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Freud's Scientism And It's Impact On The Analysis Of The Wolf-Man

The Letter, Issue 27, Spring 2003, Pages 32 - 42


Frédéric Declercq

The scientific-political dimension of the case of the Wolf-man

Right from the start, the Wolf-man's analysis has a political dimension. In Freud's eyes, the primary significance of this analysis, is that it proves the importance of infantile sexuality in the aetiology of neurosis, - something which is denied by Jung and Adler.

It [The case study of the Wolf-man] shows the predominant part that is played in the formation of neuroses by those libidinal motive forces which are so eagerly disavowed [by Jung], and reveals the absence of any aspirations towards remote cultural aims [Adler], of which the child still knows nothing, and which cannot therefore be of any significance for him.[1]

According to Adler, neurosis has nothing to do with infantile sexuality but with the failure of one's subjective project due to cultural factors.

So the clinical aspect is not the only one at play in the analysis of the Wolf-man. There's a scientific issue too. And indeed Freud appears to be driven by a scientific passion to know. He wants to know with certainty whether the Wolf-man did or did not dream the wolf dream when he was a child (for Jung's opinion was that it was dreamt in adulthood and projected back into infancy). Related to that, he also wants to know with certainty whether the dream reflected the observation of the coitus of his parents. According to Lacan, it is precisely Freud's scientific 'urge' that caused the so-called paranoid disturbance of the Wolf-man:

We feel that throughout this analysis, this real brings with it the subject, almost by force, so directing the research that, after all, we can today ask ourselves whether this fever, this presence, this desire of Freud is not that which, in his patient, might have conditioned the belated accident of his psychosis.[2]

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