This is Freud's groundbreaking study of a wealthy young Russian man, subject to psychotic episodes and neuroses. Through the patient's dream of childhood wolves, Freud was able to determine his real problem - that of infantile neurosis brought about by a sexual complex and an Oedipal fixation.
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Student review by Kimberley Chen, studied at Queen Mary University of London
Controversial figure and father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, presents a lucid and fascinating account of how he diagnosed a deeply disturbed Russian man he has intriguingly named the ‘Wolfman’. Freud discusses the difficulties in analysing his patient’s psychological problems due to his patient’s initial unwillingness to be treated, and his patient’s inability to locate when key events in his life actually occurred. The patient as a young boy was at first a calm, peaceful and mild mannered child. However, when the boy’s parents return from a summer holiday they discover the boy’s behaviour has radically altered for the worse. Such oddities in his behaviour include making a hobby out of cruelty towards small creatures. This includes maliciously wrenching off the wings of flies, crushing beetles and slicing caterpillars. He is also subject to darkly depressive moods, an extremely bad temper and wild, intense fury at the most trivial scenarios.
The main focus of Freud’s analysis is his patient’s rather strange and unsettling dream of his bedroom window opening of its own accord to reveal six or seven white wolves perched on a walnut tree. Thus, begins the patient’s complex phobia of wolves, as the readers become increasingly absorbed by Freud’s quest to source the origin of his patient’s woes. Freud demonstrates that dreams are not merely a random and meaningless heap of images, but instead these dreams are very revealing indicators of the secret yearnings of an unconscious mind. Additionally, another strong and significant Freudian idea is that there are aspects of our own nature that are unknowable and incomprehensible to our very selves, because we repress or hide certain emotions. Moreover, there are even some unexpected and surprising connections; for instance, Freud makes a link between two very different items, a butterfly and a pear. Sigmund Freud’s The ‘Wolfman’ explores rivalry and jealousy within the familial institution, narcissism and eating disorders in a highly interesting, important and thought-provoking piece of work.
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