THE STORY OF ANNA O by Lucy Freeman


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The couchmark case of Anna O., who was one of Breuer's early cases and then was used by Freud in conjunction with Breuer in his Studies in Hysteria, has been retold by Miss Freeman in her usual vox pop fashion although per se it has an unsuspected double interest. In the first third here Breuer is seen attending the young woman who was suddenly paralyzed under her white satin coverlet, mumbling in four languages, and hallucinating snakes and skulls all relating to her father's imminent and then subsequent death. When Breuer abandoned her (partially cured for a time, seriously regressed later) she presumably became a morphine addict and was institutionalized. In the second part we have the long life history of a pioneer leader, Bertha Pappenheim, a severe, strong-willed woman of tremendous spirit who devoted herself first to an orphanage, then to feminism, then to rescuing Jewish girls sold into. prostitution. At 77, dying of cancer, she was still indomitable facing a Gestapo interrogation. In the third section Anna O. is seen to be Bertha Pappenheim and although considerable evidence exists to that effect beginning with Ernest Jones' 1953 statement thereof, it also entails a good deal of relating/hypothecating on Miss Freeman's part, reaching an apogee of silliness in guessing just how Freud or Breuer or possibly both chose the name Anna O. . . ""perhaps they took the letter in the alphabet before 'B' for Bertha, and selected a similar sounding name 'Anna,' and then selected the letter before 'P' for Pappenheim, 'O' for her last name."" But be it said the reconstruction goes much further along Freudian lines (Bertha's unconscious wish to be a man, etc.) since Miss Freeman, in this her 34th book, is still staunchly presenting and defending the faith.

Pub Date: May 31st, 1972
Publisher: Walker