“A BIG MISTAKE”

Jacob Rosenbloom and Samuel Tannenbaum, two of the charter members of the New York Psychoanalytic Society, were sitting in armchairs by the fireplace, commenting on a recent academic essay entitled “Psychoanalysis of a sheep”, when suddenly Donald, the concierge, burst into the small room visibly agitated. “What’s wrong, Don? You’d think you just saw a ghost.” “Almost!” he said pointing to the door that led to the lobby. An elegantly dressed man walked into the parlor, handling gracefully his pearl-handled cane. “Kirby!” Exclaimed the two men in unison, leaping to their feet, “We thought you were dead!” Before proceeding, it must be explained that George H. Kirby was another of the charter members of the Society, but no news of him had been heard since he was buried with all the honors in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn a week ago. “I don’t suppose it’s occurred to you to resurrect, right?”, Tannenbaum dared to say, “you know what Freud thought about resurrection.” Rosenbloom tried to soften the roughness of his friend by inviting Kirby to sit down: “But take a seat, do not stay there. Donald, bring a bottle of brandy!” Donald left and the three comrades embraced. “No, I see that you are not a ghost but a real flesh-and-blood chap. But then who do we bury in Brooklyn?” Kirby looked surprised: “Did you bury someone?” Rosenbloom and Tannenbaum looked at each other in puzzlement: “I already said that he did not look like Kirby but like Farnell” “But the coffin was Kirby’s” Rosenbloom explained. “Maybe he got sleepy, saw an empty coffin and …” Kirby interrupted them: “Well, if you buried Farnell, you can go dig it up before it’s too late.” “I’m afraid it’s already too late” Tannenbaum said. “But how could it have happened? (exclaimed suddenly Rosenbloom dropping into the chair, perplexed) I can’t explain it!” The other two also sat down and then Kirby explained the reason for his visit: he wanted to to know Farnell’s whereabouts because the day before he had not come to his office. And he suggested the hypothesis that it was because he was buried in Brooklyn. Tannenbaum exploded, surprised by Kirby’s words: “You were psychoanalyzing him?!” Kirby nodded. “Then I know what happened! Remember the phenomenon of the Transference by which the patient can not help feeling identified with his analyst!” Rosenbloom suddenly seemed to understand: “That’s right. It was Farnell who spread the news of your death” he told Kirby. To which Kirby replied that last week, while analyzing Farnell, he suffered a sudden drop in blood pressure, which caused him a faint that Farnell might have misinterpreted. “It was Farnell himself who commissioned the coffin! (claimed Tannenbaum) And as you did not show up for your funeral, he took your place.” At that moment Donald appeared with the brandy. But the three charter members of the NYPS did not see him, they were too deep in their thoughts. Indeed, that was a tragic example of the well-known phenomenon of patient-analyst emotional transference, Tannenbaum said. “And even corporal transference” Rosenbloom nuanced.


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New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute

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