The Freud Museum


'Non vixit' dream

"My friend Fliess had come to Vienna in July. I met him in the street in conversation with my [deceased] friend [Joseph] Paneth... I tried to explain to Fliess that Paneth could not understand anything because he was not alive. But what I actually said - and I myself noticed the mistake - was, ‘non vixit' instead of 'non vivit'. I then gave Paneth a piercing look. Under my gaze he turned pale - and finally he melted away. I was highly delighted at this..."

"On the pedestal of the Kaiser Joseph Memorial in the Imperial Palace in Vienna the following impressive words are inscribed:

Saluti patriae vixit
non diu sed totus
(‘For the well-being of his country he lived not long but wholly’).

"[T]he premature death of my brilliant friend Paneth had robbed him of a well-merited claim to a memorial [as Brücke and Fleischl had] in the university precincts.... As he had deserved well of science I built him a memorial; but as he was guilty of an evil wish [for self promotion]... I annihilated him. Thus I had been playing the part of Brutus in the dream: ‘As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but as he was ambitious, I slew him.’

"Strange to say, I really did once play the part of Brutus. I was fourteen years old at the time and was acting with a nephew who was a year my senior. He had come to us on a visit from England; and he, too, was a revenant, for it was the playmate of my earliest years who had returned in him. Until the end of my third year we had been inseparable. We had loved each other and fought with each other; and this childhood relationship had a determining influence on all my subsequent relations with peers... My emotional life has always insisted that I should have an intimate friend and a hated enemy. I have always been able to provide myself afresh with both...

"Let us assume that a childhood memory arose..
The two children had a dispute about some object...
They came to blows and might prevailed over right...
I was the stronger and remained in possession of the field....

"At my friend Paneth’s funeral, a young man had made what seemed to be an inopportune remark to the effect that the speaker who had delivered the funeral oration had implied that without this one man the world would come to an end. He was expressing the honest feelings of someone whose pain was being interfered with by an exaggeration. But his remark was the starting-point of the following dream-thoughts: ‘It’s quite true that no one’s irreplaceable. How many people I’ve followed to the grave already! But I’m still alive. I’ve survived them all: I’m left in possession of the field.’... This satisfaction, infantile in origin, constituted the major part of the affect [feeling] that appeared in the dream. I was delighted to survive, and I gave expression to my delight with all the naive egoism shown in the anecdote of the married couple, one of whom said to the other: ‘If one of us dies, I shall move to Paris.’ So obvious was it to me that I should not be the one to die.

"It cannot be denied that to interpret and report one’s dreams demands a high degree of self-discipline. One is bound to emerge as the only villain among the crowd of noble characters who share one’s life..."

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Wilhelm Fliess in the early 1890s

Wilhelm Fliess in the early 1890s

Josef Paneth in the 1880

Josef Paneth in the 1880

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