Page:Freud - The history of the psychoanalytic movement.djvu/17

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

all, no one has a right to despair if he has been disappointed only in his expectations. He merely needs to review them. If hysterics refer their symptoms to imaginary traumas, then this new fact signifies that they create such scenes in their phantasies, and hence psychic reality deserves to be given a place next to actual reality. This was soon followed by the conviction that these phantasies serve to hide the autoerotic activities of the early years of childhood, to idealize them and place them on a higher level, and now the whole sexual life of the child made its appearance behind these phantasies.

In this sexual activity of the first years of childhood, the concomitant constitution could finally attain its rights. Disposition and experience here became associated into an inseparable etiological unity, in that the disposition raised certain impressions to inciting and fixed traumas, which otherwise would have remained altogether banal and ineffectual, whilst the experiences evoked factors from the disposition which, without them, would have continued to remain dormant, and, perhaps, undeveloped. The last word in the question of traumatic etiology was later on said by Abraham, when he drew attention to the fact that just the peculiar nature of the child's sexual constitution enables it to provoke sexual experiences of a peculiar kind, that is to say, traumas.

My formulations concerning the sexuality of the child were founded at first almost exclusively on the results of the analyses of adults, which led back into the past. I was lacking in opportunity for direct observation of the child. It was, therefore, an extraordinary triumph when, years later, my discoveries were successfully confirmed for the greater part by direct observation and analyses of children of very early years, a triumph that appeared less and less on reflecting that the discovery was of such a nature that one really ought to be ashamed of having made it. The deeper one penetrated into the observation of the child, the more self-evident this fact seemed, and the more strange, too, became the circumstances that such pains had been taken to overlook it.

To be sure, so certain a conviction of the existence and sig-