Freud’s Abuser, Sibling Incest, and the Affair with Minna Bernays
Inner Circle Seminar No. 175
Sunday 1 April 2012
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sigmund Freud wrote to Wilhelm Fliess that his nanny was the ‘prime originator’ of his neurosis. Peter Rudnytsky gives scrupulously documented evidence suggesting that Freud attempted to deal with this early experience of sexual abuse first by initiating acts of sexual aggression against his little sister Anna, and then as an adult by entering into a love affair with his wife’s sister Minna Bernays. Rudnytsky incorporates his own findings and those of other scholars into a comprehensive unity that for the first time offers an elegant and plausible hypothesis making full sense of Freud’s troubled sexual life and his creation of psychoanalysis. Rudnytsky argues that Freud took the confused incestuous strivings of a sexually abused child as the norm, and invented the ‘Oedipus complex’ as, to some extent, a defence against acknowledging his own infantile experience of abuse and his own compulsive acting out of his desire for sister figures. Participants will be sent in advance Professor Rudnytsky’s unpublished, groundbreaking paper, in which he lays out his case in detail and calls for a psychoanalysis revised and renewed in the light of it. Your contribution to the discussion will be welcome.
Peter L. Rudnytsky is Professor of English at the University of Florida. He is author of Freud and Oedipus (1987); The Psychoanalytic Vocation: Rank, Winnicott, and the Legacy of Freud (1991); Psychoanalytic Conversations: Interviews with Clinicians, Commentators, and Critics (2000); Reading Psychoanalysis: Freud, Rank, Ferenczi, Groddeck (2002) and Rescuing Psychoanalysis from Freud and Other Essays in Re-Vision (2011). He edited American Imago for 10 years.