Freud and the Psychoanalytic Tradition

Essay by pietart June 2006

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One of the most significant legacies Sigmund Freud left behind was the method he devised for interpreting the meaning of people's lives. Freud developed a psychoanalytic mode of investigation and interpretation that relies on decoding hidden and disguised meanings. Interpretation from Freud's standpoint is always a matter of going beneath the surface, beyond the obvious, to explore a mysterious area of private imagery, symbol, and myth. Within the psychoanalytic tradition there is a motto that says: Don't trust what you see; the surface is deceptive; the real truth lies between the lines and beyond the obvious.

The case of Dora examines the realm of mysterious and private life. During the year of 1900 Sigmund Freud offered therapy to a girl of eighteen, who he called Dora in a short story he wrote after his sessions ended with her. The rest of this paper will focus on the accounts from Freud himself and Dora, Freud's patient.

Dora was a girl of attractiveness, intelligence and was economically well off, even with all of these qualities Dora was rarely happy with her life. She suffered from several symptoms that Freud termed hysteria. Her symptoms included: difficulties breathing, recurrent headaches, fainting and violent attacks of coughing. The symptoms did not seem to have any physical cause.

Freud uncovered the following story that shaped the underlying reasons for her hysteria. Dora had unwittingly become part of a web of deceit and infidelity that involved her parents and their friends - Herr and Frau K. It's seems that Dora's father had been carrying on an affair with Frau K. Freud accounts that there was good reason that Herr K knew of the affair and in exchange for his wife considered his friends daughter (Dora). Dora's father tacitly "handed over" her for...