how great is the significance of these processes for the mental well-being as well as for the general psychic development of the child. What I have been unable to show you is the universal validity of these observations. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to show this for I do not know myself how much of it is universally valid. Only the accumulation of such observations and a more far-reaching penetration into the problem thus broached will give us a complete insight into the laws of the psychic development. It is to be regretted that we are at present still far from this goal. But I confidently hope that educators and practical psychologists, whether physicians or deep-thinking parents, will not leave us too long unassisted in this immensely important and interesting field.
- 1. Freud. Die Traumdeutung, II Auflage, Deuticke, Wien, 1909.
- 2. — —. Sammlung kleiner Schriften zur Neurosenlehre, Band I & II, Deuticke, Wien.
- 3. — —. Analyse der Phobie eines 5 jahrigen Knaben. Jahrbuch für Psychoanalytische u. Psychopathologische Forschungen, Band I, Deuticke, Wien, 1908.
- 4. Jung. Diagnostische Associationsstudien, Band I, Barth, Leipzig, 1906.
- 5. — —. Die Psychologische Diagnose des Thatbestandes. Carl Marhold, Halle, 1906.
- 6. Freud. Der Inhalt der Psychose, Freud's Schriften zur angewandten Seelenkunde , Deuticke, 1908.
- 7. — —. Le Nuove Vedute della Psicologia Criminale, Rivista de Psicologia Applicata , 1908, No. 4.
- 8. — —. Die Bedeutung des Vaters für das Schicksal des Einzelnen, Deuticke, Wien, 1908.
- 9. — —. The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, translated by Peterson and Brill, Journal of Mental and Nervous Diseases , Monograph Series, No. 2.
- 10. — —. L'Analyse des Rêves, Année Psychologique , 1909, Tome XV.
- 11. — —. Associations d'idées Familiales, Archives de Psychologie , T. VII, No. 26.
- 12. Fürst. Statistische Untersuchungen über Wortassociationen and über familiâre Übereinstimmung im Reactionstypus bei Ungebildeten, X Beitrag der Diagnost. Assoc. Studien (will appear in Vol. II).
- 13. Brill. Psychological Factors in Dementia Praecox, Journal of Abnormal Psychology , Vol. III, No. 4.
- 14. — —. A case of Schizophrenia, American Journal of Insanity , Vol. LXVI, No. I.
- Jahrbuch f. Psychoanalytische und Psychopathologische Forschungen, Band I, Deuticke, Wien.
- Jung: The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, translated by Peterson and Brill. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, Monograph Series, No. 3.
- This wish to sit up with the father and mother until late at night often plays a great part later in a neurosis. Its object is to prevent the parental coitus.
- A doll from Punch and Judy.
- See analysis of a 5-year-old boy, Jahrbuch f. Psychoanalytische u. Psychopathologische Forschungen, Vol. I.
- Franz Riklin.