The Freud Museum


Botanical Monograph (Part 2)

“I had written a monograph on a certain plant. The book lay before me and I was at the moment turning over a folded coloured plate. Bound up in each copy there was a dried specimen of the plant, as though it had been taken from a herbarium.” “While I was a medical student I was the constant victim of an impulse only to learn things out of monographs... and was enthralled by their coloured plates...

In my early youth it had once amused my father to hand over a book with coloured plates for me and my eldest sister to destroy. Not easy to justify from the educational point of view! I had been five years old at the time and my sister not yet three; and the picture of the two of us blissfully pulling the book to pieces was almost the only plastic memory that I retained from that period of my life. Then, when I became a student, I had developed a passion for collecting and owning books, which was analogous to my liking for learning out of monographs. I had become a bookworm. I had always , from the time I first began to think about myself, referred this first passion of mine back to the childhood memory I have mentioned. And I had early discovered, of course, that passions often lead to sorrow. When I was seventeen I had run up a largish account at the bookseller’s and had nothing to meet it with; and my father scarcely took it as an excuse that my inclinations might have chosen a worse outlet.”

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