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Title: The Depths of the Soul - Psycho-Analytical Studies
Author: Stekel, William
Language: English
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  to his dear friends
  in remembrance of
  his delightful stay
  in Chicago, 1921_

                        THE AUTHOR







An old proverb says that every parent loves the ugly duckling most. My
book, _The Depths of the Soul_, was, from its beginning, my favourite.
It was written in the beautiful years in which the first rays of
analytic psychognosis penetrated the darkness of the human soul. The
reader may find between the lines the exuberant joy of a discoverer.
First impressions are the strongest. It is an unfortunate fact that
subsequent impressions lack the vividness, the intensity, the warmth,
and the colours of the first emotions.

The great success of this book in many foreign languages has given me
incalculable pleasure, because it has served to confirm my own blind
love. No other book has brought me so many friends from far and near.

I am happy that my friend Dr. Tannenbaum has devoted his knowledge of
the art of translation to my favourite child, and I hope that this
translation will bring me many new English friends.

                                                             THE AUTHOR.



  DEDICATION                          ii

  PREFACE                              v

  CONTENTS                           vii

  THE SECOND WORLD                     1


  UNPACKING ONE’S HEART               20

  LAZINESS                            29

  THOSE WHO STAND OUTSIDE             38

  WHAT CHILDREN ASPIRE TO             46

  INDEPENDENCE                        57

  JEALOUSY                            65

  CHILDHOOD FRIENDSHIP                73

  EATING                              80


  RUNNING AWAY FROM HOME              98

  DEAD-HEADS                         108

  IDENTIFICATION                     115

  REFUGE IN DISEASE                  125

  WHY WE TRAVEL                      133

  MOODY PERSONS                      143

  OVERVALUED IDEAS                   152

  AFFECTIONATE PARENTS               161

  WHY THEY QUARREL                   171

  LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE            180

  LOOKING BACKWARD                   191

  ALL-SOULS                          201

  MIRROR SLAVES                      210



To poets it is a familiar world. The ordinary mortal wanders about
in its wonderful gardens as if he were blind; he lives in it without
knowing it. He does not know where the real world stops and where
the fantasy world begins. In the treadmill of grey day the invisible
boundaries between these two worlds escape him.

The second world! What would our life be without it? What a vale of
tears would this globe be were it not for this heaven on earth!

The reader probably guesses what I mean. All of us, the poorest and the
richest, the smallest and biggest, rarely or never find contentment in
our daily routine. We need a second sphere, a richer life, in which we
may dream of everything that is denied us in the first sphere. Ibsen
called this “The Great Life-Lie.” But is it always a lie? Did not Ibsen
go too far with this characterization? Who could doubt that the lie is
not one of those eternal truths that is so incorporeal that we cannot
grasp it, so colourless that we cannot see it, so formless that we
cannot describe it.

The child finds its second world in play. The little duties of
everyday life are for it only unnecessary interruptions in its play in
the second world. Here the child’s fantasy has ample room. It is a
soldier, king, and robber, cook, and princess; it rides through a wide
world on steaming express trains, it battles courageously with dragons
and giants, it snatches the treasures of the earth from their guardian
dwarfs, and even the stars in the heavens are not beyond its reach in
its play. Then comes the powerful dictum called education and snatches
the child out of its beloved second world and compels it to give heed
to the first world and to learn things necessary to it in its actual
life. The child learns of obligations and submits unwillingly to the
dictates of its teachers. The first world is made up of duties. The
second world knows no duties; it knows only freedom and unrestrained
freedom of thought. This is the root of the subsequent great conflict
between feelings and duties. In our childhood we find duties a
troublemaker who interferes with our playing; this childish hostility
continues with us all through life. Our vocation, the sphere of our
duties, can never wholly satisfy us. It is our first world; and even
though we seem to accept it wholly, a little remnant of this hostility
remains and this constitutes a part of our second world.

Primitive people find their second world in religion. From their
primitive fears for the preservation of their lives they flee to their
gods, whom they love and fear, punish and reward. The same thing is
true of all those simple souls whom culture has not robbed of their
religious belief. To them religion is the second world which gives
them rich consolation and solace for the pains of the first world. In
his book “Seelenkunde,” Benedict attributes anarchism to an absence of
consolatory life-lies. He says: “Our free-thinking times have stopped
up this source and it is the duty of society to create a consoling
life-truth, otherwise that psychic inner life which hoards up bitter
hatred will not cease.”

The more highly developed a person’s mind is, the more complicated is
his second world. People often express surprise at the fact that so
many physicians devote themselves passionately to music or the other
fine arts. To me it seems very simple. All day long they see life in
its most disagreeable aspects. They see the innocent sufferings, the
frightful tortures which they cannot relieve. They look behind the
curtain of the “happy family”; they wade through all the repellant
and disgusting filthiness of this petty world, and they would have to
become dull and non-partisan animals did they not have their second

There is first of all music, which is so dear to all of us because it
is an all-embracing mother which absorbs all the emotions of hatred,
anger, love, envy, fear, and despair, and fuses them all into one
great rhythm, into one great vibrating emotion of pleasure. On its
trembling waves the thoughts of the poor tortured human soul are borne
out into the darkness of uncomprehended eternity and the eternally

Then there is literature. We open a book and at once we are transported
into the second world of another ego, a world which in a few minutes
becomes our own. Happy poets, who have been endowed with the gift of
saying what they see, of giving form to what they dream, of freeing
themselves from their energies, of abreacting their secret sufferings
and of making others happy by opening up to them a second world!

Then there are the thousand and one forms of play; sports and in fact
everything that tears us away from our daily grind. What is the lottery
ticket to the poor wage-earner but an instalment on the pleasures of
the second world, or the purchased right of joyous hope?

There is the devotion to clubs and fraternal associations. The
henpecked husband flees wrathfully to his club where he can freely and
fearlessly launch all those fine argumentative speeches which he has to
suppress at home. Here he can rule, here he can play the role of the
independent master. For many thousands the club is nothing more than an
opportunity to work off their energies, to get rid of unused emotions
and to play that role which life in the first sphere has denied them.

And thus everyone has his second world. One who does not have it stands
on the level of animals, or is the happiest of the happy. By happiness
I mean the employment of one’s energies in the first sphere. There is
a wide gulf between happiness and the consciousness of happiness. The
consciousness of happiness is such a fugitive moment that the poorest
wage-slave in his second world can be happier than the truly happy who
does not happen to be thinking of his happiness. Happiness is like
the possession of a beautiful wife. If we are in danger of losing her
we tremble. Before we have obtained her and in moments of jealousy
we guard her possession as fortune’s greatest gift. But in the
consciousness of undisturbed possession can we be saying to ourselves
every second: I possess her, I am happy? No! no! Happiness is the
greatest of all life’s lies and one who has had least of it may be the
happiest in his second world.

Rose-coloured hope! Queen of all pleasurable emotions, our
all-preserving and all-animating goddess! You are the sovereign of the
second world and beckon graciously the unhappy weeping mortal who in
the first world sees the last traces of you disappear.----

Marital happiness depends very largely upon whether the two spheres of
the couple partly overlap or touch each other at a few points. In the
first world they must live together. But woe if the second world keeps
them asunder! If the two spheres touch each other even only in one
point and have only one feeling tangent between them, that will bring
them closer together than all the cares and the iron constraint of
the first world. Women know this instinctively, especially during the
period of courtship. They enthuse about everything over which the lover
enthuses; they love and hate with him and want to share everything with
him. Beware, you married women, of destroying your husband’s second
world! If after the day’s toil he soothes his tired nerves in the
fateful harmonies of Beethoven, do not disturb his pious mood; enthuse
with him, do not carry the petty cares and the vulgar commonplaces of
life into the lofty second world. Do you understand me, or must I speak
more plainly? Do not let him go alone on his excursions into the second
world! A book that he reads alone, understands alone, enjoys alone,
may be more dangerous to you than the most ardent glances of a wanton
rival. Art must never become the man’s second world. No! It must become
the child of both the lovers if the beats of their souls are to be

True friendship is so lofty, so exalting, because it is dependent
upon a congruence of the second spheres. Love is a linking of the
first worlds and if it is to be permanent it must journey forth into
the second world. Genuine friendship is born in the second world and
affects the first world only retroactively.

The second world need not necessarily always be the better world even
though to its possessor it may appear to be the more beautiful and the
more desirable. Rarely enough it is the supplement to the first world
but frequently the contrast and the complement to it. Pious chaste
natures may often give their coarser instincts undisturbed expression
in the second world. Day-dreams are frequently the expression of life
in the second world. But on careful analysis even the dreams of the
night prove to be an unrestricted wallowing in the waters of the second
world. Dreams are usually wish fulfillments, but in their lowest levels
we find the wishes of the second world which are only rarely altered by
unconscious thought processes.

One who dreams during the day flies from the first world into the
second. If he fails to find his way back again into the first world his
dreams become delusions and we say that he is insane. How delicate are
the transitions from sanity to insanity! Inasmuch as all of us live
in a second world, all of us are insane at least a few seconds every
day. What distinguishes us from the insane is the fact that we hold in
our hands the Ariadne thread which leads us out of the labyrinth of
thoughts back into the world of duties.

It is incredible how happy an insane person can be. Proudly the
paranoid hack writer marches up and down in his pitiful cell. Clothed
in rags, he is king and commands empires. His cot is a heavenly couch
of eiderdown; his old dilapidated stool is a jewel-bedecked throne.
The attendants and the physicians are his servants. And thus in his
delusion he is what he would like to be.

The world is only what we think it; the “thing itself” is only a
convention of the majority. A cured maniac assured me that the period
of his insanity had been the happiest in his life. He saw everything
through rose-coloured glasses and the awful succession of wild thoughts
was only a succession of intensely pleasurable emotions. Obviously
those, on the other hand, who suffer from melancholia and delusions
of inferiority are the unhappiest creatures. The invalid who thinks
himself made of glass trembles apprehensively for his life with every
step. The unhappy experiences of the first world have become so fixed
in his brain that they follow him into the second world and transform
even this into their own image.

Every impression in our life affects our soul as if it were made of
wax and not one such impression can be lost. That we forget so many
impressions is due to the fact that we have repressed them out of our
consciousness. Repression is a protective device but at the same time
a cause for many serious nervous disorders. A painful impression, an
unpleasant experience in the first or the second world, is so altered
as to be unrecognizable in consciousness. As a reaction to this
serious nervous disturbances, especially hysterical alterations of the
psyche, may occur,--conditions which can be cured only by tracing out
the dark pathways of the repressed emotions and reintroducing them
into consciousness. They are conjured out of the dark realm of the
unconscious into the glaring light of day and, lo! the ghosts vanish
for all time and with them all those unpleasant symptoms which have so
exercised the physician’s skill.

If the psychotherapeutist is to fulfill his difficult task he must
acquaint himself with the patient’s second world even more thoroughly
than with the first. And so, too, a judge ought never to pronounce
sentence without first having thoroughly penetrated the second world of
the condemned. In that world are the roots of good and evil in human
life. In his “Crime and Punishment” Dostoyevsky’s genius shows in a
masterly way the relationship between the two worlds of a criminal. And
so, too, Tolstoy, in his “Resurrection,” in an endeavour to enlist our
sympathies in her behalf, describes the second world of a courtesan. It
is her life-lie that she makes all the men in her embrace blessed. And
in sooth, a spark of truth seems to slumber in this life-lie.

Physicians, judges, lawyers, and ministers ought all to have a
thorough training in psychology. Not psychology in the sense of that
school philosophy which flourishes in theoretical phraseology and in
theoretical facts remote from the green tree of life. Life can learn
only from life. One who knows the secrets of the second world will not
be surprised by any happenings that the day may bring forth. He will
understand the weaknesses of the great and the strength of the small.

He will see virtue and vice coalesce in one great stream whose murky
waters will flow on into unknown regions.


Very few people perceive the ridiculous element in the frequent
complaints about the wickedness of human nature. “Human beings are
ungrateful, false, untrustworthy,” and so forth. Yes, but we are all
human. We ought, therefore, logically speaking, complain: “We human
beings are ungrateful, we are false, we are untrustworthy.” But
naturally this requires a measure of self-knowledge that is seldom
to be found in those bearing the vesture of humanity. Let us make a
modest beginning; let us try to look truth in the face. Let us not put
ourselves on a pinnacle above the others till we know how high or low
we ourselves stand.

We like to deceive ourselves, and, above all, not to see our faults.
That is the most prevalent of all weaknesses. We look upon ourselves
not only as cleverer but also as better than all others. We forget
our faults so easily and divide them by a hundred, whereas our
virtues are ever present to our mind and multiplied by a thousand.
To himself everybody is not only the first but also the wisest and
the best of mortals. That is why we complain about the ingratitude of
our fellow-men, because we have forgotten all the occasions on which
we proved ungrateful,--in exactly the same manner in which we manage
wholly to forget everything calculated to awaken painful emotions in

The complaint about man’s ingratitude is as old as the history of man
himself. The Bible, ancient legends, the folk-songs, and the proverbs
of all nations, ancient and modern, bewail man’s ingratitude. It is
“the touch of nature that makes the whole world kin.” A trait that is
so widely distributed, investing the egoist with the glory of supreme
worldly wisdom and branding the altruist as half a fool, must be
founded deep in the souls of men. It must be an integral part of the
circumstances conditioning the life of the individual. It must send its
roots down into the unconscious where the brutal instincts of primal
man consort with humanity’s ripened instincts.

But if ingratitude is a genuinely (psychologically) established fact
then we must be able to determine the dark forces that have it in them
to suppress the elementary feeling of gratitude. For even to the most
casual observation it is apparent that the first emotion with which
we react to a kindness is a warm feeling of recognition, gratitude.
So thoroughly are we permeated by it that it seems impossible ever to
withhold this gratitude from our benefactor, let alone repay him with
ingratitude. The first reaction with which the human soul requites
a kind deed is a firm purpose “ever” to be grateful therefor. But
purpose, “the slave to memory,” is only the puffed sail that drives
the boat until the force of the storm and the weakness of the rudder
compel a different course. So, too, the intent to prove grateful is
driven about fitfully by the winds of life. Of course, not at once.
It requires the lapse of a certain latency period ere gratitude is
converted to ingratitude. In the beginning the feeling of gratitude
reigns supreme. Slowly it grows fainter and fainter, is inaudible for a
time, then on suitable occasions is heard again but ever more faintly.
After a while, quite unawares, ingratitude has taken its place. All
those pleasurable emotions that have accompanied gratitude have
been transformed into their opposites: love into hatred, attraction
into aversion, interest into indifference, praise into censure, and
friendship into hostility.

How does this come about? Where lie the sources of these hidden streams
that drive the wheels of our emotions?

We pointed out at the very beginning that everybody regards himself
as the wisest, the best, and the most capable of men. Our weaknesses
we acknowledge very reluctantly. A losing chess-player is sure to
say in ninety-nine out of a hundred instances: “I did not play this
game well.” The opponent’s superiority is always denied; defeat is
attributed to a momentary relaxation of the psychic tension, to
carelessness, to some accident, etc. And if an individual is compelled
to admit another’s superiority, he will do so only with reference
to some one point. He will always make reservations leaving himself
some sphere of activity in which he is king. That constitutes a man’s
secret pride: the sphere in which he thinks he excels all others.
This self-consciousness, this exaggerated apperception of the ego is
a natural basis of life, a protective device of the soul which makes
life bearable, which makes it easier to bear our fardels and endure
the pricks of destiny, and which compensates us for the world’s
inadequate recognition of us and for the failure of our efforts which
must inevitably come short of our intentions. “The paranoid delusion
of the normal human being,” as Philip Frey aptly named it, is really
the individual’s “fixed idea” which proves him to be in a certain sense
pathologic and justifies the opinion that the whole world is a great

This exaggerated self-consciousness manifests itself with pathological
intensity especially in these times. The smaller the individual’s
share in the real affairs of the world is, the more must his fantasy
achieve so as to magnify this function and have it appear as something
of vital importance. In those cases in which individuality is crushed,
a hypertrophied delusion of greatness is developed. Everyone thinks
himself important, everyone is indispensable, everyone thinks himself
an important power in the play and interplay of forces. Our era has
created the type of the “self-made man.” Everyone is willing to be
indebted only to himself, his qualifications, his power of endurance,
his energy, his individual efforts for his achievements. “By his own
efforts”--so runs the much-abused phrase,--does each one want to get to
the top.

All want it--but how few really make it come true! Who can know to-day
what is his own and what another’s? Who knows how much he had to take
before he was able to give anything? But no one wants to stop for an
accounting. Each one wants to owe everything to himself.

Something of this is in every one of us. And this brings us to the
deepest root of ingratitude. The feeling of being indebted to another
clashes with our self-confidence; the unpleasant truth contrasts
sharply with the normal’s deep-rooted delusions of greatness. In this
conflict of emotions there is only an either ... or. _Either_ once for
all to renounce this exaggerated self-consciousness, _or_ to forget
the occasion for gratitude, to repress this painful memory, to let the
ulcerous wound on the proud body of the “ego” heal to a scar. (The
exceptions that prove the rule in this matter, too, we shall consider

The first road that assures us eternal gratitude is chosen only by
those who by the “bludgeonings of fate” have been wholly stunned, who
are life-weary,--feel themselves goaded to death,--the wholly crushed.
These unfortunates no longer need the play of their hidden psychic
forces. The need of the body has strangled the cry of the soul. These
are grateful, grateful from conviction, grateful from necessity. Their
dreams are veritable orgies of benefactions. For them the benefactor is
the deliverer from bodily torment. They see “dead souls” whom everyone
who so desires may purchase.

But one who has not for ever renounced the fulfillment of his inmost
longings will rarely be capable of gratitude. His ego resents being
indebted to anyone but himself. But this ego will never permit itself
to face the naked brutal fact of its ingratitude. It seeks for causes
and motives, for justification. In this case the proverb again
proves true: “seek and you shall find,” the kindness is scrutinised
from every side till a little point is found which reveals a bit of
calculating egoism from which the kindness takes on a business aspect.
And what human action does not permit of many interpretations? Our
self-preservation impulse then chooses the interpretation that suits us
best, the interpretation that relieves us of the oppressive feeling of
gratitude. Such is the first step in the transformation of gratitude
into ingratitude. Rarely does the matter rest there. Usually it
requires also a transformation of the emotion into its opposite ere the
galling feeling of gratitude can be eradicated. What execrable wretches
would we not appear even to ourselves if we could not work out reasons
for the changes in our feelings? And so we convert the good deed into a
bad one; if possible, we discover stains and blots in our benefactor’s
present life or pursuits that can blacken the spotlessness of his past.
Not until we have done this are we free from the oppressive feeling of
gratitude. Thus, with no further reason for being grateful left, our
personal pride survives unshaken, the bowed ego again stands proudly

This explanation of the psychology of ingratitude draws the veil from
a series of remarkable phenomena which we pass by in our daily life
without regard or understanding. We shall cite only a few instances
from the many at our disposal: the ingratitude of servants and all
subordinates,--a species of ingratitude that is so obvious that if
an exception occurs the whole world proclaims it as an exception;
the ingratitude of pupils to the teacher to whom they owe all (this
explains the common phenomenon that pupils belittle the scientific
attainments of the teacher,--a phenomenon that may almost be designated
“the pupil’s neurosis”); the deep hatred with which artists regard
those of their predecessors to whom they are most indebted; the tragedy
of the distinguished sons whose fathers paved the way for them; the
great injustice of invalids towards the physicians to whom they owe
their lives; the historic ingratitude of nations to their great leaders
and benefactors; the stubborn ignoring of the living great ones and
the measureless overvaluation of the dead; the perpetual opposition to
whatever administration may be in power, whence is derived a fragment
of the psychology of discontent; the quite frequent transformation of a
friendship into its opposite.

Verily, one who counts upon gratitude is singularly deficient in
knowledge both of human nature and of his own nature. In this
connection, we must consider also the fact that owing to an excessive
overvaluation of the performance of our most obvious duties, we demand
gratitude even when there is no reason for expecting it. I refer to
only one example: Is there not an obvious obligation on parents to
provide to the best of their ability for the child that they have
brought into the world? Notwithstanding this we daily preach to our
children: “You must be grateful to us for all that we do for you, for
your food, your clothes, your education.” And is it not a fact that
this insistence upon the duty of children to be grateful begets the
opposite: ingratitude? Should we not rather strive to hold our children
with only one bond, _love_?

Let us be just and also admit that really grateful human beings are to
be found; persons whom life has not wearied and who lose none of their
dignity though they are grateful. These are the spiritually pre-eminent
individuals who have forced themselves to the recognition of the fact
that no one is an independent unit, that our valuation of ourselves is
false, individuals who have succeeded, by the aid of psychoanalytic
self-knowledge, to reduce the normal person’s delusional greatness to
the moderation warranted by reality.

Such persons are grateful because their valuation of themselves is fed
by other springs. The knowledge of the frailties of humanity in general
compensates them for the failing of the human in the individual.
The greatest number of grateful persons will be found in the ranks
of the geniuses, whereas talented persons are generally addicted to
ingratitude. Genius can easily be grateful inasmuch as the frank
recognition of one’s weaknesses and the secret knowledge of one’s
achievements do not permit the suppression of the greatness of others.
One who has so much to give need not be ashamed to have accepted
something. And more especially as he knows with certainty that in life
everyone must accept....

Truly great men are notably modest. Modesty is the knowledge of one’s
own shortcomings. Vanity, the overvaluation of one’s endowments.
Gratitude is the modesty of the great; ingratitude the vanity of the
small. Only those are grateful who really have no occasion for being
so. A genuine benefactor finds his thanks in good works. In dealing
with this theme one must think of Vischer’s verses:--

          “If poison and gall make the world bitter,
          And your heart you would preserve;
          Do deeds of kindness! and you will learn
          That doing good rejoices.”


The average human being finds it helpful to free himself from his
impressions by “pouring out his heart” to someone. Like a sponge, the
soul saturates itself; like a sponge, it must be squeezed dry before
it can fill itself up again. But now and then it happens that the
soul cannot rid itself of its impressions. Such persons, we say, are
soul-sick and we recognise those who suffer from soul-sickness by the
fact that they sedulously shun new impressions. Every disease of the
soul rests ultimately upon a secret.

Children exhibit in clear and unmistakable ways the reactions of their
elders. In the presence of a secret they behave exactly as the normal
person ought to behave. They cannot keep it to themselves. I recall
very distinctly that as a child I was unable to sit a quarter of an
hour without speaking. Repeatedly my parents promised me large rewards
if I would sit a quarter of an hour without asking them a question or
making some remark. The promised reward was increased from day to day
because I never was quiet for more than half of the allotted period.
But the obligation to keep a “secret” was even more discomforting to
me. On one occasion my brother was to be given a silver watch for
his birthday. For three days I went about oppressed and restive as
if something was seriously amiss. I prowled around him, watching him
intently with suppressed excitement, so that he finally noticed my
strange behaviour and demanded to know what I wanted. On the day before
his birthday I could contain myself no longer and while we were at
dinner I burst out with, “Oh, you don’t know that you are going to get
a silver watch to-morrow!”

All children are, doubtless, like that. A secret is to them an
unbearable burden. When the time comes that they must keep some matters
secret from their parents because an inexplicable shyness makes them
ashamed to talk everything over with them freely, they change their
attitude towards their parents and seek out a companion of their own
age, some friend with whom they can discuss their secret.

Adults are really as little capable of going about with a secret as
children are. It tortures and oppresses them like a heavy burden; and
they are happy to rid themselves of it one way or another. If they
cannot speak of it openly and frankly then they do so in some hidden,
secret, or symbolic way. I could cite numerous illustrations of this
but shall content myself with only one. A woman who had committed the
unpardonable sin became troubled with a remarkable compulsive action.
She was continually washing her hands. Why? Because she was dominated
by the feeling that she was dirty, that she had become unclean. She
could not tell any one in the world what she had done; she would have
loved to say to her husband and to the whole household: “Do not
touch me! I am impure, unclean, an outcast!” She had found a means
of making this confession, but she did so in a form which only the
expert can understand. At every appropriate and inappropriate occasion
she washed her hands. If she was asked why she washed her hands she
answered, “Because they are not clean.” Such symbolic actions are
extremely common and constitute a kind of “speech without words” (to
use Kleinpaul’s apt words). But a symbolic action is nothing but a
substitution, a compromise between antagonistic psychic currents. It
bears, however, no comparison with the freeing effect of pouring one’s
heart out in words to a person, a confidant one can trust.

We know from the statements of convicts that nothing is so hard to bear
in prison as the impossibility of “getting things off their chest.”
And why is it that when touring foreign countries we so readily make
friends with our townspeople whom we happen to meet, though at home we
are quite indifferent to them? Because they furnish the opportunity for
a good talk, because to a certain extent they become receptacles into
which we may empty our soul’s accumulations. The profound yearning that
we all harbour for friendship, for a sympathetic soul, emanates from
the imperative need for pouring our hearts out. By means of a good
talk of this sort, we “abreact,” or throw off a part of our pent-up
excitement. Children are much more fortunate than we in this regard.
How easily they find a friend! The first-best playfellow becomes a
friend and confidant within half an hour. But for us grown-ups the
matter is much more difficult. Before we can take any one into our
confidence, take him to our bosom, he must satisfy certain social and
ethical requirements. But in reality we disclose only the surface and
retain our most oppressive secrets deep down at the bottom of the soul
unless a sudden storm of passion overcomes us; then the sluice-gates
burst open and the dammed up waters pour out in turgid torrents,
carrying everything before them.

The tremendous power of the Roman Catholic Church is even to-day due
to the fact that it enables its members to confess their most secret
sufferings from time to time and to be absolved. Dr. Muthmann calls
attention to the fact that suicides are most frequent in Protestant
countries, and least frequent among Roman-Catholic peoples, and
he thinks that this is to be attributed to the influence of the
confessional, one of the greatest blessings for numberless people.

The psycho-analytic method of treating nervous diseases has not only
made the incalculable benefit of confession its own but has united
with it the individual’s spiritual education inasmuch as it teaches
him how to know himself and to turn his eyes into the darkest depths
of his soul. But there is also a kind of speaking out that is almost
equivalent to confession--self-communion. That is, one’s communings
with oneself. For, as Grillparzer says, every heart has its secrets
that it anxiously hides even from itself. Not all of us know how to
detect such secrets. The poet has this gift. As Ibsen beautifully says:
“To live is to master the dark forces within us; to write is to sit in
judgment on ourselves.” But only a poet is able to sit in judgment on
his own soul. Not every person has the capacity for self-communion.
Most of the diseases of the soul depend upon the peculiar mechanism
that Freud has called “repression.” This “repression” is a
semi-forgetting of displeasing impressions and ideas. But only a
half-forgetting. For a part of the repressed idea establishes itself in
some disguised form as a symptom or as some form of nervous disease.
In these cases the psychotherapeutist must apply his art and teach the
invalid to know himself.

Goethe knew the value of confession. He reports that he once cured
a Lady Herder by confession. On September 25th, 1811, he wrote to
Mrs. Stein: “Last night I wrought a truly remarkable miracle. Lady
Herder was still in a hypochondriacal mood in consequence of the
unpleasantnesses she had experienced in Carlsbad, especially at the
hands of her family. I had her confess and tell me everything, her
own shortcomings as well as that of the others, in all their minutest
details and consequences, and at last I absolved her and jestingly
made her understand that by this ritual these things had now been
disposed of and cast into the deeps of the sea. Thereupon she became
merry and is really cured.” Here we have the basic principles of modern
psychotherapy. Unconsciously, by virtue of the hidden power of his
genius, the poet accomplished what modern therapeutists also attempt.

Nietzsche, too, fully understood the value of confession. We are
accustomed at once to associate with Nietzsche the concept of the
Antichrist. That he has accurately conceived the essence of the true
priest he shows in his description of the priestly temper in his book,
“The Joyful Wisdom.” He says, “the people honour a wholly different
kind of man, ... They are the mild, earnest, simple, and modest
priestly natures ... before whom one may pour out one’s heart with
impunity, upon whom one may unload one’s secrets, one’s worries, and
what’s even worse.” (The man who shares himself with another frees
himself from himself; and one who has acknowledged, forgets.)

It would be impossible to state the value of confession more
beautifully and more clearly. It will not be long ere this view which
knocks commandingly at the door of science and which has already been
productive of good will be generally accepted. It will not be long ere
it will furnish us a deep insight into the genesis of the “endogenetic
mental diseases,” excepting, of course, those “exogenetic” maladies
that follow some of the infectious diseases. We shall look upon the
“endogenetic” diseases, even delusions, as a disturbance of the psychic
circulation, and it will be our task to ascertain the causes that bring
these maladies about.

There are numbers of substitutes which are equivalent to a kind of
confessing to oneself. These are art, reading of newspapers, music,
literature, and, least but not last, the theatre. The ultimate effect
of a dramatic presentation depends, in reality, upon the liberation
in us of affects that have been a long time pent up within us. It is
not without good reason that humanity throngs to witness tragic plays
during the performance of which it can cry to its heart’s content. When
the spectators are apparently shedding tears over the unhappy fate of a
character on the stage they are really crying over their own pain. And
the woman who laughs so heartily at the awkward clumsiness of a clown,
that the tears run down her cheeks, is perhaps laughing at her husband,
who, though she will not acknowledge it, appears to her just as stupid
and clumsy; she is thereby excusing to herself her own sins which she
has possibly committed only in fantasy. The theatre serves as a kind
of confessional; it liberates inhibitions; awakens many memories,
consoles, and perhaps renews in us hopes of secret possibilities as to
whose fulfillment we have long since despaired.

We have become accustomed of late to suspect sex-motives behind
friendship. Even if we accept the theory that these motives are
present, but hidden in the unconscious, it is a far from adequate
explanation for the longing for friendship. The unconscious sex-motive
unquestionably co-operates in a significant measure in the choice of
a friend. It may be the determining factor in what we call sympathy
and antipathy, although it would have to be proved with regard to the
latter, and the theme is deserving of separate consideration, for it is
quite possible that our antipathies are only reactions to an excessive
attraction and therefore are evidence of repression. Looked at from
this point of view, sympathy and antipathy are one feeling, one affect,
having in the former case a positive sign and in the latter a negative
sign. This secret tendency may be the deciding factor in the choice of
a friend. But the need for a friend surely is in direct relation to the
need for confession.

It is customary to ridicule the Germans’ passion for forming clubs, and
societies of all kinds. But do these founders of fraternal associations
seek for anything but an opportunity to fraternise, to have a good
talk, something from which they are barred at home? The innumerable
speeches that are delivered during the course of a year, and which
are being poured out every second in an endless stream in some house
at some meeting are apparently being spoken only for the benefit of
the auditors. But every speech is a kind of relief to the speaker’s
“I,” and people who have the craving to speak before the whole world
are very often the keepers of a great secret which they must conceal
from the world and which they are imparting in this indirect way in
homœopathic doses. Just as a dye that is dissolved in a large quantity
of fluid is so completely lost that the naked eye can detect no trace
of it, so do occasional particles of the great secret which must
forever remain hidden find their way into the elocutionary torrent.


There are commonplace maxims which people go on repeating
thoughtlessly, and in the light of which they determine their conduct
without once stopping to consider whether the assumed truth, looked
at in the light of reason, may not turn out to be a lie. We know,
of course, that there are many “truths” which may under certain
circumstances prove to be falsehoods. Everything is in a state of flux!
Truth and falsehood are wave crests and wave troughs, an endless stream
driving the mills of humanity.

Such notorious maxims as the following are trumpeted into our ears
from the days of our youth: “Work makes life sweet”; “Satan finds
some mischief still for idle hands to do”; “the life of man is
three-score-and-ten, and if it has been a happy one it is due to work
and striving.” These truisms are beaten into us, drummed into us, and
hammered into us from all sides; we hear them wherever we go, till
finally we accept them, completely convinced.

And it is well that it is so. What would the world look like if
everybody pressed his claim to laziness? Think of the hideous chaos
that would ensue if the wheels of industry came to a stop!

The admonition to work has its origin in humanity’s instinct of
self-preservation. It does not spring from one’s own needs but only
from the needs of others. Apparently we all work for ourselves, but in
reality we are always working for others. How very small is the number
of those who do their work gladly and cheerfully! How very many give
vent to their aversion to work by means of apparent dissatisfaction
with their calling! And where can we find a man nowadays who is
contented with his calling?

Let us begin our study of man with that period of his life in which
he was not ashamed to show his impulses to the light of day, in
which repression and education had not yet exerted their restraining
influences,--in other words, let us begin with the observation of
childhood. With astonishment we note, first, that the child’s impulse
to idleness is stronger than the impulse to work. Play is for a long
time the child’s idleness as well as its work. A gymnast who proudly
swings the heaviest dumb-bells before his colleagues would vent
himself in curses, deep if not loud, if he had to do this as work; the
heavy-laden tourist who pants his way up steep mountain paths would
curse his very existence if he had to travel these difficult trails in
the service of mankind in the capacity of--let us say--letter-carrier;
the card player who works in the sweat of his brow for hours in the
stuffy café to make his thousand or ten thousand points would complain
bitterly at his hard lot and at the cruelty of his employers if he had
to do an equivalent amount of work in the office. Anything that does
not bear the stamp of work becomes in the play-form recreation and a
release from almost unbearable tyranny.

The child’s world is play. Unwillingly and only on compulsion does it
perform imposed tasks. (It would have even its education made a kind of
play.) Many parents worry about this and complain that their children
take no pleasure in work, seem to have no sense of duty, forget to do
their school work, and have to be forced to do their exercises. Stupid
parents! If they only stopped to think they would realise that this
frank display of an impulse to laziness is a sign of their children’s
sanity. For we often enough observe the opposite phenomenon. Children
who take their duties too seriously, who wake too early in the morning
lest they should be late for school, who are always poring over their
books, scorning every opportunity to play, are usually “nervous”
children. Exaggerated diligence is one of the first symptoms of

One who can look back upon his own childhood must admit that the
impulse to indolence is stronger than any other childhood impulse.
I recall how unwillingly I went to high-school. Once I read in a
newspaper that a high-school had burned to the ground and that the
pupils would not be able to go to school for several weeks. For days I
and my friends were disappointed as we looked at our own grey school
building that stood there safe and sound. Had it not burned down yet?!
Were we not to have any luck at all?!

Who is not acquainted with the little sadistic traits that almost all
children openly manifest? Such a sadistic motive was our secret hope
that this or that teacher would get sick and we would be excused from
attendance at school. What a joy once possessed the whole class when
we discovered that the Latin teacher was sick just on the day when we
should have had to recite in his subject! That was a grand prize!

And how the child detests always being driven to work! Always the same
disagreeable questions: “Have you no lessons to do to-day?” “Have you
done all your lessons?” The profoundest wish of all who do not yet have
to provide for themselves is once to get a chance to be as lazy as
their hearts might desire.

But we adults, too, who know the pleasure of work and of fulfilled
obligations, long for idleness. For us, too, the vice of laziness is an
exquisite pleasure. We find it necessary continually to overcome the
tendency to laziness by new little resolutions. In the morning laziness
whispers; stay a little longer in your warm bed; it’s so comfortable.
Another few seconds and the sense of duty prevails over the desire for
idleness. In the afternoon we would love to spend an hour in pleasant
day-dreams. Work conquers this wish too. And with what difficulty
we get out of the performance of some task in the evening! It is an
everlasting conflict even though it is in most cases a subconscious
conflict with the sweet seducer of mankind: laziness.

That is why the lawgivers have ordained days on which the urge for
laziness may be gratified. These are called holidays. Religion has made
of this right to laziness a duty to God. The more holidays a religion
has, the more welcome must it appear to labouring humanity. That is
why the various religious systems so readily take over one another’s
holidays. The Catholic Church appropriated ancient heathenish feasts,
and Jews bow to the Sunday’s authority just as the Christian does.

Persons who suppress the inclination to laziness get sick. Their nerves
fail soon and their capacity for work suffers serious diminution. And
then we say that they had overworked. Not at all infrequently illness
is only a refuge in idleness, a defence against a hypertrophied impulse
to work. This is frequently observable in persons afflicted with
nervousness. They are unfit for work, waste themselves away in endless
gloomy broodings, in bitter self-reproaches, and in hypochondriacal
fears. They do not tire of repeatedly protesting how happy they would
be if they could get back to work again. But if their unconscious
mental life is analyzed one discovers with astonishment that the
greatest resistance to a cure is offered by their laziness, the fear
of work. This is one of the greatest dangers for the nervous patient.
If a neurotic has once tasted of the sweets of laziness it is a very
difficult matter to get him to work again. All the varieties of fatigue
“cramps” known to neurologists, _e.g._, writer’s cramp, pianist’s
cramp, violinist’s cramp, typewriter’s cramp, etc., are rebellions on
the part of the tendency to laziness. A return to work is possible only
if, in the absence of an actual organic malady, the psychic element we
have called “refuge in disease” (q.v.) is taken into consideration and
given due weight.

This reluctance to work is most frequently noticeable in the puzzling
“traumatic neuroses,” the so-called “accident or compulsion hysterias”
in which the so-called “hunger for damages” plays the most important
role. Since labourers have acquired the right to recover damages for
accidental injuries, the number of traumatic neuroses has increased so
tremendously that insurance companies can scarcely meet the claims.
This is also true of the neuroses following railway and street car
accidents. Only seldom can objective injuries be demonstrated in these
cases. But notwithstanding this, the injured person becomes depressed,
moody, sleepless, and utterly unfit for any work. Yet it would be
very unjust to consider them simulators. They are really sick. Their
psychic make-up has suffered a bad shaking-up. The pleasure in work
has suffered a rude shock because of the unconscious prospect of
pecuniary “damages,” _i.e._ of an opportunity for laziness. Repressed
desires from childhood are re-animated. Why should you work, says the
alluring voice of the unconscious, when you can lounge about and live
on an income? Don’t be a fool! Get sick like the others who loll about
idly and need not work! And consciousness, in its weakness, takes no
note of the conflict in the unconscious, is frightened by the unknown
restlessness and sleeplessness and gets sick.... It is an obstinate
conflict between laziness and industry from which only too often the
former emerges triumphant....

Finally, the need for laziness becomes overpowering in all of us from
time to time. We long for a vacation. We want to recuperate from
work. Well, there are a few sensible people. These go off into a
corner somewhere and are as lazy as they can be. They lie in the grass
and gaze at the heavens for hours; or they go fishing in some clear
stream,--one of the best ways of wasting time; they sit in a rowboat,
letting someone else do the rowing or just keeping the boat in motion
with an occasional stroke. In this way day after day is spent in _dolce
far niente_ until one wearies of laziness and an intense longing for
work fills one’s whole being. Variety is the spice of life. Without
idleness work loses its charm and value.

Others employ their vacation for new work. These are the eternally
restless, industrious, indefatigable ones for whom idleness does not
exist. The impulse to laziness which was once so strong, is suppressed
and converted into its opposite. These are usually persons who had
their fill of laziness in childhood and who thoroughly enjoyed their
youth. (We may refer briefly to a few well-known instances of this:
there was Charles Darwin who began to work only after he left college;
Bismarck, whose student days were a period of riot and idleness; John
Hunter was another striking example.)

These continue with their work even while they are on their vacation.
They make work even of their visits to art galleries, museums,
show-places, and of their breathless flying trips hither and thither.
This is really not the kind of idleness that means a relaxation of
tension. It’s only a variation in the kind of impressions. A sea-voyage
would be a compromise between the two antagonistic tendencies. That is
why Englishmen prefer a sea-voyage to other forms of rest. On board
ship a person must be lazy. He sits on deck and stares at the waves.
The vastness of the sea stands between him and his work. He must be
idle. Impressions fly by him; he does not have to go in search of them.

The right to laziness is one of the rights that sensible humanity will
learn to consider as something self-evident. For the time being we
are still in conflict with ourselves. We shun the truth. We look upon
laziness as something degrading. We still stand in too much awe of
ourselves to be able to find the right measure. Our mothers’ voices
still ring in our ears: “Have you done your lessons?”


I am at the Circus with my children. They are laughing and clapping
their hands in glee. They are delighted with the grotesque antics of
the stupid clown. In vain I try to kindle my own enthusiasm at theirs
as a means of banishing the unpleasant feeling of being bored. The
peculiar odour of a menagerie pervades the great building and brings
back to me, by way of the obscure paths that connect our thoughts,
memories of days long since dead. I am myself a child again, my cheeks
hot and flushed, sitting in the topmost gallery at the Circus, as
excited as if I were beholding the greatest of all earthly wonders.

It is just when one of the star attractions is being given. A skilled
athlete is vaulting over very great obstacles. He leaps over ten men
in a row, five horses, a little garden. His faultless dress-suit shows
scarcely a wrinkle after this feat. This too must be counted among
the advances made by modern art. In my boyhood days athletes still
wore a gay uniform and “worked” in costume. To-day every juggler and
prestidigitator is a pattern of a drawing-room gentleman. Some may be
making a virtue of necessity and gladly escape the exhibiting of their
none too handsome bodies.

These reflections are suddenly interrupted by a blare of noisy music.
Everybody is excited, for this seems to indicate that the athlete’s
most wonderful trick is coming. True; something out of the ordinary is
happening. Through a wide gate an old-fashioned comfortable, drawn by
a weary nag, is brought into the arena and our valiant athlete leaps
over horse and rider amidst the thunderous applause of the enthusiastic
youngsters and of those of their elders who have remained children in

The easy-going driver turns his vehicle towards the exit. Again the
portals open wide. Bands of bright daylight pour into the half-darkened
amphitheatre. In the glare one catches sight, for a moment, of a little
section of the life that swarms round about the fringe of the Circus.
There is the soda-water vendor with his gay-coloured cart, a labourer,
a few servant girls, and some twenty little children staring with big
eyes eagerly into the darkness of the arena in the hope of catching a
glimpse of all this magnificence.

I shall never forget the sight. Those children’s eyes, opened so
tremendously wide, longing to catch a bit of happiness! How they envy
the fortunate ones sitting in here and beholding real fairy-tale

I lapse into a day-dream again. I too am one of those little ones
standing out there; I count the richly-caparisoned horses that
are being led in; for the twentieth time I read the large placard
announcing an “élite performance”; I am so happy as the beautiful
equestrienne passes right by me; the muffled sounds of the music
penetrate to my ears; I hear the animated applause and the bravos. One
thought possesses me: I must get in! Cost what it may, I must go in!

Oh, I could have committed a theft to enable myself to get in there
and share in the applause! And I thought to myself, if I am ever a
rich man I shall go to the Circus every day. How excitedly I go home
then, talking about all the wonderful things I have seen, and how in my
dreams all my wishes are realized--all these things take on a tangible
shape before my mind’s eye.

I note that it was the most beautiful period of my life, the time when
I used to stand outside. In those days I still had a sense of the
wonderful. There was a touch of secret magic about everything. Even
dead things had a message for me. Before me was an endless wealth of
possibilities; and there stretched before me kingdoms of the future
over which my childish wishes flew like migratory birds.

Verily--happiness is only anticipating possibilities, denying
impossibilities. Life is filled up with dreams of the future. What
we know seems trivial when measured by the knowledge we would like
to acquire. Possession kills desire; realization slays fantasy and
transforms the wonderful into the commonplace.

All the beauty of this world lies only in the fantasies which reality
can never approximate. The marvels of the present are seen only by
those who stand outside.

Every time that one of the portals that had been locked from our
youthful eyes opened, every time longing became fulfilment, we became
one pleasure poorer and one disappointment richer. Only with the aid of
the stilts supplied us by philosophy can we rise above the depressing
disillusionment of experience. Or, in playing our part in the great
drama of life, we cling to the one role we have studied and keep on
repeating it to ourselves until we, too, almost believe it. Then we
succeed again in seizing a fringe of the magnificent purple mantle with
which we aspired to adorn our life.

Those outside see everything on a much larger scale, finer, and
grander. That is why we envy others their possessions, their
realities, their calling. Because we project the inevitable
disappointments of life upon the thing that is readiest at hand--and
that is unquestionably our vocation. Our wishes circle around others’

Involuntarily an experience from my youth occurs to me. I had for
the first time in my life made the acquaintance of a poet. He was a
well-known lyrist of that day and his delightful verses had charmed
me for years. He did not in any way come up to the ideal that I had
conceived of what a poet ought to be. The edges of his eyelids were
red, his face was commonplace, and he had a large paunch. The manner in
which he drank his coffee disgusted me. A little coffee dripped down on
his dirty grey beard and with the movements of his big upper jaw some
cake crumbs danced up and down on his moustache.

And that was the poet who wrote those passionate little lyrics!
Overcoming my disappointment, I entered into conversation with him and
let him perceive something of my admiration. He was to be envied for
possessing the gift of transforming his moods and experiences into
works of art!

To my astonishment the poet began to describe with palpable resentment
the shortcomings of his calling. If he had only become an honest
craftsman ere he had devoted himself to writing! He was sick of the
hard struggle. To be ever at loggerheads with the public, the critics,
the publishers, and editors--those were the compensations of his
calling. He envied me for being a physician. That’s a great, a noble,
an ideal calling. A physician can do something for humanity! If he
were not too old he would at once take up the study of medicine. To
mitigate the pains of an invalid is worth more than writing a hundred
good lyrics!

In those days I was not a little proud of the profession I had chosen.
The poet was only saying openly what I thought in secret. “The
physician is mankind’s minister.” How often later on have I heard these
and similar words which were calculated to add fuel to the flame of

Ye gods! In real life how sad is the physician’s lot! Those outside
cannot conceive it. The first thing to realize is the rarity of the
instances in which the physician really snatches the victim from the
clutches of Death; how rarely he eliminates suffering; how frequently,
discouraged and bewildered, he fails to halt the ravages of disease.
How his idealism makes him suffer! He is painfully aware that the
craftsman comes nearer to his ideals than the artist. He becomes
familiar with man’s limitless ingratitude and realizes that unless he
is to go into bankruptcy he must adopt the “practical” methods of the
business man. He is the slave of his patients, has no holidays, not
a free minute in which he is not reminded of his dependance. He sees
former colleagues and friends who have accumulated fortunes in business
or in the practice of the law, whereas he has to worry about his future
and, with but few exceptions, live from hand to mouth. But he must
continue to play the role of the “idealistic benefactor” unless he is
to lose the esteem of those who--stand outside.

Not long ago I read a fascinating description of a “sanatorium.” How
within its walls fear blanches the cheeks of the inmates, how Death
lurks behind the doors, how even the physicians avoid speaking above
a whisper and glide with solemn and noiseless steps through the house
of pain! Very pretty and sentimental; but utterly false,--as false
as the observations of a littérateur who stands outside can make it.
From within the thing looks quite different! While the surgeon is
scrubbing and sterilising his hands someone is telling the latest
joke, the assistants converse lightly and merrily, not at all as if a
matter of life and death were going to be decided in a few minutes.
And it is well for the patient that it is so. The surgeon and the
assistants need their poise; they must not be moved by timidity, fear,
or sympathy--emotions which cloud the judgment. Where one needs all
one’s senses, there the heart must be silent. The public feels this
instinctively. I have found that those physicians who practised their
profession in a plain matter of fact way, as a business, were the
most popular and the busiest. And, on the other hand, I know learned
physicians who are all soul, whom everybody praises, esteems, heeds,
but whom no one calls. The more highly the physician values his
services, from a material point of view, the more highly he is regarded
as an idealist, and vice versa.

That is how the idealism of the medical profession looks in real
life. For many physicians their ideals are superfluous ballast. It
often takes years before they find the golden mean between theory and
practice, between ethics and hard facts.

And how is it with other vocations? In every case in which it is
possible to look behind the curtains it will appear that the envious
natures of those who stand outside magnify the advantages and overlook
the unpleasant aspects.

All life is a continual game between hope and fulfilment, between
expectation and disappointment. And therein lies our good fortune--that
we can still be deceived. Were we in possession of all truth and all
knowledge, life would lose its value and its charm. Only because, in
a certain sense, we all stand outside, because the fullness of life
and “the thing itself” will continue to be a riddle, are we capable of
continuing on our journey and approaching erectly the valley of death
in which the shades dwell.

“Father, the show is over!” A child’s sweet voice wakes me from my
revery. Outside I again look at the children still standing there and
staring with large, hungry eyes into the Circus....


Who can say when the first wish opens its pious eyes in the child’s
soul? The child probably sleeps away the first few weeks of its
existence without a single wish, all its behaviour being probably only
manifestations of its inherited instincts. Suddenly the first wish
awakens and the humanization of the little animal has begun. And with
it begins the wild succession of desires, mounting ever higher and
higher and finally aspiring even to the stars. How few of the things
we have been dreaming of does life fulfil! Wish after wish, stripped
of its purple mantle, sinks to the ground in a state of “looped and
windowed raggedness,” till the last wish of all--the longing for peace,
eternal peace--puts an end to the play.

Our childhood wishes determine our destiny. They die only with our
bodies. They go whirling through our dreams, are the masters of our
unconscious emotions, and determine the resonance of the most delicate
oscillations of our souls. It certainly seems worth while taking a
closer look at these wishes. Unfortunately we are deprived of the best
source of such knowledge: the observation of ourselves. For we forget
so easily, and our earliest desires lie far behind us, hidden in thick
mist. Only the dream pierces the thick veil and brings us greetings
from a long forgotten era.

From the study of our children we can learn of only one kind of desire.
A desire that can be easily observed, that the child betrays most
easily in the games it plays.

“And what are you going to be?” That is the question one most often
puts to children and which they very seldom allow to go unanswered.

Right here we must draw a distinction between boys and girls. The
girl’s first wish almost invariably betrays the influence of the sexual
instinct. All little girls want to be “mothers”; some would be content
with being “nurses.” The phylogenetic law of the biologist applies
also to desires. The desires of individual human beings reproduce the
evolution of mankind in this regard. Just as, according to recent
researches (Ament), the first speech attempts of children depict the
primitive speech of man, so the first wishes of human beings depict the
primitive wishes of humanity. Children’s wishes may therefore be said
to be the childhood wishes of humanity and to manifest unmistakeably
the primitive instincts of the sexes.

The little girls want to become “mothers.” They play with dolls,
rocking, fondling, and petting them as if they were children. In this
way they betray their most elemental qualification. My little daughter
once said: “Mother! I want to be a mother, too, some day and have
babies.” “I would be so unhappy if I could not have any babies!” Being
asked whether she would not like to be a doctor, she replied: “Yes! I
would love to be a doctor[1]! But only like mamma.” That is, only the
wife of a doctor.

[1] To understand what follows, the English reader should know that
the German word for a female physician (“Doktorin”) is also the title
whereby a physician’s wife is addressed.

In marked contrast with this is the fact that boys never wish to be
fathers. That is: their fathers are often enough their ideals and they
would like to be like them, to follow the same profession or vocation.
But it’s only a matter of vocation, not of family. I have never yet
heard a boy express a wish for children. There is no doubt however,
that there are boys who like to play with dolls and whose whole being
has something of the feminine about it. They have feminine instincts.
They love to cook and prefer to play with little girls. In the same way
one also encounters girls who are described as “tomboys.” These girls
are wild, unruly, disobedient, boisterous, and like to play at soldiers
and robbers. One cannot go wrong in concluding that a strong, perhaps
even an excessive homosexual element enters into their psychic make-up.
At any rate the biographies of homosexuals invariably make mention of
these remarkable infantile traits. They are boys with female souls
and girls with a masculine soul. Such boys may even manifest various
disguised indications of the instinct for race preservation.

The first stage of girlish wishes does not last long. Usually the
process of repression begins rather early. The little girls notice
that their desires are a source of mirth to their elders, and that
their remarks evoke a kind of amused though embarrassed smirking in the
people about them. So they begin to conceal and to repress the nature
of their desires and to disclose only what is perfectly innocent. And
they tell us they want to become “maids of all work,” housewives.
That does not sound as bad as wanting to be “mother.” One can be a
housewife without having children. As such they go marketing, manage
the home, cook, order the servants about, etc. Then they are attracted
by the splendours of being a cook. A cook is the goddess of sweets
and delicacies and can cook anything she likes. On the same egoistic
principle they then want to be store-keepers, proprietresses of candy
stores, pastry shops, and ice cream parlours. As such they would have
at their sole disposal all the sweets and delicious things a child’s
palate craves for. To possess a store in which one can sell these
wonderful delicatessens and weigh them out to customers is one of the
most ardent wishes of little girls.

Of course as soon as they go to school a new ideal begins to take
possession of the childish soul. Up there in her tribunal sits the
teacher, omniscient and omnipotent, invested with such authority that
the parental authority pales into insignificance in comparison with it.
Parental authority extends only to their children. But the teacher’s!
She has command over so many children! With sovereign munificence she
distributes her gracious favours. She designates one child to act as
“monitor” (oh, what exalted pre-eminence!); another may carry her
books home; the third is permitted to restore the stuffed owl into the
teacher’s cabinet, or to clean the blackboard; the fourth has the rare
privilege of being sent out to purchase the teacher’s ham sandwich! And
then there are the various punishments the teacher can inflict upon the
children entrusted to her. Oh, it’s just grand to be a teacher!

But, above all, the desire is to rule over many. Have I omitted to
mention the “princess”? Incredible! Only few children are so naive
as to betray this wish. But all would love to become “queens,”--ay,
with all their hearts. The fairy tales are full of them. How the proud
prince came and helped the poor girl mount his steed, saying: “Now
you’ll sit by me and be my Queen!” Innumerable Cinderellas in the north
and in the south, in the east and in the west, sit at their compulsory
tasks and dream of the prince who is to free them.

All have one secret dread: To be lost in the vast multitude. They want
to accomplish something, want to stand out over the others. Vanity
causes more suffering than ambition. Soon, too soon, they learn that,
these sober days princes do not go roaming about promiscuously as in
the golden days of fairydom. But hope finds a way and soars on the
wings of fantasy into the realm of the possible and yet wonderful.
Are there not queens in the world of arts? Do they not rule like real
queens their willingly humble subjects? Haven’t they everything that
a queen has: Gold, fame, honour, recognition, admiration, envy? Almost
every girl goes through this stage. She wants to become a great artist.
A prima donna such as the world has never yet known; a danseuse, who
shall have the tumultuous applause of houses filled to the last seat;
a celebrated actress whose finger-tips princes shall be permitted to
kiss; a violinist whose bow shall sway the hearts of men more than the
golden sceptre of a queen ever could.

This dream runs through the souls of all girls. It yearly furnishes
the art dragon with thousands and thousands of victims. The happy
parents believe it is the voice of talent crying imperatively to be
heard. In reality it is only the beginning of a harassing struggle
to get into the lime-light, a struggle that all women wage with in
exhaustible patience as long as they live. And thus numberless amateur
female dilettanti vainly contend for the laurel because they are so
presumptuous as to try to transform a childish dream into a waking

It is even more interesting to make a survey of what girls just past
puberty do not wish to become. Not one wants to marry. (Reasons can
always be found.) Not one wants to be an ordinary merchant’s wife. And
life then takes delight in bringing that to pass which seemingly they
did not wish....

In boys the matter is more complicated. The sex-urge is not manifested
so clearly in them as in girls. It requires great skill in the
understanding of human conduct to discover in the games that boys play
the symbolic connection with the natural impulses. It is remarkable
that boys’ earliest ideals are employments that are in some way or
other related to locomotion. All little boys first want to be drivers,
conductors, chauffeurs, and the like. Motion seems to fascinate the boy
and to give him more pleasure than anything else. A ride in a street
car or a bus which seems to us elders so obviously wearisome is such
a wonderful thing for a child. Just look at the solemn faces of the
little boys as they sit astride the brave wooden steed in the carousal!
“Sonny, don’t you like it? Why aren’t you laughing?” exclaims the
astonished mother.

A child is still at that stage of development when motion seems
something wonderful. Is it possible that in this a secret (unconscious)
sex-motive, such as is often felt by one when being rocked or swung
in a swinging boat, does not play a part? Many adults admit this
well-known effect of riding. This is in all probability one of the
most potent and most hidden roots of the passion for travelling. Freud
very frankly asserts in his “Contributions to a sexual theory” that
rhythmical motion gives rise to pleasurable sensations in children.
“The jolting in a travelling wagon and subsequently in a railway train
has such a fascination for older children that all children, at least
all boys, sometimes in their life want to be conductors and drivers.
They show a curious interest in everything connected with trains and
make these the nucleus of an exquisite system of sexual symbolism.”

Be this as it may. The fact is that all the little ones want to become
drivers of some vehicle, that they can play driver, rider, chauffeur,
car, train, etc., for hours at a time, that in the first years of
their lives their fantasies are fixed only on objects possessing the
power of motion, beginning with the baby-carriage and ending with the

This stage lasts a variable period in different children. In some
cases up to puberty and some even beyond this. I know boys who have
almost attained to manhood who are still inordinately interested in
automobiles and railways. In these cases we are dealing with a fixation
of an infantile wish which will exercise a decisive influence on the
individual’s whole life. In most cases the first ideal loses its
glamour before the magic of a uniform. The first uniform that a child
sees daily is that of the “letter-carrier.” In his favour, too, is
the fact that he is always on the go, going from house to house. The
“policeman” too, promenading up and down in his uniform, engages the
child’s fantasy. So too the dashing “fireman.” Needless to say all
these are very soon displaced and wholly forgotten in favour of the

The love to be a soldier has its origin in many sources. Almost all
boys pass through a period when they want to be soldiers. The wish to
be a soldier is a compromise for various suppressed wishes. A soldier
has been known to become a general and even a king. That fact is
narrated in fairy tales, chronicled in sagas and recorded in history.
One can manifest one’s patriotism. Then there is the beautiful coloured
uniform that the girls so love--and one is always going somewhere. For
one is never just an ordinary soldier but a bold, dashing trooper,
and--this above all!--one has a big powerful sword. Under the influence
of these childish desires children plead to go to the military schools
and the parents give their consent in the belief that it is the
children’s natural bent that speaks. Why, I tried to take this step
when I was fifteen years old but--heaven be praised for it--was found
physically unfit. My more fortunate friends who were accepted have for
the most part subsequently discovered that they had erred in their

The same thing happens with respect to the other wishes of children,
whether they become engineers, teachers, physicians, or ministers. The
voice of the heart is deceptive and rarely betrays the individual’s
true gift. The biographies of great men may now and then give
indications of talent manifested in childhood. But the contrary is also
easily to be found. Very often hidden desires are concealed or masked
behind one’s choice of a calling. I know a man who became a physician
because he longed to go far away, to go to the metropolis. In youth he
had to be driven to practice his music--and yet music was his great
talent and he should have become a musician.

What our children want to become ... seldom denotes that they have a
natural aptitude for a particular calling. They are to be regarded
only as distorted symbols behind which the almost utterly insoluble
puzzles of the childhood soul are concealed. When we are mature enough
to know what we really want to become it is usually too late. Then we
are children no longer. But then we would love to be children again and
shed a furtive tear for the beautiful childhood that’s dead.... If we
could be children again we’d know what we would like to be. No illusory
wish would then tempt us from the right path, luring us like a will o’
the wisp into the morass of destruction.

And this wish too is fulfilled. We become children again if we live
long enough. But then, alas! our wishes have ceased to bloom. Over the
stubble-field of withered hopes we totter to our inevitable destiny.
Everything seems futile, for all paths lead to one goal. Then we know
what children would like to become, what they must become.


A pale, dark-complexioned young man, elegantly attired, sits before
me. His hair is neatly parted on the side and boldly thrown back over
his forehead; he is clearly half snob and half artist; in short, one
of that remarkable type of young man that is so common in a modern
metropolis. His complaints are the customary complaints of the
modern neurotic. He is tired and weak, incapable of prolonged mental
application. He is a clerk in an office, and has already lost one
position because of his inability to use his brains any longer. With
some difficulty his father had secured a position for him in a bank
where a bright future seems to await him but where a dull present
bears him down. All day it’s nothing but figures, figures, figures. He
cannot endure that. His patience is almost exhausted; the figures swim
before his eyes, and he makes more mistakes than is tolerable in an
official of a bank. He begs me for a certificate that will officially
vouch for his unendurable condition and make it possible for him to
resign from his office in an honourable way before he is discharged for

“Yes, and what will you do then? Have you another position in prospect?”

“Certainly,” he replied, with a certain alacrity which was in striking
contrast with his careless melancholy. “I want to make myself
independent. I am not fitted for office work, and I can’t bear to be
bossed around and instructed by every Tom, Dick, or Harry who happens
to have been on the job a few years longer than I.”

“Ah! now I understand your inability to figure. You are living in a
state of permanent psychic conflict. Because you have no desire to work
you cannot work. But what kind of business do you wish to go into? What
have you learned?”

“Learned? To tell the truth, only what one learns in a trade school. I
don’t want to go into business. I only want the certificate to show my
father that my health will not permit me to work in an office. Do you
think it’s good for anybody to work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with only
one hour for luncheon?”

“That would be only eight hours work a day! I assure you that there are
thousands who would be happy to work only so little. Shall you work
less when you are independent?”

“Certainly. Then I won’t have to work at all.”

“So!” I replied in amazement. “I am curious to know what sort of
business that is where one doesn’t have to work. What do you intend to
do when your father gives you money?”

A blissful smile passed over the interesting youth’s face like a beam
of celestial light. “I know all about sports. I’m going to play the

I must admit I was considerably taken aback. I know how reluctant to
work many a modern man is whose whole energy is expended in dreams. But
that a sensible man should think of such a thing was new to me. Such a
peculiar motivation for the purpose of becoming independent. The matter
kept running through my head a long time. I soon noticed that this
youth was only an extreme type of a very common species--a species that
expresses itself in a passion for independence. When we investigate the
deeper causes of this passion we invariably find the desire to secure
for oneself the utmost amount of pleasure from a very small investment.
But independence is only apparently the coveted ideal; behind it
lies not only the desire for freedom, not only the proud feeling of
self-reliance. No, in many cases the kernel of the matter is--laziness.

Independence! Proud, brazen word! How many sacrifices hast thou not
demanded and dost still demand daily! Who is ignorant of these little
daily tragedies of which no newspaper makes mention! The salesman who,
after he had for years enjoyed a care-free and assured position, has
fallen a victim to the craving for independence, and has to contend
with cares and worries so long that at last, broken down and battered,
he renounces his beautiful dream and willingly submits his once proud
neck to the yoke; the writer who starts his own newspaper and sees his
hard-saved gold flow away in beautifully printed sheets; the actor
who becomes the director of his own company; the merchant who builds
his own factory,--an endless procession of men who wished to make
themselves independent.

It would be one-sided not to admit that in addition to the
aforementioned element of wanting to make one’s work easier there is
also a certain ambition to get ahead of one’s neighbours. Modern man
is linked to life by a thousand bonds. He is only a little screw in a
vast machine--a screw that has little or no influence on the working
efficacy of the complicated apparatus, that can be lightly thrown aside
or replaced. We all feel the burden of modern life, and instinctively
we all fret under it and work against it. We long to sever the link
that ties us to commonplace day and to become the lever that sets the
machinery in motion.

Stupid beginning! Hopeless and thankless! Who can be independent and
absolute nowadays? Is there any calling that can boast of standing
outside life? It is a delusive dream which beckons and betrays us. We
change masters only. That’s very simple. But we are far from becoming
independent thereby. We have a hundred masters instead of one. The
employee who has made himself “independent” has lost his master but
becomes the slave of innumerable new tyrants to whose wills he must
bow: his customers. Therein he resembles the so-called free professions
which are in reality not free. The physician is dependent upon the
whims of his patients; the lawyer woos the favour of his clients; the
writer groans under the knout of the cruelest of all tyrants: the
public. And, strange to say, it is this last calling that appeals
to most persons as the ideal of independence. It is almost a weekly
occurrence to see some discontented youngster or an unhappy girl with
a thick manuscript in his or her portfolio, begging to be recommended
to some publisher and thus open a writer’s career to them. They want to
become self reliant, independent. It is vain to point out to them that
an author’s bread is not sweetened with the raisins of independence.
Others who have never written a line suddenly make up their minds to
become journalists. They think that the will to become a journalist
is all that is needed to be so. Evidences of adequate preparation
and qualification they find in the excellence of their school
compositions. They do not suspect that the journalist’s independence
is a myth that is credited only by those who have never smelled to
journalism. That the journalist is the slave not only of the public
but also of the hour. That not a minute of the day is his, and that he
would gladly exchange his pen for any other, more massy tool, if such a
thing were possible.

Dissatisfaction with one’s calling is also one of the factors that sets
the feeling for independence in motion. Who is nowadays satisfied with
his calling, or with himself?! This may be easily proved by referring
to a striking phenomenon. In doing so we need not sing the praises
of the “good old days.” But happiness in one’s work and contentment
with one’s calling were certainly much more common than they are now.
Otherwise it could never have come to pass that the father’s calling
should be transmitted to the sons generation after generation. How is
it with us to-day? The physician cries: My son may be anything but a
physician. The public official: My son shall be more fortunate than I;
under no circumstances shall he be a public official. The actor: Be
what you will, my son, but not an artist; art is the bitterest bread.
The merchant wants to make a lawyer of his son, the lawyer a merchant,

We envy others because we are all dissatisfied with ourselves and
unhappy. The great ideal that floats before our eyes is to become a
clipper of coupons. Money alone guarantees the road to independence.
But if we were to ask the rich about this we would hear some
surprising things. I know a lady who possesses a vast fortune and
who is the absolute slave of her money. I recommended her to take a
trip for her health’s sake. She replied: “Do you think that I can
go away for a week? You have no idea of all the work I have to do.
Now it’s something with the bureau of taxes, now it’s engaging a new
superintendent! Then there are the receptions! I am busy from morning
till night.” When I advised her to hire a manager she laughed merrily:
“I’d be in a fine fix if I did that! Then I would lose the only
recompense I have: my independence!”

Wherever we look, the higher we go, the less of true independence do
we find. What does the psychology of modern social feelings teach us?
It shows us everywhere the same cry for independence which in the
single individual we have described as the basic feeling of his social
attitude. Norway wanted its independence and got it. Hungary stormily
clamoured for independence. Ireland, Poland, Persia, India, Egypt, and
numerous colonies are struggling for independence. In the structure of
the State the urge for independence begets continual turmoil. Austria
can sing a plaintive song as to this. The demand of certain states for
autonomy is the outcome of the same motive.

Political tune--scurvy tune. However--wholly unintentionally our
analysis brings us from the consideration of the individual to that
of the group. That a modern state can never again attain that measure
of independence that it once enjoyed is as clear to the political
economist as to the sociologist. What we have said of the individual
applies also to peoples.

Must we then conclude that there is no independence? Isn’t it possible
then for man to elevate himself above his environment and take a
loftier point of view?

There certainly is such a thing as independence. But we must draw a
sharp line of distinction between two different kinds of independence.
There is an inner and an outer independence. But it is only the inner
independence that one can hope to attain wholly. It alone is capable of
giving us that modicum of outward independence which may be laboriously
wrested from life. A healthy philosophy of life that frees the spirit,
makes renunciation easier and wishing harder, and a certain spiritual
and bodily freedom from wanting for things,--these alone can give us
that independence that the world affords. That is why the poorest of
the poor is more independent than the richest of the rich.

We all know the beautiful story of the king whose physicians promised
him health if he could wear the shirt of a happy man. Messengers
searched every corner of the world but, alas! could not find a happy
man, till finally they came upon a merry hermit in the thickest part of
a dark forest who seemed to be perfectly happy. But he, the only happy
man in the wide world, had no shirt!

We would have to divest ourselves of many shirts to become independent
within. We wear and lug about with us numberless suits, wrappings,
which cover up our true selves and apparently safeguard us, whereas in
reality they drag us down to the base earth.


Has any one counted the victims of jealousy? Daily a revolver cracks
somewhere or other because of jealousy; daily a knife finds entrance
into a warm body; daily some unhappy ones, racked by jealousy and
life-weary, sink into fathomless depths. What are all the hideous
battles narrated by history when compared with the endless slaughters
caused by this frightful passion! It enslaves man as no other passion
does; degrades him, humiliates him, and makes him taste the hell of
many other passions, such as envy, mistrust, revengefulness, fear,
hate, anger, and poisons the meagre pleasure-cup that imparts a touch
of sweetness to bitter life.

What is jealousy? Whence flow its tributaries? Is this the Danaidean
gift to humanity? Is it the twin sister of love? Do we acquire it or
is it born with us? It is surely worth while to consider every one of
these questions and to attempt to determine the nature of this unholy

To understand jealousy we must go far, very far back into the history
of man’s origin. Yes, far beyond man, as far as the animal world!
For certain animals, intelligent animals, show clearly evidences of
jealousy. Pet dogs resent it if their masters pet another dog. They are
even jealous if the master caresses human beings. There are dogs who
begin to whine if their master plays with or fondles his children. Very
much the same thing is told of cats. Who of us on reading Freiligrath’s
gruesome ballad, “The Lion’s Bride,” has not felt the terror of the
beast’s furious jealousy?

Our observation of animals has taught us one of the fundamental
characteristics of jealousy. Animals know very definitely what is
theirs. They have a fine perception for what is theirs. Most dogs snarl
even at their masters if they attempt to take their food from them.
Their jealousy is the mood in which they express their possession,
the egoism of their share. They defend as their possession even the
affection to which they think themselves solely entitled.

The emotional life of the young shows the same phenomenon. They too
do not know the distinction between thine and mine. What they happen
to have in their hands is theirs and will defend it with their weak
powers and loud howls. Many psychologists, including Percy, Compayné,
Sully, Anfosse, Schion, Ziegler, consider the child an unmitigated
egoist. Even in its love it is out and out egoistic and therefore
extremely jealous. Young children’s jealousy may attain an incredible
degree of intensity. A little two-year-old girl cried incessantly if
her mother took the baby brother in her arms. A little boy was so
jealous of his younger sister that he used to pinch her leg at every
opportunity; having been smartly punished for it on one occasion he
spared the little girl thereafter, but became afflicted with a peculiar
compulsion neurosis: he pinched the legs of adults. Such experiences
are of profound significance. They give us a glimpse of the primitive
times when man had no idea yet of altruism. The whole world was his as
far as his power, his strength, went. Man’s jealousy developed out of
this primary ego-feeling, out of his right to sole possession. Before
man could be civilised this tremendous barrier had to be overcome.
The first community, the first social beings, were the first stages of
altruism and civilization.

From this period emanate the subterranean sources from which jealousy
is fed. We have probably all become more or less altruistic. But always
in conflict with ourselves, in conflict with the beast, in conflict
with the savage within us. Even to this day the whole world belongs to
each one of us. Our desires extend our property to infinity. What would
we not own? What do we not desire? The wealth of the rich, the honour
of the distinguished, the triumphs of the artist, to say nothing of his
sexual triumphs. The less we can fulfil these desires the more do we
cling to what we have, or, somewhat more accurately, could have had.
For jealousy does not concern only what one actually possesses. Women
may be jealous of men they do not love and do not even possess. They
simply begrudge the other woman her conquest. Don Juans know this very
well. The best way of conquering a woman is still the old, old way:
to make love to her friend. In this case wounded vanity plays a part,
of course. But what is vanity but the over-estimation of the Me, the
striking emphasis laid on one’s own value? And thus we again come back
to the root of all jealousy: the pleasure in one’s own possession, in
one’s embellished egoism.

Jealousy need not always have a sexual motive. A woman may be jealous
of her husband’s friend because he has been more successful than her
husband. Her husband is her possession. He ought to be the foremost, he
ought to have achieved the others’ successes, so that his fame should
revert to her too. Pupils are jealous of one another even though not
a trace of a sexual motive may be demonstrable. We may be jealous of
another’s horses, dogs, furniture, virtues, honours, friendships,
responsibilities, etc. Behind it there always is our brutal egoism, the
desire for another’s possessions, or at least the fear of losing one’s
own possession.

Jealousy is generally regarded as a pre-eminently feminine quality.
Erroneously so. It would be more nearly correct to say that the heroic
side of jealousy is to be found only in men. It is not a matter merely
of chance that we have no feminine counterpart to Othello, Herod and
the Count in Hauptmann’s “Griselda.” Jealousy in women has received a
social valuation from men; it always has a smack of the ridiculous,
pathological, or unjustified. It is a subject for satire, and is more
often a comedy motive than a tragic reproach. This is due to the fact
that woman’s love is monopolised by men, whereas a man’s loyalty
is demanded by most women but attained only by very few. A man’s
infidelity is not a dramatic reproach because it is a daily occurrence
and wholly in accord with the lax conception of the majority. A woman’s
infidelity is an offence against the sacred mandates imposed by--men.
And therefore the jealousy of a man--be the subject of the passion a
fool, a fop, an old man, or some other laughable type destined for
cuckoldry--is a struggle for just possession, a conflict which always
has an heroic effect, whereas a woman’s jealousy is always a dispute
for the sole possession of a man, a right which is disputed by a great
majority (namely, the men, and even some women).

But there are men and women who are not jealous even though they love
intensely. And with this we hit upon a second and important root of
jealousy. Only one who contemplates an act of disloyalty against the
object of his jealousy, or who, as a result of doubts about his own
erotic powers, thinks he cannot gratify that object can be jealous.
Of course I am not now speaking of justified jealousy based on facts,
but of baseless, unjustified jealousy. Whence comes the suspicion that
attributes infidelity to the beloved being? What is the driving power
in these cases? Only the knowledge of one’s true nature. Only they can
be jealous, jealous without cause, who cannot guarantee for themselves.
In other words: jealousy is the projection of one’s own shortcomings
upon the beloved.

If we find a woman who is all her life torturing her husband with her
jealousy, complaining now that he has been looking at some woman too
long, now that he stayed out too long, now that he was too friendly
with one of her friends, etc., then it is the woman who has seen
the weakness of her own character and who, in thought, is guilty of
every infidelity which she will not admit even to herself. And in
the same way faithless husbands who love their wives make the most
jealous husbands. That is the vermuth potion which leaves with them a
bitter after-taste as soon as they have made another conquest. Their
own experiences entitle them to be jealous. Bachelors who had been
philanderers and can boast of many conquests usually marry plain or
unattractive women--alleging, by way of explanation, that they want to
have the woman for themselves and not for others, meanwhile forgetting
how often they themselves had been caught in the nets of homely
women. For almost any woman who will permit herself to do so can find
admirers, and ugliness is no protection against dramatic or comic
marital infidelities.

The absence of jealousy in cases of intense affection usually, but not
always, indicates a nature immune against all assaults. But those who
are free from this passion need not therefore be puffed up. We are
poor sinners all, and the time may come sooner or later for any of
us in which we shall transfer our weaknesses upon others and become
jealous. But it also happens that freedom from jealousy is a sign not
of security but of stupidity, unlimited vanity. The woman is regarded
as a paragon of all the virtues, without a touch of frailty. The
husband may be an ideal specimen of an otherwise frivolous species. In
these cases one’s inadequacy is so covered up by our over-estimation of
our endowments that comparisons are never instituted and projection is

Consequently baseless jealousy and baseless confidence will always
be. And therefore we shall not follow Bleuler in his estimation of
jealousy as one of the “unconscious commonplaces” which makes love
valueless as “the plant-louse does the rose-bud.” We shall recognise
in it, when it is baseless, a disease of the soul occurring in persons
whose cravings and realities do not coincide and who have with a heavy
heart been forced to the recognition after cruel inner conflicts that
their virtue is only an over-emphatic opposition to their weakness.
Their jealousy has taken on a pathological (neurotic) character because
of this repression and this relegating of their own desires into the
unconscious. That is why all the logic of realities is effectless when
opposed to the logic of the unconscious. One might almost say that
jealousy is a cultural disease which results from the restrictions on
our love-life imposed by law and morality. If so-called “free love”
ever becomes a fact there will be far fewer cases of jealousy than we
have to-day. That sounds plausible. But will life be more worth living
when there will be no more jealousy? We gladly put up with jealousy if
only our costly treasure of love continues secure. Would a life free
from all jealousy and pain, a life without passions, be worth while?
Is it not a fact that our possessions are most highly valued by us at
the moment when we fear to lose them?... The sweetest harmonies are to
be found only in contrasts. The wagon of life rolls with greater tempo
over the endless lonely roads when it is harnessed to the passions.


An indescribably sweet breeze blows over the friendships of childhood.
They are tender, delicate, pale blue petals that tremble with each
stir of the childish soul and whose roots even then already penetrate
down to the deep layers in which inherited instincts and tempting
desires fertilise the soil of the passions. Its first friendship
is a revelation for the child. Till then it loved its parents, its
surroundings, its teacher. But behind this love the educational
tendency was always in evidence. “You must love your parents because
they are so good to you. You must respect your teacher because from him
you get the knowledge that is indispensable to you in your life.” Thus
we make that love a duty for the child which ought, on the contrary, to
make it conscious of its duties.

How different it all is in the case of friendship. Here the child
can follow its natural inclinations. Here it can choose according to
its own standards without having to listen to the dictates of its
educators. And indeed one has thousands of opportunities to observe
that a child is much more cautious than adults in the selection of its
friends, that it will not accept a friend assigned it by its parents
unless he meets with its approval, unless an unconscious urge pleads in
his behalf.

How peculiar children are in their choice of a friend! Either he is
the nicest or the finest, the quietest or the noisiest, the best or
the worst, the strongest or the weakest. They prefer one whose traits
are clearly and sharply defined, rather than one who is neither one
thing nor the other. There must be something about the friend that they
can admire; he must excel them in something. But it is not a bar to
friendship that they excel the other in something.

Let no one say that it is an easy matter to read the souls of children!
That their emotions are simple, that their soul’s an open book! We can
discover all the puzzling roots of love, even in the friendships of
children, _e.g._, sympathy, cruelty, desire, humility, and subjection.

It is my belief that we adults cannot love with the love we were
capable of in childhood. We cannot hate so, cannot be so resentful, and
cannot be so self-sacrificing. Alas! even our emotions become pallid
with the years and can make a show of colour only with the aid of

Let us watch a child that has entered into a close friendship. Is it
not playing the same game that we adults later on designate as love?
Have we forgotten the feverish impatience with which we awaited the
hour of the friend’s coming and how jealous we were if he stopped to
converse with another? How we hated him then and how terribly unhappy
we were? How we would have loved to cry aloud, if we had not been
ashamed to betray such weakness. Have we forgotten how the hours flew
when we were playing together, how we whispered dreadful and mysterious
things to each other in the twilight, how passionately we embraced
each other, and kissed, and how ready we were to give up our little
treasures to our friends? There is but one time that resembles this
friendship:--the time when a happy love makes a wooer a sweet child

Even in a child’s soul the hunger for love cries aloud and will not be
stilled. For a love that is more than a love of parents, for a love
that is touched with that dark power which at a later period shapes the
life of man to its will.

Oh! blessed time, in which our yearning for a second human being is so
easily gratified! Blessed time, in which we do not yet feel the hot
breath of burning desires when the arm of a beloved being entwines us,
in which the threatening fist of Destiny does not pin us to the ground
at the moment when we think we are plucking down the sky! The mirror of
our soul still reflects pure innocence; we do not yet suspect that the
passions that set the waters in motion must also stir up the muddy ooze
that lies at the bottom.

Childhood friendship is the school of love. Without such friendship the
child is impoverished and forever loses the power to love. Look at the
mothers’ darlings whose mothers took the place of friends! See how they
are bound to their mothers by all their emotions, by all the bonds of
their souls, incapable of breaking loose from the love for the mother
and founding another generation. The stupidest dream of parents is the
wish to be the friends of their children. But are we not deceiving
ourselves? Is such a thing possible? Is there not between ourselves and
our children a world of disappointments and buried hopes? Are there
not here yawning chasms in whose depths wild torrents carry away the
residue of past years, chasms which cannot be bridged? Say what we
will, only a child can be a child’s friend!

And there is much food for reflection in this. The child is surrounded
by so much authority, so much school, so much dignity, so much law,
that it would have to break down under the weight of all these
restraints if it were not saved from such a fate by meeting with a
friend. In secret conferences, at first in whispers and only in hints,
but subsequently more and more clearly and distinctly, the road to life
is outlined. The gods are dethroned, or, at any rate, are not feared so
much; little jokes about the teacher are the beginning, and gradually
the excess of parental authority goes tumbling till it assumes just
proportions. The way to freedom of thought, the way to independence,
the way to individuality is opened. What the child could not have
accomplished alone was a mere toy with the help of another. And the
friendship grows ever prouder and more intimate the more the child
loses the feelings enforced upon it.

One great mystery, the child’s eternal question, occupies its mind
more than most parents, most persons, will believe: the question about
the origin of man, the question which is customarily answered with a
childish tale about a stork (or a big tree in heaven, a large cabbage,
or a department store), a tale with which the clever little ones make
fools of their elders who go on repeating for many years a story they
had long ago ceased to believe. Behind all the child’s curiosity there
lurks the one great question: “Where do children come from?” One will
never go wrong in concluding that a child who is plaguing his elders
with a thousand stupid and clever questions is suffering from a kind of
obsession, an obsessive questioning, behind which lies the one great
and important question that troubles all children. On this subject the
child cannot speak with its parents. Instinctively it feels that here
is a great mystery that is being withheld from it and whose solution
the parents have put off for a future time. It is during childhood
friendship and in connection with this question that sexuality plays
its first trump. It is a pity that human beings so easily forget their
own childhood, else parents would not be so blind in this regard. In
the northern psychologist’s, Arne Gaborg’s, best work “By Mama” there
is a wonderful scene copied direct from nature: Two little girls are
sitting on the basement stairs whispering to each other their latest
bit of information about the great mystery; gradually it grows dark
and an inexplicable dread of something great, threatening, mysterious,
fills their trembling souls; it is that fear which faithfully
accompanies love throughout life and whose dark wing has just barely
brushed their innocent childhood.

The child gets older and friendship changes its nature. Life and
its claims interpose their authority. Into the quiet and unselfish
friendship of childhood, into the pure and simple childish harmonies
there penetrate various over- and under-tones whose inharmonious
character is not discovered until long after. Envy, egoism,
covetousness, cunning, distrust,--all these feelings steal their way
into the childhood friendship, and finally friendship degenerates into
what Moebius has so aptly named _Phantom-practice_. Young obstetricians
train their unskilled hands on “phantoms” (or mannikins) to fit them
for the serious requirements of their art. Something exactly like this
is the conduct of young adolescents, especially girls, who are still
half-child and already half-woman. To a girl the admiration of a girl
friend takes the place of a lover’s wooing; to be kissed by her results
in a dream of being kissed by a man. Recently biology has developed
the idea, erroneously attributed to Otto Weininger, that every human
being is a mixture of both sexes. Before puberty the two elements
_M._ and _F._, male and female, must balance. The child is bisexually
constituted, and therefore every friendship is in a certain sense a
love affair. About the time of sexual maturity the sexuality of every
individual triumphantly asserts itself. This is the great moment when
childhood friendship has fulfilled its mission. It is as if the child
were now freeing itself from the yoke of its own sex and entering the
arena equipped for the battle of love.

This also explains why childhood friendships so seldom are preserved
and carried over into adult life. The friendships of adults are based
upon different foundations. Now it is the thinking, reflecting,
conscious being who seeks a fellow combatant who he hopes will fully
understand (and sympathise with) him. Higher interests determine
their friendships. But it is no longer so deeply rooted as childhood
friendship. It no longer requires the co-operation of the instinctive

Now and then one comes across persons who are always children, whom not
even the bitterest experiences can strip off the pollen linked with
their emotions. They are the only ones capable of true friendship even
in their old age. They spread friendship with the sweet smile of the
child; they do not love for the sake of the advantages to be derived;
they do not even ask whether they are their friends’ friend. Ah! If we
could be such a child again! Or if we could but find it!


I was once invited to the house of a certain writer who had made a
name for himself by several very clever novels and had acquired a
fortune by the publication of a successful journal. He was now living
on an estate in the country, retired from active life, spending his
days in luxurious peace. Much too soon, as I very quickly found
out. For he was in no sense old. A man about fifty whose eyes still
looked challengingly at the world. His look had in it nothing of the
asceticism of one who is tired of life. No; here the fire of secret
passions still blazed; here one could still detect power, ambition, and

Much in his conduct seemed puzzling to me. A stony calm, a certain
lassitude in his movements,--an enforced pose calculated to conceal the
internal restlessness which his eyes could not help betraying.

Only when the time to eat came he became all life. Then he stretched
his neck aloft, that he might see clearly the dish that was being
brought in. His nostrils dilated as if the sooner to inhale the
delightful aroma. His mouth made remarkable twitching movements and his
tongue moved over his thin lips with that peculiar rapid movement that
one may observe in a woman when she is engaged in animated conversation
with a man. He became restless, fidgetted nervously in his chair, and
followed tensely the distribution of the food by his wife, a corpulent,
energetic and almost masculine woman, who, very naturally and to his
secret distress, helped her guests first. Finally--much too late to
suit him--he received his portion. First he regarded his food with the
eye of an expert, turning it from side to side with his knife and fork.
Then he cut off a small piece and rolled it about in his mouth with
audible clucking and smacking of his tongue, let it rest on his tongue
awhile, his face the meantime assuming an expression of visionary
ecstasy. It was easy to see that for him eating had become the day’s
most important task. During the meal he never stopped talking of the
excellence of the food, all the while smacking his tongue and lips, and
literally expounding a system of culinary criticism.

When finally, to my great relief, the grace after dinner had been
pronounced, I hoped at last to be done with the wearying, unpleasant
chatter about eating. But this time I had really reckoned without my

“What shall we serve our guests to-morrow, my dear?” the gourmand
inquired of his sterner half.

“To-morrow? The big white goose with the black patch.”

“The big white goose with the black patch! Ah! She’ll taste wonderful!
You don’t know how childishly happy it makes me. Come, let me show you
the white goose with the black patch!”

Resistance was useless. I had to go into the poultry-yard, where my
host stopped in front of a well-fed goose. “She’ll make a fine roast! I
am greatly pleased with this goose.”

No matter what subject was discussed, political, literary, or economic,
the main motif kept recurring: “I love to think of the big white goose
with the black patch!”

The meaning of gourmandism then suddenly flashed on me. What passions
must this man have suppressed, how much must he have renounced, before
his craving for pleasure had found new delights in this roundabout way!
Behind this monomaniac delight in eating, thought I, there must lurk a
great secret.

And such was indeed the case. My amiable host was really his wife’s
prisoner. While he was residing in the capital he had begun to indulge
in a perversion. His vice grew on him to such an extent that it
threatened to destroy everything, health, fortune, mind, ambition,
personality, spirit, everything. There was nothing left for him to do
but to tell his wife all and implore her assistance in saving him. The
virile woman soon hit on the only remedy. He became her prisoner. They
broke off all relationships that bound them to their social group. Most
of the year they spent in the country and lived in the city only two or
three winter months. The time was spent in eating and card playing, to
which fully half of the day was devoted. He was never alone. At most he
was permitted to take a short walk in the country. His wife had charge
of the family treasury, with which he had nothing to do. Of course,
this did not cure his pathological craving, but it made gratification
impossible. And gradually there began to develop in him the pleasure
for delicate dishes. In this indirect way he satisfied a part of his
sensuous craving. Thus he transformed his passion. His meals took the
place of the hours spent in the embraces of a lover. For him eating was
a re-coinage of his sexuality.

Is this an exceptional case, or is this phenomenon the rule? This is
the first question that forces itself on our attention. An answer to it
would take us into the deeps of the whole sexual problem. But let us
limit ourselves for the present only to what is essential for an answer
to our immediate question. Between hunger and love there is an endless
number of associations. The most important is this: both are opposed by
one counter-impulse, namely, disgust. Both love and hunger are desires
to touch, (to incorporate or to be incorporated with the desired
object); disgust is the fear of doing so. Love is accompanied with a
counter-impulse, a restraining influence, which we call shame. But this
very feeling, shame, is manifested by certain primitive peoples in
connection with eating. In Tahiti, says Cook, not even the members of
the family eat together, but eat seated several metres apart and with
their backs to one another. The Warua, an African tribe, conceal their
faces with a cloth while they are drinking. The Bakairi are innocent
of any sense of shame in connection with nakedness, but never eat

The Viennese psychiatrist Freud, the Englishman Havelock Ellis (“The
Sexual Impulse”), and the Spanish Sociologist Solila, regard the
sucking of the breast by an infant as a kind of sexual act which
creates permanent associations between hunger and love. And the
language we speak has coined certain turns of expression which bring
these connections out unmistakably and which have great interest for
us as fossilisations of primitive thought processes and as rudiments
of cannibalism. Note, for example, the following expressions: “I could
bite her”; or, “I love the child so I could eat it up!” But we express
even disgust, aversion and hatred in terms of eating, _e.g._, “I can’t
stomach the fellow,” or, “he turns my stomach,” “she is not to my
taste,” etc.

On the other hand the names of certain dishes reveal connections with
other emotional complexes than the pure pleasure of eating. There is
an everyday symbolism which we all pass by blindly. Let him who has
any interest in this subject read Rudolph Kleinpaul’s book, “Sprache
ohne Worte” (Language without Words). This symbolism plays a much more
important rôle than we are wont to admit. For it alone is capable of
interpreting the puzzling names of the various delicacies on the bill
of fare. We are cannibals, for we eat “Moors in their ‘Jackets’” (a
fine revenge on the tawny cannibals!) “poor knights,” “master of the
chase,” “apprentice-locksmith,” and many more of the same kind. “Bridal
roast” holds an important place in the menus of the whole world. Social
inferiority is compensated for by numerous royal dishes ... _e.g._,
steak-a-la-king, cutlet-a-la-king, chicken-a-la-king, royal pudding,
etc., etc. One who will take the trouble, as Kleinpaul did in his
“Gastronomic Fairy-tale,” to follow up these things, will discover many
remarkable links with unconscious ideas. We are really hemmed in on
every side by fairy tales. Every word we speak, every name we utter,
has its story. And the many fairy tales in which children are devoured
by wolves, witches, man-eaters, and sea-monsters, together with the
tales in which so much is said about man-eating cannibals, reveal to
us a fragment of our pre-historic past in which love and hate actually
resulted in persons being eaten. In their naïveté our children betray
this very clearly. When the little ones eat maccaroni, noodles, or
similar dishes, they often make believe they are eating up somebody.

But, “something too much of this.” Let us turn our attention again to
the epicures, the little progeny of a great race. It is not difficult
to divide them into five classes according to which one of the five
senses is being chiefly gratified during the eating process. First,
there are the “Voyeurs,” to use the term so aptly coined by the French
with reference to a phenomenon in the sexual sphere. They must “see”
before they can enjoy. To see is the important thing with them. The
dishes must be served neatly and must look inviting. They are the
admirers of the many-coloured adornments on patisserie, of torts,
cakes, and puddings built in the shape of houses, churches, towers,
animals, wedding-bells, etc. They reckon their pleasures by the colour
nuances of their foods. Their chief delight is in the fore-pleasure
derived through the eyes. (This is clearly implied in the popular
phrase “a feast for the eyes.”)

Not quite as common are the listeners “who are thrown into a mild
ecstasy by the sizzling of a roast, the cracking of dry crumbs, and the
fiz of certain liquids.” Numberless are the “smellers” whose sensitive
noses drink in the aroma of the foods as their chief delight, whereas
the eating, as such, is performed mechanically, as an unavoidable
adjunct. Such persons can revel in the memories of a luscious dish,
and many of their associations are linked with the olfactory organ.
The pleasure in offensive odours, such as arise from certain cheeses,
garlic, rarebits, and wild game is to some extent a perversion
nutritional instinct and betrays innate relationships to sexual
aberrations, as are unequivocally indicated by certain popular ditties
and college songs. The folk-lore of all nations teems with hints at
such things.

An important group, the fourth, is that of the “toucher.” As we know
the tongue of man is the most important of the gustatory organs, even
though it has not that primacy and importance which it has in many
animals. Such “touchers” derive their greatest pleasure from the mere
touching of the food with the tongue. They prefer smooth and slippery
foods, _e.g._, oysters which they can suck down, and they love to roll
the food around in their mouths. It goes without saying that these
persons are also “tasters,” as indeed the majority of eaters are. But
for all that, these have their own peculiar traits; whereas the feeling
of fullness or satiety is to many persons a kind of discomfort, and a
full stomach gives rise to a disagreeably painful sensation, to these
“touchers” a full stomach means the most delightful sensation the day
has to offer.

Of the “gourmands” (literally “the relishers”) we need not say much.
The whole world knows them; to describe them many words and phrases
have been coined, _e.g._, sweet-toothed, cat-toothed, epicures, etc.

As might have been expected, these various forms are often combined in
one person, and your genuine gourmand eats with all his senses. We need
only keep our eyes open at a restaurant to observe that most persons
show some trace of epicurism. Very few resist the temptation to follow
the platter the waiter is carrying to some table. (Almost every one
likes to see what his neighbour is eating.) We may be discussing art,
politics, love, or what not, yet watch carefully how much the person
serving is taking for himself or dishing out for the others, and how
little he is leaving for us. Most of the time in these cases we are the
victims of an optical deception. Our neighbour’s portion always seems
bigger than ours. Hunger and envy magnify the other person’s portion
and minimise ours. And is it not an everyday experience that we order
what our neighbour is eating? “Waiter, what is that you served the man
over there? Bring me the same!”

How a person eats always reveals something of his hidden personality.
In the case of most human beings at meals the same thing happens that
one may observe at the menagerie during feeding-time: the peacefully
reposing lion becomes a beast of prey. That is why beautiful women
become ugly when they eat and lose their charm, cease to become
interesting when they are seen eating. It is not a meaningless custom
that we honour distinguished persons by dining them. By so doing we
create a situation in which there is no superiority and in which we
feel ourselves at one with the great man and on a level with him.

Much more complicated than the psychology of the ordinary eater is
that of the gourmand, who always seems even to himself to be an
exceptional kind of person and who has in unsuspected ways enlarged
the sphere of possible pleasures. In most of these cases we shall find
that they are persons of whom life has demanded many renunciations.
Just as the habitual drinker rarely stupifies himself because of the
pleasure he takes in drinking but mostly out of a desire to drown in
unconsciousness a great pain, to draw the veil over some humiliation,
disillusionment, failure, or disappointment, so the gourmand likewise
compensates himself for his lost world. He has the same right to the
pleasures of life that others have. Well for him that he is capable of
securing his portion in this way!

Inexperienced humanitarians long for the time when eating will be
superfluous, when a few pills of concentrated albumin combined with a
few drops of some essential ferment will supply the necessary energy
for our mental and physical labours. What a stupid dream! If such a
time ever came, how unhappy humanity would be! The most of mankind,
truth compels me to say, live only to eat. For them “eating” is
synonymous with “life.” With the discovery of such pills the wine of
life would be drawn. No! No! No! If there were no such thing as eating
we should have to invent it to save man from despairing. Eating enables
one who has suffered shipwreck on Life’s voyage to withdraw into a
sphere which once meant the greatest happiness to all human beings and
still means it to all animals. One takes refuge in the primal instincts
where one is safe and comfortable, until Mother Earth again devours and
assimilates him before she awakes him to new life. We are all eternal
links in an unending chain of links.

And that is the whole meaning of eating: life and death. Every bite we
eat means a quick death for myriads of living things. They must die
that we may live. And so we live by death until our death gives life to

It’s no mere accident that Don Juan is summoned from the feast to his


There is no sharp dividing line between health and disease. One shades
off into the other by imperceptible gradations. Disease grows out of
health organically. There are a thousand transitions from the one to
the other; a thousand fine threads link them together, and often not
even the best physicians can determine where health ceases and disease
begins. As Feuchtersleben says, there is no lyric leap in the epic of
life. Nor do delusions make their entry unheralded into a well ordered
mental life. Delusions slumber in all of us and wait for their prey.
The quiet normal being is just as subject to them as the raving maniac
with rolling congested eyes. We need only open our eyes understandingly
upon the bustle and tumult of life to be able to exclaim with Hans
Sachs: “Madness! Everywhere madness!”

Every form of insanity, one may say, has a physiological prototype.
Melancholia takes for its model the little depressive attacks of
everyday life; mania has its prototype in the unrestrained enthusiasm
of the baseball “fan”; and even the various forms of paranoia, the true
insanity, have their typical representatives among normal persons.
To bring out this kinship we need no better example than that offered
by the delusion of greatness. This delusion is so bound up with the
requirements of the human psyche, so organically knit together with
the ego, that it constitutes an indispensable element of our ethical
consciousness. Every one of us thinks himself the wisest, best, most
conscientious, and so forth. Each one thinks himself indispensable.
It is this delusional greatness of the normal person which makes life
tolerable under even the hardest conditions. It gives us the strength
to bear all our humiliations, disappointments, failures, and the “whips
and scorns of time.”

Of course we are very careful to conceal this delusional greatness from
the rest of the world. We all have our secret chapels in which we offer
daily prayers and into which no one, not even our nearest, is permitted
even to glance. In this chapel our idol sits enthroned, the prototype
of majesty, “our ego,” before whom we bend our knees in humble
supplication. But out there--in the world without--it is different.
There we play the role of the humble, respectful, subservient fellow.
We swear allegiance to alien gods and mock our ego and its powers.

But sometimes the delusional greatness breaks out with pathological
elementary force. We ought to keep our light under a bushel, trudge
along with the multitude, day in, day out. Then all would be well.
But destiny must not lift us to heights where our behaviour cannot
escape observation and every one of our thoughts will be deduced from
our actions. Success must not narcotise us to the extent of depriving
us of that vestige of self-criticism which we so imperatively need
in whatever situation life may place us. Success does not pacify the
roaring of our megalomania. Success goads it with a thousand lashes
of the whip so that it becomes restive and escapes from the security
of the preserves of the soul. Is this still a healthy manifestation?
Or are we already in the realm of the pathological? Is it the first
delusion or the ultimate wisdom?

The delusion of greatness penetrates whole classes of humanity,
infecting them like a subtle poison against which there is almost
no immunity. We have only to refer to the “affairs” of all kinds of
artists of the first, second, and third rank. The delusional greatness
of the artist usually appears along with the belittling mania displayed
by his confreres, his immediate competitors. The higher we esteem
ourselves, the more we depreciate our fellow climbers. That is the
reason why the artist, drunk with his own ego, loses the power to be
just, to measure the work of others by any but an egocentric standard.
Should any one venture to show this megalomania its true image in the
calm mirror of justice, he would be characterized a malicious enemy.
In the struggle to maintain the hypertrophied ego-consciousness the
delusion of greatness is assisted by a willing servant: the delusion of

Along with the artist class there are many other vocations which to a
certain extent gratify the delusion of greatness. In some callings this
is a kind of idealistic compensation for the poor material returns. The
megalomania of the Prussian officer, or the American professor (who are
the butts of even the so-called harmless comic-journals) is an example.
A close second to this is the megalomania of certain exclusive student
organizations, patriotic megalomania, etc.

We can no longer escape a generalization. We note that delusional
greatness is a compensation for some privation or hardship. This is
especially illuminating with reference to that patriotic delusional
greatness which has nothing whatever to do with a wholly justifiable
self-consciousness. The self-consciousness of the Briton emanates from
his proud history and the imposing power of his nation. But we note
that it is especially small nations, who ought in reason to be very
modest, who are guilty of a tremendous self-overestimation. And they do
not scruple to invent an illustrious past which is calculated to lend
some show of historic justification for the national delusion. _Exempla
sunt odiosa._

This mechanism teaches us how to estimate folk-psychology. A people
behaves like an individual. So that our findings with reference to the
psychology of individuals may be applied to whole races, and _vice

And here we note that the individual’s delusional greatness invariably
has one and the same root: it is an over-compensation for an oppressive
diminution of the ego-consciousness. The daily life about us offers
innumerable proofs of this assertion. Persons particularly prone to
delusional greatness are those who suffer from certain defects and
who in youth had been subjected to painful, derisive, scornful, or
depreciative criticism. Amongst these we find especially the halt, the
lame, the partly blind, the stutterer, the humpbacked, the red-haired,
the sick, etc.--in short, persons with some stigma. By the mechanism of
over-compensation such individuals may manifest inordinately ambitious
natures. Is it accidental that so many celebrated generals--Cæsar,
Napoleon, Prince Eugene, Radetzky--were of small stature? Was it not
precisely this smallness of stature which furnished the driving power
that made them “great”? Instead of looking for the essence of genius in
peculiar bodily proportions (which Popper finds to be in a long trunk
and short legs!) it would prove a more gratifying task to ferret out
those primary factors that have brought about an unusual expenditure of
psychic energy in one particular direction.

A very brilliant and suggestive hypothesis (advanced by Dr. Alfred
Adler) attempts to account for all superior human gifts as an
over-compensation for some original “inferiority.” Even if this
principle may not prove true in every case, it can be demonstrated to
have played a part in the development of many a case of superior merit
in some field of mental endeavour. We are all familiar with largely
authentic anecdotes about distinguished scholars, who have just managed
to squeeze through in their final professional examinations. In their
case, too, by over-compensation a conviction of their inferiority
brought about a heightened interest in their work and this interest
then became permanently fixed.

Unawares we have wandered from the delusional greatness to true
greatness. But who will presume to decide what is true greatness and
what delusion? How many discoverers and inventors were ridiculed
and their imposing greatness stigmatized as delusion, and how many
intellectual ciphers rejoiced in the applause and the worship of their
contemporaries! It is this fact which encourages a megalomaniac to
permit the criticism of his contemporaries to “fly by him as the idle
wind which he respects not.” If it is not true that all greatness is
ignored, the opposite is true: every ignored person is one of the great
ones. At least he is so to himself. Delusional greatness unites both
criticism and recognition in a single tremendous ego-complex.

The roots of this delusion, as of all purely psychic maladies, are
infantile. There was a time in the lives of all of us when we were the
victims of a genuinely pathological delusion of greatness. In the days
of our childhood we were consumed by a longing to be “big.” At first it
was only the desire to be a “big man,” to be grown up. A little later
and our desires fluttered across the sea of our thoughts like sea-gulls
or flew like falcons into the unknown vast. We were kings, ministers
of state, princes, ambassadors, generals, trapeze artists, conductors,
firemen, or even butlers.

And yet we are all surprised when a butler plants himself squarely
before the door and assumes the easy port of a person of some standing
and identifies himself with the master of the house and graciously
dispenses his domestic favours. Are we then, much better, more
sensible, or freer from prejudice? We too stand before the doors of our
desires and act as if we believed that they are realities which we are
obliged to guard.


Once more the physician felt the young woman’s pulse. “But it’s
impossible: you must not go out to-day; you are running the risk of a
relapse. You stay in your beautiful home that you have furnished so
cosily, so comfortably, and with such good taste. I have no objection,
however, to your inviting a few friends, having a little music,
chatting, gossiping, but--stay home!”

The pretty self-willed woman pursed her lips at this and though her
grimace was very becoming to her it seemed a little to vex her old
doctor who had known her from her infancy. Somewhat irritated, he

“I don’t just know what you mean by the moue. Must I point out the
dangers of exposing yourself to a ‘fresh cold’? Do you insist on making
a Sunday of every week-day? First, it’s a café, then, a restaurant!
From a hot room into the cold, moist, windy atmosphere of a winter

“But staying home is so stale and unprofitable,” wailed the young
woman. “Home! I’m home all the live-long week! Sunday, one wants a
change! I want to see human beings! You are very disagreeable to-day,

The old doctor gently patted the young woman’s cheek. “Still the same
self-willed, obstinate child that will butt its head against the wall.
Ah, you seem to have forgotten how nice and sociable your parents’ home
was. Those never-to-be-forgotten Sundays! How we used to congregate
there, a group of intimates--the young ones chatting and singing while
the older ones played cards,--and every Sunday was a real holiday!
And when things got a little more lively, then young and old romped
together. Do you remember? Now and then someone would read us a new
poem or the latest novel. How we did enjoy those Sundays! And how
unforced and unconventional it all was! We would get our cup of tea
or coffee and were as happy as happy as could be. But the things that
are going on now seem to me, in my rôle as physician, to be a kind of
neurosis, a something that I should call ‘the flight from home!’”

“But, my dear doctor, must it be a neurosis? Is it necessary to brand
everything as a disease?”

“But it is a disease and its character as such is very clearly
established by this one element: its compulsive character. The flight
from the home is a compulsive idea, that is, an idea against which
logic, persuasion, and appeals are of no avail.”

“I think you are going too far,” replied the young woman. “If I insist
upon going to the café to-day, I do it not because I do not like my
home; no, I do it because at the café I get a kind of stimulation
which I do not get at home. There I can look through various journals
and papers that I cannot afford to have at home. I get a chance to
see friends and acquaintances whom I could not receive at home so
often. And the main thing, at any rate for a young woman who still
wishes to please--and that, I am sure you won’t resent, you dear
old psychologist!--the main thing is that there I see new people
and--am seen by them. I know that in return I must put up with a few
unpleasantnesses. Yes, there is the stuffy and smoky atmosphere, the
continual din and noise, and so forth. But I really do think that we
moderns need these things. We are not born to rest.”

The physician shook his head.

“No! Never! You will pardon, I hope, my telling you that yours is a
very superficial psychology and does not go down to the heart of the
problem. To the modern civilized human being his home seems to be an
extremely disagreeable place. All his life he is fleeing from his
home, from his environment, and--yes!--even from himself. An inner
restlessness, a discontent that cannot be quenched, a nervous stress
permeates the people of our time. What they possess seems to them
stale, worthless. What they pursued madly disappoints them when they
have attained it. They crave for change because they do not know how to
make the best use of the present and of their possessions. How else can
we understand the phenomenon that the whole world is happy to get away
from the home and those who are incapable of running away long to do
so? For, I am sure if you will give it careful thought you will confess
that you call ‘experience’ only what happens to you away from home. The
days at home don’t count. Am I right?”

“Only partly so, my dear doctor. It does not tally with the
facts--because nothing can be experienced at home. And I would be only
too happy to receive my friends here daily, if it were possible. Don’t
you know that servants would rebel at it? That they want to have their
day off? That I must not expect them to do such work as waiting on my
guests every Sunday? Why even on week days the invitation of guests
causes a little rebellion in the ordinary household!”

“And why must there be invitations? Must your visitors always be
guests? Just look at Paris! There you may drop in on any of your
acquaintances after 9 p.m. You may or you may not get a cup of tea. You
chat a few hours and then depart. With us that’s impossible, because
our so-called ‘Teas’ have assumed proportions which were formerly
unknown. You invite one to come and have tea with you but instead
of that you serve a luncheon and make a veritable banquet of it,
going to a lot of trouble and expense, a course which must have bad

“Do you know, doctor, I think you are a magician! It’s only
conventional politeness that makes us receive our guests cordially. But
you must serve your friends something when you invite them for a little
chat, mustn’t you?”

“There you are again! How beautifully you chatter away so
superficially! No, my dear! Nowadays one no longer invites friends to
spend a pleasant time with them, but to show them a new gown or to
impress them with the new furnishings. The main thing is to poison the
friend’s peace of mind. If the guest’s face betrays all the colours
of envy then the hostess has attained the acme of delight. One might
almost say that their dissatisfaction with their lot in life drives
human beings on to stir up discontent in the hearts of others. This
sowing of dragon’s teeth bears evil fruit. For at the next ‘tea’ the
friend has a more beautiful dress, perhaps some other new sensation,
and her husband’s achievements and income mount to supernatural
heights, if one is to believe the hostess’ eloquent speeches. Finally,
there is no possibility of out-trumping her and there is nothing left
to do but, in a more moderate tone, to fight out the rivalry on a
neutral soil. The restaurant or the café is this neutral soil.”

“And what are your objections to this neutral soil?”

“My objections? The people lose the greatest pleasure that they could
derive from one another. At home it must happen now and then that the
walls which separate the inmates from one another fall, the wrappings
that encase our inmost being burst, and soul speaks to soul. At home
it is possible to devote the time to the nobler delights that life has
to offer. At one time there can be--as there was in your own parents’
home--a reading, on another occasion singing or music. And would it be
such a terrible misfortune to spend one’s holiday with one’s family, to
be one with them, reviewing the week that is past or playing with the
children and being a child again? Don’t you see that you are giving up
the gold of home-life and pursuing the fool’s-gold of pleasure outside
the home? You do see it, you know I am right, and a little voice within
you implores and pleads: ‘Stay home! Stay home! here you are safe and
comfortable!’ But another power, a power that is stronger than you,
drives you out, rushes you away from peace and quiet to restlessness,
and whirls you about. And this whirl, you call ‘life.’ What have these
empty pleasures to offer us? What inspiration for the work-a-day life
do they leave behind? Is this anything less than just simply killing
the hours? I don’t want to spin out the old stuff about the dangers
of pleasures, getting over-heated, catching cold, overtaxing one’s
nervous energies, losing one’s sleep, etc. As to these things, I must
admit, there is a great deal of exaggeration. One ought not to fly from
pleasures. But they ought to serve as inspiring exceptions to break, as
it were, the day, just as a trip does.”

“But, my dear doctor, now you’ve caught yourself in your own springe.
Is not a trip a flight from the home?”

The young woman laughed hilariously. But the doctor--now that he had
assumed the rôle of preacher--did not permit himself to be put off or

“Of course, the ordinary journey does belong to my theme. A trip may,
in fact, constitute the crisis in our neurosis. A crisis that we must
all go through, for we all--I am sorry to say, I too--suffer from this
compulsive idea. As after every other crisis the invalid is for a time
restored to health, so is it also after a trip. But only for a short
time. A few weeks--and the compulsive idea is again manifest and the
flight from the home begins again.”

“Come, now, doctor!” interrupted the convalescent, “travelling is a
necessity. As you so aptly said, we want to break the monotony of the
day--to get out of the customary environment.”

“That’s just what I want to designate as the chief symptom of the
neurosis of our time. Everyone wants to get away from the customary
environments. Everybody makes attempts at flight. Whether they succeed
depends upon other social factors. Why is the customary environment
repugnant to you?”

“Because I crave a change. I do not know why. But I have an instinctive
longing for it.”

“There you have it, my dear. It’s just as I said: It’s a compulsive
idea. The flight from one’s environment, from one’s home, from one’s
furniture, is the same as the flight from one’s house. To me every
piece of furniture that I have used a long time has become so dear
and so much a part of myself that I do not like to give them away and
can only with difficulty part with them. And if I were to come into
possession of a vast fortune to-day I could not renounce these dear
associates to whom I am bound by so many memories. With all their
shortcomings and modesty they are a thousand times dearer to me than
the most beautiful English or secessionist furnishings. I’ll confess
that in these matters I am not at all modern. For the moderns are glad
when they can change something, and so they change their furniture,
their carpets, their pictures, etc. About every ten years there is a
change in the fashions and your housewife cannot bear not to be in
style. One day you enter her house and you find new rooms. And just
as the furnishings in the house are changed from time to time, so the
residence too must be changed frequently--in fact, everything that can
be changed is changed: The servants, the family physician, the music
teacher, and, where it is possible, the husband and even the wife.”

The young woman reflected a little. “There is much truth in what you
say. It is in fact a tremendous flight that we see enacted everywhere
about us, a flight from oneself and from one’s environment. If I were
to judge by my own feelings I should say that this fleeing has its
origin in our life’s needs. We women all have a large ‘Nora’ element
in us and are waiting for the ‘miracle.’ Inasmuch as we cannot find
it at home we look for it elsewhere. Believe me, doctor, most women
do not fall because of sensual appetites. No! they fall because they
crave for some experience. We experience too little. The monotony of
the days asphyxiates us. And this great whirl of life, this senseless
running after a change--as you call it--is only because our hearts
are discontented, because our spirits are wrecked by the monotony and
insipidity of our lives. Do you think that it will ever be different?”

“Why not, pray? Some day a great physician must arise, an apostle of
human love, whose voice will pierce the whirl and who will be capable
of opening man’s stupid eyes: A new religion would do it, a religion
that would satisfy all of humanity’s longings, a religion of work
and the joy of life. Our time is ripe for a Messiah. Whether he will

“Ah, he has come,” said the charming young woman, her face beaming.
“For me you are the Messiah of domesticity! You have cured me of my
flight neurosis. I shall stay home to-day, and as often as I can do so.”

The old doctor took his leave with animated steps. With the power of
his words he had once again reformed a human being.

But his joy was short-lived. That afternoon, as he walked by a café on
the main thoroughfare his eyes fell on a vivacious group within. And
there he saw his recalcitrant patient who had evidently gone out only
to get a chance to discuss thoroughly with her friends the theme: “The
flight from the house.”


“Are there any people who still pay for tickets?” I was asked in all
seriousness by a man, who, as a result of his numerous connections,
had been able to develop the art of getting passes to its utmost

Ridiculous though the question may sound to some, there is,
nevertheless, something very profound in it. The pursuit after passes
is in our day a favourite “sport” of residents of large cities. To most
such people a journalist or a writer is not an artist who laboriously
strives to give adequate expression to his thoughts, who has to listen
to the secret voices within his breast and to translate them into the
language of every day. No, in their mind a writer is the Croesus of
passes. He only sits in front of his desk, as there accumulate before
him green, blue, and red tickets, the magic keys that open the doors
to all the temples of art without having to go to the trouble of
digging into his money bag and experiencing the pleasure of paying out
his shining coins. And they take it ill of the Croesus that he is so
niggardly as to guard his treasures so greedily and not make everybody
he comes in contact with happy by distributing the little papers. For
to them getting a pass is considered a great piece of good fortune,
almost like drawing a grand small prize in a lottery. It enables one
to temporarily enjoy the greatest sensation in life: pleasure without
cost. That is, it should so enable one.

With a pass one gets everything,--the respect of the upper classes, the
right to be rude and the enforcement of courtesy. If it were possible
to say of certain young women that for a ride they would part with
their honour, then one might aptly vary the phrase and say: for a pass,
with everything.

There are human beings, persons with so-called “good connections,”
who lead a wonderful life with the aid of passes. The physician who
is at their beck and call throughout the year is compensated for his
efforts by the presentation from time to time of a box or a pair of
seats for the theatre. So, too, the lawyer. The Cerberus rage of the
most terrifying of all apartment-house superintendents melts into the
gentlest humility at the prospect of a pass. We expect a thousand
little favours from our fellow-citizens who assume the obligation to
render these favours by the acceptance of a pass.

There are probably only very few persons who feel any shame on going on
a trip with a pass. These exceptional beings have not yet discovered
that nowadays it is only the person who pays who is looked down upon.
Every one takes his hat off to the possessor of a pass. The train
conductor makes a respectful bow because he does not know whether the
“dead-head” is an officer of the company or some other “big gun.” The
ticket collector does the same because experience has taught him that
the dead-head usually overcomes by a treat the social inferiority
associated with “enjoyment without payment.” In short, a pass invests
its possessor with the mysterious air of a great power and weaves about
his head a halo which lifts him above the _misers plebs contribuens_.

But you must not think that the possessor of passes constitutes that
part of the public that is particularly grateful for and appreciative
of the artistic offerings. On the contrary! Artistic enjoyment in the
theatre requires a certain capacity for illusion, and the purchase of
a ticket exercises a considerable influence on this capacity. For one
who has dearly paid for his seat has imposed the moral obligation upon
himself to be entertained.

Down in his subliminal self there dwell forces that may be said to have
been lessoned to applaud. The higher the price, the more painfully the
pleasure was purchased, the greater is the willingness to be carried
away by the work of art and the artists. The poor student who has stood
for hours in front of the opera house and been lucky enough to secure
admission to standing room in the gallery will have a better time than
his rich colleague down in the orchestra, and a very much better time
than the envied possessor of a free seat. For his capacity for illusion
has been tremendously heightened. He expects a reward commensurate
with the trouble he went to and the money he sacrificed. His tension
being much higher, the relaxation of that tension must yield him a much
greater quantity of pleasure. The greater the restraints that one has
to overcome the greater the pleasure in having succeeded in overcoming

The necessity for illusion is absent in the possessor of a pass. There
is nothing to make it incumbent on him to be entertained; he has not
paid anything. He can even leave the performance before it is concluded
if it does not please him. He is more sceptical, more critical, and
less grateful.

Any dramatist who at a _première_ would fill the theatre with his
good friends by giving them passes would have little knowledge of
human nature; certain failure would await him. Not only because
these so-called good friends, in obedience to their unconscious envy,
frankly join the enemy’s ranks, but because the possessors of passes
involuntarily get into the psychic condition which is characteristic
of “dead-heads,” viz: indifferent critical smugness and a diminished
capacity for illusion.

I know of a striking example of this that came under my own
observation. One of my friends, a young playwright, invited his
tailor and his wife to go to his _première_, and not to be backward
in expressing their approval. He had distributed a sufficiently large
number of friends in the orchestra, but the gallery had not been
provided for. He had, naturally, also sent two tickets to one of his
competitors. It so chanced that I was in the thick of it, because I was
interested in seeing how the simple public would receive the piece. I
sat right behind the doughty tailor couple, who, of course, did not
know me. Several times during the performance we almost came to blows.
The married couple hissed with might and main, whereas I applauded with
all my power. We exchanged angry words and otherwise acted in a manner
characteristic of such a situation and of such a youthful temper as
mine then was. The play was a failure. Later we discussed the reason
for this failure. One said that the play was not deep enough for the
enlightened public. I challenged this contention, and referred to the
simple people who sat in front of me and whose names and station I had
discovered from some neighbours. My friend would not believe me at
first until I had convinced him by a detailed description of the couple
that the tailor who had for so many years made his clothes had felt it
incumbent on him to repay the author’s gift of a pass by contributing
to the failure of his play.

To be under obligations always oppresses us. We have the instinctive
impulse to disregard them. A pass is an obligation to acknowledge
the excellence of the offered entertainment, to confirm that it is
worth the price of admission. In addition to the absence of a need
for illusion from material considerations we have to reckon with the
impulse to disregard this obligation. These two psychic factors serve
to bring about in the heart of the possessor of a pass the defence
reaction that I have previously described.

Notwithstanding this, the craving for passes, which formerly was the
privilege of the few exceptional personages, keeps growing more and
more, infecting other levels of society, and would easily become a
serious menace to the directorate of the theatres if these had not
hit upon an adequate remedy in distributing passes on the homœopathic
principle. They fight the “pass with the pass.” They distribute passes
and reduced rate tickets very lavishly for the days on which they
know the receipts will be poor and for plays which no longer draw
large audiences. The exaction of a small fee on the presentation of
the coupon serves to cover part of the running expenses; the house is
filled and the many’s fire for passes is quenched. On the following
days the people are much more willing to buy their tickets because they
think that they can afford to be so extravagant, inasmuch as they had
seen one or more performances free or practically so, and are swayed
by the unconscious instinct that a purchased pleasure is sure to prove
more delightful.

One would have to be a second limping Mephisto to be able to follow
the invisible stream of passes in a large metropolis. The romance of
a pass is still to be written. It would yield us an insight into the
psychology of modern man that would be second to none. It would prove
that one of the most important impulses of our time is the desire not
to have to work for one’s pleasures. I say “not to work for one’s
pleasures” rather than “not to pay for one’s pleasures,” because
money always means an equivalent for our work. The most industrious
persons are in reality those who are most averse to work. For behind
their zeal to accumulate money there is the burning desire to hoard
up as much as will ensure an income sufficient to purchase enjoyment
without additional work. In the language of every day this would be:
a care-free old age. But, in sooth, worry is the main source of our
pleasures. Were there no cares the variegated colours of the spectrum
that constitute the light of life would be replaced by dull monotonous
grays that resemble each other as closely as the two links that unite
the two ends of a chain converting it into a whole.

The pursuit after passes is only a small fragment of that mad pursuit
after “pleasure without work” that is being enacted all around us. I
have gone into the subject so minutely only because it is a typical
example of mankind’s stupid beginning to free itself from the iron
bonds of material dependence. For the more free we think ourselves, the
more enslaved we really are.


I know a man who suffered a great deal from his wife’s moods. No
matter how much he tried he could never please her. If he was happy
and contented she called him “Mr. Frivolous” and would say what a
fine figure he’d cut in a Punch and Judy show; if, on the contrary,
cares troubled him and his face betrayed his anxiety, she called him
“Old Grouch” and railed at him for making her life bitter. If he
wanted to go to the theatre, she thought they ought to stay home; if
he longed for the peace of the home, she egged him on to take part
in all sorts of senseless pastimes. Is it any wonder that the poor
man became “nervous”? that he lost his peace of mind and his hitherto
imperturbable good humour?

In those painful days his comfort was his quiet daughter who seemed
to be in all respects the opposite of her moody mother. He sought
sanctuary with her, and over and over again she had to listen to his
cries for peace.

Finally his nervous condition got so bad that a physician had to be
consulted. The physician being fully aware of the patient’s domestic
relations did not have to consider very long and ordered the sick man
to take a trip. More easily prescribed than done. For our patient had
one very bad habit: he could not be alone. It was a cruel punishment
for him to have to look after his small daily wants away from home.
What was he to do? His wife would gladly have gone along with him. But
there were numerous objections to that. Besides, the wise physician
would not hear of it. In this quandary the distressed man thought of
his gentle, affectionate, young daughter. Everybody rejoiced at this
happy solution; the anxious physician, the jealous wife, and, not
least, the sensible daughter who had not yet seen anything of the world
and whose secret dreams of youth had been disturbed by the erratic
educational methods of her mother, in which exaggerated love and
pitiless sternness alternated.

Great excitement marked the time for departure. Mother changed her
plans ten times over. First she wanted to drop everything and accompany
her husband; then she wanted to induce the unhappy husband to give up
the trip, and so on. Finally the time for departure arrived. They were
on the platform at the station and were saying the last good-byes.
Mother had an unlimited number of things to say and suggestions to
make. Then the conductor gave the last warning and there was no time to
lose. Through the little window the happy father and the still happier
daughter looked out on the source of their woes who had been suddenly
converted into an inexhaustible fountain of tears. Was she so grieved
because the objects upon whom she was wont to project the discontent of
her unresting heart were gone? With a sudden movement she wiped away
her tears and called after her daughter in stentorian tones: “Freda,
now you’ll take the place of your mother! Remember that!”--What else
she said was lost in the din of the moving train whose shrill whistle
drowned the asthmatic woman’s commanding tones. During the next few
seconds they waved their last greetings and then the scene so painful
to all was over.

Father and daughter looked at each other, their faces beaming. For a
little while, at any rate, they would be free and have nothing else
to do but to enjoy life. The mother’s last words rang in their ears.
Involuntarily the man smiled and remarked tenderly to his daughter:
“Well--I shall be curious to see how my little sunshine will take her
mother’s place.” The little one looked at her father seriously and
replied: “Papa, I shall try to do so to the best of my power, surely.”
And deep within her she rejoiced at the thought that strangers might
think her really the young wife of this fine-looking man.

After a few minutes Freda began to complain that it was getting very
cold. “There is a draught! It’s terribly cold!” The anxious father at
once closed the window. After a little while she complained that the
compartment was unbearably stuffy. Why had not the conductor assigned
them a more spacious one? Had papa given him a tip? She had been told
by a friend who had just returned from a wedding trip in Italy that
conductors are respectful and accommodating only to those who give
liberal tips. She was not so inexperienced as a certain papa seemed to
think. If he gave the man the tip they would surely be transferred to a
more comfortable car. Somewhat irritated, the father complied with his
daughter’s wish. After considerable trouble they were transferred from
their small cosy compartment in which they could sit alone, to a large
one into which a stout elderly gentleman entered at the next station
and plumped himself down beside them. Freda had an insurmountable
repugnance to fat old gentlemen. She reproached her father; he had not
given the conductor a large enough tip.

Why waste words? After a few hours the poor man saw only too clearly
that his daughter was bent on taking her mother’s place in the true
sense of the word. She pestered him with her moods and gave him not
a minute’s rest. He tried to console himself with the thought that
Freda was not herself owing to the excitement of the last few days,
and that she would soon be herself again. Vain hope! The girl was as
if transformed. From a quiet, amiable child, she had become a moody,
fractious torment. The trip which had been intended as a cure became an
unmitigable torture. For at home he knew how to adapt himself quietly
to his wife’s tyranny. But here, away from home, he was constantly
getting into all sorts of unpleasant situations. Finally, he pretended
to be too sick to continue the trip and after a few days they returned

I have narrated this tragic-comical history in such detail because
it makes the meaning of “Identification” clearer than any definition
could. What had happened to the young girl to transform her so quickly?
Her mother had enjoined her to take her place. She had to some extent
taken upon herself her mother’s duties. She identified herself with
her mother. She played the role of mother exactly as she had for years
seen it played at home, though, in secret, she had disapproved of her
mother’s conduct. This identification nullified her own personality and
replaced it with another.

This is a phenomenon that takes the most surprising forms among the
victims of hysteria. But it would be erroneous to think that it occurs
only among hysterics. Almost all persons, especially women, succumb
to the seductive power of identification. I wonder if it is because
of this that all of us secretly bear a measure of neurosis with us
throughout life! At home, Freda might have concealed her hysteria
as a kind of reaction to her mother’s conduct. It was only when she
had to play the mother’s role that the neurosis, in consequence of
an unconscious affect, became manifest. It is thus that epidemics of
hysteria break out. If a neurosis is capable of transferring an affect,
it can arouse another, slumbering neurosis. For to-day we know, from
Bleuler’s studies, that suggestion is not the transference of an idea
but an affect.

The phenomenon that the above case brings out so clearly and
unequivocally may be seen in everyday life behind various motives,
catchwords, tendencies, and strivings. Notwithstanding these disguises
the eye of the investigator will not find it difficult to recognize
the mechanism of identification and the element of the neurosis in the
normal person. But if this is so everybody is neurotic. Let us not get
excited about this conclusion. There is no such thing as a normal human
being. What we call disease and abnormality are only the highest peaks
of a mountain chain that rises to various heights above the sea-level
of the normal. Every person has his weak spots, physical and psychical.
We can reckon only relative heights, never the absolute, inasmuch as a
standard of the normal is really never at our disposal.

There is no difficulty in finding illustrations of the process of
identification in the so-called normal. Take, for example, the valet of
the nobleman. How thoroughly imbued he is with his master’s pride of
ancestry! With what imperturbable scorn he looks down upon the common
rabble! It never enters his mind that he is one of the masses. He has
no glimmer of appreciation of the absurdity of his airs, because the
mechanism of identification has clouded his intellect and an emotion
has strangled his logic. He even gives verbal expression to his feeling
of identification. He seems to have become fused into a unity with
his master, for he submerges his individuality, his ego, and on every
occasion speaks of “we” and “us.”

“We are starting south to-day,” he announces to the neighbours. “We
shall stay home,” he declares oracularly to visitors.

We see the same thing in the school child. It takes a little time
before he can free himself from the influence of his teachers and of
the school. Not infrequently he cannot do so owing to the permanent
fixation of his identification with them. Horace’s “Jurare in verba
magistri” (_i.e._, to echo the sentiments of one’s master) is nothing
but the result of a completely successful identification. One who
cannot free himself from this affect and substitute for the confident
“we” of the school the uncertain “I” of individuality can never hope to
become an independent personality.

Some feelings, such as so-called party spirit, pride of ancestry,
solidarity, national pride, etc., are only identifications. The German
identifies himself with his great national heroes, e.g., Schiller,
Goethe, Bismarck, etc., and is then as proud of being a German as if
that implied that he had himself been responsible for their great
achievements. The well-known and almost ridiculous pride of the
Englishman is only the product of an extreme identification. But, as
a matter of fact, the British Government also identifies itself with
the humblest of its subjects and protects him in whatever corner of
the earth he may happen to be. The officer who takes great pride in
his regiment, the pupil who is all enthusiasm for the colours of his
school, and the ordinary citizen who can see no element of goodness in
any but his own political party, all bear witness to the great power
of identification. It is in this way that socialism has become such
a tremendous power. Not because it furnishes the proletariat with
a dream of a happier future, not because it has supplied it with a
religion. (The Church supplies this want better.) No! Only because
it has enabled the individual, the weak one, to feel himself one with
a tremendous majority, to identify himself with an organization that
is world-wide. Socialism is the triumph of identification and the
death-knell of individualism.

The most beautiful instance of identification is furnished by love.
One who is in love has completely identified himself with the beloved.
“Two souls with but a single thought; two hearts that beat as one.” Has
not Rückert designated his beloved as his “better self”? (Or Kletke’s
very popular song: “What is thine and what is mine?”) A lover almost
literally transfers his whole ego into another’s soul. He projects all
his yearning upon that one object. He is oblivious of his mistakes
until the identification is over. Then the intoxicating dream, too, is

With the aid of identification a lover can transfer his passion upon
any object that stands in some sort of relationship to his beloved.
It is in this way that fetichism sometimes results. That is why love
for a woman so easily leads to a love for her kindred. There is a
Slavic proverb which says: “He who loves his wife also cherishes his
mother-in-law.” And, on the other hand, a discontent with one’s wife
is often concealed behind a stubborn hatred of her relatives. In many
instances the feeling against mothers-in-law cannot be interpreted in
any other way.

Thus there runs through the soul of mankind an endless chain of
identifications ranging from the normal to the pathological. The child
that puts its father’s hat on its head identifies itself with him
just as certainly as the lunatic who thinks himself Napoleon. Both
have realized their wishes. But there is this difference between
them: In the normal the identification is held under control by
the force of facts, whereas in the lunatic the identification has
suffered a fixation. A delusion is frequently only a wholly successful
identification in the interests of the desire to escape from painful
realities. Delusion and truth are plastic conceptions. Who could
presume to define where truth ceases and delusion begins? From
Schopenhauer’s point of view our whole world-philosophy might be said
to be only a process of identification. And truth is nothing but the
transference of our own limited knowledge upon the outer world.


The psychological study of disease is still, alas! a very young
and immature science. We have been held so long in the thrall of
the materialistic delusion of having to look for bacilli and other
micro-organisms behind all diseases that we have almost wholly
neglected the psychic factor in disease. It now seems that these
psychic factors play the chief role in the so-called “nervous”
diseases, whereas all the other “causes,” namely, the predisposition,
heredity, infection, etc., it now turns out, do play a certain role,
not an unimportant one, it is true, but yet a secondary one. The
influence of emotional disturbance upon these diseases has only
recently received careful study.

We have learned that psychic causes may play a great role in the
occurrence and the prevention of disease. We may confidently assert
that without the presence of a psychic component which invokes
the disease hardly a single case of nervous disease could occur.
Paradoxical as this may sound it is nearer the truth than the orthodox
teachings of our day. For who does not recollect times in his childhood
when he longed to be sick that he might not have to go to school, and
that he might at the same time be petted and indulged by his parents? A
little of this infantilism persists with us throughout life. Hysterics
especially are distinguished by the infantilism of their thoughts,
their feelings, and their ideas. This being so, we must agree with
Bleuler when he asserts that the most common cause of hysteria is
the desire to take refuge in disease. It will be of interest here
to reproduce Bleuler’s report of one of his cases (from his book on
“affectivity, suggestibility, and paranoia,” published by Karl Marhold
in 1906).

“A _paterfamilias_ suffers an injury in a railway accident. How
terrible it would be if he were so disabled that he could no longer
provide for his family and if he had to go through life that way,
suffering all the time, and half the time unable to work! How much
better it would be if he were dead or wholly disabled. His attorney
informs him that his annual earnings equal the interest on 80,000
francs, and that he could bring an action for that amount--a sum which
would insure his family against want for the rest of their lives.
Are there not indications enough that he will need this sum? Isn’t
it a fact that he is already suffering from insomnia? Work fatigues
him--his head aches--railway journeys make him apprehensive and even
cause attacks of anxiety; how helpful it would be, nay, how absolutely
necessary it would be, to prove that he is very sick and to get
that 80,000 francs! And now the traumatic neurosis or psychosis is
established, and will in all probability not be curable until the
lawsuit is satisfactorily settled.” Bleuler does not mince matters
but roundly asserts that in this case the wish caused the neurosis.
Would it be proper to call these people malingerers? By no means! For,
naturally, all these wishes are not clearly known to these individuals;
they suffer in good faith. The wish emanates from unconscious levels.
Consciousness vehemently resents any imputation of the thought of
simulation. Such invalids usually protest vehemently their desire to
be well. “How happy would I be if only I had my health! Then I would
gladly dispense with damages!”

Here I should like to report two cases from my own experience which
serve to illustrate the refuge in disease even better than the case
described by the distinguished Swiss psychiatrist. The first was a very
sick woman who had been bed-ridden for six years. No organic malady
could be discovered. The diagnosis was hysteria. The deeper cause of
her malady was as follows: Her husband was a coarse, brutal fellow,
continually upbraiding her for something or other and raising fearful
rows; but when she was sick his whole nature underwent a change. Then
he became amiable, affectionate and attentive. As soon as she was
well he became the old, unendurable, domestic tyrant. Finally, there
was nothing for this delicate, weak woman to do but to take refuge in
disease. Her limbs used to tremble and refuse their function, so that
she had to stay in bed or be rolled about in an invalid chair. All the
skill of her physicians--and she had the best the metropolis had to
offer--proved unavailing. Naturally the cure of such a case is hardly
possible unless one can remove the cause for the refuge in disease. In
this case this solution was out of the question, and so the woman goes
on enjoying the blessed fruits of her invalidism, complainingly but
not unhappily, exulting within, but miserable without.

Our everyday life furnishes numerous petty examples of refuge in
disease: the nervous wife who breaks out in a hysterical crying spell
if her husband reproaches her; the schoolboy who complains of headache
when he cannot get his lessons done; the husband who gets pains in
the stomach every time his wife makes life unbearable;--they all take
refuge in disease as a means of escape from their persecutor. How often
is this phenomenon observed among soldiers, for whom a few days of
illness means the most delightful change! In these cases even the most
experienced military physicians often find it impossible to distinguish
between wish and reality.

A physician who does not know of the phenomenon we have designated as
“refuge in disease” will be helpless in the handling of most cases of
hysteria. A blooming young girl had for two years consulted specialists
of the highest repute about the raging headaches with which she was
afflicted. All the usual remedies, such as antipyrin, phenacetin,
pyramidon, and even morphine, failed to give her even slight temporary
relief. The experts thought of a tumor in the brain and of other
dangerous maladies as the possible cause of these obstinate headaches.
But it turned out that this headache, too, was only a refuge in
disease. A casual remark of the father’s betrayed the true nature of
the trouble: “My daughter is about to be married; she has been engaged
for two years, and the young man is anxiously waiting for the wedding;
but I can’t let her marry while she is suffering from such a severe

The headache was obviously the means of getting out of a hateful
marriage. Of course one who would have been content with her first
story would never have discovered the truth. What stories she told
about her wonderful love! How ardently she loved her betrothed! There
was nothing she longed for more than the wedding-day! How unhappy she
would be if she lost him! But a careful psychoanalysis brought forth
ample and convincing confirmation of the above-mentioned suspicion.
The girl had been engaged once before; in fact she had not yet
completely broken off her relations with her former lover. In addition
thereto there were confessions about the death of all erotic feelings
during the second engagement, as to which we cannot go into details.
It was quite clear that her malady was a refuge in invalidism. I
advised breaking the engagement. The advice was not followed. On the
contrary, the family hoped that a speedy marriage might bring about a
cure of the hysterical condition. But the young woman is still going
about, complaining and whimpering, with her malady (from which her
husband, notwithstanding his inexhaustible patience, suffers more than
she). Will she ever be well? If she ever learns to love her husband
she may recover her health. But where such powerful, unconscious
counter-impulses, such powerful instincts, contend against an
inclination, it is scarcely possible that this inclination will develop
into full sovereignty of the soul.

What we have just said of the neurosis is also true of the delusions
of insanity. A delusion also is a fleeing from this world into another
one in which some particular overvalued idea represses all other ideas
and dominates the mind. It will not be long ere this conception will
be an accepted doctrine of all psychiatrists. For the time being it is
the common property of creative literary artists, who, because of their
intuitive insight into human nature, have frequently given expression
to this idea. It is perhaps most beautifully expressed by Georges
Rodenbach, the Flemish artist, unfortunately too early deceased, who
says in one of his fine posthumous novels (“Die Erfüllung,” Dresden,

“The insane have nothing to complain of. Often they achieve their
purposes only in this way. They become what they have longed for and
what they would otherwise never have become. They obtain the coveted
goal and their plans are fulfilled. They live what once they dreamed.
Their delusion is, to all intents and purposes, their inner fruition,
inasmuch as it corresponds to their most ardent desires and their most
secret yearnings. Thus the ambitious one ascends in his delusions the
heights that have beckoned to him; he possesses endless treasures,
orders the destinies of great nations, and moves only among the great
rulers of the earth. Religious delusion brings its victim to the throne
of God and makes life in Paradise a tangible reality. So that delusion
always realises the goal that each has longed for. It gratifies our
desires to the utmost limit. Sympathetically it takes a hand in our
affairs and completes the altogether too pretentious destiny of those
upon whom fulfillment never smiles.”

What a beautiful idea! Delusion is a wish-fulfilment exactly as the
dream is. The madhouse is the paradise of thoughts, the heaven in which
wishes meet with unlimited fulfilment. And human beings sicken so
often, and madness increases with such uncanny rapidity, because our
most secret wishes are never gratified, because in these dull times the
miraculous has died, and because life demands so much renunciation and
yields so little happiness.

Let us draw these lessons from the foregoing remarks: to keep one’s
desires within bounds means to assure one’s spiritual health.
Inordinate ambition, which foolish parents kindle in their children’s
hearts, is often the cause of an early breakdown. We must school
ourselves and our children to wish only for the attainable and to
attain our desires. Our ideals must live in our breasts, not in the
outer world. Then we may find in ourselves what the world denies us.
They who can find refuge in their health will escape having to take
refuge in disease.


Why do we not know why we travel? Haven’t we the imperative obligation
to recuperate? Does not our malady enforce a trip to a health resort?
Are we not thirsty for new countries, new people, a new environment?

Peace! peace! No, we do not know! Or rather, we do not wish to know.
Naturally, we always have a few superficial motives at our disposal
when it suits us to mask our unconscious secrets from ourselves and
from the world. Why do we travel? Psychologists have given many
reasons, but they do not go beyond such superficial motives as “the
desire for a change,” “a craving for excitement,” “curiosity,”
“fatigue, the need for a rest,” “flight from the home,” etc. Some go
further and attribute the desire to travel to the elementary pleasure
of being in motion. For these psychologists the little child’s first
step is its first journey, the last step of the weary aged their last
journey. Others again veritably classify journeys and distinguish
between trips undertaken for health reasons, business trips, scientific
trips, etc.

Vain beginning! In reality one trip is like another. If we would
understand the elementary feelings associated with a trip we must go
back to our youth. In youth we still have a sense of the wonderful;
in youth the horizon of our fantasies is aglow with wondrous visions.
But of course the world about us is solemn and wearisome, full of
duties and obligations. But ah, the wide world without! There dangerous
adventures smile alluringly; there unrestrained freedom beckons; there
deeds may be achieved that may make kings of us. In our thoughts we
build a small skiff that will take us out of the narrow channel of
our homes into the vast sea; we battle on the prairie with the brave
and crafty Indians; we seek out the sun-burned gold-fields in the new
world; we put a hurried girdle round about the earth, and--when at top
speed--we would even attempt a flight to the moon.

Nothing that makes an impression on the human mind is ever lost. Our
youth with its fantasies and childish desires exerts an important
influence on us all our life. Henceforth all our excursions are
journeys into the realm of youth. All, all are alike. Life hems us
in with innumerable obstacles, bonds, and walls. The older we grow
the greater becomes the weight that loads us down. In the depths of
the soul the tintinnabulation of youth is ringing and speaking to
us of life and freedom, and keeps on ringing alluringly till weary
man surrenders and takes a trip. The tinkling music of the soul works
strongest on the mind of youth. He, fortunate he, knows not the
difference between the music of his heart and the hum of the world
without. He knows not yet that the world is everywhere the same, the
people everywhere the same, and the mountains, the lakes, the seas,
with but slight variations, the same. His longings carry him out, far
out, and he seeks their fulfilment.

The adult lives a life of bitter disappointments. He never seeks the
new. He longs only to get rid of the old. And the aged wanderer, having
reached the end of the vale of life, follows his buried wishes, his
memories of the beautiful days in which there was still something to
hope for, in which he was not beyond self-deception.

It is not to be denied that ours is _the_ travelling age. This is
partly due to the fact that we experience so little, as we have already
said, in our craving for excitement. The many inventions that have
conquered time and space have made it possible for us to fly over the
whole world, and thus the primary purpose of travelling, the hunger for
experience, shrinks into trivial, merry or vexatious hotel adventures.
But in every such trip one may discover a deeply hidden kernel of the
voyages of the old Vikings. Every journey is a tour of conquest. Here
at home we have found our level; our neighbours know us and have passed
their irrevocable judgment on our person. To travel means to conquer
the world anew, to make oneself respected and esteemed. Every new
touring acquaintance must stand for a new conquest. We display all our
talents for which we no longer have any use at home and all our almost
rusty intellectual weapons, our amiability, our courteousness, our
gallantry, are again taken out of the soul’s lumber chamber and put to
use in conquering new persons. This secret foolery compensates us for
all the plans of conquest that we have long ago given up. To conquer
persons without having to depend on one’s social background is one of
the greatest delights of travelling.

How strange! As in ordinary life we seek ourself and are overjoyed to
find ourself in our environment and get most out of the individual
who is most like ourself, so everywhere abroad we seek our own home.
How happy we are on beholding a familiar face even though it be that
of a person who has been ever so unsympathetic or indifferent. We are
delighted with him and greet him like a trusted friend--only because
he represents for us a fragment of our home which we have been seeking
out here and which we have found, to some extent, in him. That is why
such discoveries make us happiest as revealing identities with our
home. Even in this the infantile character of travelling is shown.
Just as in our youth we had to learn many things that we had to forget
subsequently so we act with regard to our journeys; every new city,
every new region is a kind of primer whose fundamentals we have to make
our own no matter how much it goes against our grain to do so. The
faithful visiting of all the objects of interest with our Baedeker in
our hands, the profound sense of an obligation to have seen so-and-so
is clearly such an infantile trait and has about it much of the
youthfulness and school-boyishness of the time in which the teacher’s
authority meant compelling knowledge to follow a set norm.

Much might be said about the technique of travelling. The manner in
which the thought springs from the unconscious, gently and with
tender longing, takes on more definite shape and apparently suddenly
breaks out during the night with the violence of a deed, presents
almost a neurotic picture, and one is justified, from this point of
view, in speaking of a “touring neurosis.” Every repression begets
a compulsive idea. The repression of the emotions of youth begets a
touring neurosis. The compulsion is strongest in the first few days
during which difficult internal conflicts have to be overcome. The
threads that bind us to our home, our vocation, and our beloved, must
first be wholly severed. This happens only after several days, after
the so-called “travel-reaction.” That is the name I would propose for
that unpleasant feeling that overcomes us after a few days. Suddenly
we feel lonesome and alone, curse the desire that prompted us to leave
our home, and play with the idea whether it would not be better to
terminate the trip and go back home. It is only when this reaction
has been overcome, when the conflict between the present and the past
has been decided in favour of the latter, only then has one acquired
the correct attitude to travelling, an attitude which depends upon a
complete forgetting of our social and individual obligations. It is,
for all the world, as if after this reaction we had suppressed all our
relations to our home and freed all our inhibitions. Only then can we
enjoy the pleasure of travelling, but, alas, it lasts only a short
time. For soon there rises before our eyes, like a threatening monster,
the time when we must again resume our obligations. The sense of duty
gets stronger and stronger, the desire for travelling gets weaker
and weaker, and after a short but decisive conflict, the fever for
travelling abates, leaving behind it a little heap of ashes in which
the feeble coals of memory gradually die.

It is a profound feeling of bliss that we feel at home, for down at
the bottom of the heart we have always been faithful to the home. We
see everything in the new colours with which our journey has beautified
the dull gray of daily life; alas! they are only temporary joys,
borrowed harmonies, which lose their intensity in the day’s progress
and are bound to return to their former dulness.

Particular mention must be made of the journeys of married couples.
These, too, are trips into the realm of youth, into the beautiful
country of the betrothal period, and thus every such trip is a new
honeymoon. The energies which had hitherto been devoted to the
discharge of their duties have now been freed and burst powerfully into
the amatory sphere; but they may also intensify components of aversion
and hatred, and are just as likely to emphasize antagonisms as, under
circumstances, they may build bridges over bottomless depths. Inasmuch
as _en tour_ thought and feeling are dominated by infantile traits, and
inasmuch as to a certain extent a new spring of love awakens with the
youthful fire and youthful tenderness, a journey may--just because of
these results--result in disappointments such as cannot otherwise be
brought to light in staid old age.

Let us also make mention of the opportunity a journey gives one of
living a purely physical existence, of enjoying the rare pleasure of
feeling oneself a creature of muscles, a thing all backbone and little
brain. Let us also mention the delight of feeling oneself a stranger,
of shaking off every irritating constraint, of being able to break with
impunity the rules of propriety and good breeding, and we have, in
comparison with all the really important psychological motives, touched
only a small part of the surface psychology of travelling.

And now I come to the really important point of my thesis. What I
have hitherto said is of general validity, applying to the generality
of travelling people. But I believe that every individual has also a
secret, deep-lying motive of which he himself is unaware and which one
rarely is in a position to discover. Now and then one may succeed in
discovering such a motive and one is then astonished at the strange
things that may be hidden behind the passion of travelling.

There are so many things that we seek all our life and that, alas! we
can never find. One is on the hunt for a friend who will “understand”
him; another for a beloved whom he can comprehend; the third for a
place where he may find the people he has dreamed of. Which of us
has not his secret, dark desires and longings which really belong
to “the other one” within us and not to the outer personage on whom
the sun shines? What is denied us by the environment may possibly be
found somewhere beyond. What withers here may bear luxuriant blossoms
somewhere beyond....

The deepest-lying, repressed desires are the driving power in the fever
for travelling. We are infected--infected by the seeds that have been
slumbering within us for years and which have now with mysterious power
engendered the ardour that drives us on to travel. Behind every journey
there lies a hidden motive. It will, of course, be a difficult matter
to discover in every case this deeply hidden motive, this innermost
spring of action. In some cases one succeeds, however, and lights
upon most remarkable things. One may hit upon some exciting touring
experience of earlier days, upon a strange fantasy, upon some sweet
wish that seems to be too grotesque to be spoken of openly. No one has
yet fathomed just what constitutes happiness. It is never the present,
always the future. A trip is a journey into the future, a hunting after

The best light on the psychology of the “touring neurosis” is thrown by
a consideration of the opposite phenomenon--the “fear of travelling.”
There are many persons who are afraid of every journey, for whom
a railroad trip is a torture, for whom going away from home is a
punishment. There are persons who have compromised with the present
and have given up all hope of a future; who have no happiness to
lose and therefore have no wish to achieve any; who fear any great
change and who have become wrapped up in themselves. They are the
great panegyrists of home, the enthusiastic patriots, the contemners
of everything foreign. They behave exactly like the fox for whom the
grapes were too sour. Because their fears won’t let them travel they
prove to themselves and to the world at large that travelling is
nonsensical, that the city they live in is the best of all places to
live in. The fear of travelling also has a hidden motive which not
rarely is fortified by justifiable and unjustifiable consciousness of
guilt. Why we do not travel is often a much more interesting problem
than why we do travel.

Fear and desire are brother and sister and emanate from the same primal
depths. The wish often converts to fear and fear to wish. One who is
incapable in his heart to fly from himself and his environment bears
a heavy and unbreakable chain within his soul. So do we all. But we
break it now and then. The future may perhaps create free human beings.
Then there may perhaps be no abysms of the soul. Just at present
darkness surrounds us. The mysteries of the soul are barred to us.
Its depths are unfathomable. Even if we have illumined some hidden
corner and brought something that was long concealed to the light of
consciousness, it is only like a drop snatched from the infinity of the
ocean. The real reason why we travel can be told us only by our “other
self,” that “other one” whom we buried in our remote youth. Whither we
travel is quite clear. Large and small, young and old, fools and wise
men--all journey to the realm of youth. Life takes us into the kingdom
of dreams, and the dream takes us back again into life, into that
life to which we have been assigned and to which our deepmost desires
belong. What desires? Those are the secrets we anxiously conceal from


A beautiful warm summer day. The churchyard lies dreamily in the sultry
noonday atmosphere. All nature seems to be possessed by the desire to
imitate the sleep of those interred in the womb of earth. Suddenly
there is heard a grinding sound in the fine gravel and a curly,
rosy-cheeked, dark-haired lad is seen leaping over hedges and over
mounds after a gilded butterfly....

Wondrous images loom up before me like large great question marks in
the trembling air. Similar scenes from the distant mirage of my own
youth come to mind. Like a hot, long-dammed-up stream my emotions
break from the unconsciousness into consciousness. I am overcome by a
long-forgotten yearning. Is not my heart beating faster? Is there not a
wild pleasure in the melancholy that oppresses me?

How strange! A little while ago I lay lost in cheerful reflections
in the tall grass, delighting in the noiseless pace of time, and now
I am excited, restless, disturbed, and sad, but not unhappy. My mood
has undergone a complete change. What has brought this transformation
about? Surely, only the appearance of the beautiful boy who was trying
to catch a butterfly with his green net. Why did this scene excite me
so? There must have been set up in my mind a thinking process of which
I was not conscious. Some secret power that drives the wheels of the
emotions had set into action a long-inhibited and hidden spring.

Gradually the shadowy thoughts came into the bright light of
comprehension. The boy was to me a symbol of my life. An echo of my
distant youth. And the slumbering cemetery, my inevitable future. My
heart too is a cemetery. Numberless buried hopes, too early slain,
unblown buds, longings goaded to death, unfulfilled wishes lie buried
here within and no cross betrays their presence. And over all these
dead possibilities I, too, am chasing a gilded butterfly. And when I
catch it in my net I seize it with my rude heavy hands, doing violence
to the delicate dust on its wings, and throw the lusterless remainders
among the dead. Or it is destined to a place in a box, transfixed
with the fine needle named “impression” and constituting one of the
collection of dead butterflies which go to make up “memory.”

It really was an “unconscious” thought, then, that transformed my
mood from _dur_ into _moll_. And the truth dawns on me that all our
“incomprehensible” moods are logical and that they must all have a
secret psychic motivation. Moody persons are persons with whom things
are not in order. Their consciousness is split up into numerous
emotionally-toned “complexes.” An unconscious complex is like a state
within a state. A sovereign power, too repressed, too weak, and too
tightly fettered to break into consciousness without having to unmask,
but strong enough to influence the individual’s conduct. Moody persons
have their good and their bad days. The bad days are incomprehensible
puzzles to them. Simple souls speak of being under the influence
of demons; poets share their pains with the rest of the world and
“sublimate” their petty individual woes into a gigantic world-woe;
commonplace souls place the responsibility for their moods upon
“nature,” the bad weather, the boss, the husband, or wife, their cook,
their employment, and what not.

In the grasp of an incomprehensible mood we are ill at ease and
anxious, very much like a brave person who finds himself threatened in
a dark forest by a vindictive enemy whom he cannot see. To muster up
courage we deceive ourselves, just as the little child that falteringly
proclaims: “Please, please! I am good. The bogey man won’t come!”
But the bogey man does come, for a certainty. He always comes again
because everything that is repressed must take on the characteristics
of a psychic compulsion. If we do not want him to come again we
must bravely raise our eyelids and look at him fixedly with eyes of
understanding and realise that he is nothing but a phantom of our
excited senses, that he does not exist and has not existed. The bogey
man cannot long endure this penetrating look; slowly he dissolves into
grey shadows and disappears for ever.

Modern psychologists have pointed out the relationship between
unmotived moods and the periodical character of certain phenomena of
life. It is, of course, a fact that we are all subject to certain
partly known and partly unknown periodical influences. But whether
this alone is sufficient reason for attacks of depression does not
seem to me to have been proved. My own experiences speak against it.
Just as a stone, thrown into a body of water, causes the appearance of
broad circular ripples which gradually get feebler and feebler until
they disappear with a scarcely perceptible undulation of the surface,
so does a strong impression continue to work within us, giving rise
to ever wider but ever feebler circles. Only when these circles set a
floating mine in motion does the water shoot up, the mud is thrown on
high, and the clear surface is muddied. These floating mines are the
split off, unconscious complexes. The secret thought must not be put in

But enough of metaphors! Let us take an example from our daily life.
A woman is suffering from frequently-recurring incomprehensible
depressions. She has everything that a childish, spoiled heart can
desire. And she is not a spoiled child, for she had been a poor
seamstress when she made her husband’s acquaintance. Now she lives
in a magnificent palace, wears costly garments, has a houseful of
servants, adorns herself with the finest laces; her husband clothes
her like a doll, pampers and coddles her, treats her with the greatest
affection--in short, worships her. And this woman, the envy of her
associates as she rides by them in her splendid automobile, has days
on which she cries for hours. Our first guess is she does not love her
husband. You are wrong, you psychologists of the old school! She does
love her husband, she is as happy with her finery and wealth as a child
with a toy; she can assign no cause for her melancholy.

Notwithstanding this, her depression was of psychic origin. When we
investigated carefully the experiences and excitements that ushered
in one of these attacks it became clear that subterranean bridges led
to secret (suppressed) desires. Quite often the immediate occasion
was of a trifling nature. She had seen a poor woman pass her in the
street. Alone? No--with a young man, very happy, care-free, their arms
affectionately intertwined. On another occasion she had been reading
of a pair of lovers who had drowned themselves. Suicide was a subject,
beyond all others, which she could not bear to hear. At the theatre she
once sat in a box on the third tier. Suddenly she looked down into the
orchestra and was seized with horror. That was a yawning abyss! What if
her opera glass fell down there! Or if she lost her balance and toppled
over! A shudder passed through her. She put the opera glass aside and
became greatly depressed.

The mystery surrounding her melancholy was soon solved. Her husband,
fifteen years her senior, is not adapted to her temperamentally. In
secret she longs for a life rich in emotions, full of sin and perhaps
also of vice. Nature probably intended her for a fast woman, not for
an eminently respectable lady. Alluring melodies beckon her to the
metropolis. She would rather lose her breath in an endless dance in the
tight embrace of a pair of coarse arms than ride sedately down the main
avenue. She loves her husband, but sometimes she hates him. He’s the
obstacle. She knows how terribly jealous he is. He was very sick once;
just then the wicked thought entered her mind: “If he died now I’d be
rich and free!” The reaction was not long in coming. She saw herself as
a dreadful sinner. Life had no more interest for her. Since then she
has been suffering from periodical attacks of depression.

What happened in this case in the wake of powerful repressions happens
a little in all moody persons. An unconscious motive for the depression
can always be demonstrated. In most instances it is secret reproaches
that provoke the change in mood. In young people they are the sequel
of exaggerated warnings about not injuring their health. Sins against
religion and morality. Reproaches for too readily yielding to one’s
impulses. But also the opposite! Many an attack of depression is
nothing but the expression of regret at having to be virtuous.

A girl suffers from violent (psychically), apparently wholly unmotived
crying spells. The last one lasted half a day. I inquired whether
she had excited herself in some way. Had she any reason for being
depressed? No! Was she sure? A trifling matter--“of no particular
significance”--occurs to her. On one of the city bridges a very
elegant, young gentleman had addressed her. Would she permit him to
accompany her? Indignantly she repelled him. What did he think she
was! But he persisted in his role; he painted in glowing colours
the delights of a rendezvous, till finally she found the courage to
exclaim: “If you do not leave me at once, I shall call a policeman!”
Then, flushed, bathed in perspiration, she rushed home, ate her meal
in silence and soon thereafter gave vent to an almost unending crying

And now I discover that her first attack of crying followed a similar
occurrence. She was coming home from the country and had to travel at
night. She asked the conductor to point out the ladies’ coupé. To her
horror a tall, blonde lieutenant entered her coupé at the next station.
She at once protested vigorously at the intrusion. The officer very
politely offered his apologies, explaining that the train was full and
that he would be quite satisfied with a modest corner. He would be
greatly obliged to her for her kindness. But so anxious was she about
her virtue that she was proof against his entreaties. She appealed to
the conductor and insisted on her rights. The spruce officer had to
leave the coupé and for the rest of the night she was not molested. But
the occurrence had so excited her that she could not fall asleep and
she lay awake till dawn. The following day she had the first attack of
depression and crying. She bewailed her cruel fate that compelled her
to be virtuous while all the hidden voices within clamoured for a gay
life. She did not find herself strong enough to conquer her ethical
inhibitions. She was too weak to sin and not strong enough to be really

I could cite many such examples. They all show convincingly that there
are no “inexplicable” psychic depressions, that consciousness does not
embrace all the psychic forces that govern and direct us.

The classification of human beings into those that are free and
those that are not was determined by a social or ethical canon. But
in reality most human beings are the slaves of their unconscious
complexes. Only he can be free who knows himself thoroughly, who has
dared to look unafraid into the frightful depths of the unconscious.
Most persons are under the yoke of their “other self” who, with his
biting whip, drives them to pains and to pleasures, compels them to
leave the table of life and goads them into the arms of crime.

The greatest happiness in life is to have achieved one’s inner freedom.
This thought is still expressed in an old aphorism. “Everyone may have
his moods; but his moods must not have him.”

Moody persons are the slaves of their past, masters of renunciation
and assuredly bunglers in the art of life. Their only salvation is in
learning the truth or in the art of transforming their depression into
works of art. Most of the time they glide through life’s turbulence
like dreamers. Their ears are turned inward and thus it comes about
that life’s call is perceived but faintly by them. They are chasing
butterflies in cemeteries....


Ideas resemble coins which have a certain exchange value according
to written and unwritten laws. Some are copper coins, so defaced and
dirty that no one would suspect from their looks that they had once
sparkled like bright gold. Others shine even to-day, after a lapse of a
thousand years, and a commanding figure proudly proclaims its origin.
One might even more aptly say that ideas resemble securities that are
highly valued to-day and may be worthless to-morrow; one day they
promise their possessor wealth and fame, and the next day there comes
a spiritual break, he is impoverished, and is left with an apparently
worthless piece of paper....

There is as yet, alas! no standard by which the values of different
ideas might be measured. Every man constructs for himself without much
ado a canon whereby to value his own thoughts. As a rule he swims with
the tide of current opinion; more rarely he goes with the minority
and very rarely he independently makes his own measure wherewith
to judge matters. Strange! In the end the conflict of minds turns
altogether about ideas and their estimation. What else do geniuses,
the pathfinders of mankind, accomplish but to disseminate a hitherto
neglected or even unknown idea and cause it to be generally accepted or
to cause ideas that have hitherto stood high in the world’s estimation
to topple from their thrones?

Just as everything else in life runs a circuitous course, in which
beginning and end touch, so is it also with the valuation of ideas.
Not only the genius, but the fool also strips old, highly esteemed
ideas and overvalues others that he has created for himself. The genius
and the fool agree in that they permit themselves to be led by the
“overvaluation” of their ideas. This expression was coined in a happy
moment by the psychiatrist Wernicke. It tells more in its pregnant
brevity than a long-winded definition would. Formerly it was the custom
to speak of the “fixed ideas” of the sufferers from the peculiar form
of insanity which physicians call “paranoia,” the mental disease which
the laiety knows better and understands less than any other psychosis.
A delusion was regarded as a fixed idea which neither experience nor
logic could shake. To-day we have penetrated deeper into the problems
of delusions. We know that ideas differ from one another tremendously.
Some are anemic and colourless, come like pale shadows and so depart.
Others have flesh and blood and scintillate in brilliant colours. Long
after they have vanished, their image still trembles in our souls in
gently dying oscillations. The explanation for this phenomenon is very
simple. Our attention is dependent upon our emotions. Pale thoughts are
indifferent and have no emphasis. Coloured ideas are richly endowed
with emotions, being either pleasurable or painful.

As a rule ideas are in continual conflict with one another. The
instincts surge upward from the depth, the inhibitions bear down from
above, and between them--owing to stimuli from within and without--the
sea of ideas rocks up and down, during which time another idea rises to
the mirror-like surface of consciousness. Suddenly one remains on top
and becomes stationary, like a buoy anchored deep to the sea’s bottom.
This is the “fixed idea” of older writers and the “overvalued ideas” of
modern psychotherapeutists.

This idea is really deeply anchored. At the bottom of the unconscious
lie the great “complexes” which impart a corresponding accent to our
various ideas. An overvalued idea is anchored in a “complex” which has
repressed all other “complexes.” It is accompanied or invested with a
powerful affect which has stripped other ideas of their affects.

A very old example--if one may so call it--of physiological insanity
is the condition known as “being in love.” A German psychiatrist has
taken the wholly supererogatory pains to prove anew that a lover is
a kind of madman and he designates love as “physiological paranoia.”
But, unfortunately, he makes no distinction between loving and being
in love. But it is just through this distinction that we are enabled
precisely to define the conception of an overvalued idea. Like an
example from a text-book. For love is an idea whose value is generally
acknowledged. We love our parents, our teacher, our country, art, our
friends, etc.

But as regards being in love it is quite a different matter. As to
this the environment does not accept the exaggerated valuation of
the emotions. Here love becomes an overvalued idea. Arguing with one
who is in love about common sense, religion, education, station, or
politics will not affect him in the least. He is dominated solely by
the love-complex. This alone determines the resonance of his thoughts
and feelings. The attraction to the chosen object has attracted all
the other affects to it, has placed all the impulses at the service of
one overvalued idea. He loves life but only if he be together with his
beloved; he is jealous, but only with reference to the love-object;
he is interested only in such matters as are in some way related to
that object. The fool who is being dominated by an overvalued idea
acts exactly in the same way. The lunatic who imagines himself the
king of the world, and in whom a childhood wish had overpoweringly
established itself as a fact in his consciousness, has interest only
for such things as find access to this wish; the victim of ideas
of persecution discovers in the news items of the daily papers the
important communication that his enemies are laying traps for him;
the unfortunate love-sick youth who imagines that Princess X wants to
give him her hand in marriage sees in all sorts of advertisements of
love-hungry ladies secret communications from his princess.

These poor fools bring everything they see and everything they feel
into relationship with the overvalued idea which, projected outward in
the shape of an hallucination, sounds to their ears like a spiritual
echo and blinds their eyes like a vision.

A lover acts essentially like this. That is why the world says of a
person in love that he makes himself ridiculous. A handkerchief or a
glove, or anything belonging to the beloved, becomes a fetich which can
evoke the most ecstatic emotions. Anything that can be associated with
love is overvalued.

Another question involuntarily presents itself. Is love, in the form
known as “being in love,” the only overvalued idea with which a normal
person may be afflicted? Are there any other forms of “physiological
insanity”--if we may use the term coined by Lower and subsequently
imitated by Moebius?

The answer to these questions is not difficult. A backward look
teaches us what unspeakable evils overvalued ideas have wrought in
man’s history. For overvalued ideas are sources of great danger. They
are richly endowed with emotions and consequently lend themselves to
suggestion more readily than almost any other idea. Bleuler has proved
that suggestion is nothing but the transference of an emotion. And such
overvalued ideas can be hurled with great suggestive force among the
multitude and change the individual--and even whole communities--into
a fool. That is how the psychoses of whole nations have arisen. The
tremendous power of overvalued ideas can be understood if one thinks of
the crusades, the witchcraft persecutions, hysterical epidemics, the
Dreyfus affair, anarchism, etc.

It is a sad fact that none of us can be free from overvalued ideas.
In this sense there is really no difference between fools and healthy
persons. Everyone of us bears within himself a hidden quantity of
neurosis and psychosis. What saves us from the insane asylum is perhaps
only the circumstance that we hide our overvalued ideas or that so many
persons share our folly and that the multitude accepts it as wisdom.

There are innumerable aphorisms, the crystallised precipitations of
thousands of years, experience, that express this truth. “Every man has
his little crack, his dross and his sliver.” (In the German saying the
overvalued idea is compared to a splinter in the brain. An excellent
metaphor!) “If you see a fool take hold of your own ears.” “You cannot
name a wise man who was not guilty of some folly.” (The reader will
find ample material on this subject in Dr. Moenkenmöller’s book on
‘mental disease and mental weakness in satire, proverb, and humour,’
published in 1907.) In other words: We all suffer from a false and
subjective valuation of our ideas. We all drag overvalued ideas about
with us.

It is the dream of all great minds to revise these overvalued ideas.
Nietzsche’s life work was a struggle with overvalued ideas. While so
engaged, he himself became the victim of an overvalued idea, and his
superman will forever remain a literary myth. But if the twilight of
Gods could once set in for the overvalued ideas then only could we do
full justice to his rhapsodies in “Beyond Good and Evil.” For in no
other sphere is there such luxuriance of overvalued ideas as in the
ethical. All progress has been brought about by the suppression of the
natural impulses. All our education, using the word in its true sense,
consists in investing our instincts and impulses with don’ts. The sum
total of these inhibitions we call morality. Progress consists in
getting pleasure out of the inhibition, in converting the displeasure
of being inhibited into ethical pleasure. The striving for this goal
results in a kind of ethical burdening. One who has had the opportunity
to study neurotics will be amazed at the many agonizing conscious pangs
they suffer from owing to their ignorance of man’s true nature. These
times pant under the burden of morality as an overvalued idea. They
are in danger of asphyxiating under the ethical burden. A false and
hypocritical morality, by disseminating an unhealthy conception of our
dispositions (instincts), has turned our views on what constitutes sin
topsy-turvy. The consequences are only too evident. On the one hand,
we behold, as evidences of suppression, indulgence in frivolities,
pleasure in the piquant, a delight in indelicate jokes, which forcibly
intrude into life and art; on the other hand, as the natural reaction
to this, an over-luxuriance of scientific and pseudo-scientific sexual
literature. And all because morality became a ruinously overvalued
idea. I do not wish to be misunderstood. Morality will always remain
the goal of noble souls, but only that kind of morality which
harmonizes with man’s nature. Where morality does violence to nature
it becomes natural, and brings about not ethical freedom but ethical

But morality is not the only overvalued idea that turns the half of
mankind into fools. If we survey the chaos of modern social life we
shall easily find everywhere evidences of the endless disputes and
irritating conflicts caused by overvalued ideas. Scientists may prove
that the theory of races is no longer tenable, that the asserted
purity of races is a fable, etc. Notwithstanding all that, the German
Workurka and the Czech rustic are always at each other’s throats. Why
cite other examples? In racial, religious, national, and other discords
it is always an overvalued idea that makes a harmonious evolution
impossible. Verily, the whole world is an insane asylum because the
essential factor in delusions, an overvalued idea, pervades the air
like infectious psychic germs.

Will the world ever be better? From a survey of the past we are
justified only in being coldly sceptical and discouragingly dubious.
A conflict of ideas will continue as long as there are dissensions
between human beings. Ideas to wage a war for existence. A few survive
longer than others, are highly esteemed till their course is run and
are discovered to have been overvalued. But as long as they have the
mastery they change credulous men into foolish children.

From this endless round there is no escape. And folly and wisdom lead
the never-ending dance until the dark, wide open gates of the future
swallow them.


The last few years the child has become the centre of interest.
Funny as it may sound, it may almost be asserted that we had just
rediscovered the child. Congresses are held, artists devote their
talents to portraying the life of the child, expositions acquaint
us with the many aspects of the advances that have been made in the
new knowledge. Is it any wonder then that we have suddenly been made
acquainted with the abuses of children? That we have shudderingly
learned that there are children who are tortured by their own mothers?
There were loud cries of horror. The fountain of humanity became a
broad stream which must drive the mills of a new social organization in
the interests of the defenceless child. Who would withhold his approval
of this movement? Who would oppose it? For truly there is no sadder
spectacle than a child tortured to death by its own parents. The whole
instinct for race preservation cries out against it....

But this theme may also be regarded from another angle, and I purpose
showing from the point of view of the physician and the pedagog that
the reverse of abuse, viz., excessive affection, has a dark side,
that it, too, is capable of ruining a child’s life and condemning an
innocent being to lifelong suffering.

At a private gathering of physicians not long ago the subject of
the last congress for the protection of children was discussed from
its more serious as well as lighter aspects. A Viennese neurologist
ventured the following remark: “I regard it as a great misfortune
if a woman’s affection for her husband is expended upon her child.
A misfortune for humanity, for, in this way, the number of nervous
persons will be incalculably increased.”

One is strongly inclined at first energetically to attack this opinion.
What! A tender, affectionate bringing up will make a child neurotic?
Who can prove that a happy childhood results in an unhappy life? Shall
parents be afraid to show their children love? To hug them, kiss them,
pet them? Is not nervousness rather the sequel to draconic sternness,
tyrannical compulsion?

Nonsense! Nonsense! I shall attempt to answer these obtrusive
questions seriatim.

But, first, one remarkable fact has to be postulated. Parents are
really becoming more and more affectionate from year to year. Such
fanatically affectionate parents as are quite common now were formerly
the exception. To-day the parents’ thoughts all centre around the
child: How to feed it, bring it up, dress it hygienically, harden it,
how to instruct it in sexual matters.... A flood of books and magazines
scarcely suffices to meet the tremendous concern about these matters.
Can this emanate solely from the fact that the pressing movement for
emancipation of woman has displaced the woman’s interest from the man
to the child? I think that herein the neurologist is in error. That
cannot possibly be the sole cause.

The cause for the hypertrophied love of the child is adduced from
the consideration of those cases which even in former times offered
instances of an exaggerated parental affection amounting to doting
love. The over-indulged child was almost invariably an only child whom
popular speech designates a “trembling joy.”

It is to be regretted that most modern families are made up of
such “trembling joys.” “Neo-Malthusianism” has infected the whole
world. In consequence of the employment of innumerable and more or
less generally employed anti-conceptives the birth rate is steadily
declining. “Two-children families” is the rule, and families with
many children--especially among the well-to-do--the exception. Even
the vaunted fecundity of the Germans which is always being held up
as a model to the French will soon be a thing of the past. In former
decades 1,000 married women in Berlin gave birth to 220 children and
from 1873 to 1877 the number even rose to 231. Since then the birth
rate is declining from year to year, so that in 1907 1,000 women only
had 111 children. In other large cities matters are even worse than
in Berlin in this regard. But it would be decidedly wrong to infer
that there is a diminution in the number of marriages. In Prussia
the number of marriages from 1901 to 1904 was at the rate of 8 per
1,000, whereas in 1850 it was somewhat less, to wit: 7.8 per 1,000.
Sociologists have detected in this state of affairs a great danger for
the mental prospects of the race inasmuch as matters in this regard are
much better in the country and, consequently, they say, the progeny of
the farmer class will in a not remote period tremendously exceed the
intelligent descendants of urban people in number. The country will get
the best of the city and not vice versa. But we must not wander away
from our subject. Let us take this fact for granted: The “two-children
system” is the cause for the excessive parental affection we have
described. But wherein is this dangerous?

I shall not attempt here a detailed statement of the well-known
dangers. We all know that coddled children very often become helpless,
dependent persons, that they cannot find their place in life, and do
not seem to be armed against adversity. It seems superfluous to dwell
at greater length on this. Of greater significance is the phenomenon
that the exaggerated affection lavished on the child creates a
correspondingly large need for affection in it. A need for affection
that is tempestuous in its demand for gratification. As long as
these children are young so long is this demand fully satisfied. The
parents, and especially mothers, are so overjoyed at their children’s
manifestations of love that out of their overflowing hearts they
reward them by overwhelming them with caresses. Thus the measure of
affectionate demonstrations rises instead of gradually sinking. And now
the time comes for the child to go to school. And for the first time
in its life it stands in the presence of the will of a stranger who
demands neither petting nor love, only work done without grumbling. How
easily this situation gives rise to conflict! The child thinks it is
not loved by the teacher, it is terrified by a harsh word and begins to
cry. School becomes odious to it; it learns unwillingly. It asks for
another school and for other teachers. If its wish is gratified the
same thing is soon repeated.

Matters get much worse when these children grow up. They have an
unquenchable craving for caresses. From them are developed the women
who kill their husband’s love by their own immoderate love. Every day
they want to be told that their husbands still love them. Daily--nay,
hourly--they wish to be the recipients of sweets, loving words, private
pet names and kisses without number. The men, on the other hand,
who had been so coddled in their childhood, are only in the rarest
instances satisfied with their wives; sooner or later they seek to
compensate outside of the home for the insufficient affection shown by
the wife; or they transfer this requirement upon the children who thus
become seriously (though not congenitally) burdened. But even this is
not the worst.

The greatest dangers of excessive affection are known to only very
few persons. They consist in a premature excitation of the erotic
emotions. We are so prone to forget unpleasant experiences. Hence comes
it that most adults have no recollection of their own youthful erotic
experiences. Parents especially are very forgetful in this regard--so
much so that their forgetfulness amounts almost to a pathological
condition bordering on hysterical amnesia. Thence comes it that most
mothers will take an oath on their daughters’ innocence and fathers on
their sons’ purity. They talk themselves into the belief that their
children are exceptions, that they are incredibly simple, still believe
in the stork myth and other similar stupidities.

That the sexual enlightenment of the child is an important problem
and of far-reaching significance for its whole life is proved in
numberless books and essays dealing with the subject. We are told that
open scientific instruction should take the place of secret knowledge
obtained from turbid channels. Very fine! But the world must not
believe that the child’s first erotic knowledge is awakened as a result
of such instruction. That is a widespread superstition. The sexual life
of the child does not begin with puberty, the old books to the contrary
notwithstanding, but with the day of its birth.

On the occasion of a sad criminal trial in which children were charged
with being prostitutes, public opinion was horrified at the wickedness
of these poor creatures. And yet most of them were victims of their
environment. Does any one really believe that such occurrences are rare
exceptions? That is a myth. We talk ourselves into the belief that
the little child that is still unable to speak is not receptive to
erotic impressions. How do we know this? The brain of a child is like
a photographic plate that greedily catches impressions, independently
of whether they are intelligible or not, impressions whose influence
may be operative throughout its life. As we know, there is a large
group of investigators which traces all perverse manifestations of the
sexual impulses back to a fixation of the earliest erotic experience.
Erotic stimulation can subsequently be brought about only by way of
an association with this early impression. This explanation certainly
does seem to fit the curious phenomenon known as fetichism. In this way
children’s experiences influence their whole life. In sexual matters
human beings behave with incredible naïveté. They close their eyes and
will not see. Frank Wedekind is perfectly right in deriding a world
that has secrets even from itself. So infantile sexuality is a secret
which every intelligent person knows.

If parents only kept this in their mind’s eye! Then it would not happen
that children ten years of age and older would be permitted to sleep in
their parents’ bedrooms that the anxious father and mother might watch
over the gentlest breath of their precious darlings. These parents do
not want to consider the possibility that the children may in this
way receive impressions which may prove very injurious to them. Many
a case of obstinate insomnia in childhood or of nocturnal attacks
of apprehension is explained in this way. I have repeatedly cured
sleepless children by the simple remedy of ordering them to sleep in
separate bedrooms.

Let us assume then that all children are susceptible to erotic stimuli
and that such stimulation may harm them. For the later a person’s
conscious sexual life begins the greater the prospects of his becoming
a healthy, mentally well-balanced individual. Among the factors capable
of permanently arousing erotic emotions we must include excessive
affection. Between the affections of one who loves and of a mother
there are really no differences. Both kiss, caress, fondle, hug,
embrace, pet, etc. That the excitement is transmitted to the same
central organs is obvious.

In this way the child receives its first erotic sensations from its
nurse. Interpret it as we may the nurse, the attendant, the mother,
the father are the child’s first love, the first erotic love, as our
psychoanalysis has convincingly demonstrated. But this must not be
interpreted to mean that I wish to condemn the affectionate management
of children. On the contrary! A certain quantity of affection is,
as a matter of fact, essential to the normal development of the
individual. But the affection lavished on them must not be excessive.
For if it is the child will be prematurely brought into a condition of
erotic overstimulation. It grows older and begins to feel the power
of education. To restrain and curb the force of the natural impulses
powerful inhibitions are erected. As a reaction to the premature sexual
stimulation there begins a remarkable process which may be designated
as “sexual repression.” This repression may succeed so well that even
the child forgets its early experiences or the repression does not
succeed and the individual’s erotic requirements grow from year to
year. In the latter case there develops in the child a serious psychic
conflict between sexual longing and sexual renunciation and thus the
soil in which a neurosis may grow is prepared. Perhaps the conflict is
the neurosis.

We shall mention only in passing that such exaggerated affection begets
in many children the habit of securing for themselves a certain amount
of pleasurable sensations by way of certain auto-erotic actions. It
is not possible, nor necessary, to enter into a detailed discussion
of these matters here. For most people know that our experiences in
childhood influence our whole life. But it is a tragic commentary on
human strivings that excessive parental love may bring sickness upon
the child, that a happy present is replaced by an unhappy future, that
the roses a mother strews in her child’s path only later show their

We cannot say it too often: We fuss too much with our children. There
is too much theory in this matter of bringing up children. We pay
too much attention to our children. Let us leave them their peaceful
childhood, their merry games, the wondrous product of their untiring
phantasy. Let us clearly realize that with our excessive affection we
give ourselves a great deal of pleasure but that at the same time we
are doing the children a great injury. Let no one discourage mothers
from being affectionate to their children, from expending loving
attentions on them, from making their youth as pleasant as possible.
But the parents’ affection should not expend itself mechanically. It
should be a uniformly warm fire that only warms, kindles no fire, and
bursts into a bright flame only on life’s great holidays.


When a happy married couple laughingly assures me that the heaven
of their marriage was always cloudless and that there were no
thunder-storms and no lightning flashes I accept it as self-evident,
but to myself I think: they are lying. When two friends assure me that
they have never quarrelled I think the same thing. I know that they
have not been telling the truth. That is, they are liars without
the consciousness of lying. They are firmly convinced that they
were telling only what was true, because they have “repressed” the
unpleasant, the painful, the objectionable. And thus it comes to pass
that lovers forget all the “scenes” that had occurred between them,
and that friends become oblivious of the little unpleasantnesses that
had caused them so much suffering, and that they can assert, with the
utmost conviction, that they had never quarrelled. We do not quaff the
lethe-potion of oblivion at our life’s end. No, we sip it daily, and
it is this that enables us to maintain that optimism which ever looks
hopefully into the future and anticipates thornless roses.

There are people who must always be quarrelling, whose exuberant energy
must be discharged in this way, to whom life does not seem worth while
if it runs along smoothly. These are the everlastingly unsatisfied who
have not found the ideals of their youth, who have not attained their
dreams. They project their discontent, their internal distraction, upon
all their daily experiences. That is why they so often appear to be
overcharged with emotion; that is why the intensity of their excitement
is incomprehensible to us. For it is a fact that they fly into rages
about trivial matters. But it is this very intensity of emotion that
shows that there is more behind these little rows than they will
ordinarily admit, that the quarrel derives its fuel from a deeper
source than appears on the surface.

It has struck many observers that the external provocation to
quarrelling is often very trivial. Of course we frequently hear a man
or his wife declare that they would gladly avoid a quarrel if it were
possible to do so. Either one says something that seems to be quite
innocent, and yet it will be the occasion for a heated altercation, a
great domestic scene with all its unpleasant consequences.

This is due to the fact that most persons do not distinguish between
cause and provocation. The provocation to a quarrel is easily found if
hidden unconscious forces seek for it, if a deeper cause, acting as a
driving power, sets the wheels of passion in motion.

A somewhat careful investigation of every quarrel easily brings the
conviction that it is invariably the secret, unconscious emotions
that bring about the conflict of opinions. Where this deep resonance
of the unconscious is lacking we playfully pass over differences.
Unfortunately there are probably no two human beings whose souls
vibrate so harmoniously that there never occurs a discord. This
phenomenon is altogether too deeply rooted in human nature for an
exception ever to occur. And paradoxical as it may sound, it is lovers
who love each other most who cause each other the greatest pain. The
great intensity which their emotions attain is due only to the fact
they have repressed a series of experiences and feelings. They are
blind to the faults of the beloved because they do not wish to see
these faults. But the suppressed forces have not yet lost their power
over the soul. These bring about the quarrel, and are capable, even if
only for a few seconds, to transform love into hatred.

But a few practical examples will do more to make this subject clear
than all our theoretical explanations. Mr. N. S., a pious, upright man,
asserts that his present ailment dates from a quarrel that had been
frightfully upsetting him for months. He had inherited from his father
a large library rich in manuscripts, and had also succeeded him in
his position. One day his brother came to him and stormily demanded
the return of the books. But inasmuch as he was the older he felt
himself entitled to be the sole heir. A violent quarrel ensued, during
which he exclaimed: “I’ll die before I give up any of these books!”
After the quarrel he became very neurotic. He tortures himself with
self-reproaches; he is convinced that with that exclamation he had been
guilty of an act of impiety; he is very unhappy and finds no rest, no
peace, either at home or in his office.

Many persons may be satisfied with the superficial explanation offered
by the patient himself that he is an ardent bibliophile and collector
of ancient manuscripts. But the physician who treats sick souls must
not be so easily satisfied.

We know that every collector is an unconscious Don Juan who has
transferred his passion from an erotic upon a non-erotic sphere. But
we also know that the passion with which the collected objects are
loved emanates from the erotic domain. And what did our psychoanalysis
of the above case bring out? Remarkably enough a rivalry between the
two brothers which went back all the way to their youth. The older
one had the privileges of the first-born and was a good-for-nothing.
The younger one was a pattern of what a child ought to be. From their
childhood they had been rivals for the affection of their parents, and
more especially of the mother. We encounter here the so-called “Oedipus
motive,” a son’s love for his mother--a motive whose instinctive
force and urge are still too imperfectly appreciated. The two had
been rivals, the older one being jealous of the parents’ preference
for the younger one, and the younger jealous of the older one’s
privileges. In this we have the first of the deeper motives for the
quarrel. Further investigation brought a second and a third motive to
light. The older had, very naturally, married first, and repeatedly
boasted in the presence of his younger and unmarried brother of his
wife’s charms and virtues. In fact, he had even led him into his wife’s
bedroom that he might see for himself what a treasure he possessed.
(You see the motives of such stories as “Gyges and his Ring” and “King
Candaules” occurring even nowadays.) At that moment a great passion
for his sister-in-law flared up in the younger brother’s breast. Here
we have then a second cause for dissension. But other factors are also
involved. Our pious young man married a beautiful woman and would
have been happy if he had not been the victim of a jealous passion.
Jealousy always has its origin in the knowledge of one’s inferiority.
He thought he noticed that his older brother was too devoted to his
wife. And during an excursion into the country they had been in the
woods a little too long, as he thought, and it occurred to him--and
here we have the fourth motive--to tempt his sister-in-law. He is a
Don Juan who runs after every petticoat and wants to drain life in
large draughts. N. S. was a pious virtuous man who knew how to turn his
sinful cravings to good account for the success of his business and to
bad account as far as his health was concerned. The brother whom he
despised openly he envied in secret. But we could mention still other
motives for their quarrel if Mrs. Grundy considerations did not bar the

Unconscious sexual motives lurk behind many quarrels, one might almost
say behind most quarrels. We have already hinted that dissensions
between brothers or sisters are due to rivalry. But even in the
quarrels between parents and children we may frequently enough
demonstrate the identical undertone for the disharmony. The infant son
sees in his father a rival for the mother’s favour. The reverse also
occurs, though not so frequently. I was once the witness to a violent
quarrel between a father and his son. The father had, as it seemed to
me, not the slightest cause for grievance against the son, and yet
a little trifle led to a violent altercation that ended in a tragic
scene. At the height of the row the father screamed to his wife: “You
are to blame for it all! You robbed me of my son’s love!”

Naturally one would think that this lava stream belched forth in a
great burst of passion from a volcano would contain the truth in its
torrid current. And so it does, but in a disguised form. The true
reproach should have been directed at the son, and should have been:
“You have robbed me of my wife’s love!”

We see in this a “transference” of a painful emotion from one person
upon another. Such transferences or “displacements” are extremely
common in everyday life, and it is only with their aid that we can
account for the many domestic conflicts. A man will rarely admit that
he erred in the choice of a wife. The feeling of hatred that his wife
engenders in him he transfers upon others. Upon whom? The answer is
obvious. Upon her next of kin. Most frequently upon her mother, the
most immediate cause of her existence. This is the secret meaning of
the many mother-in-law jokes, a never-failing and inexhaustible and
perpetual theme for wits.

So that, for example, if we hear a young woman complain that she cannot
bear her husband’s family but that she loves him beyond bounds we may
with perfect safety translate this in the language of the unconscious
thus: “I would not care a rap about my husband’s family if I did not
have to love my husband.”

The rows with servants, well-known daily occurrences, become
intelligible only if we know the law of transference. An unfaithful
wife, who had been betrayed and deserted by her lover, suddenly
began to watch her servant girls suspiciously, and to strike them on
the slightest provocations. The woman had for years employed “help”
without having had more than the customary quarrels with them. After
a short sojourn with her husband the rage of the abandoned woman, who
would have loved to give her faithless lover a good thrashing in true
southern fashion, was transferred upon her servants. And exactly like
this the resentment of many a housewife is discharged through these
more or less innocent lightning rods, and thus is brought about the
phenomenon so common in modern large cities which may be designated as
“servant-girl neurosis.”

Obviously the deeper motives slumber in the unconscious, and if
they ever become conscious they are looked upon as sinfulness
and bad temper. Freud has become the founder of a wholly new
psychology by virtue of his discovery of the laws of repression and
of transference--a psychology which will be indispensable to the
criminologist of the future. What is nowadays brought to light in our
halls of justice as the psychological bases for conflicts is generally
only superficial psychology.

This is strikingly illustrated by one of the saddest of legal
proceedings of last year. I mean the trial for murder in the
Murri-Boumartini case, in consequence of which an innocent victim--so I
am convinced--the Countess Linda Boumartini is languishing in prison.
Her brother Tullio, who had murdered his brother-in-law, was accused
of an illicit relationship with his sister, for otherwise the murder
would have been inexplicable. One who has carefully read Linda’s
memoirs and her letters, which are now before the public, as well as
the confessions of the imprisoned Tullio, will be sure to laugh at the
accusation, which unquestionably owed its origin to a clerical plot.
What may have really happened is that unconscious brotherly love which
deep down under consciousness in all likelihood takes its origin from
the sexual but whose flowers appear on the surface of consciousness as
the loftiest manifestations of ethical feeling. It was brotherly love,
the primal motive which Wagner immortalised in his “Valkyrie,” that
forced the dagger into Tullio Murri’s hand. He saw his sister suffer
and go to pieces because of the brutal stupidity of his brother-in-law.
What lay hidden behind his pure fraternal love may never have entered
his consciousness.

Oh, we unfortunates, doomed to eternal blindness! What we see of the
motives of great conflicts is usually only the surface. Even in the
case of the little domestic quarrels, the irritating frictions of
everyday life, the vessel of knowledge sails only over the easily
excited ripples. But what gives these waters their black aspect
is the deep bed over which they lie. Down there, at the bottom of
the sea which represents our soul, there ever abide ugly, deformed
monsters--our instincts and desires--emanating from the beginnings
of man’s history. When they bestir their coarse bodies the sea too
trembles and is slightly set in motion. And we stupid human beings
think it is the surface wind that has begot the waves.


It was getting late. The last guests had left the café. The waiters,
tired and sleepy, were prowling around our table with a peculiar
expression in their countenances which clearly challenged us to call
for our checks....

We took no notice of them. Or rather, we refused to take notice. The
sudden death of one of our dearest friends had aroused something
incomprehensible in us which made us very restless. We were speaking
about premonitions, and that peculiar intangible awe which one feels
in the presence of the incomprehensible, the supernatural, which at
certain times overcomes even the most confirmed sceptic, sat at our

The journalist--who could not deny a slight tendency to mysticism--was
of the opinion that he would certainly not die a natural death. That
was all we could get him to say on the subject at this time. Finally
however he confessed, with pretended indifference, that he has the
certain premonition that he will one day be trampled to death by
frightened horses.

“Nonsense!”--“Nursery tales!”--“Superstition!” several voices exclaimed

But the physician shook his head gravely. “Strange! Very strange! Do
you put any stock in this looking into the future?”

The journalist blushed so slightly that it could hardly be noticed,
the way men blush when they fear that they had betrayed a weakness.
Cautiously he replied: “And why not? Can you prove the contrary? Have
we not until only a few years ago pooh-poohed the idea of telepathy
and called it superstition? But nowadays that the X-rays, wireless
telegraphy and other marvels have revolutionised our ideas about
matter and energy and even space, we no longer laugh pityingly at
the poor dreamers who, like Swedenburg, the northern magician, see
things that are beyond the field of vision of their bodily eyes. Why
then should I doubt the possibility of somebody some day finding an
explanation for the ability to ‘look into the future’?”

“Bosh!” exclaimed the lawyer. “That’s all fantastic piffle! I can cite
you an example from my own experience which is as interesting as it is
instructive. I was very sick and confined to bed. Suddenly I awoke,
my heart palpitating, and heard a loud voice screaming these words
right into my ears: ‘You will live fourteen days more! Take advantage
of this period!’ Just fourteen days later I was sailing on the ocean.
A frightful sirocco wind was tossing our little steamer from right
to left and from left to right so violently that we could not retain
our upright positions. And suddenly my prophecy--which I had almost
completely forgotten--came back to me. But I remained very cool, like a
scientist who is on the eve of making a great discovery and risking his
life to do so. As you see I did not die, and the ship came safely into
port. But had I accidentally perished, and if my prophetic dream--the
outward projection of my unconscious fear--my unpleasant hallucination
had been known to the people about me--the matter would have been
construed as a new confirmation of the truth of premonitions. We have
so many premonitions that are never fulfilled that the few that happen
accidentally to come true do not really matter. Lots of things in
life are that way. We speak of our ‘hard luck’ because we forget the
times when we have been lucky. Luck rushes by so swiftly! Bad luck
creeps, oh, so slowly! And, coming down to facts, I do not know of a
single instance of an undoubted fulfillment of a prophecy. For I must
confess that all these American and Berlin prophets who have recently
given such striking proofs of their ‘second sight’ do not impress me.
They have not uttered a single prophecy precisely and accurately, and
oracular speeches delivered in general terms are as elastic as a rubber
band, and can be applied to almost anything. A great conflagration,
a destructive earthquake, or a cruel war will rarely disappoint a
prophet. Somewhere or other in this wide world there is a conflagration
some time during the year, the earth rocks somewhere, and somewhere
machine guns are being fired. I therefore do not believe that our
friend will be trampled to death by frightened horses. At the most what
will happen will be that his pegasus, growing tired of being abused by
him, will suddenly throw him down.”

For a little while there was silence. We had the feeling that the
counsellor’s malicious witticism was out of place at this time. The
doctor broke the silence. “What will you say, my dear friends, if I
tell you that a prominent scientist and psychologist has reported a
case which seems to prove the possibility of looking into the future.
I say ‘seems’ only because there is an explanation which re-transforms
the supernatural into the natural. The physician in question, the
well-known Dr. Flournoy, had frequently been consulted by a young man
who was suffering from peculiar attacks of apprehension. Day and night
he was haunted by the idea that he would fall from a high mountain
into a deep precipice, and so be killed. Logic and persuasion were
of no avail in dealing with this obsession. It was easy enough for
Flournoy to point out that all the young man had to do was to keep
away from mountains, and there would be no possibility of his meeting
such a frightful end. The patient grew very melancholic, and could
not be persuaded to enjoy life as formerly. Imagine this experienced
psychologist’s amazement on reading in his newspaper one day that his
patient had been instantly killed by accidentally falling from a steep
but easily passable ridge while he was taking a walk in a sanitarium in
the Alps.”

The journalist exclaimed triumphantly: “Doctor, you’ve disproved your
own theory. If what you’ve just told us doesn’t prove the power to look
into the future, then nothing does.”

“Pish! Pish!” replied the physician. “Haven’t I said that the
explanation is to follow?”

We were all very curious to hear how such a strange occurrence could
be explained without the aid of the supernatural. The physician
lit another cigar and continued: “What, coming down to facts, is
fear? You all know what it is, for I have told you often enough:
fear--anxiety--apprehension--is a repressed wish. Every time that two
wishes are in conflict as to which one is to have mastery over the
individual the wish that has to yield is perceived in consciousness
as apprehension. A young girl is apprehensive when she finds herself
for the first time alone in a room with her sweetheart. For the time
being she is afraid of what later on she may wish for. Dr. Flournoy’s
melancholic young man was clearly tired of life. The wish may have come
upon him once to make an end of his life by throwing himself from a
great height--from such a height as would make failure of the suicidal
attempt impossible. This wish may have come to him at night in a dream,
or perhaps just before he fell asleep, while he was in a state between
sleep and waking. Who knows? But it must have prevailed before the
will to live had repressed it and converted it into apprehension. And
his prophetic premonitions were nothing but the misunderstood voice
from within. And his mysterious death was nothing but--suicide. I have
forgotten to tell you that, according to the newspaper reporters,
he had sat down on the edge of a precipice and fallen asleep. He had
fallen down while asleep. As if the voices in his dream had whispered
to him: ‘Come! do what you so earnestly yearn to do! Die! Now you have
a fine opportunity!’ The moment had come when the fear had become the
stronger wish.”

The journalist was pale. The doctor’s explanation seemed to have
stirred up something in the deepest layers of his soul. His voice
box was seen to make that automatic movement which we all make when
we are embarrassed, as if we wished to speak but could not find the
right word. Finally, after he had coughed a little several times, as
if to clear his vocal cords, he remarked in a somewhat heavy voice:
“That would throw a peculiar light upon many accidental falls in the
mountains. You recall, no doubt, that a short time ago a well-known
tourist had fallen from a relatively safe cliff. He carried a lot of
insurance, and the insurance companies were very anxious to prove it a
case of suicide. Is it possible that in this case, too, an ‘unconscious
power’ co-operated?”

“Certainly!” exclaimed the physician. “Certainly! At any rate, it is my
conviction that many persons seek nothing but death in the mountains.
I have certainly met many tourists who had nothing more to hope for
from life. One who does not fear death no longer loves life, or, at
any rate, no longer loves it to such an extent as not to be willing to
gamble with it. Have any of you an idea how many of our actions have
their origin in ‘unconscious’ motives? All our life our shadow, our
other self, walks by our side and has its say in everything we do.
As long as it is only a shadow it is not dangerous. But, woe, if the
shadow materialises, as the spiritualists say. The tourist makes a
false step and falls into an abyss. Who or what guided his foot? Was it
chance--or the unacted wish that slumbered so long beyond the threshold
of consciousness? Or shall we say that while one was climbing up a
steep mountain path his strength failed him, and he was precipitated
into the depths below? Who can decide in such a case as to just what
happened? For a little moment the climber must have had the thought ‘if
you are not careful now you will fall and be killed.’ The next moment
there may have issued from the repressed ‘complexes’ the command: ‘Do
it! Then you are free and rid of all your troubles!’ So our young
man could have continued to live on the even ground, as Flournoy had
advised him to do. But he preferred to go to the mountains. Perhaps
it would be better to say that something drew him to the mountains.
It was the same power that precipitated him into the abyss: his
life-weariness. The trip he took to the country for the sake of his
health was from the very beginning a flight into the realm of death. He
pursued his shadow just as----”

He did not finish his sentence. His cigar had gone out. He lit it
again, and with wide open eyes gazed into the distance as if he had
more to say but could not find the right word.

There was silence for a time, and finally the counsellor ventured to
say: “Very interesting case! I wonder if its psychology could not be
generalised? Isn’t it possible that a large number of the other daily
fatal accidents could not be instances of ‘unconscious suicide’? There
is, for example, the case of the man who is run over by a cable-car
because he did not hear the bell, the unlucky swimmer who is overcome
by cramps, the victim of the fellow who did not know the revolver
was loaded. Haven’t all these little and big accidents their shadowy

“Of course they have,” replied the physician. “Of course! We really
know so little of the things we do and even less why we do them. Our
emotions, our feelings, are really only the resultants of numerous
components; they are only tensions giving shadowy testimony of ripening
forces. We think we are directing these forces, but we are being
driven by them; we think we make our decisions, but we only accept the
decisions of ‘the other fellow’ in us. Professor Freud has assured
himself a place amongst the immortals with his psychological theory
concerning so-called ‘symptomatic acts.’ He has substituted a ‘secret
inner will’ for ‘blind chance.’”

“And what about looking into the future?” inquired the journalist.

“Why, that’s only looking backward. We can easily predict for ourselves
anything we long for, and can easily have presentiments about what we
do not wish to avert. The facts which permit us to glimpse the future
are gleaned from our yesterdays. Our childhood wishes determine our
subsequent history. All of us could readily read our future could we
call into new life our childhood emotions. What we dreamed of in
childhood we wish to experience as adults. And if we cannot experience
it we are drawn back into the realm of eternal dreams. This is as true
of humanity as a whole as of man individually. Only when we study our
past can we see the future of our present, then can we predict that
our modern, ultra-modern time with its innumerable stupidities, with
its conflicts and ideals, with its strivings and discoveries, will be
as far outstripped as we imagine ourselves to have outstripped our
ancestors. Science and art, politics and public life--all a perpetual
circle tending towards an unknown future....”

“So then, to return to my glimpse of the future,” the journalist
interrupted, “that I shall be crushed by runaway horses?”

The physician smiled superiorly. “Just try to think back and see
whether your presentiment has not its roots in the past!”

“Something now occurs to me,” exclaimed the mystic; “my mother used to
prophesy that I would not die a natural death. I was a very wild youth,
and managed to spend a lot of time with the horses in our stable. In
great anger my dear little mother would then launch all sorts of gloomy
predictions concerning my destiny.”

His mysterious look into the future was now explained. The doctor
ventured to remark that this “case” also illustrated how intimately
superstition and a consciousness of guilt are linked together. The
imaginary glimpse into the future was in his friend’s case also only a
glimmer out of the past. He referred to the remarkable fact that our
earliest recollections represent a reflection of our future....

“There are facts”--he said slowly, hesitatingly, as if the words had
to be forced out of his interior--“which one can hardly explain. I once
loved a woman with such an intense love as I have not felt for any
woman since. We spent a wonderful day together. Then we bade each other
good-night. I remained standing, looking after her. She was walking
through the high reeds in a meadow. Her graceful figure was getting
smaller and smaller. With a slight turn in the road she disappeared
from my view but soon reappeared. Then for a while I saw her shadowy
outline until a clump of trees again hid her from my view. Then I saw
her again, but very small. I saw something white--her handkerchief. At
this moment a shiver went through me, and I thought: that’s how you
will lose her; gradually you will cease to see her; twice she will
re-appear, and then she will be gone for ever!--Nonsense, said I to
myself, and spun bold plans for the future.... But the future proved
that my presentiment had been true. Everything happened as I had felt
it that evening. A glimpse into the future! And yet! Sometimes I think
to myself that I had only realised the impossibility of a union between
us. What I felt as a presentiment may have been only clearer inner

The waiter yawned loud. This time we took the hint and paid. We went
home, and something oppressive, unspoken, weighed us all down. As if we
were not quite satisfied with the solution of the mystery--as if the
shuddering sweetness of a superstitious belief in supernatural powers,
a belief in a something above and beyond us would be more to our
liking. Silently we took our way through the quiet streets. We felt,
for all the world, like children who had been told by their mother that
the beautiful story was only a story--that the prince and the princess
had never really lived.

We had been robbed of one of life’s fairy tales. Fie! Fie on this
naked, sober, empty reality! How much nicer it would be if we could
look into the future!


Around Christmas of every year a pale woman clad in black consults me
and bewails her fate. It is a pitiful tale that she narrates tearfully.
A ruined life, a ruined marriage! One of those fearful disappointments
experienced by women who, utterly unacquainted with the world, and
not brought up to be independent, entrust all their dammed-up longing
for happiness and love to the first man who happens to cross their
path. The first time she came I was touched with pity and could
have wept with her. The best advice I could give her was wholly to
separate from her husband, forget the past, and to build up a new
life. The second time she came I was somewhat unpleasantly surprised,
because the unfortunate woman had not yet screwed her courage to the
sticking-point and was wasting her life in gloomy broodings about the
incomprehensibleness of her destiny. But this time she promised to
employ all the means and resources at her disposal to get out of her
fruitless conflict and useless complainings.... Since her first visit
ten years have passed, but she still stands on the ruins of her hopes
and laments her wasted life. Her figure, which was once slender and
sinewy, looks as if it were broken in many parts; her face shows the
first traces of age. Now she has additional cause for grieving. She
looks into the mirror and is unhappy that she has changed so. “What
has become of me and the beauty that so many admired?” Before her
mind’s eye she sees again the men who once wooed her and whom she had
rejected. Every one of them would probably have made her happier than
the one she had chosen!

She augments her complainings and emphasizes her despair. All her
friends and all her relatives, her physicians and her confidants,
know her sad lot and have no new words of consolation for her,
only conventional phrases and stereotyped gestures. Because of her
complainings she is becoming a nuisance to everybody. Her pain has
reached that dangerous point where the tragic becomes the comic.
In vain she tries to move her hearers by heightening the dramatic
description of the unalterableness of her situation. She becomes aware
that human beings can become partisans only in the presence of fresh
conflicts and very quickly become accustomed to others’ unhappiness.
And this, of course, gives her additional reason for thinking herself
lonesome, misunderstood, and forsaken, and thus a new melody is added
to her stale song. If she had before this compared herself with her
happier sisters, her consciousness of still possessing youth and beauty
afforded her a certain comfort. Hope gently whispered to her: “You can
still change it! you are still young and desirable! you will yet find
a man to appreciate you and to give you the happiness which the other

Gradually there crept into her embittered soul envy of the youth and
beauty of others and augmented the poison of her depression. There was
no longer any escape from this labyrinth of woes! In whatever direction
she looked, she saw only grey clouds; everywhere she saw dark and
confused roads losing themselves in the darkness of a ruined life. One
would suppose that by this time she would have resolutely determined to
end her sufferings and remove herself from a world which had nothing
more to offer her.

One who supposes any such thing is not acquainted with this type of
person. He has not yet discovered the secret of “sweet sorrow,” the
delights of self-pity. This woman, too, found her pleasure in the
tragic role which life had temporarily assigned her and to which she
was clinging spasmodically with all her power. She virtually drank
herself drunk with the thought that she was the unhappiest woman in
the world. She directed over her own wounds all the streams of love
that flowed from her warm heart. She tore these wounds open again
and again so as to be unhappy and pity herself. If it did not sound
so paradoxical, I would say that this woman would be unhappy if one
deprived her of her unhappiness. I wonder whether an unconscious
religious motive did not play a role in this self-assumed suffering.
Did she hope for compensation in the life to come for all the happiness
that she had missed in this world? Was her everlasting looking
backwards only a voluntarily maintained attitude behind which was
concealed the anticipation of never-ending looking into a radiant

All my attempts to restore her to an active life failed. The surest
of all therapeutic remedies, work, failed because she never took the
matter seriously. She stubbornly maintained herself in the position of
looking backward, and from this position no power on earth could move

One who looks upon the Bible as a poetic account of eternal conflicts
and has learned to recognise the symbolic significance of legendary
lore will have no difficulty in recognizing in the story of Sodom
and Gomorrah the significance of looking backwards. The woman who
was converted into a pillar of salt because she looked back into the
burning city--what a wonderful symbolisation of losing oneself in the
past! Everyone has his secret Sodom, his Gomorrah, his disappointments,
his defeats, his fearful judgments! Woe to him who looks back into
the dangerous moments of his life! And does not one of von Schwab’s
legends warn us against the dangers of past terrors? Does it not tell
us that we are flying madly over abysses, that the perils of the road
are concealed and that it is dangerous to retain in the mind’s eye the
perils that are past?

There will be no difficulty now in comprehending my formula that to
be well is to have overcome one’s past. I know of no better means of
distinguishing the neurotic from the healthy. The healthy person also
suffers disappointments--who can escape them?--he too suffers many a
fall when he thinks he is rushing on to victory, but he will raise the
tattered flag of hope and continue on his way to the assured goal.
The neurotic does not get done with his past. All experiences have a
tenfold seriousness for him. Whereas the healthy person throws off
the burden of past disappointments, and occasionally even transforms
the recollection of them to sources of pleasure, and is stimulated to
new efforts by the contrasts between the pleasureable present and the
sad past, the nervous person includes in his burdensome present the
difficulties of the past. His memories become more and more oppressive
from year to year.

It is for all the world as if the neurotic’s soul were covered over
with some dangerous adhesive material. Everything sticks to it and does
not permit itself to be loosed from it, becomes organically united to
it, wraps itself up in it, blinds his clear vision and cripples his
freedom of motion. This not getting done with the past betrays itself
also in his inability to forgive, in his craving for revenge and in his
resentments. A neurotic is capable of reproaching one for some trifling
humiliation or for some unconsidered word many years after the event.
He treasures up these humiliations and defeats and does not lose sight
of them for a single day. It might almost be said that he enacts daily
the whole repertoire of the past.

How often are we amazed to find people who continue to make the
same mistakes over and over again and whom experience seems never
to teach anything. Nietzsche says: “If one has character he has his
experience which keeps on recurring.” In reality all that life is
capable of depends upon this ability to forget the past. Of course
some experiences continue to live as lessons and warnings and go
to make up that uncertain treasure which we call Experience. True
greatness, however, shows itself in being able to act in spite of one’s
experiences, in overcoming latent mistrust.

What would become of us if all of us permitted our unhappy experiences
to operate as inhibitions! We should resemble a person who avoided an
article of diet because it had once disagreed with him. Experience may
be that which no one can learn unless one has been born with it: to
find the appropriate mean from one’s experiences and one’s inclinations.

The nervous individual becomes useless as far as life is concerned
because his experience becomes a source of doubt for him and
intensifies his wanting will-power. In the presence of a new task he
takes his past into consideration and makes his unhappy experiences
serve as warnings, hesitates, vacillates, weighs, and finally does
nothing. How much could any of us do if we lacked the courage to
venture? What could we accomplish if we never thought the game worth
the candle? I have often been enabled to prove that the neurotic’s will
is weak because his will is divided. I must supplement this with the
statement that his will is oppressed by the burden of his past.

Let us after this disgression turn back to the unhappy woman with
whom we began. I intimated that it was within her power to alter her
destiny. Virile and kindly disposed men offered her a helping hand. But
her unhappy experience begot a fear of a second disillusionment. She
preferred to be unhappy rather than to venture a second time and again
be unhappy.

But it is not only our past unhappiness that is dangerous. Past
happiness, too, must be overcome and grow pale. Who does not know
persons who are ever speaking of the past, the good old days that never
return? This is a particularly striking phenomenon with reference to
childhood. Some people do not seem to be capable of forgetting their
blissful childhood. There is an important hint here for parents and
educators who wish to assure their children a beautiful childhood.
One must be careful that it is not made too beautiful! Because of the
pleasureable initiation into life the later disharmonies prove too
painful and awaken a longing for childhood which can be fulfilled only
in fruitless dreams!

Recollections must not be permitted to kill the present. We must not be
permitted to be ever lured back into the past and forever to be making
comparisons. Every one of us carries the key to his past about in his
bosom and opens the secret portals in order to roam about in it during
the night in his dreams. In the morning, just before awaking, he locks
the shrine and his daily duties resume their career. But there are
people who cannot tear themselves away from their dreams and are ever
harkening back to the voices of the past.

In insanity this absorption in one’s past may easily be observed. The
invalids become children again, with all their failings, their childish
prattle, their childish pranks, and their childish games. They have
come upon the road to childhood and lost the way so that they cannot
get back again into the world of the grown-ups. They have looked
backwards so long that finally they went backwards.

This “return to childhood” may also be observed in nervous people
who have retained their critical faculty. I recall a woman of forty
who employed a maid to dress and undress her, also to wash her, and
who did not perform certain personal functions without the company
and assistance of the maid. And I must not forget to mention the
twenty-four-year-old youth who was brought to me by his mother because
he was incapable of doing any work and who was not ashamed in my
presence to take a good swallow of milk every five minutes from an
ordinary baby’s milk-bottle. This kind of “infantilism” often attains
grotesque proportions. To-day the aforementioned woman laughs at the
“incomprehensible malady,” and the grown-up suckling is an industrious
official who supports his family very comfortably. Both of them wished
to defeat nature and return to childhood. Not infrequently a bodily
change accompanies this mental state. The hair falls out, the features
become softer, and the signs of adult masculinity undergo regressive
changes. In all probability this condition is associated with certain
disturbances of the internal metabolism. But who can say positively
whether the impulse to these disturbances did not proceed from the
stubborn look backwards, the yearning for childhood, and the enraptured
glance into the depths of the past?

All the wisdom of life consists in the manner of our forgetting. What
fine overtones of the harmonies and discords of the past must accompany
the concords of the day! But every day has a right to its melody.
Each one lives its own life and is a preparation for the future. One
who fills his day with the delights and the pains of the past murders
it. Only on appropriate occasions may we, must we, direct our eyes
backwards, survey the path we have traversed, and again concentrate our
gaze on the milestones of memory.

All ye who are ever bewailing your lot and are incapable of rising
above your fate--hearken unto me and know that ye no longer live, that
ye died ere the law of destruction robbed ye of life! Let me tell ye
what ye may find writ in burning letters in the firmament of knowledge:
_it is never too late!_ Only he has lost his life who thinks he has
lost it. Forgive and forget! Drink of the lethe of work and solicitude
for others! Ye are egoists! For even the mirror of your woes on which
your eyes are riveted shows you only your own agonized image. And
measure your pains by the infinity of pain that fills the world.


I am not crying for the dead who have died but who are still alive
for me. I am crying for the dead who are still alive but who are dead
for me. When I look back upon the long succession of years that I
have travelled, and think of all my lovers who accompanied me part
of the way, and then left me to wander alone, I feel as if a heavy
fog were enveloping everything that otherwise appears beautiful and

But the dead have clung to me. They live with me, feel with me, and
speak to me. When the noise of the day dies out and when the bells
within begin to ring, when shapeless forms emerge from the unconscious
with strange questions and uncanny gestures, when I turn from the
world of reality into that of mystery, then my dead friends are with
me and I hold converse with them. With every question I wish I had
asked another, and I get the conviction that this other one would have
answered my question, or, that other one would have understood me.

Ah! there is really so little that we desire: we wish to be understood,
and do not know that we are demanding the impossible, the unattainable.
For we must know ourselves ere others can comprehend us. But the urge
to share ourselves with another, the longing for a heart attuned to
ours deceives us as to our own inadequacy. What we do not possess we
would find in another. And we compress all our stupid cravings into the
one wish which appears to us as the wish for friendship.

Frightful is the thought how many friends I have lost, how many persons
whom I had once thought so valuable and unreplaceable have died as far
as I am concerned. And even more painful is the thought that this
is the experience of all of us. Every one of us finds persons who
accompany us a short distance, their hands in ours, their arms about us
lovingly, and we think this will continue for ever, and then we come
to a turn in the road and they have vanished. Or they travel along a
road that seems to run very near our own. So near one another do we
travel that we can almost touch hands even though our paths are not the
same. And gradually our paths diverge. We are still within sight of
one another. We can still converse with one another. Then this, too,
becomes impossible. If we shout we may make ourselves heard on the
other highway, but there is no reply. They are gone!

First, there were the friends of our childhood! Among these there were
some whom we termed friends but who were really only a plaything, like
the rocking-horse and the wooden sword. They were created only for the
purpose of playing a role in the rich world of our fantasies. There
was something impersonal about our friend--he did not yet cling to us.
Mother used to say to us: “To-day you have a new friend!” And we were
ready to accept him as such at once unless he was unsympathetic to us
or obstinate or inclined to lord it over us. Of course no one could be
forced on us, no matter how earnestly mother demanded it. Gradually
there developed in us that dark and puzzling concept, made up of the
fusion of numerous primary impulses, which we call “friendship.”

Then one came along who was more to us than all the others. In his
presence life was much more beautiful and richer than we had supposed;
when he was absent we longed for him. When he came all our pains were
forgotten. Ah, what great loves and hatreds we were capable of in the
blessed era of our first friendship!

It is incomprehensible to me that I have lost the friend of my early
youth. On one occasion our teachers interfered and separated us. Why
they did so I do not know. But I was a wild, unruly youngster; they
may have feared that by my example I might poison the inexperienced
soul of my friend. But of what avail were prohibitions in the presence
of our great friendship! We met secretly behind dark hedges, where no
teacher’s eyes could discover us. As evening approached we roamed out
upon the meadow beyond the city, as far as the cemetery wall upon the
gentle slope of the mountain, where we could lie down at our ease and
gaze up at the stars, while we discussed the many serious questions
which were beginning to trouble the souls of the maturing youngsters.
When night came and wrapped the white buildings and the green gardens
in a dark veil, and when the distant trumpet summoned the soldiers to
their barracks, and at the sound there sprang from many an obscure
nook frightened couples who quickly embraced again and said hurried
farewells, we grasped each other’s hands feverishly, and it seemed
as if we could never, never be separated. Once we were angry at each
other. It had been a serious dispute. Both of us were obstinate, for
months we sulked and did not speak to each other. But one day my
friend’s heart melted. He confessed that he had suffered the tortures
of jealousy, and that he made up only because he feared he might lose
me for ever.

He was quite right. Slowly I had become half a man. Instinctively I had
found among the High School pupils one who had my own inclinations,
who spent sleepless nights with me in measuring verses on our fingers,
fearing we might be too late for immortality. If it was the sensuous
that had to be disposed of formerly, it was now the supersensuous that
forced itself between the innocent pleasures of life. Now we could sit
in the moonlight for hours speculating on the mysteries of existence,
infinity, and immortality. Every time we discovered something beautiful
we were happy for days thereafter.

He was not our only friend in those days of youthful enthusiasms. Then
we had many, many friends. And when we sat in the close cafés and
with palpitating hearts sang the old student-songs, and the pitcher
filled with beer was passed around, we spoke of “eternal friendship”
and “eternal loyalty.” The “eternal” pledge was sealed by the shaking
of hands, and we really felt like brothers. Every one had his good
qualities which were admired, his weaknesses which were smiled at
indulgently, and his strength which was feared. Each one seemed
unreplaceable, and once when death snatched one of our friends from our
midst we all cried like little children who want their mother.

And when we scattered in the directions of the winds, one going to the
High School, the second into the army, the third into a vocation, our
passion flared up again, and we swore to come together again after a
certain number of years had gone by. What merry, spirited, and lusty
boys we were!...

If only I had not seen them again, these friends! If only they could
have continued to live in my memory as a precious heritage from a
period that was rich in hopes and poor in disillusionments. It is
with a shudder that I recall the evening, when, after many years of
separation, we had a reunion. Were these my living friends? No, these
had been dead many years. I sat among corpses, among alien corpses
who spoke a language that was not mine. One whom fortune had made a
millionaire sat there vain and self-conscious. Absorbed in himself
and morose sat one who clung to his grandiose fantasies in the modest
station he occupied. A third kept looking at his watch uneasily because
he had promised his wife to be home before ten o’clock. The fourth
stroked his paunch and was absorbed in the mysteries of the menu. A
fifth gazed at his highly-polished finger-nails and yawned. The sixth
and the seventh--but enough! They looked at one another strangely, and
on the lips of all was the unuttered question: “Why in--did we come

These were friendships which had been made when we were still in our
childhood. Later on the matter was not quite so simple, and it took
a long time before we found one with whom we could become as one. In
reality, we are still like children. We want to find a playmate for
our thoughts and feelings. We let each other speak and we listen, and
we call that “being understood.” That is not so easy as one would like
to believe. There are people who cannot listen and people to whom we
cannot listen. But ultimately one finds the right person, one to whom
we can entrust our secrets, one with whom we share our joys and our
woes. But for how long? How strange! The fate of these friendships is
sealed the moment a third person acquires the right to participate: a
woman. Marriage is the rock on which most friendships split. What was
formerly a question for two is now a question for three. And if the
friend too marries it becomes a question for four. But how difficult
it is to find four persons whose hearts beat harmoniously! What new
elements now enter into the previous requirements “to understand each
other!” Vanity, jealousy, envy, disfavour.

And thus we lose one friend after the other. And one day we find
ourselves in an all-souls’ mood, and place wreaths on the graves of the
dead who are dead to us. We ask ourselves anxiously whose the fault was
that we are so lonesome. And if we are not honest we blame the others.
But if we are honest we see that we were not free from guilt and from
all the hateful things that human beings say about one another, and we
realize that it is man’s destiny to be alone. The more pronounced our
individuality becomes, the more sharply our qualities are outlined, the
more difficult is it to lose oneself in a crowd. We are not capable of
keeping our friends. We demand instead of giving. And that is why we
lose them and weep at their graves.

I had one friend who was true to me through all the vicissitudes of
life. Fate drove this one friend far away, and when we got the chance
occasionally to see each other it was only for a few hours, which fled
like seconds--so much did we have to say to each other. It was our
earnest yearning once to get a chance to go away during the summer and
spend a vacation together, free and unhampered, satiate ourselves with
each other, and then have enough for a whole year. At the cost of many
sacrifices we succeeded in having our dream fulfilled. But I would not
make the attempt again. I am afraid I would lose my friend altogether.

When we found the long days before us and heard ourselves again and
wanted to open our hearts to each other, we became aware--with secret
horror--that we had become different in many respects. And occasionally
in those beautiful hours we were conscious of something like a shudder
at the thought that something fine and delicate that had been anxiously
guarded might die. We separated sooner than we had planned or had
originally wished. We were happy that we had parted, for we were
still carrying home with us a precious heritage from our youth: our
friendship--which had not yet been destroyed, but slightly bruised
by rude and heavy hands. We shuddered how near we were to including
ourselves among the dead.

Was that anything wonderful? Years had passed. Each one of us had
experienced thousands of impressions, and what had once been common
and had borne the same image had become so different that it would
have been impossible to recognize them as having had a common origin.
And thus it is that we stand on the roads that once were so near each
other but are now so wide apart and that we call to each other like
frightened children seeking flowers in the woods and longing anxiously
to hear the voices of their comrades. We call to each other to prove to
ourselves that we have not died.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is all souls’ day. Numberless persons are making pilgrimages to the
graves of their dead to lay a flower there. I stay at home and close my
eyes. I am not crying for the dead who have died but live for me. I am
weeping for the dead who still live but who are dead to me....


There are persons who spend their entire lives under the tyranny of the
mirror. From early morning to late at night they are thinking, “How do
I look to-day?” The mirror follows them into their dreams and shows
them their ego horribly distorted and grotesquely transformed, or it
annihilates the imperfections which make them so unhappy. Everybody
has a tremendous interest in his personal appearance, an interest
which may assume such proportions as to amount to self-love, to being
in love with one’s bodily ego, or to hatred of one’s self, disgust
with one’s own appearance. Ultimately every one of us is egocentric.
For each one of us our ego is the hub of the world. Every slightest
happening is looked at and judged from the standpoint of our own ego.
In the mirror slaves this trait is exaggerated to the n-th degree, to
the extent of being uncanny and neurotic. They spend their lives in
front of the corporeal and spiritual mirror. For they fix their gaze
not only on their physical appearance, but even on their thoughts,
feelings, sensations, and work; they are constantly checking themselves
up, criticising themselves, and are most discontented with themselves,
or they are ridiculously conceited, and never cease to admire their
actions and transformations.

Mirror slaves waste a part of their lives in front of the mirror. They
keep a little mirror by them constantly so as to look at themselves
from time to time. They can’t pass a mirror without stopping in front
of it long enough to survey themselves from head to foot. There is a
story of a king who promised to give his daughter in marriage to the
man who would pass a certain mirror without looking into it. Vanity
foiled all but a poet, and the princess was awarded to him. (And, in
all probability, the poet did not look into the mirror because he was
absorbed in admiring his ego in the mirror of his soul!) This story
teaches us the intensity of human vanity. In the case of mirror slaves
this human failing becomes a disease; it fills their lives and, under
certain circumstances, unfits them for life.

A mirror slave devotes a great deal of attention to the matter of his
external appearance. He is dominated by an imperative which makes life
a torture. This imperative is: “What will people think of me?” He
feels all eyes are upon him, everybody is looking at him, everybody is
thinking of his appearance. He has a horrible fear of being laughed at.
For God’s sake! only not to be laughed at, not to become the subject
of other people’s mirth! He would love to be lost in the crowd and not
be noticed. If he could only possess a magic cap that would enable him
to go about invisible! On the other hand he thirsts for triumphs. He
would like to find favour, to be larger, bigger, more elegant and more
beautiful than others, would like to shine in society, and be able to
outshine others in wit, intellect, vivacity, education and culture.
Above all he is desirous of making an impression on the opposite
sex, to make conquests, to be a Lothario, free from all restraints,
uninterfered with in his inclinations, and unconcerned about the
judgment of his environment.

The mirror slave begins his day with the question, “What shall I wear
to-day?” As soon as a careful inspection has convinced him that this is
going to be a good or a bad day for him, that he is looking younger or
older, sick or well, the painful task of selection begins. What dress
will be most adapted to the taste of this day, to the weather, or to
the mood? After some deliberation a choice is made. But then, all of a
sudden, the mirror discloses a blemish! Woe! The toilet must be gone
all over again. Everything is weighed carefully in the balance, and
finally the arduous task is completed.

And now the mirror slave’s martyrdom begins. He studies the people he
meets to see whether they greet him or ignore him, are friendly or
unfriendly, pleased or indifferent, etc., whether they take note of
him, whisper behind his back, criticise him, make remarks about him, or
make merry over him. If one laughs without his participation he is on
the rack; unquestionably it was he who was being laughed at: there must
be something wrong with his clothes. Why is everybody looking at him so
curiously? In his distress he may even be induced to address strangers.
“Why did they stare at me so fixedly?” In a sudden outburst of passion
he may even call an acquaintance to account for not having greeted him
or for having done so carelessly.

He experiences extraordinary sensations when he puts on new articles
of clothing. What a difficult task it is to go out in new shoes!
All eyes must be magically directed on his shoes. He makes himself
ridiculous with his new shoes. People surely think him silly or a slave
of fashion. He lives through all this with every new garment, and
ultimately he develops a fear of changing his clothes and goes about
in old, worn, and even shabby clothing, thinking that thus he attracts
less attention.

All daily tasks become a great undertaking. To go into a store to
make a purchase, to enter a theatre when other spectators are already
seated, or to look around for a seat in a restaurant, etc., are
difficult and often impossible tasks. He loves to be the first person
in the theatre or at the concert--to come in while the hall is still
empty. The selection of a seat is a source of worry. A mirror slave
would love to sit alone in a box or in the front row if he were not
so afraid of being looked at--which is exactly what he longs for. He
therefore conceals himself in a modest inconspicuous seat, but does not
enjoy himself because he is always impelled to observe and study the

He is a slave of public opinion. At no price would he do anything not
quite proper, that would cause the slightest head-shake, or would make
him the subject of public comment. He would purchase the good-will of
all, court everybody’s favour, and wants to be loved and admired by the
whole world. He spares no pains to get the approval of his environment.
He is one of the eternally amiable, modest, and helpful persons that
we encounter now and then. He gives very liberal tips in order that he
may be highly thought of. In fact, he loves to give presents and fears
nothing so much as being thought niggardly.

In time he becomes socially useless. A trivial public function, a
speech, a betrothal, any appearance in public liberates a whole host
of apprehensive ideas. If he happens to be an artist he fears to make
a public appearance, and contents himself with being a teacher. If he
overcomes his fear of appearing in public, he becomes the slave of the
critics. An unfavourable criticism brings him to the verge of despair;
a favourable criticism temporarily lifts him above all difficulties.

If we inquire into the cause of this neurosis we find it to be a
defective educational method in childhood, which has led the child to
overvalue its environment and has implanted in it a pathologic degree
of vanity. How many parents have the habit of calling the child’s
attention to the fact that people are looking at it, observing it,
or laughing at it! How often when a child is wearing a new garment
is it told that everybody is looking at it and admiring it! And how
often is a child admired and worshipped to such an extent that it
really imagines itself the hub of its little world! All the boundless
overvaluation of the world, of one’s surroundings, the striving for
public recognition, for reputation, for honour emanate from our
childhood years. We ought to make it our object to bring about just the
opposite. The child should be brought up to be modest, to learn that
happiness lies in the feeling of having done one’s duty, in the quiet
joys of life, in work, in a capacity for enjoyment. It is our duty to
limit the child’s vanity, to restrain his ambition, and to train him
to be self-reliant. One who has learned to consider contentment with
oneself--not self-satisfaction based on vanity and arrogance--as worth
more than what people say about one has found the way to health and

Who would deny that a mirror has its uses? Who does not know that it
is necessary occasionally to observe ourselves in the mirror of the
body and the soul so that we may recognize our shortcomings, remove our
blemishes, and make ourselves better and more beautiful? All excess
becomes a vice. A mirror is a dangerous thing for the vain person who
cannot live without it. Everything is a mirror to him. The world as a
whole is a mirrored salon which reflects his image from every point.
But he fails to see that behind these mirrors there is another world to
which he has lost access. For the next step beyond this mirror-neurosis
is insanity, a disease which we now know is a losing of oneself in

_Printed in Great Britain by The Cheltenham Press, Cheltenham, Glos._


Archaic, unusual and inconsistent spellings have been kept in the text.
Obvious misspellings have been fixed.

Details of the changes:

  PAGE  original text[**corrected text]
   12 the glory of supreme worldy[**worldly] wisdom and branding
   42 being a phsyician[**physician]. That’s a great, a noble,
   64 could wear the shirt of a happy man. Mesengers[**Messengers]
   79 experiences can strip of[**off] the pollen linked with
  105 The servants, the family phsyician[**physician], the music
  106 its origin in our life’s needs. We woman[**women] all
  113 on the homœpathic[**homœopathic] principle. They fight the
  114 to work. For behind their zeal to accummulate[**accumulate]
  119 suprising[**surprising] forms among the victims of hysteria.
  129 if she lost him! But a careful psychanalysis[**psychoanalysis]
  129 brought forth ample and convincing comfirmation[**confirmation]
  138 country of the bethrothal[**betrothal] period, and thus
  146 example from our daily life. A women[**woman] is
  146 pyschic[**psychic] origin. When we investigated carefully
  157 to a splinter in the brain. An excellent mataphor[**metaphor]!)
  158 instincts and impulses with dont’s[**don’ts]. The sum
  159 and the Checko[**Czech] rustic are always at each other’s
  160 wage a war for exsistence[**existence]. A few survive longer
  172 of their excitement is imcomprehensible[**incomprehensible]
  179 in all likelihood takes it[**its] origin from the sexual
  179 “Walkyre[**Valkyrie],” that forced the dagger into Tullio
  183 the feeling that the counsellor’s malicious wittiism[**witticism]
  211 or they are ridicously[**ridiculously] conceited, and never cease
  214 its environment and has inplanted[**implanted] in it a

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