Origins of Psychoanalysis and Psychology Part 4 Eyewitness Report

About the origins of psychoanalysis, psychology, psychiatry, history of Anna O. and Dr. Josef Breuer taken from the journal of Breuer.


WHEN: 1880-1882

EYEWITNESS REPORT: While treating Anna O., Breuer kept notes which he later wrote up for publication:

"... I undertook her treatment, and I at once recognized the seriousness of the psychical disturbance with which I had to deal. Two entirely different states of consciousness were present which alternated very frequently and without warning and which became more and more differentiated in the course of her illness. In one of these states she recognized her surroundings; she was melancholy and anxious, but relatively normal. In the other state, she hallucinated and was 'naughty'--that is to say, she was abusive, used to throw cushions at people ... tore the buttons off her clothes and linen....

"While she was in the country, when I was unable to pay her daily visits, the situation developed as follows. I used to visit her in the evening, when I knew I would find her in hypnosis, and I then relieved her of the whole stock of imaginative products she had accumulated since my last visit. It was essential that this should be effected immediately if good results were to follow. When this was done, she became perfectly calm, and the next day would be agreeable, easy to manage, and even cheerful; but on the 2nd day she would be increasingly moody, contrary and unpleasant, and this would become still more marked on the 3rd day. When she was like this, it was not easy to get her to talk, even in her hypnosis. She aptly described this procedure, speaking seriously, as a 'talking cure,' while she referred to it jokingly as 'chimney sweeping.'...

"She derived much benefit from a New-foundland dog which was given to her and of which she was passionately fond. On one occasion, though, her pet made an attack on a cat, and it was splendid to see the way in which the frail girl seized a whip in her left hand and beat off the huge beast with it to rescue his victim. Later, she looked after some poor, sick people, and this helped her greatly....

"She was markedly intelligent, with an astonishingly quick grasp of things and penetrating intuition.... She had great poetic and imaginative gifts, which were under the control of a sharp and critical common sense.... Her willpower was energetic, tenacious, and persistent; sometimes it reached the pitch of an obstinacy which only gave way out of kindness and regard for other people...."

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