“FREUD KNOWS ANGUISH AT FIRST HAND”

Freud’s decision to place the patient in a horizontal position to give the psychoanalyst an advantage over his patient in case he had to run away from him, was proved right the day Freud asked the Butterfly-Man to make a detailed narration of his last dream. The Butterfly-Man (so called in the analytic literature due to his pathological tendency to flutter) began to narrate a sordid story in which Freud played the role of evil. In the dream, the patient appeared as an innocent victim of Freud’s desire to get hold of his nose. As he recounted the different episodes of that nightmare, the patient was getting more and more exalted. Freud took the precaution of stealthily approaching his chair to the door followed by the grim and increasingly threatening look of his patient. When the nightmare reached its climax (Freud climbed on his shoulders pulling his nose with all his strength), Freud was already running down the corridor like a bat out of hell. The minute of advantage he had over his pursuer allowed him to hide inside a wardrobe before the patient caught up with him. Holding his breath, Freud heard his angry pursuer running past the wardrobe and, although he did not hear another noise again, he didn’t want to risk leaving his refuge just in case the patient was lurking like a duck hunter in a marsh. Unfortunately, that was his last patient of the day and his wife was spending a few days at her parents’ house, so there was no one else in the house. Freud camouflaged himself among the coats and dresses that filled the wardrobe and remained absolutely motionless with an attentive ear and a beating heart. This state of lethargy or “hivernation”, as he would later define it, lasted forty-eight hours. Many times the doorbell rang during that time, but Freud did not dare leave his warm shelter for fear that his crazed patient was still stationed inside the house. Finally, after two days in which Freud knew what anguish was at first hand, he heard someone open the front door. Was it Martha, his wife? Only she had the key to the house … He heard footsteps that were heading straight for the wardrobe, and for the second time in his life (the first one was when in a forest he came face to face with an owl) Freud knew what terror was.

When the wardrobe door burst open, “my eyes almost pop out of my head” according to his own words. But before he could see anything due to the sudden impact of light, someone put a coat over him as if he were a coat rack. And immediately his wife’s scream of horror merged with his own, piercing all the neighborhood’s eardrums. When they both finished screaming after a few minutes, they recognized each other and breathed a sigh of relief. After a week, once recovered physically, Freud placed himself in the hands of Jung, his favorite disciple, who subjected him to a strict psychological therapy before releasing him definitively three years later. Since then, however, when Martha could not find her husband, she went directly to the wardrobe in the hallway. And there he was!

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